Saturday, August 24, 2013

ruth: the first day of a new life - chivalry lives! (part 8)

Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, "Whose young woman is that?" The foreman replied, "She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, 'Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.' She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter." So Boaz said to Ruth, "My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled." At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me - a foreigner?"

Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

"May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord," she said. "You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant - though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls."

At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, "Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don't embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her."

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. (Ruth 2:5-17)

OK, I'm so enthusiastic about how generous Boaz is to Ruth, I have to start today's blog by highlighting the last point of our scriptural text first. Do you know how much an ephah of grain is? It is equivalent to about six gallons! Better yet, it's enough grain to feed approximately fifty fighting men! Clearly, this much food would be enough to feed Ruth and Naomi for several weeks on end.

What does that say about Boaz? How do you think he felt about Ruth?

Think about it. Here is a man of status... a rich, powerful, renowned man of Bethlehem. A man who openly shares his love of the Lord in every area of his life. A prosperous man - mighty in wealth and mighty in the Law. It is likely since Boaz lived in the time of the judges that he also carried a high ranking as a soldier in Israel's army. We can conclude from his inquiring statements above that he did not recognize Ruth - so, he was not standing in the crowd when Ruth first entered into Bethlehem with Naomi. Probably, Boaz was out of town that day - off on a campaign or business engagement. However, when he returned... when life became business as usual, Boaz started hearing a lot of gossip about this beautiful foreign girl. Surprisingly, it was good gossip. People were impressed with the actions of this Moabite. They were amazed at her faithfulness to Naomi. They were surprised that she wasn't chasing after all the eligible men in town, but rather sacrificing herself to fill the empty arms of her grieving mother-in-law.

Boaz must have thought, "How often do you hear good gossip about a person?" Yes, something must be different about Ruth. Clearly, she must be a woman who trusts the Lord God in order to bravely leave her home country and travel to a land that doesn't take kindly to her people. (Remember, Israel and Moab were not friendly.) So before ever laying eyes on her, Boaz knew a little something-something about Ruth's character. Ahhhh, but then he saw her in person...

"Whose young woman is that?" He inquired. Translation: WOW! Who is she? Is she married? Does she belong to someone? Let's not mince words, Mr. Boaz. Let's get straight to it and find out who the beauty gathering food in your field is. Funny thing is, I'm sure Boaz was not desperate to find a wife. I'm sure every single girl in Bethlehem had attempted to turn his head at some point or another. Rich, powerful, righteous... Boaz had it all. He had to be considered THE bachelor to nab by every matchmaker and mother in town. But this man of God never took the bait. He had never fallen head over heels in love... at least, not until now.

Did you know that the love story of Ruth was part of the five Megilloth - one of the five small scrolls that were read annually at just about every Jewish festival. So, it is safe to assume that this romantic story was told over and over again to every Israelite until the time of Christ. For generations, God's people would hear about Ruth and Boaz, about the love they shared, and about the hope their union would bring. Yes, Boaz was smitten from day one with Ruth. Immediately after seeing her, he does everything he can to take care of her. He cordially asks her to not stray to another field, but rather stay in his field with his servants. He tells his men not to touch her and further provides for her every need by offering her refreshments as she worked. When lunchtime came, Boaz invites Ruth to sit and join him. He's intrigued to learn more about her and takes every appropriate opportunity to do so.

And how does Ruth respond? She is amazed. How in the world did she gain favor with this most wonderful man? She is nothing. She is a Moabite and a poor widow with a depressed mother-in-law to care for. Why would Boaz even want to sit next to her much less speak to her? Ruth knew before she entered Israel that she would be rejected and looked down upon. She knew that Israelites would turn their back to her - for what self-respecting Jew would have dealings with a Moabite? Yet, here with Boaz, Ruth found those racial barriers to be obsolete. Here she sat eating lunch with one of their most handsome, most renowned, most wealthy, most kind. When she left that morning to find a field to glean in - to find the smallest spec of food to feed herself and Naomi, Ruth never would have imagined that anyone would take notice to her - except possibly those who would mistreat and abuse her. It was dangerous for a poverty-stricken woman to be out alone. But Ruth selflessly took the risk because she loved and cared for Naomi. She trusted God to guide her steps, and boy did He. God led Ruth right into the heart of Boaz.

And now we'll see this little love story develop and flourish into greatness. We will witness a man with everything to offer, choose to love a woman with nothing to give. Revealed in this text, we will be blessed by the parallel of God's love for us - sinners who have nothing to offer. Yet... thankfully, while we were yet sinners, Christ still chose to die for us. (See Romans 5:8)

Such a love is unheard of in this world - yet, here it is. We can only stand amazed and wonder as Ruth did... why, dear Lord, have I found such favor in your eyes? Why on earth would you notice me? Feed me? Protect me? Care for me? Why would you (and all that YOU are) ever invite me (and all that I'm not) to your bountiful table to dine face-to-face in your presence? This is unheard of! I never would have imagined this kind of grace and love possible - yet, here I sit safely in your perfect presence. You call me beautiful and adore me. You demonstrate your love to me and save me from my sin. What a love story we have to share with every generation! Oh, my sweet Jesus, may I continue to find favor in your eyes!

Ladies, the day Ruth met Boaz was the day she walked away full. It was the first day of a new life - a life abundantly fed and provided for. A life filled with unending love, respect, security, and peace. When Ruth brought the many gallons of grain home to Naomi that day, she had no idea what extent of a blessing Boaz would be... but in time, she would learn and love him for it. For now, she would just be happy to bring her new found abundance home to those she loved and share the story of this wonderful man.

The same is true for us! The day we received Jesus as our Savior was the first day we would be free from the poverty of sin. It was the day we would find His grace and start a new life filled with unending love, respect, security, and peace. And whether we know it or not right now... if we believe in Him and follow His ways, we are indeed full in Christ. We may not know everything about Him - we may never know everything about Him, for He is so awesome... but what we do know about His extraordinary character, we must be happy to share and share and share. You see, one thing is very clear - our Savior is a wonderful, generous, loving God! There is no man more chivalrous than He! Jesus is our knight in shining armor! Jesus is the hero of our story! Jesus is the romance we always dreamed of! Let's spend our time gleaning in His field and no one else's. Let's follow behind Him and do all we can to harvest His truth and abide in His presence. For when we are with Him, our arms are full. We will always find plenty with our Kinsman-Redeemer who is completely smitten and totally in love with us. In fact, He loved us before we even drew our first breath! So let's partake at His table, ladies. Let's enjoy more and more and more of our blessed Savior and live securely knowing WHOSE we are! This is the day to rejoice and be glad! WOO HOO!

I can't wait to hear more of this love story, can you? Until tomorrow, my lovely DW's. XOXOXOXOXOX!

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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