Harvesting a Life of Hope • Message 3 • Surrender
Joshua J. Masters
May 31, 2019
Hello. As we inch closer to meeting in person again, I’m so grateful we can come together here.
Today we continue our series on the Book of Ruth called Harvesting a Life of Hope.
And we’ve been learning how to see God’s fingerprints in our lives, even when we don’t hear His voice.
In Chapter 1 of Ruth, we saw that God is working in our crisis—that His fingerprints are always guiding us.
In Chapter 2, we discovered how we can live a life of hope by recognizing God’s provision for us.
And in chapter 3 we’ll explore how to harvest a life of hope through surrender.
Now, not the kind of surrender where you kneel before an enemy army.
But a type of submission based on love and trust.
Now, before you shut off the video—let me say this:
I know submission is not an easy word for us.
I bristle a little when I hear that word too.
But true biblical submission is not weakness or oppression.
It doesn’t strip you of your identity or minimize who God created you to be.
It’s a willing surrender to embrace a more hope-filled future.
And this kind of surrender or submission is not timid.
In fact, we’re going to talk about what it means to live in bold submission.
And hopefully, we’ll walk away with a different understanding of the word, because…
Seeking God with bold submission allows us to live a life of expectant hope.
Let’s see how that works.
--We’re in Ruth, Chapter 3. (turn or swipe there).
--If you’re watching in our Online Campus, you can follow along by clicking the Bible tab in your chat window.
--And if you’re watching on another platform, you can either use the Brookwood App, or read the verses we’ll put up on the screen for you.
And as you find that passage, let me remind you what’s happened so far.
During a terrible famine, Elimelech and Naomi run away from God’s provision in Israel to Moab.
Then Elimelech and his two sons die, leaving Naomi and her two Moabite daughters-in-law.
One goes back to her family, but Ruth stays with Naomi, dedicating her life to the God of Israel.
So, Ruth and Naomi go back to Bethlehem, but they’re destitute, right? Until God directs Ruth to an encounter with Boaz, a rich relative of their family, who shows Ruth incredible favor.
At the end of chapter 2, we saw a transition in Naomi when she realized God had directed them to Boaz, a Family Redeemer.
She started out bitter but begins to see how God has been working in their lives to rescue them—that His silent fingerprints had been guiding their story all along.
Now we pick up in Chapter 3.
BODY OF MESSAGE
One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. …”
Ruth 3:1–2a (NLT)
Naomi says Boaz is a “close relative” referring to his role as a Family Redeemer.
So what’s is that?
The Family Redeemer (or Kinsman Redeemer) was a rescuer and protector for the family—a relative who could restore a family’s name by: --saving the land of a relative who had died,
--seeking justice on their behalf,
--marrying the widow, and
--carrying on a family legacy.
And Boaz, the man God introduced to Ruth, is one of these men.
Now, in these first few verses, we see more evidence of Naomi’s transformation that started last week.
First, the language Naomi uses indicates that she’s not treating Ruth as a daughter-in-law anymore but as her own daughter.
That’s the same Perfect Acceptance we saw from Boaz last week.
Second, if Naomi’s hope is that Ruth will marry Boaz, it means she’s giving up her own right to marry.
She could claim the family redeemer for herself, but instead, we see her sacrificing her own restoration for Ruth.
This is a complete reversal from her attitude in chapter 1, remember? When she was trying to send Ruth and Orpah away, Naomi was acting like (and even believed) she was sacrificing for them, but her actions were actually rooted in her own hurt and bitterness—putting them in danger.
But now that she’s been transformed—now that she’s seen the fingerprints of God working in her life, we see a true act of sacrifice...
**A surrender based on love—and that’s the kind of submission we’re talking about today.
When we’re transformed by the Spirit, we begin to look at the needs of others as greater than our own.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
That’s what we see from Naomi, and that’s what happens in our own lives as we surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit.
He transforms our nature to see others with compassion.
So what’s Naomi’s plan? Middle of verse 2:
“… Tonight he [Boaz] will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”
Ruth 3:2b–4 (NLT)
Okay… Take a deep breath. I feel you getting nervous through the camera.
At first read, this sounds kind of manipulative doesn’t it?
It sounds like Naomi is coaching Ruth on how to seduce Boaz, but that’s not what’s happening at all.
On the contrary, Naomi’s actually teaching Ruth about the customs of Israel.
This Israelite mother is teaching her Gentile daughter to know and understand the God of Israel.
After her husband died, Ruth would have worn mourning clothes to declare her sorrow.
So this idea of bathing and putting on nice clothes is about ending Ruth’s period of mourning for Mahlon.
Naomi is teaching her how to respectfully move forward in preparation for what God will do in the next season of her life… and to prepare her for a second husband according to laws of the Torah.
And how does Ruth respond?
“I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.
Ruth 3:5–6 (NLT)
She submits to Naomi’s authority as a parent.
And Naomi is teaching her how to respectfully submit to Boaz’s authority as a Kinsman Redeemer.
That leads us to our first fill-in.
We harvest a life of hope by submitting to…
- Earthly AUTHORITY.
Most believers can get their mind around the idea of submitting to God, at least intellectually.
But we have a really hard time submitting to earthly authority, don’t we?
I know this is a difficult topic.
Because everyone knows someone; a person, an organization, even a church that has abused their authority.
And maybe you’ve been mistreated by someone in authority over you.
I have too, and I’m sorry you experienced that.
If you need someone to help you heal from that abuse, we want to walk with you.
Brookwood Care Ministries, 864.688.8355, [email protected]
Their manipulation or mistreatment of us are the reason we have a misunderstanding of the word submission.
But again, true Biblical surrender isn’t about weakness or erasing who you are.
It’s not about accepting injustice or abuse.
It’s about measuring our own response.
Especially when we think the authority is wrong. Because…
The way we respond to earthly authority is a reflection of our trust in God’s authority. (repeat)
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.
Romans 13:1–2 (NLT)
When we dishonor those who are in authority over us, whether it’s our parents, our spouse, our church leadership or the government, we dishonor God.
--Does that mean we stand for abusive injustice?
--Does it mean we blindly follow the ungodly behaviors of those in authority over us?
--Absolutely not. But it does mean we address those issues with respect, honor and integrity.
We only see one example where Ruth pushes back against someone in authority over her.
Do you remember where?
It’s when Naomi tells Ruth to go back to her family and back to her gods.
Ruth knows God is calling her to go with Naomi—but rather than getting self-righteous of prideful, she boldly and humbly challenges Naomi with respect, reverence and honor.
And that’s what we’re called to do.
So, we need to measure our words in person—and we especially need to do that online where we feel a little more free to be snarky for some reason, right?
If you’re putting up sarcastic memes or posts that tear down Donald Trump or Joe Biden or your Ex, or your neighbor, or your kid’s teacher, or the church on social media, you need to know you’re not defending God—you’re disobeying Him.
God doesn’t need us to defend His word. He needs us to live it out.
Social media is a mission field.
So we need to measure every post we write against the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians.
And if our words falls short on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control, we need to delete it.
And we should use that same editing technique when we’re talking with someone face-to-face.
Because we’re called to be ambassadors of Christ not ambassadors of our opinions.
So how does all this help us Harvest a Life of Hope?
It gives us hope because a humble attitude toward authority (and other people in general) helps us heal.
It’s impossible to live in the hope of Christ when we’re focused on being right or pointing out how others are wrong.
Our opinions and our defensive nature are created through the lens of our own painful experiences.
See, the way we respond to authority NOW, actually comes from how we were treated by authority in the past. And how we felt in that moment.
So we stew in our past hurts or our offense rather than looking to God for the answers.
Be safe. Love justice. Have healthy boundaries—but respond in love and compassion to those in authority as a reflection of Christ’s love and compassion for you.
Then we can more clearly see God’s fingerprints in our lives and His guidance.
Let’s be ruled by God’s wisdom, not our emotions.
So Ruth changes out of her mourning clothes, submits to the authority of Naomi, and goes down to the threshing floor.
After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. …
Ruth 3:7a (NLT)
Now, some people read this and think Boaz was drunk, but there’s nothing in the language here to indicate that.
What we’re supposed to take away from this is that Boaz is content.
So what’s this whole threshing floor scene all about?
Well, this is a picture of a threshing floor.
After the harvest, the farmers would beat the sheaves to separate the grain from the straw. Then they’d shovel it up into the air so the wind would carry away the lighter chaff and the good grain would fall back to the ground. And they’d do that over and over until they had pure grain with no impurities.
And the reason Boaz is sleeping there is because the farmers would sleep at the threshing floor to protect their harvest from animals and marauding thieves.
Let’s keep reading.
… Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”
Ruth 3:7b–9 (NLT)
That makes us a little uncomfortable to read, doesn’t it?
Ruth’s actions here are bold, but not inappropriate.
This is another section of the text that is commonly misunderstood.
Some have suggested that the phrase, “uncovered his feet” is a euphemism for a sexual act because a similar phrase is used elsewhere in scripture in that way—but here’s the problem, this is a completely different form of that word and you’d have to take this verse way out of context to come to that conclusion. You’ll see why in a minute.
No, this action is symbolic of Ruth submitting to the law of God and submitting to the protection of Boaz under the authority of God.
As she submits to Boaz here, she’s actually submitting to God’s authority.
We harvest a life of hope by submitting to…
- God’s AUTHORITY.
This is a beautiful moment where Ruth submits to the law of God, knowing He (and Boaz as a godly man) can be trusted with her future.
The phrase she uses here, “Spread the corner of your covering over me” is literally translated “spread your wings over me.”
That language was used in marriage proposals, but it also harkens back to the blessing Boaz pronounced over Ruth the day they met.
Remember, in chapter 2 Boaz said:
“May the Lord [YHWH], the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
Ruth 2:12 (NLT)
So in essence, Ruth is saying. “I see YHWH in you… and I am submitting to God’s future for me.
I’m trusting you with that.”
And that’s the reason she can be so bold in her request.
Because, let’s be honest. This is still a pretty bold proposal isn’t it?
It’s a bold move.
She is confident and clear.
But again, she doesn’t come with her copy of Leviticus demanding her rights.
She doesn’t come in demanding what she deserves, she comes in humbly knowing she’ll receive a grace GREATER than what she deserves.
Don’t miss this… Ruth can come boldly BECAUSE she’s submitting.
See, when we submit to trusting the promises of God, we can also come before Him boldly and expectantly, knowing He will fulfill those promises.
Surrendering to God’s future for us isn’t weak.
It empowers us to claim His strength and His promises.
Having a heart of bold submission allows us to live a life of expectant hope.
And just like Ruth, we can humbly lay at the feet of Christ—and still speak boldly of His promises to us—knowing He will fulfill them.
So we see Ruth submit to earthly authority and to God’s authority.
And how does Boaz respond?
“The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.”
Ruth 3:10–11 (NLT)
Now keep in mind, Boaz is likely around the same age as Naomi. Ruth was married to Mahlo 10 years before he died… so she’s probably in her later 20s and Boaz is probably around 50.
So when Boaz says, “you could have gone after a younger man,” he’s actually pointing out her submission to God’s authority.
What he’s saying is, “You could have left Naomi, married into another family, and sought your own security—but you’ve chosen to honor your family and your God by seeking a Kinsman Redeemer, following the commands of YHWH.”
Remember, this is the time of the judges, a time of moral chaos and anarchy.
Most of the Israelites have turned their back on God, yet here’s a Gentile embracing the safety and provision of God’s authority.
And Boaz humbly honors God’s authority as well.
He says, “I’m surprised you would pick me, but I will do all that’s required.”
Now, the end of verse 11 is key.
Boaz says, “…everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.” Ruth 3:11b (NLT)
This is so cool! I love this.
The phrase used here for “virtuous woman” is Issa Chayil (E-sha Hi-yil) and that exact phrase is only used in one other book of the Bible: Proverbs. It’s used to describe the ideal, godly woman.
You see it in Proverbs 12:4 and again in that well-known poem in Proverbs 31.
And for those not familiar with it, the poem outlines what a courageous, virtuous, strong, godly woman looks like. And it asks “where can anyone find a woman like that?”
And, while OUR Bible places the Book of Ruth after Judges because of the chronology, the ancient Hebrew Bible actually places Ruth directly after Proverbs, because they view Ruth as the answer to Proverb’s question.
And in Ruth Chapter 2, Boaz is called a Gibbor Chayil (Gibbor Hi-yil), which is the male version of the same phrase meaning a mighty warrior of valor, a man of God.
So the author is boasting about the integrity of Ruth and Boaz.
This is how we know nothing immoral or torrid happened at the Threshing Floor.
But this rendezvous could have been disastrous, right?
A midnight meeting out in a field?
So many things could have gone wrong.
--Boaz could have been drunk. Many of the men there probably were.
--Ruth could have manipulated Boaz, even seduced him to get what she wanted.
--Boaz could have easily taken advantage of Ruth.
--Boaz could have rebuked her and sent her back into the night where it wasn’t safe.
Why wasn’t it disastrous?
Because they’d already submitted their hearts to God’s authority.
Why is this important to us?
**Because you will run into situations where the opportunity and temptation to go against God’s will for your life will seem overwhelming.
And our response in that moment greatly depends on our dedication to God’s word and His authority before we enter the threshing floor.
If we are in a deep, abiding relationship with God—when His authority becomes part of our character rather than a list of rules we try to follow, we stop focusing on the temptation that’s all around us and start seeing God’s guidance in our lives.
We won’t have to decide to do the right thing, it will be part of who we are in Christ.
But now we have a wrinkle in the story.
“But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
Ruth 3:12–13 (NLT)
Boaz wants to marry Ruth,
But according to the laws of the Family Redeemer, there’s a relative closer to Elimelech than Boaz.
So, in order for Boaz to marry Ruth, this other relative must first relinquish his right.
So here we see Boaz, once again, submitting to God’s authority.
He essentially says, “We need to do this the right way and we both need to trust God with the outcome.”
And that leads us to our last fill-in.
We harvest a life of hope by submitting to…
- God’s PLAN and TIMING.
This one is hard for me.
On my better days, I only want to know the future.
On my worst days, I want to control the future.
This is difficult, right?
Sometimes we have to surrender what we want to God, trusting He knows the best outcome.
Let’s continue reading.
So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.
Ruth 3:14–15 (NLT)
Why does Boaz not send Ruth home after they talk? Why does he tell her to stay until morning?
It’s to protect her.
Remember, this is a time of moral anarchy in Israel.
The threshing floor was a place known for prostitutes, drunkenness, and immoral behavior.
It wasn’t safe to send Ruth back out into the night.
So just as we saw in the last chapter, Boaz offers her protection and provision.
And the reason she leaves before daybreak is not because she has anything to be ashamed of, but because Boaz wants to protect her reputation.
And this brings up another important point in submitting to God.
Romans 14 teaches us that we shouldn’t do anything that might lead someone else down the wrong path.
Even if we’re on the up-and-up, we must avoid things that can be misconstrued as ungodly—because it creates gossip and ruins our witness for Christ.
So Ruth goes home. Verse 16:
When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?” Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”
Ruth 3:16–18 (NLT)
Be patient and wait to see what happens.
We can trust him to work it out.
Naomi, Ruth and even Boaz are now in a position of letting God work out their fate.
Do they have a preference? Yes.
Have they made their preference known? Yes.
But ultimately, the only way we harvest a life of hope is trusting God’s plan and timing.
And now we have a cliff-hanger.
Who will Ruth marry?
Next time we’ll see how trusting God today is going to change their family for generations.
A lot of people have been struggling with surrendering their “todays” in the uncertainty of this pandemic.
Anxiety steals our hope because it tricks us into believing we’re responsible for the outcome.
I know that crippling feeling of anxiety… it was debilitating in my life for a long time.
I needed to surrender to God.
But surrendering to God is not about oppression, it’s about hope and security.
The real oppression is desperately trying to control things—when we know that we can’t.
Worry is a form of praying to ourselves, knowing we can’t answer.
Aren’t you tired of fighting for control every day?
But when we humbly come to the feet of Christ and boldly say, “Cover me with your wings—I trust you with today and I trust you with my future.”
Then we can claim the promises of God.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
Psalm 91:4-6 (NIV)
Doesn’t that sound like a promise we need today?
God is the answer to our anxiety and fear.
We need only exchange our false sense of control for His grace.