Sunday – June 8, 2014 PENTECOST SUNDAY, Ruth 4:1-22 “Gentile Redemption!”

Sunday – June 8, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Ruth 4:1-22 “Gentile Redemption!” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Ruth 4:5
“Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”

Unlike some other cultures, Americans love to link romance with marriage. As the lyrics of one 1950s popular song put it, “Love and marriage … go together like a horse and carriage.” You might be disappointed in the story of Ruth because it does not contain as much “romance” as you are used to finding. Naomi sought to orchestrate a marriage between Ruth and Boaz, based on “romance.” She convinced Ruth to bathe, put on perfume and her best dress, and then crawl under the covers with Boaz on the threshing floor once he had fallen asleep. A sexual union in these circumstances would have consummated a marriage, albeit not by the most honorable means. Such a “marriage” would have been a “shortcut.”

Naomi’s scheme did not produce a “romantic evening,” or a midnight marriage. However, it did give Ruth the opportunity to ask Boaz to become her husband so as to provide protection and security for her (and for Naomi), as well as to produce a child who would carry on the family line. Boaz regarded Ruth’s actions as honorable, and assured Ruth that he would do as she asked if the nearest kin declined to assume this responsibility. They did spend the remainder of the night in close proximity, but it was far from a romantic interlude. When Ruth reported these things to Naomi, her mother-in-law assured her that Boaz would quickly bring this matter to a conclusion.

In stark contrast to the events of the previous night, we come to the seemingly unromantic legal negotiations and commitments of Chapter 4. Quite frankly, such “unromantic” dealings are a beautiful thing to behold. Chapter 4 is also a stark contrast to what we read in Chapter 1. There, Naomi returned to Bethlehem accompanied by Ruth, refusing to be called “Naomi” (Pleasant), but insisting on being called “Mara” (Bitter) instead. She sought to justify this by claiming that God had dealt harshly with her. She claimed to have gone out to Moab “full,” while returning to Bethlehem “empty.” However, when Chapter 4 draws to an end, Naomi’s arms are “filled” with the child that God has given her through Ruth and Boaz.

 I believe that both Ruth and Boaz took great pleasure in doing God’s will, even in those times when this appeared to be contrary to their own best interests. Naomi, on the other hand, could only sit back and complain, and propose actions that were contrary to God’s will. Chapter 4 of the Book of Ruth puts all the previous events and responses into a proper perspective. Understanding this chapter as we should will enable us to understand the entire book, so we should listen well to what God has to say to us in this text.


Sunday – June 1, 2014 Ruth 3:1-18 “Undercover Operations”

Sunday – June 1, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Ruth 3 “Undercover Operations” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – June 1, 2014 Download / Print

Ruth 3:1-4
“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”

Naomi has proposed to Ruth a shortcut to getting what Naomi wanted, but by the grace of God, the two principle characters – Ruth and Boaz – remained sterling examples of godly conduct. I have found I have been influenced by some Bible teachers who have tap danced all around the threshing floor, fervently trying to sanctify Naomi’s actions. It is time to take off the rose colored glasses and see the godly manner in which Ruth and Boaz handled the risky situation into which they had been placed by others’ plans.

You might rightly ask why I hold to this position, when others I highly respect and admire see the text quite differently. It all comes down to one’s hermeneutics (the interpreting of Scripture). First, I believe that the Bible is to be understood as it appears. Second, I believe that the Scriptures provide the willing student with all the supporting information one needs to understand what they find in any biblical text. I do not believe that the interpretation of any text hangs upon information discovered outside the Bible whether that is from historical narratives or scholarly commentaries. External information may supplement and illustrate biblical truth, but the interpretation of a biblical text does not hang on something outside of Scripture.

When it comes to the Book of Ruth, many want to see a common cultural practice underlying the actions which Naomi directed. The reality is that we see no such practice in the Bible – anywhere! (Please search for yourself!) Without other biblical texts to support this conclusion, I must take the text at face value. There is no unique cultural interpretation here. In other words, when a woman bathes, puts on perfume and dons her best dress, and then secretively climbs under the covers with a man who has had his fill of food and wine, I don’t think anyone in any culture would read this in any way but what we all assume.

That being said, the godly character of both Ruth and Boaz is dramatically displayed against the backdrop of Chapter 3. Circumstances were far from ideal here but that did not prevent them from living in a way that should command our respect. We often bemoan the fact that we live in dark days and are more than willing to complain about the evil of our day. Is today any different than the times of the Judges of Israel? It is during such times that the light of the gospel should shine ever more brightly from the distinctiveness of His people so God will get the glory!

Sunday – May 25, 2014 Ruth 2:1-23 “Can Christian Mingle Beat This?”

Sunday – May 25, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Ruth 2 verses 1 to 22 “Can Christian Mingle Beat This?” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – May 25, 2014 Download / Print

Ruth 2:15-17
“When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. “Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.” So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.”

For many years the issue of giving to the church and charity to the poor has been one of the great debates in the Christian community. Should our giving be to the church allowing the church to meet the needs of the poor or does the Christian have an obligation to meet the needs of their community as an individual. And when you finish wrestling with that, does giving to the poor offset your tithe to the church or should it be above what you give to Christian ministry?

For many years, I thought of giving as a New Testament teaching. Since we are now under grace, rather than under law, the Christian is not obligated to tithe or give a tenth of what they make to the work of the kingdom of God. The Christian still has the obligation to give because this responsibility is clearly taught in the New Testament, but the amount that is given was a matter of personal choice. When it came to the amount that was to be given I had lost my way in the discussion over tithing. I was caught up in the details of giving and lost sight of the heart of the giver. To put the matter in the mind of Jesus, I had fallen into the trap of straining gnats while swallowing camels.

Reading the account of Boaz’s generosity in Ruth 2 challenged me to consider giving in a new light. The Israelites of that day were “doing what seemed right in their own eyes,” which is but another way of saying that they disregarded the Word of God as it was revealed to them in the law. Boaz was a man who (like Paul in Romans Chapter 7) loved the law and who delighted (like the psalmist teaches) in doing it. Boaz, like Ruth, had the law written on his heart, a heart of flesh, not a heart of stone. As a New Testament believer, that should be true of you and me as well.

The instructions of the law pertaining to giving (particularly to the poor) were not a burden to Boaz, but a delight. He did not strive to figure out how he could reduce his benevolence to the bare minimum, but instead he went far beyond what the law required of him. The law was just a baseline for Boaz. This, my friend, is the kind of heart we should have toward giving to the poor and all those who are in need. No more debates for me about the minimum requirements of the law, or of the New Testament, for that matter. I pray God would give us all the heart of Boaz, who gave bountifully and joyfully.