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Responses to Bible Verses

What my thoughts about this verse are, lessons I’ve learned, what I think it means, going through different Bible Studies, etc.

Ruth Chapter 4

So, I finally finished Ruth. Chapter 4 isn’t long, and it is very interesting to read about how the story is resolved between Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi. We left chapter 3 with the knowledge and expectation that the resolution would be taken care of the next day – Boaz was going to make sure of that. With everything we have been given about Boaz and the type of man he is, we fully expect him to keep his word. 

No surprise, he does. That next morning after sending Ruth away and telling her to not let anyone know where she had been, he heads to the city gate. Now, the city gates have an important role in the Bible pretty frequently – they are a gathering place, and a place where “legal and commercial transactions” took place. From here, Boaz calls out to the man that he had told Ruth he was going to ask to be the redeemer first, and if he said no, then Boaz would gladly take Ruth as his wife. This guy shows up (we don’t know what his name is), and beforeBoaz starts the conversation, he gathers 10 elders from the community to be witnesses for the upcoming transaction. He wanted to be sure that there was no way that this guy could go back on his word! From here, Boaz states that Naomi is selling the land of Elimelech, her late husband, and that with this land Ruth the Moabite was to be taken as his wife. The guy originally said yes, until hearing that he would have to take in Ruth as his wife. He then changes his mind, and says that if he takes this offer, he would be jeopardizing his own inheritance, and so he would have to pass. Then he hands Baz his sandal, yards yadda, the deal is done. Boaz then marries Ruth. 

After their marinate, Ruth gives birth to a son, and it is stated that Naomi was given the baby to be his nurse, but then states that Naomi was given a son. So, I’m not really sure, I guess Naomi adopted him as her own?? Who knows. The bottom line is that in verse 15, the women of the town tell Naomi, ” for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sounds, has given birth him.”  That’s a really sweet part of the story. Naomi was filled with bitterness – had asked to be called Mara because of it, and felt that she had no future and was completely empty. But God redeems not only her, but sweet Ruth, who had stayed with her beloved mother in law throughout this journey, and eventually became (in a way) Naomi’s redeemer. This son was named Obed, and he became the grandfather of David! THE David. 
After finishing this story, I’m choosing to believe that Naomi was truly acting in the best interests of Ruth by trying to hook her up with Boaz. Maybe she sent Ruth into a questionable situation because she rusted Boaz to be a man of God. Maybe she hoped that Ruth would know the line. Maybe she didn’t care. We may never know her intentions. But if Ruth had not followed Nami back to Bethlehem, David would never have been born. And thus, Jesus wouldn’t have been sired. God’s hand is all over and throughouut this story. It’s amazing to watch his Providence and his plan be fulfilled, exactly the way he wants it and plans it. 

Because honestly, if his people had had it their way, a Moabite wouldn’t have been the heroine in this story. It would have been a “good Jewish woman.” They were told not to take foreign wives, for crying out loud! But a foreign woman came and saved the day, and ended up with an amazing story and an amazing redemption that couldn’t have happened if she hadn’t followed her heart to follow Ruth and adopt her way of life. God called her out of darkness and gave her his light. That’s the only explanation. 

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Ruth 3

So… It’s been like two days since I read chapter 2 in Ruth, and I haven’t come back to it. Mostly because I’m lazy. I could blame it on work and say it’s been busy, but really I just haven’t  been in the right mindset to write this post. So, here we go.

I know this chapter has some controversy over the whole “Naomi telling Ruth to get all dressed up and lay at the feet of a man that was drinking wine” deal, but I’m just saying, there are other things to focus on and gain from this chapter… so…

The opening of this chapter is the conversation between Ruth and Naomi regarding the next step for the relationship of Boaz and Ruth. Naomi advises Ruth to go and seek Boaz after he has had his fill of wine and food, and after she has bathed and anointed herself and changed clothes. To me, this seems very much like a proposition. I definitely had a flashback to Noah passing out naked in his tent after having too much to drink earlier in the Old Testament. There are a lot of Biblical sayings and advisement a about the dangers of wine and drunkenness. But regardless, Naomi is advising Ruth to go and seek Boaz out, and whether with words or not, she is asking and actively seeking his hand in marriage and a relationship that would include more protection and covenantial background than Ruth simply working in his field. And Ruth, being a good and devoted daughter, follows Naomi’s instructions and goes to Boaz and lays at his feet. It even takes a while for him to notice that she is there! But whatever.

From the moment that he sees Ruth, he recognizes that she is seeking him out as a redeemer. She even quotes what he had referenced before about being under the wings of God’s protection, and uses it in reference to him! To me, this is a romantic play on words, and  shows us that she believes he (Boaz) was the answer to her prayers for redemption. Now, the redemption monologue tripped me up for a while. Saying that Boaz was “redeeming her” sent my stomach into knots, thinking that maybe it waas unhealthy, because we don’t need to think of our husbands as “redeemer so” because Jesus is our redeemer. But this was in the Old Testament. This is an Old Testament reflection of faith, before Jesus was even in their picture. Defining redeemed here would probably be in the alternate definition: gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment; or compensate for the faults or bad aspects of. So, he is redeeming her from her singleness. and from her inability to protect herself and care for herself. It may not seem to fit into modern day feminism, but it is what it is.
After Ruth quotes his words back to him, Boaz seems to soften up. He tells her that he recognizes that she is a worthy woman and her devotion to Naomi. He also recognizes that she is asking for a more substantial relationship and he is willing to make that happen to for her. He even tells her that he is going to take care of it soon, and to protect her reputation, he does not want anyone to know she was in the threshing floor with him, to keep rumors from spreading about her being promiscuous. There is so much protection from him, in every aspect of her life. It’s pretty amazing.

There’s another point to be made that when she came home to Naomi with so much barley, Naomi told her not to worry, because she knew that the matter would be sorted out that day. So he’s protective, productive, and a man of integrity and Godliness. What else could you ask for?

Besides having a wonderful base and example of a successful Godly relationship and love, there’s also another deeper meaning to this story. Naomi trusts that Boaz will respond appropriately when Ruth lies herself prostrate in front of him, asking for redemption. She has faith that what Ruth needs will be fulfilled if she approaches him and asks for it. There’s a great lesson in that. Jesus even said, “Seek me and you will find me., when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). He again says, “anything you ask for in my name shall be given to you.”

“What you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in his Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. ” John 14:13-14.

So, to me this is a great lesson. Ask for it in Jesus’s name! Seek him with your whole heart on your sleeve, and that’s when you will find him. It worked for Ruth!

So my major take-away from this chapter is simply that. You never know what blessings you can get from God if you don’t ask. If they don’t happen, you know that it’s for his glory and the betterment of His kingdom.. but what if they DO?

What would you ask for from Jesus if you knew there was no limit to what you could get? What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?

These are the types of questions I’m focusing on for now. I know there are some clichés about them, but it’s honestly just good old truth. #truthbomb

 

Short Thoughts on Ruth 2

So, Ruth 2 is all about the meeting between Ruth and Boaz. From the moment we see Boaz in verse 4, he is speaking the Lord’s praises and encouraging his servants in a Godly manner. The first words we hear (or see) him say are: “The Lord be with you!” That says a lot to me. This says to me that the most important take-away that we have of Boaz is that he is a Godly man who loves the Lord.

As we go further through the chapter, we see that not only is he a man of God, but he is very concerned with the welfare of his servants and of Ruth. Ruth sets herself apart from the other servants by her diligent work. It is very similar to that of the Proverbs 31 woman – here it says that she “has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Ruth knew that she needed to be very appreciative of the opportunity that she was given, and she takes full advantage of it by working hard. She is also unafraid of hard work – she is out in the fields gleaning the barley that is left over from the “reapers.” When Boaz finds out who she is, he tells her to stay only in his field from now on, so that she will not have to worry about being assaulted by other workers, because she is protected in his field. That’s a pretty great introduction!

Ruth’s reaction to his caring nature is sweet – in verse 10 she “fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'” This really reminds me of David in Psalm 8:4, and Job in 7:17. There is also a similarity between what she says and what Moses said to God when he was given the task of leading the Israelites out of slavery – “Who am I that they will take notice of me?” In Exodus 3:11 he says: But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” This idea of “Who am I?” really struck a cord with me. It’s important along with the ideas from the previous chapter.

Boaz also makes a reference in verse 12 to “the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” and this is just another way to show that he loved the Lord. This is seen all throughout the Psalms – David loved to use this metaphor. (Psalm 91:4) Boaz then invites Ruth to the table to share a meal and to eat until she is full. He gives her wine from his table. He is just all around taking care of her already, and he doesn’t have any relation to her other than her mother-in-law is part of his family. That’s a generous man! Then, if that wasn’t enough, he told his reapers to intentionally leave out bundles of barley for her to collect so that she would have more to take home with her! Just over and over again we see that he is already giving her so much and already so protective of her, and they have no relationship. It’s a great start to a wonderful relationship, and it’s also an amazing analogy to the love that God has for us. Without having anything to offer Him, He cares for us and makes us a part of His family with His generosity and protection. It’s pretty wonderful!

Short Thoughts on Ruth 1

So, after seeing a lot of my friends and Instacquaintances (yes I just made that word up, cool) post about how they are reading through Ruth, I decided maybe I would join the bandwagon a little late and do my own little read through/study.

Tonight I did just Chapter 1, and I’m planning (hopefully) to continue over the next 3 days to finish the book, since it only has 4 chapters.

I started out reading it and was just kinda, “Oh, okay, so her [Naomi] life was really sad… her husband and her sons died in an unknown amount of time and she was left with no family… alright.” But then, I decided to really think through some of the passages, and I found some pretty interesting thoughts I thought I would share.

Although Naomi has a tendency to be very sad and bitter (more on that in a minute), she does encourage her daughter in laws to become their own people again. She encourages them in verses 8-14 to leave her and return to their own people and families, but she does it in a “my life is so terrible, you don’t want to be around me, I have nothing to offer you” type of way, but she still does encourage them to pursue their own lives again, and not be afraid to seek new husbands. And one of the daughters does choose to do this – Orpah. This is the only thing we know about her. But as for Ruth, she not only wept with her mother in law, she shows her love and dedication to this woman by refusing to leave her side.

Probably the most famous verse (or group of verses) from the entire book happen in the first chapter, Ruth 1: 16-17, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me to you.”

What’s interesting to me is that this verse is now used at weddings. This is a verse that shows and explicates true, selfless, Jesus-like love for a woman that wasn’t her flesh and blood, but she became her adoptive family when she married Naomi’s son. This is really similar to the adoption analogy that is seen in many parts of the gospels. I love the fact that although this can be used to describe the selfless love that we are expected to have in marriage, but it really is more about selflessly loving the family and body of Christ.

Later in this same chapter, we see these two women journey back to Ruth’s homeland – Bethlehem – and upon their return, Naomi tells everyone that knew her to call her by Mara, not Naomi. This is because she believes that her life has been made bitter by the Lord. Naomi means “pleasant” while Mara means “bitter” interestingly enough.

This point didn’t seem very important to me at first. Yeah, she changed her name because she felt that her life was horrible, but so what? The importance in this is not just the name change, but the idea behind it. Her entire identity was now defined by that loss. The loss of her husband and her sons defined her entire being to the point that she felt the need to be renamed in a way that she felt portrayed her personality. She did not feel bitter about her life. She WAS bitter. That’s a scary thought.

 

I know I have a tendency to be defined by things that are happening in my life. I am depression, I am anxiety, I am failure; instead of seeing things how they are. I may feel depressed, I may feel anxious, I may feel failure if I don’t succeed the way I want, but I am not those things. I am choosing now to no longer be defined by those things and instead to let them be what they are:  conditions, shapes, states of my life that change every second. Why be defined by something that will be different tomorrow? Instead, I’m choosing now to be defined by what I know will not change: my status in God’s kingdom. I am His child, His beloved, and I’m ready to start being defined by that. There’s so much freedom when I live that way. It’s time to embrace it.

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