25 Life Experience (3)

It was the graduation day at University of Waterloo. Everyone was busy finding a spot to take a good memorable picture with their friends and loved ones. Timmy was excited too, he squeezed between gangs of people in black gowns and tried to find his grandma. There she was, always wearing a big, warm smile and appearing in a calm demeanor. Timmy ran toward grandma and gave her such a big hug that she almost stopped breathing. Grandma gave him a pat on his back and said, “Good job, my boy; I have been waiting for this moment for ages, and now your parents could really rest in peace, knowing that you have become such a well-mannered and educated young gentleman. I think my labor for the past twenty years were not in vain. I thank God for you!”

“Grandma, don’t mention about it,” Timmy was very touched, “it should be me who ought to thank God for you! Without your sacrificial love, I would never be the same person you see today. I owe you all, granny!”

“Timmy, what are you doing over there? We are waiting for you to take the class photo, come on, and hurry up!” Benny was waving Timmy to move over to the other side where a whole bunch of graduates had already gathered. “Wait a minute,” Timmy yelled while he ran toward the crowd.

While Timmy was posing for the next picture, Benny asked, “Is that your mom over there? Where is your dad?” Timmy shook his head gently and whispered in a soft voice, “They have passed away for twenty years; the lady over there is my grandma.” “Oh, I am sorry,” Benny said, “No wonder you never mentioned about your family, so you must be very close to your granny, eh?” “Yes, indeed!” Timmy seemed to be lost in a deep thought, then he started to talk again while the crowd dispersed, “My parents went to Cuba to celebrate their anniversaries twenty years ago, back then I was only two and did not go with them, I was put under the care of my grandmother, Mary. They got into an accident while swimming in the beaches in Havana. Mom was carried away by the tidal waves and Dad tried his best to save her. They just disappeared among the humungous surfs. After a day, their bodies were both found amidst colonies of kelps and algae, and they were both drowned…..” Timmy was trying very hard to hold back his tears and keep his composure. “So you were raised up by your granny?” Benny asked. “Yep,” Timmy nodded, “Grandpas had passed away and Grandma was about to retire and enjoy her freedom 55 at that time, but because of me, she had to keep working for the rest of her life in order to raise me up. She did not put me in a foster home, nor have me adopted, but kept her promise when my parents left me with her care, and she strived to take care of me no matter what since she was my closest relative.” Benny was moved and curious, “What made her walk out of her way and be such a loving and persistent person? I don’t think any of my grandparents would do that, they even refused to baby-sit my nephew because they need to have some private time!” Timmy replied affirmatively, “It’s all about her strong faith in God. She was impacted by my great-grandma, Irene, and came to Christ. Then she vowed to follow Irene’s footstep and pass on the love of God from generations to generations. It was this strong faith and steadfast love that molded me to be the person today. I really thank God for her, I owe her all!”

Your Initial Response

How would you feel if you were Timmy? How could we relate God’s redeeming love to this story?

Ruth 3:1–18

1One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. 

2Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 

3Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 

4When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.” 

5“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 

6So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. 

7When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 

8In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! 

9“Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” 

10“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 

11And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 

12Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 

13Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” 

14So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 

15He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. 

16When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 

17and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ” 

18Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.” (Ruth 3:1–18 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Please underline “find a home for you” and “where you will be well provided for’ in verse one.

3 Number the command of Naomi to Ruth in ascending order (Ruth 1:3-4) and underline the responses of Ruth (Ruth 1:5-6).

4 Please underline the response of Boaz after he was awakened (Ruth 1:9-13).

5 When Ruth returned home, what was the response of Naomi after knowing the development of the matter? Please circle her responses (Ruth 1:18).

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

Human affection was revealed unreservedly in Ruth 3. First of all, Naomi thought about the interests of Ruth and hoped she would find a home of permanence soon. Secondly, Ruth, the woman of noble character continued to treat her mother-in-law with loving-kindness, and the whole town could testify to it. Finally, Boaz was also willing to fulfill his role as kinsman-redeemer by treating his kinfolks with loving-kindness.

1 Wasn’t it inappropriate for Naomi to ask her daughter-in-law to uncover Boaz’s feet (Ruth 3:4)?

2 What is the meaning of “kinsman-redeemer” (Ruth 3:9, 12)?

3 How was Ruth as a woman?

4 How was Naomi as a mother-in-law?

5 What was the conduct of Boaz? 

Israel was a theocratic nation, that is to say, God or His earthly representatives directly governed the nation. The land belonged to God in a theocratic nation. God gave the land to the Israelites so that they could use and receive the profit out of it. However, the existing possessor could not sell the land for it was a family portion. Even if the possessors sold their property on account of poverty, it was the duty of the nearest relation to redeem it.

As to the Israelites, having a heir as their successors was very important, for they could preserve their property inheritance within their clan (cf. Ex. 15:17–18; Ps. 127-128). Furthermore, they regarded women who were unable to have children as shameful (Gen. 30:1-2, 23; 1 Sam. 1:6-10; Luke 1:25).

The story of Ruth 3 was closely connected with the ancient custom and tradition. Owing to the fact that Elimelech (Naomi’s husband) and two sons died one after another, they had no male heir to inherit the land that belonged to their family. Therefore, according to the Jewish usual practice, the close relative of Elimelech had the responsibility to marry Ruth, producing a heir and keeping the land within the clan of Elimelech.

Ruth 3:1

Naomi asked Ruth her daughter-in-law, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?” It was a rhetorical question, to be exact, Naomi did not expect an answer from Ruth. Naomi knew fairly well that she should care for the well-being of her daughter-in-law. The literal meaning of “a home” is a place of rest. As to the Israeli women, they highly expected to marry men who dearly loved them, so that their spouses could provide security in their lives. As a widow, if Ruth could marry a man who was willing to sacrifice himself, she would not worry about the economic necessities of life then.

Ruth 3:2

Although Boaz was not Elimelech’s immediate kinsman, Naomi told her daughter-in-law to explore if Boaz was willing to marry his relative’s widow according to the ancient Hebrew regulation. Generally speaking, people threshed the grain on a hill or slightly raised platform. They threw the grain in the air and the wind would carry the chaff away. The farmers chose to thresh the grain in the evening for it was cooler and the wind was blowing harder than the day, thus a help to their work.

Ruth 3:3

The mother-in-law of Ruth asked her to go to the threshing floor. Before leaving for the threshing floor, Naomi asked Ruth to wash, put on perfume and put on the cloak. “Put on your cloak” (ESV) is not the best dress, but the outer garment that covered virtually the entire body except the head. According to the ancient Near Eastern custom, it is an act of proposing marriage to Boaz. Ruth’s mother-in-law asked her to be patient and should not let Boaz to recognise her identity until he had finished eating and drinking.

Ruth 3:4

There are at least two different interpretations regarding to “uncover his feet”:

1 The First Argument

“Uncover his feet” is a more obscure or polite way of saying, “expose his genitals.” Some scholars regard it as an illicit and lustful deal. Even if some scholars state that it was not necessarily linked with sexual intercourse, but this argument would surely defame Ruth the woman of noble character. The above interpretation is incorrect.

2 The Second Argument

Scholars of this school regard it as an accepted ceremony or custom, and there is nothing inappropriate in it. “Uncover his feet” can be translated as “lift up the clothes that are on his feet” according to some scholars. In the old days, owners who slept on their threshing floors lay with their clothes on, but with feet covered with a mantle; to be precise, Naomi only told Ruth to lift up the covering over the feet of Boaz.

Ruth 3:5-6

From the reply and action of Ruth, we know she was a submissive daughter-in-law.

Ruth 3:7

Generally speaking, the threshing floor was out in the open, and so it was essential for the owner or some dependable servant to keep watch over the grain. After a day’s work, Boaz ate and slept there. When Boaz was asleep, Ruth grabbed the right opportunity of uncovering the mantle that was on his feet and slept at his feet.

Ruth 3:8

Boaz woke up in the middle of the night. He turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.

Ruth 3:9

Owing to the darkness in the night, Boaz was unable to identify this woman was Ruth, and he asked who she was for that reason. Ruth right away made her objective clear and used the accepted idiom to ask Boaz. “Spread the corner of your garment over me” means “marry me.” The request of Ruth was logical and reasonable because Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer and he was responsible to marry this widow.

Ruth 3:10-13

From Boaz’s reply, we know he was not only older than Ruth but not young as well (Ruth 3:10). There were a few worthy points that we should pay attention in Boaz’s reply: first, “show kindness” (NIV) means faithful love or true kindness. Boaz praised Ruth greatly because she manifested faithful love or true kindness in her life. The simple reason is that, Ruth had not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor, and she took care of her mother-in-law faithfully. Second, Boaz would do exactly what Ruth requested, but he knew there was a kinsman-redeemer closer than him, thus he had to let this person decide first. Third, Ruth was a renowned woman of noble character in the town. Fourth, he was thoughtful for Ruth; he did not send her away immediately but waited until daybreak, before sending her back to her mother-in-law.

Ruth 3:14

Boaz gave Ruth a lot of grain. This was Boaz’s act of loving-kindness toward Ruth.

Ruth 3:15

Boaz did not want people to know about the visitation of a woman to the threshing floor, perhaps he was trying to avoid the spreading of unnecessary gossips. Owing to the decision of Boaz, Ruth left there in the daybreak; from this we know that Ruth respected Boaz. One measure was about 10 pounds and thus six measures would equal about 60 pounds. Ruth was not only a submissive woman, but she was also strong as she was able to carry a load of sixty pounds! 

Ruth 3:16-17

Ruth told the progression of the matter to her mother-in-law when she returned home. She pointed out that Boaz was willing to treat them both with loving-kindness and he would fulfill his role as a kinsman-redeemer.

Ruth 3:18

After hearing the report of her daughter-in-law, Naomi told Ruth to wait patiently. In her speech, we saw Naomi trusted in Boaz that he would be responsible in accomplishing his duty.

Conclusion

“Faithful love” occurs in this passage once more, in order that we could see Ruth was a woman of loving-kindness or faithful love. Moreover, it was not hard to find that Naomi believed the Lord, as He would deal with her husband’s clan with “faithful love,” that is, God would bless them through Boaz. Finally, Boaz was a person full of loving-kindness, and he was willing to obey the ancestral teaching, treating kindly his close relatives as a kinsman-redeemer.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Memorise Ruth 3:9-11. 

9“Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” 10“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. (Ruth 3:9–11)

2 As unmarried individuals, we must resolve to pray to God for our marriage, granting us a lady of noble character or a gentleman of faithful love.

3 As married couples, we must resolve to be good husbands and virtuous women.

4 As seniors, we must resolve to be good fathers-in-law or mothers-in-law.

5 As for all of us, we must determine to be people of “faithful love,” treating others with true kindness and loving the Lord with “faithful love.”

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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