Ruth 3v1-18 (Part One)
(Click here to listen to the fourth Ruth teaching)
As the fourth scene of our story opens, a light begins to dawn in Naomi’s heart. All these inexplicable events which “happened to happen” to her and Ruth begin to add up to a revolutionary idea. Maybe, just maybe, God is in control after all.
She sees that she has a part to play in this drama - an essential role. Whereas previously we pitied Naomi for her irritating passivity, now we watch as she plunges into her position as matchmaker. Naomi has found her niche and she revels in it!
Naomi’s perspective on Ruth’s role has changed seemingly overnight: from tagalong servant to treasured daughter. As Naomi scurries to undo some of the damage of Ruth’s backbreaking labor in the gleaning fields, she sets about to secure a home for her future. With explicit instructions, she directs Ruth in how to nab her man.
A bath?...Check...Lotion and perfume?...Check...Feminine clothes?...Check.
Naomi knows just what to do. And Ruth enthusiastically complies even as she adds her own imprint to the intrigue. What man could possibly resist the charming way in which Ruth “comes softly” into his world and invites his love? Boaz certainly offers no sign of resistance to Ruth’s overtures, blowing every book’s theory that men don’t like to be chased! He passionately welcomes Ruth even as he protects her purity and her reputation.
The scene closes in suspense. Will Boaz come through? Will Ruth be rescued? Is the home the women have been longing for about to become a reality or another dismaying disappointment?
This week, we will spend some time delving into the idea of rest and security and home.
Just as Ruth and Naomi threw off any vestiges of passive complacency, we’ll be challenged to actively cooperate with God to create a place of beauty for those He calls us to love.
Most of all, as we involve ourselves in this scene, we will fall head over heels in love with Boaz. He is the man of our dreams; the one we’ve been looking for our whole lives. Our protector, our provider, our Prince Charming…he’s the man!
Come along with me as we open the curtain on Scene Four of our story to reveal our Redeemer.
The Verse of the Week:
“…I will give you rest.” Matthew 11v28b NASB
More Words from the Father:
From my Heart:
A Rare Place
Outside the quaint cottage where we spent our honeymoon, a conglomeration of letters set in a beautiful mosaic had us completely stumped. Framed by planters and overflowing with cascading blooms sat the wonderfully curious phrase, “Resta bitfo rtisa ra replace tor estat.” At first we thought it an odd bit of Scottish poetry or some beautiful Gallic saying. But, as the days passed and our eyes adjusted to the strange configuration of letters, a message emerged. The message intended all along:
Rest a bit for tis a rare place to rest at.
For two glorious weeks we rested at that rare place. It became our respite from the real world - our own secluded island, far from the cares and chaos of life in the fast lane. Eventually, however, we had to go back. Back to work. Back to bills. Back to all the hassles and hurts that are a part of the reality of living in this world.
For my husband and I, that place was magical. We found joy and peace and wonder and delight under the eaves of its shelter.
A rare place to rest at.
After months of misery, Naomi finally wakes up one morning and realizes that it’s time to stop sulking, time to “get off her duff,” time to stop making excuses and create for Ruth what she’d been longing for all along. A place of rest.
The Hebrew word used here and throughout Scripture is manoah. Naomi set out to find manoah for Ruth.
Naomi wanted more for Ruth than the cold cave they had found shelter in. She wanted what we all want. She wanted a rare place to rest at.
Is that what your home is?
Is your home a sanctuary from the storm? A cozy place to curl up and relax? A place of welcome? A place of delight?
What would your kids say…or your husband…or your friends? Would your roommate agree?
Maybe it’s time, like Naomi, for us to wake up and start over - to clear out the closets full of criticism and conflict. Time to smooth down some ruffled feathers and sing a soothing song of joy and acceptance. Maybe it’s time to get off your duff and get to work, rethinking, rebuilding, renewing, and restoring the ruins of relationships that have become anything but restful. Time to unscramble the letters and to plant some beauty there.
It wasn’t until Naomi stopped thinking about herself and started loving on Ruth that her own joy returned.
I can just see Naomi as she concocts her female scheme. Washing Ruth’s tangled hair. Hauling water for a long hot soak in the tub. Finding perfume for her to slather on. Rummaging through their clothes to create something appealing. Naomi is having the time of her life! Gone is the sour expression and depression that have characterized this woman since the first sentence of our story. Now Naomi is happy, and busy, and full of hope and creativity.
I don’t know anything about your home, but I know about mine.
I know that “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I know I set the tone of our home. When everybody is uptight, it’s usually because I’ve been on a rampage, trying to shape everyone up and quiet everyone down. On the other hand, if I welcome my friends and family into my home with peace in my heart and the presence of the Holy One shining through me, they respond with an inexplicable sense of rest.
Light a few candles, spray around some perfume, and they sink in and stay a while.
How about it? Should we try? Can we cheer each other on as we attempt, with Naomi, to provide a place of rest for those we love?
Let’s unscramble those letters. Let’s write with beauty. Let’s…
Rest a bit, for ‘tis a rare place to rest at.
From my heart,
A Type of What?
A type is a theological term referring to an event or person in the Old Testament which foreshadows its fulfillment in the New Testament. The idea of what constitutes a type and what it represents is fraught with controversy and confusion. It seems best to err on the side of caution when identifying a biblical type while recognizing that the Old Testament stories and prophesies inevitably point to the Messiah.
Three rules of hermeneutical interpretation2 lend legitimacy to types:
1. There must be an obvious resemblance between the type and the antitype.
2. There must be some biblical evidence that God intended it to be a type.
3. A genuine type must clearly portray, without any mystery, what is being prefigured.
Boaz is clearly and without controversy an Old Testament type of Christ. His role as the Kinsman-Redeemer who steps in and rescues Ruth is a provocative picture of Jesus. Many commentators, including the late J. Vernon McGee, interpreted the entire book of Ruth as a beautiful prefiguring of Christ. There is undoubtedly an underlying sense of double meaning throughout the story. It is, however, a genuine historical story involving people who actually lived, who loved, and who married in the town of Bethlehem.
Boaz was a man. Imperfect and flawed. In every way real. The story doesn’t show any of that. Instead, the author beckons us along to peer down the ages and imagine what it might be like when Jesus comes.
The original readers didn’t know what we know now. They couldn’t imagine Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, then paying the awful price for our redemption. But we know, and that knowing makes this story come alive.
While reading about Boaz, remember Jesus. You’ll find yourself falling in love with Him right along with Ruth.
When Naomi seeks a home for Ruth, she uses the Hebrew word manoah. It is a noun designating a resting place. The word does not indicate a freedom from hard work as much as it is points to a particular location where someone settles down and remains.1 Since this is not the typical word used to denote a house, translators chose a variety of English words to give its meaning:
NLT: a permanent home
NIV: a home
This rest can also mean a spiritual place of rest for the soul. In the midst of difficulties and stress, the Psalmist cried out to the Lord and He answered with manoah, rest for his soul.
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul. For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116v7