Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Redeemed and Secure

My Life Group lesson for Feb. 26, 2017, using Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” curriculum, as well as help from Bible Gateway and bits from Jay McCluskey, John MacArthur and Adrian Rogers.

FIRST THOUGHTS

What is your favorite “Happily ever after” story?

Mine is “Return of the King.” I was so invested in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that I needed every single one of the ten endings to “Return of the King,” and never wanted it to end. That part at Aragorn’s wedding when he tells the hobbits that they bow to no man and all the people bow to them instead, getting chills just thinking about it!

Today we’re going to talk about a happily ever after for Ruth and Boaz, and how their relationship is a metaphor for the redeeming salvation from Jesus Christ.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Ruth 1:1–4:22

*** Having studied the books of Joshua and Judges this winter, we will cram all four chapters of the book of Ruth into one study this week.

*** The book of Ruth took place around the time of Judges and possibly written during the time of King David’s reign, about 1,000 B.C. It is one of the loveliest illustrations of God’s redeeming grace in Scripture.

*** Whereas Judges focuses on leaders and unfaithful people, the Book of Ruth focuses on normal and selfless folks like Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth, living out their faith during trying circumstances.

INTEREST (Ruth 3:8-11)

8 At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! 9 So he asked, “Who are you?” “I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.” 10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.”

*** Boy meets girl.

--- The book of Ruth starts out with the problems of Naomi, whose husband passed, and then her sons passed, and she was a widow without protection in Moab, a land not her own, with two childless daughters-in-law who weren’t Israelites.

--- All of the these things were sad and seemed against her, and yet all were working for good.

--- Ruth is an unlikely star of the Israelites, a Moabite widow who ends up in King David’s genealogy and thus Jesus Christ’s.

--- When Naomi and Ruth got to Bethlehem, they had nothing.

--- Ruth worked in a field to gather the scraps of grain in what turned out to be a field owned by Boaz, who was related to Naomi.

--- In our “boy meets girl” scene, Boaz notices Ruth.

--- Boaz was impressed with Ruth for her devotion to Naomi and her work ethic.

--- He compliments her, assures her protection and makes sure she goes home with a large supply of grain.

*** Redeemer

--- When Naomi realized that Ruth was being helped by Boaz, her “kinsmen redeemer, or “family redeemer,” she got Ruth to bat her eyelashes at Boaz.

--- As a “family redeemer,” Boaz could choose to exercise responsibility for these two widows.

--- According to their rules of marriage, if a man died without children, like Ruth’s husband had, a kinsman could take the widow as his wife. This would provide care for the widow and carry on the family name. In this context, “redeem” means “to take care of someone or something.”

*** Ruth takes a bold step.

--- In what can be seen as a leap of faith, Ruth sneaks up in the middle of the night and lays at the feet of Boaz and asks him to cover her with his blanket, essentially asking him to commit to cover her with his provisions and protection.

--- Boaz wakes up to discover this beautiful woman at his feet calling him her “family redeemer.”

--- Boaz didn’t turn her away, and was on board. He told Ruth: “I will do for you whatever you say.”

--- Boaz makes clear that Ruth was a good woman and she had an impeccable reputation. Boaz said that “all the people” in his town knew of Ruth’s noble character. And since he did, too, no one in town would question either of them and their relationship.

(The townspeople probably reacted to their upcoming marriage like in every Hallmark movie where a declaration of love is made in front of a group of people.)

--- Naomi had told her daughters-in-law the Lord’s hand had turned against her (1:13). Now, through Boaz, the Lord’s hands were providing.

--- God’s providence is setting the stage, starting the process of putting Ruth and Boaz together for His redemptive purposes.

--- God places us with people who will serve alongside us in His plans.

*** Question - What feelings have you experienced as you began to realize the Lord was working things out in a positive way for you?

INHERITANCE (Ruth 4:13-17)

13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. *** A problem to overcome.

--- As in every romantic comedy and lovey-dovey movie, there has to be a bump in the road to keep our lovers apart for an extra hour.

--- In this case, there was another family redeemer who had the first dibs.

--- Boaz doesn’t pretend not to notice this. He’s honest and gives this man his lawful opportunity.

--- But thankfully that guy forfeited his rights, giving Boaz a clear lane to marry Ruth.

--- The other guy is like the Old Testament law. He was in his rights but stayed away. Boaz is more like our New Testament grace, with us seeking salvation and Jesus claiming us as our redeemer.

--- As our Redeemer, He rescues us from the plight of our circumstances, assuring us of hope in a future with Him.

*** Look around once in a while.

--- On the one hand, this is a great love story in the Bible.

--- At the same time, it’s a fantastic metaphor for God’s providence.

--- We see the divine purpose behind Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi and Naomi’s God.

--- I was listening to a podcast by Dr. J. Vernon McGee on Ruth this week. One of the points he makes is that God doesn't give us a road map. If he did you would walk along with your head down staring at it and miss everything around you.

--- John Piper said something similar, that “the life of the godly is not a straight line to glory, but they do get there.” God leads us through curvy roads, warning signs and heavy fog, but He assures us that His hand is guiding us.

*** Here comes the bride.

--- Royal weddings always seem to catch our attention. Ruth and Boaz were royalty; they just did not know it at the time.

--- Ruth conceived and gave birth to a son named Obed, who grew up to be the father of a man named Jesse, who had eight sons, the youngest of whom was anointed by God to be a king, David (Ruth 4:21-22).

--- If you look further down the family tree of Ruth and Boaz, you will also find a man named Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ (see Matt. 1:16).

--- Who would have expected a penniless foreign widow to marry an Israeli farmer and establish the family line of King David and Jesus?

*** Question - Do you have a keen awareness that God is bringing about His purposes in your life? Could you be surprised by whom He might use to do it?

REVIEW AND TAKE-AWAY POINTS

According to Harlequin Publishing House, which has published romance novels for half a century, more than 180 million romance novels are purchased each year, with Harlequin itself selling on average five and a half books per second.

The Book of Ruth includes the courtship and marriage of Ruth and Boaz.

Ruth cast herself at the feet of Boaz and asked him for a commitment.

When we cast ourselves at the feet of Christ, Jesus covers us with the blood of His covenant. He provides. He protects. He calls us His own and makes us His bride.

*** (1) Seek to demonstrate integrity in all of your relationships as a witness to your relationship with God.

*** (2) As hard as it seems, be sure to thank God for the obstacles and challenges in your life that are for your good and His glory.

*** (3) God can surprise us with those whom He chooses to bring about His purposes. He chose to bring about His redemptive purposes for us through Ruth, Boaz, and Obed, who became ancestors of Jesus, the ultimate Redeemer (Matt. 1:5).

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