February 2, 2012

Outtakes From Ruth: Boaz Was a Real Man!

I've got two more posts headed your way on the book of Ruth. I'm sure you're all growing sick of my obsession with this story, but I've spent nearly a year in this book and have uncovered so, so, so much. These "outtakes" are just some of the tid-bits I didn't expound upon to much in the series, but wanted to share.

I have a major crush on Boaz. Literally. If that man wasn't dead I would've totally married him in a heartbeat.

You think I'm joking.

But I'm not

;)

Boaz embodies biblical masculinity like no other (except Jesus) and serves as a strong example of male leadership. He's what I would deem a Real Man.

Real Men Protect. Ruth was in a rather vulnerable position considering she was a Moabite in a foreign land. In other words, she didn't have many rights, she has no husband to look after or care for her, and she's destitute. Had she found herself in a field other than Boaz's it would've been very easier for someone to take advantage of her and her situation. But Boaz provides protection for Ruth by keeping her in his fields (Ruth 2:8). He then also makes it very clear to the men working for him not to touch her or bother her in any way, but rather serve her:
"Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn" (Ruth 2:9)
Real Men Provide. Boaz provides community for Ruth. Now, at first glance that may not seem like a lot, but it is. I've moved around a lot in my short life state-wise, school-wise, and church-wise, and it's not all that easy. Moving has it's perks, yes, but at the same time it means having to start all over again in making friends and establishing a community, which at times can be hard and intimidating. Boaz acknowledges that Ruth is the new girl in town and reaches out to her by giving her godly girlfriends (Ruth 2:8). Boaz provides food for Ruth and Naomi. Ruth comes to Boaz's field in order to glean. Gleaning was the Hebrew version of welfare. According to Levitical law whatever the reapers (the paid field works) failed to pick up while reaping, they had to leave for the gleaners to pick up:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. -Leviticus 19:9-10
But Boaz goes above and beyond his law-abiding duty, and commands the reapers to purposefully leave behind plenty of bundles of wheat for Ruth to pick-up (Ruth 2:15-16). By the end of the day Ruth has gathered an ephah. That's way more than the average wage back then. (Plus, adds to that in Ruth 3:15.) Finally, at the end of the book Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife and provides for her a home, a son, as well as taking care of Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi.

Real Men Pray. Boaz prays over Ruth on two separate occasions in the text. Shortly after he's learned of Ruth and his relative Naomi's situation, he calls out to Ruth and prays over her...
"The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" -Ruth 2:12
Essentially Boaz is asking that God richly bless Ruth on all accounts. Then he utters this one phrase at the end of the prayer: under whose wings you have come to take refuge. I. Love. That. Boaz is praying that Ruth find safety, security, and shelter. As women we love knowing that we're secure in every possible way. When we're in that kind of environment and resting in such truth, we flourish. God does indeed answer Boaz's prayer here, by having Boaz be the actual answer. Remember the threshing floor? Ruth gets all dressed up and goes to meet him there. While there Ruth basically repeats Boaz's prayer back to him and challenges him to be the one to answer it:
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 3:9
That's something to think about! When we're praying for someone do we stop and think how God may want us to personally help them? More often then not, God uses His children as answers to people prayers, not miraculous signs and wonders. Boaz realizes that he is indeed that answer:
And he said, "May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first... as the Lord lives, I will redeem you..." -Ruth 3:10-13
Real Men are Men of Action! When Boaz is faced with a challenge, he's not a coward and runs off. Instead he meets it head on. In Ruth and Boaz's story there's another kinsman redeemer closer to Ruth, but one, he's a jerk, and two, Boaz is already in love with Ruth, so he has to find a way to get the jerk out of the way. Nor does he put this off, beat around the bush, or go and "think" about it for a few days, but he deals with it promptly.

Real Men are Responsible and Sacrificial. The "essence of masculinity is responsibility." To be a real man means you take responsibility for that which God has given you... and even at times what was another man's responsibility. Remember all those men in the story of Ruth who failed at this? Elimelech, Chilion,  Mahlon, and the no-named man? None of them took responsibility for the women God had entrusted to their care. But, Boaz goes out of his way and makes the care and protection of both Ruth and Naomi his personal responsibility. Boaz didn't have to care for Ruth and Naomi. While studying this book, I read a couple commentators who insisted that Boaz had to be responsible for them, but if we read the story carefully we see that there was a kinsman redeemer closer in the family line to Naomi and Ruth. It was that loser that scripture doesn't even name. This is also why we have the whole court ordeal over who Ruth is to marry in chapter 4. Boaz was definitely not legally obligated to Ruth. Boaz was going above the call of duty here out of love for God and Ruth. And by doing so he had to make sacrifices. Redeeming a relative was no small thing. It cost a great deal of money and meant that he would have to start a family with Ruth (having kids costs more money) in order that the family linage would stay intact. Plus, Boaz was inheriting the bitter mother-in-law, Naomi. (And we all know that's on the top of every man's list for what he looks for in wife.) Through it all though, we see that Boaz wants to do this! He finds it an honor and joy to serve and love Ruth. This is why commentators liken Boaz to a savior figure. Boaz reflects Christ in this story. Christ takes responsibility for His bride, and sacrifically give up His life in exchange for yours and mine. If you read through the book of Ruth and don't see the big gospel picture, then you've missed the whole point of the book. You and I are all Ruths. We've got nothing going for us and are destitute, but Christ comes and redeems us. Real men reflect Christ.

2 comments :

  1. I really like the book of Ruth and God has used it to minister in my life a lot. I, too, was a sojourner in a foreign land.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this. And, Ashley- I agree with everything your comment says!

    ReplyDelete

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