Sermon Follow Up- Week 51, 2021
Embedded into each one of us are deep longings. Things that we wish were or were not true about this broken world and our broken lives. Just like God is moving Naomi towards an explosion of hope at her "emptiness" being filled, so he has given us the hope that one day, all that we long for will be fulfilled—Made possible only by the faithful, redeeming love of Jesus.
“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? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 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. 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.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And 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. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And 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. And 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. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain 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.”
So 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.” 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. 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, 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.’” 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.” (Ruth 3:1-18 ESV)
The hope of our deepest longings being fulfilled depends on Christ’s faithful, redeeming love for us.
SUBPOINTS AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Naomi's Plan
Naomi has been given food, but ultimately what she needs is a redeemer who will also carry on Elimilech's line. For a woman who was hopeless at the beginning of the book, she has been given fresh hope in Boaz. So she devises a risky plan to call Boaz to fulfill his familial duty and also present Ruth as a possible bride. But her plan would collapse if Ruth or Boaz would not maintain their integrity in the process thus proving their loyal love to her.
In the same way, if Christ does not remain loyal to his commitments to us, it all falls apart and we have no certain hope of the future. "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Cor. 15:19 ESV)
2. Ruth's Actions
Ruth follows through with Naomi's plan purely out of love and interest in her mother-in-law. Her selflessness is apparent to Boaz which further proves that she had pure intentions in the midst of taking a trip at night to the threshing floor for a clandestine meeting with Boaz.
Ruth's character resembles Christ's self-giving love as he came to earth. Philippians 2 proves that Christ was looking to the interest of others the whole way even if it meant that he would gain a people for his own possession.
3. Boaz's Response
Boaz's resolve to redeem Ruth and Naomi means that he correctly interpreting the situation: two widows were coming and pleading for help knowing that he would rise to the occasion.
Boaz is a picture of a willing redeemer. Someone who would claim responsibility for those enduring harm or hostility and restore them (Lev. 25). Jesus does the same for us. As we look backwards to Christ's willingness to redeem us, we see his commitment to faithfully bring our redemption to completion.
- What do you find yourself longing to change in our broken world or in your own life? How will Jesus one day address and resolve that longing?
- What does 'faithfulness' mean?
- How does Naomi's story flesh out what it means for someone to "redeem" someone else?
- If you are in a season of waiting (for answers, for a spouse, for relief etc), what has it been like? How do the words "I will redeem you" affect your waiting?
- Those who trust in Christ will have every longing fulfilled.
The book of poems called Every Moment Holy has a poem about homesickness being one of those things that many people experienced but that is actually preparing us for heaven. The same can be true of all of our deepest longings— our desire for health, our yearning to succeed at what we do, our desire to no longer toil at our work, our hope for political peace, our longing for a family or a functioning family, our yearning to be free from a haunting past. These longings aren't meant to be lightly thrown aside and treated as a pipe dream. They're meant to cause us to anticipate that there really is joy forevermore with Christ in the new heavens and the new earth.
- Women: Pursue courage and integrity.
Boaz wasn't the only one with upright character in this story. Ruth is just as much a picture of Christ as Boaz which reflects that men and women are equal in worth and dignity. Christian men and woman have both been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, meaning that we will grow increasingly to resemble him in our holiness and selflessness. The selfless love that Ruth showed towards Naomi presents a unique picture for women to imitate. Women who can strive to embody Christ's bold and self0giving love, refusing to be self-absorbed or self-interested.
- Waiting with Hope
Ruth and Naomi had to wait to see how Boaz would handle the situation knowing that it might turn out differently than they wanted. We are similarly waiting for Jesus to prove his promise to come back for his bride. In the meantime, we have a downpayment which is the Holy Spirit as our helper to help us until Christ returns. Waiting is differently waiting with hope— and we have been given hope that Christ's faithful love will not fail ever much less before he comes.
- Ruth 4
- Isaiah 41:8-20
- Exodus 6:1-10
- Deuteronomy 25:5-10
- Proverbs 31
A prayer to point your longing towards heaven: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scotty-smith/longing-jesus-like-jesus/
Songs to Encourage
"My redeemer's love grows sweeter as eternity draws near"
"Great is your faithfulness to me. From the rising sun to the setting same I will praise your name. Great is your faithfulness to me!"
"All our hopes are fixed on you, that your promises are true. And one day you will return. All our treasures here will fade, so we long to see your face. Until then, our hearts will burn— How long, O Lord?"