Soap, sex and risky living

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Ruth 3

“It just so happens, by God’s providence, she ends up in the field of a man named Boaz,” who just happens to love God, who just happens to have a job, who just happens to be single, who happens to see her, who happens to initiate a conversation, blesses her, prays for her, feeds her, gives her a great job, gives her a very generous gift for her and her mother-in-law. He looks like the perfect husband.

1.  Soap

This is like every good novel and television show and movie where these people are friends, and they should fall in love, and they never quite get there.

She goes to her job, working for him every day for six or seven weeks, and they never have a second date. He doesn’t call. He doesn’t follow up. Nothing. She’s left hanging. What got off to this great, romantic, sparks flying, “Could this be the one?” All of a sudden, nothing. Like the average guy. He does not know how to close the deal. He does not follow through. And she is left to wonder, “Where are we? Are we friends? Are we more than friends? What are we? We need to have the ‘defining the relationship’ conversation.”

And at this point, they’re only truly two options.  One is the way of scripture, this is where the godly daddy would get involved. And he would go meet with Boaz, “Boaz, you love the Lord. My daughter really likes you. It seems like you like her. Where are we going? “ (

Now, the problem for Ruth is she doesn’t have that kind of Dad,

Plan B for her could have been the Moabite way, Now the Moabite way is we’re all freaky, dirty, weird people, and we live and sleep together and hope that we live happily ever after, which doesn’t often occur. And the Moabites were a sexually perverted, confused people. Three millennia removed from the story of Ruth, but the way that her people that she comes from conduct themselves in dating and marital situations is much like our own. 

The result is that you and I are born into a world that we think is normal because it’s all we know. But I’m assuring you of this. It’s very Moabite. It’s not very Christ-like. It’s not very Biblical.

Dating was a word that was introduced into the American language in 1896 as lower class slang for prostitution. So, to say, “I’m going out on a date” means I’m picking up my prostitute.

In the early 1900s, women would enter into a relationship of courtship and engagement and marriage through what was known as calling, whereby the man would come to the woman’s house and spend time with the woman and her mother and her father, and his gun.  They would all get together and they would sip tea and visit, and the boy could only come if he had an appointment, and as soon as the appointment was over he would have to leave. And he was in the woman’s safe home environment with her family.

What happened then was that women’s magazines started to come out.Now you’ve got voices competing with the mother and the father, telling the woman, “Here’s how you should dress, and here’s what guys like, and here’s how you can get one, and if you’re living or sleeping with one, here’s the tricks that he likes,”

So now these young women are hearing, “Oh, well, there’s other options, other than what my mom and dad, who love me, have told me, or maybe what my church has instructed me in.”

What happens then is in the 1920s urbanisation increases. You have got places to go for dances, and meals, and plays, and cinemas.

The woman is taken out of the home and she’s out into the proverbial “Man’s world.” By the 1940s the men realised, “We’re spending a lot of money here. We bought a car, we bought a suit, we picked her up, we took her out to dinner, and a dance. We should get some sexual favours.” This now becomes a commercial business view of a relationship, some of you women have felt this pressure. “He spent a lot of money, he expects me to perform some sort of sexual favour.” By definition, that is prostitution. It is the exchange of a sexual favour for money, or a good, that was paid for. So then there’s a pressure on women to produce sexually.

Then the birth control pill is invented so that promiscuous women don’t have to have the same fear of getting pregnant. By the 1970s Playboy and Penthouse are out on the shelf and all of a sudden we have a sexually liberated culture where that now is the ideal type of woman, and women are pressured to be like that, and men are encouraged to spend their money to get something like that.

The result is that you and I are born into a world that we think is normal because it’s all we know. But I’m assuring you of this. It’s very Moabite. It’s not very Christ-like. It’s not very Biblical.

Third way!!! It’s not dating or courtship. We’ll call it “dourting;” that’s kind of what it is. She’s dourting Boaz, and in so doing, she is taking the counsel of an older woman, Naomi. This is sort of echoing the concept of Titus 2: older woman gives counsel to younger.

2. Sex

Naomi says, “Sweetheart, don’t run up with your emotional baggage and drop it on him. Let the guy enjoy his buddies. Let him enjoy the fruit of his labours. Let him enjoy a long, hard harvest season, and then here’s what you do.” This is unbelievable. “But when he lies down” – which is strange because dating courting relationships are supposed to be upright? There’s usually not a lot of “and when he lays down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down and” what? “he will tell you what to do.”

This is a complicated text. How many of you think Naomi gave bad counsel, baaaaad counsel? How many think, “Well, she’s a woman of faith. She trusted the Lord, she trusted Boaz and Ruth.” There’s a big debate as to whether or not this is good or bad counsel. Some ask, “Is she telling Ruth to cross the line?” I don’t think so. She’s telling her to dance on it vigorously, that’s for sure. I mean, that’s for sure, right?

“At midnight” – late, dark – “the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet.” There’s a woman! “He said, ‘Who are you?’”

Good question! Josiah 9:1 says that prostitutes would also come out to the threshing floor because guys would have a few drinks, not all of them were godly. They had proverbial money in their pocket, it was payday.

Who’s that woman down there? I smell the Moabite Madness. Smells like trouble. “She answered, ‘I am Ruth,” – you know, I can’t do the voice, but you get the idea – “I am Ruth, your servant.” Your servant. Whew. “Spread your garment (blanket/wings) over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’”

Okay, now, here’s what she’s saying. In chapter 2, verse 12, Boaz prayed that God would take her under his proverbial wing. And here she is saying, “Boaz, why don’t you answer that prayer and be God’s wing. Love me, protect me, hold me close, look after me.”

Putting your blanket over a woman was akin in our day to putting a ring on her finger. It was a proposal for marriage. It was a man, would come to a woman, and this was his public demonstration, saying, “I want you to be my wife. I want to love you and protect you. I want to take you home and have you sleep in my bed, under my covers, as my beloved. I want you to be my wife.” Here’s what she’s saying, “I want you to marry me.” Now, she’s not proposing, but she’s proposing that he propose. That’s what she’s asking.

The question here is, is she asking him to have sex with her? Is she asking for an intimate relationship? Some commentators (and people like Steve Chalke) say that the language here is not just feet, it’s something else.

It is feet. I don’t believe that they had any sexual sin. But does she have a desire to be in bed with Boaz, yes or no, under his blanket? Yes. Yes, she does, as his wife. That’s the catch.

Some of you ladies have been wrongly taught that you should have no desires. You should. And you should channel them toward marriage, where they have a holy resolution. Right? That’s all. It’s a sin to have sex outside of marriage.

But, on the other hand, “Sex is dirty, nasty, vile, and wrong, so save it for the one you love.” It’s a very conflicting message.

Sex is glorious, beautiful, and good. God made us male and female, said it’s not good to be alone, wants us to be married, created marriage, wants us to be naked without shame to be one flesh, that the desires need to have a holy outlet.

That holy outlet is the man loves Jesus, the woman loves Jesus, they love each other, they get married, and then they have all of their pleasure and enjoyment. They read Song of Solomon and they make it sing again. That’s our position.

3. Right living
She is crossing here a number of taboos. A woman asking a man, a Moabite asking a Hebrew, a younger person asking an older person, an employee asking an employer. She’s very bold. She takes a great risk. The question then begs to be answered, how will Boaz respond?

Imagine a beautiful woman is at the foot of your bed. What do you say? Do you try and manipulate that towards sin? Do you say, “Well, let’s live together for a while.” You know, you don’t know if we’re compatible. Let’s sleep together. Say, “Well, I don’t know, you know? Why don’t you come in here, to bed with me, and we’ll see how it goes.” What will he do? Verse 10.

“And he said, ‘May you blessed by the Lord, my daughter.” He prays for her.

If this was going the wrong direction, this hits the brakes, right? A woman, “Hi. Who are you?” “I’m Boaz. Anything I can pray for you about?” Prayer slows it way down. He’s talking about the Lord. “

In calling her a worthy woman he is echoing what was said of him in chapter 2, verse 1, that he was a worthy man, worthy of respect and praise and emulation. He’s a good man, and now she is a woman of exceedingly good character. In Proverbs 31 the same word is used of the prototypical idyllic woman.

And here it’s applied to the redeemed Moabite, Ruth. The Hebrews never saw that coming. This woman, just a year before, was an unbeliever, and was a Moabite, and probably worshipping Chemosh. And now she loves the Lord. And she’s had such a hard transformation. She’s a woman of exceedingly good character.

And in this, the scripture is showing, in the words of Paul, that they are in fact equally yoked. Equally yoked. That means they both love the Lord the same. So they can hold hands and walk together, and one’s not dragging the other along. “Come on, let’s go to church, Bible study. Let’s obey the Lord. Let’s pray together. Come on, I’m dragging you.” No. You need to be able to walk together, same pace. That’s what it means to be equally yoked. They’re equal. They can keep stride by stride.

So what looks like a mismatch – rich, poor, Moabite, Hebrew, employer, employee – is in fact, in God’s eyes, an equal match because they both love him with all their heart, and they love each other. And they have outstanding character. And that’s why they’re a good fit. It looks good, doesn’t it? Yes. She’s declared her heart! Now they can get married!

Every good love story has a drama. Every good love story has an obstacle to the love being satisfied and fulfilled. So, we’ll deal with that in two weeks.

In conclusion, here’s what we see.

The sovereignty of God is working through all of these people: through the counsel of Naomi, though it is risky, to be sure; through the faithfulness of Ruth; and through the trustworthiness of Boaz.

And what we see is that the flip side of the providence of God, which is the theme of the Book of Ruth, is that sometime we have to take calculated risks. I want to be very careful with this. I’m not saying you make foolish decisions.

That’s what Elimelech did and it ruined his family. But Ruth and Naomi here take a calculated risk, and I – I agree, it is a big risk. But sometimes, when you’ve done all you can, you have to take a calculated risk, trusting that God is sovereign and good, and he will figure it out.

But here is the good news. Ruth risks, but ultimately she is trusting Boaz and God, who Boaz loves very much.

Communion Introduction

This is perhaps the greatest love story in all of scripture, And it’s the story of God’s love for his people. Furthermore, in Ezekiel this exact same language of Ruth and Boaz is used between God and his people, the Lord Jesus Christ and his church, and the same language is used for this reason: this relationship is a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ruth, like the church, which is the bride of Jesus, comes to Boaz as we come to Jesus, and what does she ask? “Will you redeem me?”

And then who does all of the work.  Boaz is like Jesus, so we are to be like Ruth, the church, the bride of Christ.

And we come to the Lord Jesus and we ask him for redemption, and he redeems us at a great cost, more than just the money that Boaz spent, but Jesus gives his own blood. He lives, dies, rises, he gives us himself as a gift to redeem us, to enter into a relationship with us. You say, “Why would he do that? He’s not obligated. He doesn’t owe us anything.” That’s grace. That’s love. That’s mercy. Jesus treats us like Boaz treats Ruth.