Ruth 3:1-18: An Experience With God’s Love Transforms Us

Part 3: An Experience With God’s Love Transforms Us

(Inspired by a message delivered by *Pastor *Jesse-Meekins* at Kishwaukee Bible Church 12-13-20)

Ruth 3:1-18                                                   Kevin E. Jesmer

Key verse 3: 3-4,                                     12-18-20

3 Wash 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. 4 But 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.”  (ESV)

     It is almost Christmas and people are breaking out the Christmas movies. We each have our favorites. It could be “It’s a Wonderful Life” or, “The Grinch”, or “A Christmas Carol”. What attracts us to the Christmas movies is that the main character goes through some transformational change when faced with “love” at Christmas time. “Love” literally transforms them and allows them to accomplish momentous deeds.

     Chapter two ended with Naomi’s heart full of bitterness. Naomi and Ruth had returned back to Bethlehem. They suffered so much, trying to evade God’s judgment on her people in the form of a famine. When they returned, they only had one plan to survive, that was to go to Boaz’s field to glean. For them it was a survival tactic, but from God’s point of view, this whole scene was going to provide the backdrop through which he would reveal his divine love and empower them make decisive acts.

     God’s love was put on display in these fields, displayed in the lives of these three players, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. We will see that an experience with God’s love transforms people. All of these main actors in the Book of Ruth were transformed. Their hearts were filled with new life, new hope and they had power to obey impossible tasks set before them by God.

     Where does the power to change come from? It definitely comes from experiencing something outside of us. All of these people were not in the spot where God wanted them to land. He had much more in store for each of them. He would impart to them supernatural power to change. This power to change comes from a personal experience with the grace of God. Each of them saw the love of God breaking into their lives and things began to happen according to God’s will. There is power in the love of God to transform the lives of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Let’s see…

       First, the love of God inspires. Naomi had fled the famine. She and her family moved further away from the Promised Land and from the people of God themselves. They went all the way to the Land of Moab. She even married her two sons off to two Moabite women. She paid a huge price for her self-preserving tactics. It was ten years of suffering. Naomi could have easily doubted the love of God. After all, she asked people to call her Mara, which means, “Bitter”.  She was in a very spiritually vulnerable spot. But God was with her and he was going to reveal his love to her and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. This would change their lives.

      It was while Ruth was gleaning in the fields that we are introduced to Boaz. Refer back to Ruth 2:4-5, “4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, The Lord be with you!’ ‘The Lord bless you!’ they answered. 5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, ‘Who does that young woman belong to?’” Boaz was the embodiment of God’s love to so many people, especially to those close to him. His life revealed the kindness of God. That is why people where happy to be workers in Boaz’s fields.

      Boaz showed special concern for Ruth in verses 5-18. He protected her and he made special provision for her so much so that she came home with forty pounds of grain that she gleaned from the fields. It was God’s grace and blessing on their lives.

      Naomi saw God’s love shining through the life of this man. Refer to 2:19-23. She saw the kindness; the concern; the one-sided sacrifice in Boaz. She recognized God’s hand of grace at work. Look at 2:20, “20 ‘The Lord bless him!’ Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.’ She added, ‘That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.’” Naomi was enlivened. She was delighted. She was no more dwelling on all of the reasons to change her name to “Mara” or “Bitter”. She was now seeing all the ways that she is blessed.

     Second, God’s love changes us to dream the impossible dream. The spark of God’s life ignited in Naomi’s heart. Look at verses 1-2, “Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor”. She was set free from her dungeon of despair to dream big. Empowered by God’s love, Naomi made an audacious proposal.  Look at v. 3-4,

3 Wash 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. 4 But 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.”

    At that time marriage was arranged by parents, and it was fitting that Naomi should take the initiative to instruct Ruth in her preparations to meet Boaz.  Yet, this proposal, made by Naomi, was an absolutely crazy idea. Ruth was told to dress up to go to the threshing floor to see Boaz. Ruth appeared as a prostitute. This is the plan?! There is no way that this plan should pan out. Though it sounds crazy, it is not so crazy if God is in it. If God is in it, then it most certainly will work.

    Naomi was changed through her love encounter with God. She was fundamentally changed.  She was no longer overcome with selfish thoughts about her own suffering, urging others to call her Mara. But now she was inspired with a plan to bless Ruth. God’s grace empowered her. She was changed by the love of God.

     Ruth did all she was told to do. Look at verses 5-6, “’I will do whatever you say,’ Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.” It took such great courage to obey her mother-in-law. There is such a buildup of suspense. Look at verses 7-8, “When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!”  By removing the cloak that acted as a blanket, from the feet of Boaz, she would ensure that he would eventually wake up and notice her. She would then be able to talk privately about the claim she wanted to make.

    Ruth’s power to obey was born from her own personal encounter with God’s love. In light of the kindness shown to her, she too became very bold. She simply trusted in the God of Naomi. She trusted in this plan. And by faith in God, she simply obeyed. And the Lord blessed her faith and obedience. God blesses simple obedience born out of faith.

       When Boaz awoke, Ruth demonstrated even more courage. Look at verse 9, “9 He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”  She referred to herself as Boaz’s servant. She was acknowledging him as her master. Ruth boldly says to Boaz, “Be the wings!”. When Ruth asked him to spread his cloak over her she was speaking symbolically of marriage (Ez 16:8b). Ruth’s boldness is what a glimpse of God’s love will do. It will allow us to accomplish seemingly illogical deeds, yet deeds that are all part of God’s plan, because, as we know, nothing is illogical about God’s plans.

    Boaz blesses Ruth’s act of kindness. Look at verses 10-15,

10 ‘The Lord bless you, my daughter,’ he replied. ‘This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.’”

    Boaz’s reaction is nothing less, than divine inspiration! Boaz not only gave the best possible interpretation to Ruth’s action, but went so far as to invoke a blessing upon her for all her acts of kindness. He could have rejected Ruth. She came after him while he was asleep and possibly even drunk. She was very poor. She was a Moabitess. He had every right to call her out. But look how Boaz saw her. (11) Boaz saw her as a “worthy woman”. He blesses her. God is pleased when we respond with obedience in light of his love and grace.

       Third, the love of God humbles us.  We see Ruth as the feet of Boaz. She was driven to stoop low as she made her plea. It is an apt symbol of God’s work in her. Her life situation had humbled her. She was brought low. But it was at this time that she hung onto faith and experienced God’s kindness.  

    Boaz demonstrates yet another act of kindness to Naomi and Ruth. Look at verses 15-17,

“And 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. 16 And 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, 17 saying, “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.’”

      How is Boaz’s reaction like the kindness of God? Boaz is the business owner. He owns the fields. He employs the workers. Ruth is the outsider. Yet Boaz bestows upon her six measures of barely. There is nothing she could do to work for the kindness that she received. It was pure grace. This is the heart of our Lord Jesus.

      We are in Ruth’s situation. We cannot work to gain any of the graces of God. God just lays it out for us. It is a free gift. This grace humbles us. We can see God’s grace at work all around us, especially when we are overwhelmed by the kindness of others towards us. We see it when we are delivered from our dungeons of despair. It humbles us, for through it we find the deep graces of our Holy God towards undeserving outsiders.

      Fourth, the love of God allows us to wait on the Lord. Through the loving kindness of God, we can wait on the Lord.  Just prior to Ruth’s departure from the threshing floor, we see Boaz loading up Ruth with grain. This provides Ruth and Naomi a glimpse of God’s love once again. It gave them confidence in God and allowed them to be able to wait on God. The next morning Ruth came back home. Naomi asked what had happened and Ruth shared with Naomi everything. In verse 18, Naomi urged Ruth the wait, “She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.’”  Naomi had confidence to wait in expectation. This was due to the godly character of Boaz, who was reflecting the character of the great and awesome God at work in their lives.

      Waiting is the hardest thing to do in uncertain times. But consider who we are waiting on. Ruth was waiting on Boaz, the one who still could do more. We are waiting on Christ, the one who can still do more in any situation. We have done what we can do and now it is time to wait. The inspiring love of God emboldens us, and gives us confidence as we wait on the Lord.

     With God’s love we can work towards that seemingly unlikely end. God will surely accomplish his purposes. God enables us to stand tall with a victorious sense of confidence born out of the love of God. We have the privilege to wait on the Lord when that is all that we can do. Praise the Lord!

     Let’s summarize thus far. On our faith journey we catch a glimpse of God’s love shining into our life. Our bitterness is changed to hope. This grace emboldens us to do some acts that may not make sense at first, but are all part of God’s plan. The love of God captures us. God’s love emboldens, inspires, and humbles us. We are then able to display the love of God to others as we wait upon the Lord with a victorious sense of confidence.

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