Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting for Instruction


Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” – Ruth 3:4

Some will call Naomi a match-maker, but I think her intentions were a bit nobler than that.  She realized the sacrifice that her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth had made.  Ruth had left her homeland of Moab to travel to Judah where she would be a foreigner, and might not ever be remarried.  Her mother-in-law Naomi recognized this, and she wanted a husband for her widowed daughter-in-law.  In Ruth 1:13 as she is trying to leave alone, she tells them Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”  
Naomi herself was now old, widowed, and without heirs.  The Israelites valued children and having their lineage live on.  But Naomi, being old and her sons being dead, would have no heirs.  She must have felt the loneliness, and worried that without grandchildren, who would take care of her if Ruth decided to leave her?

But God specializes on doing the impossible.  Ruth had met Boaz, the owner of the field in which she gathered barley after the field had been harvested, and she had found favor in him.  Boaz, being a Godly man, honored her service to Naomi and her choice to choose God over her families idols.  He gave her special provisions as she gathered barley in his field, and made sure she was protected and cared for as she labored.
As God would have it, Boaz was a close relative to Elimelech, Naomi’s dead husband, which was important in the Israelite traditions.  After a woman married to an Israelite was widowed, there were “property rights” on her based on who remained of her dead husband’s family.  A brother was first to have rights to marry her and give her children so that her dead husband’s lineage would live on, and then the remaining men of the family had rights to her.  No doubt when Naomi heard that Boaz had taken a liking to Ruth, she was overjoyed, and started planning a wedding!

The harvest was complete, and the grain had been hulled on the threshing floor.  This was a time when the people would usually hold banquets and have big celebrations.  It was also a time when the threshing floor became a place of illicit sexual activity! Hosea 9:1 indicates it was a place of prostitution when it says “You have made love for hire on every threshing floor.”  But Boaz, being a Godly man, would not have been a part of such things.  Yet the innuendo is still there, and for a woman to meet a man at a threshing floor is much like talking to him in his bedroom.  And on this night Boaz was at the threshing floor “winnowing” his barley.
Naomi instructs Ruth to take a bath, put on perfume, dress in her finest clothing, and go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be.  She waited until he had eaten and had fallen asleep at the bottom of the pile of grain to protect the grain from thieves and animals.  Oh, Ruth was a brave woman!  Young as she was with an older man alone in the night at a threshing floor.  She was risking her reputation! 

But what she does next is mysterious until we know the tradition.  Ruth softly and quietly comes to Boaz, lies down at his feet, as a protector of him, and uncovers his feet, never waking him.  A woman uncovering “more” of a man would have been propositioning him.  But she uncovered only his feet, and did not wake him.  She was becoming intimate, but not in a sexual way.  Then, just as her mother-in-law had told her, she waited.  Naomi had given Ruth instructions to wait and said “he will tell you what you should do.” This scene foretells of a later scene in the Bible when Mary would sit at the feet of Jesus, and listen to His every word.
There are times when we need to be alone with God, and just listen to hear what he will tell us to do.  We need to make ourselves vulnerable to Him, and be intimate.  How many of our worries and problems would be solved if we just waited patiently, knowing that “he will tell you what to do.”

The Bible tells us in Psalms 27:14 that if we will wait upon God, and keep our courage that He will renew our strength.  We’ve all been there – so troubled and worried that we feel physically unable to go on.  But the prescription for this kind of pain is simple.  It’s faith.  Faith gives courage, and courage allows you to wait for God to instruct you. 
What do you need to wait on God for today?  Is there an issue you need to hand over to Him?  He is faithful to take your burden, and renew your strength.

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