This sermon was based on Ruth 3.
Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor
1Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” 5And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
6So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
14So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.'” 18She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
REST IN RELATIONSHIP
- The immediate crisis has been averted for Ruth and Naomi – they are not about to starve, but life is still hard.
- Many of us can identify with life feeling exhausting, and like Naomi we desire rest.
- Ultimately, rest is not found in isolation, but it is found in relationship, and in particular in relationship with the redeemer (in Ruth’s case this was Boaz – for us it is Jesus).
- The plan that Naomi and Ruth come up with is a very risky one and puts Ruth in a vulnerable position.
- She is physically vulnerable. If Boaz is not the kind of man that everybody thinks that he is, then it would be easy for him to take advantage of Ruth.
- It also makes them economically vulnerable. They have found favour with Boaz but if he doesn’t take kindly to the advance then this could be jeopardised.
- She is also risking her reputation – potentially being seen as living up to the moabite stereotype.
- A big part of faith is vulnerability – we are trusting that the one our faith is in is the real deal.
- The point of the vulnerability was Ruth desiring intimacy with Boaz.
- The story seems suggestive, but Ruth’s words make it clear that it is marriage she has in mind.
- Ruth wants to be close to Boaz.
- At the heart of our relationship with God is a desire for intimacy in his presence.
- Ruth knows what she wants and she is proactive in going after it.
- We can learn from this in many areas of life – and particularly when it comes to our relationship with God.
- Both Ruth and Boaz handled themselves with integrity in this story – Ruth chose not to go after the younger guys, she took care of Naomi and she made clear that what she wanted was marriage.
- Boaz didn’t take advantage of Ruth, he went to settle matters quickly and he is also interested in doing well by Naomi.