Sit Still – Ruth 4

Let’s recap where we are so far. Naomi is a widow, who with her daughter in law Ruth is also a widow. They have returned to Bethlehem poor and destitute. Ruth has been shown incredible kindness from a relative named Boaz. I response to his kindness Ruth has humbly asked Boaz to ‘redeem’ her in a gentle marriage proposal.

Boaz responds:

    And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
    Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
    Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the LORD lives! Lie down until morning.”
    ~ Ruth 3:11-13

Boaz has replied that he would welcome her hand in marriage, but there is another relative who is closer and has the first rights. By law, that relative must be given the chance first. What an honorable man Boaz was!

    Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. ~ Ruth 4:1

Guzik: “The gate of the city was always the place where the esteemed and honorable men of the city sat. For an ancient city in Israel it was a combination of a city council chamber and a courtroom. The city gate was ‘A kind of outdoor court, the place were judicial matters were resolved by the elders and those who had earned the confidence and respect of the people … a place for business and as a kind of forum or public meeting place.’ ” (Huey)

    And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. ~ Ruth 4:2

Whenever big decisions are being made or possible conflicts are being resolved, having eyewitnesses there is always a good thing. It doesn’t leave much room for argument later if there are witnesses to the discussion and decision. This idea is taught all through God’s word.

    But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’. ~ Matthew 18:16

Matthew Henry: “Why was Boaz so hasty, why so fond of the match? Ruth was not rich, but lived upon alms; not honorable, but a poor stranger. She was never said to be beautiful; if ever she had been so, we may suppose that weeping, and traveling, and gleaning, had withered her lilies and roses. But that which made Boaz in love with her, and solicitous to expedite the affair, was that all her neighbors agreed she was a virtuous woman. This set her price with him far above rubies.”

    Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. ~ Proverbs 31:10

It’s beautiful to see that while Boaz is an honorable man, Ruth is also a virtuous woman. A match made in heaven 🙂

    Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ” And he said, “I will redeem it.”

    Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.”

    And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

We read in the Mosaic law last week (Leviticus 25 and Numbers 27) that The Lord had provided a way for a property to pass down to relatives and for the family line to pass down as well. God provides for a family member to ‘redeem’ property and/or marry a widowed family member to continue the family and inheritance of the deceased. Here we see Boaz begin the conversation by proposing to his relative that the man redeem the land of Elimilech. That means this cousin would buy back the land from Naomi to keep it in the family. This land sale would no doubt provide money for Naomi to live on.

Buying land would have been a fairly simple business decision in those days. The man either has the money or he doesn’t. He either wants the property or he doesn’t. Easy squeezy. But then Boaz reminds the man that with the land comes the responsibility of taking Ruth as his wife.

At this point Naomi and Ruth are in absolute suspense. They may very well have been sitting there watching the entire exchange wondering how it would turn out.

When I used to get stressed out as a kid, my dad would tell me “Don’t worry about the things that you can’t control”. It seems like good advice. However, God doesn’t want us to worry about anything at all.

    Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
    Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
    Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
    So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
    For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
    But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
    Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ~ Matthew 6:25-34

Remember, Ruth was new to the God of the Israelites, but Naomi was raised in faith in Jehovah. For most believers, faith and trust in God are learned over many, many years through lots of trials and trouble. Back in chapter 3, after Ruth has proposed to Boaz that he redeem her, Boaz replied and tried to calm her fears:

    And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
    Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
    Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the LORD lives! Lie down until morning.
    ~ Ruth 3:11-13

Upon Ruth’s return to Naomi after meeting with Boaz, Naomi also sees Ruth is stressed about the situation and reassures her:

    Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” ~ Ruth 3:18

Sit still. Right.

I confess to you: that is so hard for me! I can imagine Ruth coming back to Naomi all worried or in tears. God has developed Naomi’s faith over many years. She has the wisdom of a godly older woman. Ruth has probably learned to be a ‘virtuous woman’ from the beautiful example that Naomi reflects. We see Naomi’s wisdom and faith so wonderfully summarized in that simple statement: Sit still.

    Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
    ~ Psalm 46:10

    “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
    ~ Lamentations 3:24-26

One of my favorite examples of this is in Exodus 14 when the Israelites had left Egypt in the Exodus and had their backs up against the Red Sea with no way of escape. I love what Moses says to reassure them!

    And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
    The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
    ~ Exodus 14:13-14

Do not be afraid. Stand still. Those are soothing words to my own soul.

    Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel.
    Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal.

    And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.

    “Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”

    And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.” ~ Ruth 4:7-12

What a love story! “All the people who were at the gate and the elders” were witnesses to this redemption. Notice that the people proclaim blessing on them using the lineage of Christ. I love how the word of God consistently points us to Jesus! (See Matthew 1 for the genealogical line from Adam to Christ.)

    So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
    Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel!
    And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”
    Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.
    Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
    Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron;
    Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab;
    Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon;
    Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed;
    Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.
    ~ Ruth 4:13-22

God uses each of us in such incredible ways! We cannot possibly know what the future holds for each of us, and certainly we can’t know how God will use our current choices in His future plan. God used Naomi’s decision to return to Bethlehem. God used Ruth’s choice to propose to Boaz. In all of this, God had a plan for Israel’s future king – King David.

    And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Adrian Rogers:
“God can take things that are bad and put them in the crucible of His wisdom and love. He works all things together for good, and He gives us the glorious, wonderful promise that He will do so. We know that we have victory over sin and over Satan, but this verse in Romans teaches us that we also have victory over our circumstances. It says that all things work together for good.”

Rest in that today. Sit still.

Jesus, the Vine, and the Nation of Israel – John 15

Here is my Sunday school lesson on John Ch. 15

To read the entire chapter of John 15, click here

Vs 1-2

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

The grape vine in the Bible is often used as a word picture for the nation of Israel.

For example, check out

    Psalm 80:8-9 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, And caused it to take deep root, And it filled the land.”

Who did God bring “out of Egypt”? The nation of Israel! After bringing them out of Egypt, He “cast out the nations”, in other words God pushed the other nations out of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Then He “planted it”, He established the nation of Israel right where it sits today. He put it there, caused them to become strong and blessed them there so that they “filled the land”.

But then Israel didn’t always follow after God.

    Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 “Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes…. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.”

And then also we see

    Jeremiah 2:21 “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”

So in the Old Testament, before Jesus came to this earth to be our Savior, the “Vine” was the nation of Israel and the “Vinedresser” was God. God was the One that planted, established, pruned, watered, and blessed the Vine.

Now in the New Testament Jesus has come to earth:

    John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

He is now saying “I am the Vine.” So under the Old Testament the “way to God” was through the Tabernacle, and through the Jewish law that God had established in the Old Testament books of the Law, and through the priesthood. Once Christ came to us, then the “way to God” is through Jesus alone:

    “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

So Jesus is now the Vine. Who is the Vinedresser? It’s still God, that doesn’t change.

Who are the branches? The believers – those of us that have accepted the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers.

We know that believers are the branches, but what if they do not perform (bear fruit), does He then “take them away” and cut them off from the church?

To answer that, we look to the Greek language. The Greek verb used here is airo which can be translated “takes away” but can also be translated: “to raise up, elevate, lift up” and “to raise upwards, elevate, lift up (as in by the hand)” and also “to raise from the ground, take up (as in stones)”. This paints a pretty cool picture in my mind of God lifting up someone who “does not bear fruit”, a person who is struggling and not following God but is a believer. He takes them by the hand and pulls them up to Him, helping them up off the ground, lovingly bringing them back to Him. I love it!

If a branch is bearing fruit, following God, serving Him, He will be lovingly pruning that one. How does He prune us? That’s the next verse!

    Vs 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

The Word of God prunes and cleans us by convicting, instructing, and guiding. The Word gives us hope, shows us God’s grace and mercy, gives us direction and lights our path:

    Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
    Vs 4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Without the Vine (Jesus) we can do nothing. We would not exist without God, and we could do absolutely nothing if it were not for God. We are nothing but dust without Him. But with Christ and in Christ, we are fruitful, we can bless others and be blessed. We can show others His love, we can read and study His Word, we can be fruitful with Him and in Him!

    Vs 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We are not human bodies with an eternal soul, we are eternal souls with a human body.
When we die, we will be going to one place or the other to spend eternity. Heaven or hell. We have a choice. I’ve picked heaven, and frankly the alternative is frightening. I know a Christian (who is not walking with God) who is so angry at another Christian that he said “If he’s going to heaven, I don’t want to be there”.

The fact that this other guy is forgiven and will receive God’s mercy and spend eternity in heaven makes my friend so angry he doesn’t want to be there.

The Bible says we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are ALL born in the same sinking ship that is going down to hell, and God has thrown us each a life raft. You can get in the life raft or not, it’s your choice. All you have to do is believe in Him. Jesus died for your sin and for my sin, and when we believe that He rose again so we can live eternally with Him, He makes eternal life a reality for us. All it takes is a simple prayer. Sounds too easy? That’s because He loves us so much, He wanted it to be easy! Tell Him that you accept His free offer of forgiveness and life. (“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” – Acts 16:31)

    Vs 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

If we are abiding in Christ, and we are living out His Word in us and we read and study His Word and desire His Will, when we ask for what we desire, it will be that which God has put on our hearts. This verse does NOT mean God is like a big vending machine where we make the request for what we want and God performs. James 5:16 tells us “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” God will place on our hearts what to ask for, and even though OUR desire may be for one thing, if we are praying in Christ it is our desire that HIS will be done.

    Vs 8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

God is glorified when we are bearing fruit. Glorify means “to exalt, to honor, to hold in high esteem, to elevate”. So we honor God when we are bearing fruit, doing His will, being used by Him in the lives of others.

    Vs 9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

If we are abiding “in His love” we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. But He also tells us to keep His commandments along with abiding in His love. Doing both, abiding and obeying, will give us His full joy! Hallelujah!