A Bible Study exploring all the 3:16s in the Bible as they illuminate
- the Human Condition
- God’s Revelation of His Plan
- God’s Fulfillment of His Plan
- Our Response (Current location of study)
“And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her,” – Ruth 3:16
First, in regard to the story of Ruth, it’s important to understand the entire story. It is only 4 chapters long and I often refer people to The Bible Project for their terrific overview videos and animations about the books of the Bible. The poster and video from that website are shown below.
In case you don’t watch the video, here is a brief summary of the story from Biblehub.com.
The book of Ruth is the Narrative of a love story, yet also has some important Genealogy. The timeline of this book is intertwined during the period of the Judges. The author was anonymous but some believe it was perhaps written by Samuel the prophet; however, it is unlikely that he was alive when this book was written. It was written about 1046-1035 B.C. Key personalities include Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz.
Its purpose was to demonstrate the kind of love, and faithfulness that God desires for us. It shows the difference between what happens when a nation does not follow in obedience to the covenant of God (Judges), and when God’s people follow in faithfulness within the covenant (Ruth).
• In chapter 1, Ruth remains loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi after the death of her husband and in-laws. Naomi decides to return to her home land of Bethlehem alone, however, Ruth insists on staying with her and adopting Naomi’s God as her own. “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (1:16).
• Chapter 2 we see Ruth gleaning in the fields of Naomi’s relative Boaz. Boaz out of compassion and obedience to the law allows Ruth to glean but also leaves extra grain for her purposely.
• In chapter 3, Naomi encourages Ruth to seek marriage with Boaz as a kinsman redeemer. Ruth obeys Naomi and asks for her rights and Boaz agrees but mentions that he must first be sure there are no others with first rights.
• Chapter 4 Boaz and Naomi are married and Ruth conceives a son named Obed, the grandfather of the great King David, in the lineage of Christ our Messiah.
Now let’s look specifically at the context for this week’s 3:16 verse by examining all of Chapter 3.
“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.’ And she replied, ‘All that you say I will do.’“
I find an interesting parallel in this story to gospel evangelism. Naomi, a Jewish woman, “coaches” her daughter-in-law, Ruth – who is a Moabite gentile – in the cultural ways of Jewish life. Specifically here, she tells Ruth about how to proceed in her developing relationship with Boaz.
Now it’s always easy, when reading Scripture, to lose track of the time that transpires during a story. When Ruth first met Boaz, it was sometime early in the harvest season. When she first told Naomi about meeting Boaz, Naomi said (Chapter 2, verse 20), “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’ Naomi also said to her, ‘The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.'” The concept of a redeemer was that a relative had the right to purchase back into the family property which had been lost due to death or a sale to someone outside the family. Boaz was a redeemer who could restore to Ruth (and Naomi) the family name and inheritance they had lost because of the death of their husbands.
It has been several weeks, if not months, since Ruth first met Boaz. Following Naomi’s instructions, Ruth seeks him out to ask him to provide needed “redemption.”
“So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’
Ruth has, in essence, proposed marriage to Boaz, asking him to “redeem” that which she has lost.
And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.’”
Boaz explains to her that redemption is available to her and he is more than willing to provide that. However, he must go through the proper channels and procedure to ensure that the redemption he offers is legal and acceptable. This is a beautiful picture of Christ who was obedient all the way through his death on the cross to ensure that the necessary requirements of the law were met.
“So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, ‘Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.’ And he said, ‘Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.’ So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, ‘How did you fare, my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, ‘These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, “You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.”’ She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.’”
Ruth returns to Naomi with a gift from Boaz representing his agreement to provide redemption. I think it is a neat picture of the promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus made as indication of the future and permanent redemption that he provided to us. Boaz still had to complete the redemptive work, but he gave Ruth and Naomi provisions as a promise that he would complete the work (which he does in Chapter 4).
Ruth responded to the instruction given by Naomi and found the redemption that she needed. Boaz and Ruth become the parents of Obed, the grandfather of King David and the ancestors of Jesus, our Great Redeemer!
Our next is 3:16 passage will come from 1 Peter.