Tag Archives: proposal

A possible key to unlock healing in your broken life – Characters: Ruth, Part 5

22 Nov
Photo by CMDR Shane on Unsplash

In Part 4 of our study through the ancient Hebrew story of Ruth, we watched as Ruth makes a most unusual proposal to Boaz. If you are just jumping into the story here at the end, I urge you to start at the beginning, as the drama has been building. This Part 5 will be much more meaningful, in my opinion, if you start at Part 1 and continue from there.

We concluded Part 4 with Ruth having just made a marriage proposal to Boaz. It was very risky, as it was uncommon for a woman to propose to a man, not to mention the way she did it was quite forward. Boaz could easily be offended and say, “Get away from me you inappropriate woman!”

But Boaz’ answer is a resounding “YES!”  From his comments in verse 10, we hear a hint of relief in his voice.  Apparently he is an older man, maybe wondering if a young woman would go for him.  He sees Ruth’s proposal as a great kindness, which brings us to what is possibly the most significant part of the story.

There is a word in the Hebrew that is used here.  It is hesed.  Kindness.  It is a word used often in the Old Testament, and it is often translated “love”.  So it is more than just being kind.  It is loving-kindness!

In 1:8, Naomi, when she is telling her daughters-in-law to return to Moab, says “May the Lord show hesed to you.”  So this is something God is capable of.  Or better, it can be said of God.

In 2:20, Naomi says it again when she realized that Boaz will be their kinsman-redeemer, and again, she attributes this to the hesed of God.  So twice now we have God showing loving-kindness.

But then Boaz says in 3:10 that Ruth had done a kindness to him.  This is a deep kindness. 

One commentator I read noted that nowhere in the book of Ruth do people say to God “I need help, I want you to be kind to me! Save me! Help me!” Instead, the main characters in the book go out and they themselves act with kindness.  They seem to have understood that their role in being faithful followers of God is by being like God himself. 

Do you want to experience the hesed, the loving-kindness of God in your life?  Then go share that same hesed with others.

This is the high point of the story, and from there it is all joy and wonder.  Boaz goes and pleads at the city gate because there is actually another kinsman-redeemer closer in lineage than himself.  That gentleman defers, and Ruth and Boaz are married. 

They have a son, and the son becomes grandfather to the most famous King of Israel, David.  Because Jesus was of the family of David, that means this Moabite lady, Ruth, is Jesus’ great, great, great….and many more greats grandmother. 

When you practice the Hesed, the loving-kindness of God in your family’s life, you can change the destiny of your family.

In his commentary, my OT professor, the late Dave Dorsey says, “In Ruth’s loyalty, diligence, and determination to support her again mother-in-law, combined with Boaz’s kindness and generosity, the audience is left with the central moral to the story: the admirable qualities exhibited by Ruth and Boaz can be used by God to reverse the fortunes of a whole family; or even the fortunes of a whole nation, as shown by the final outcome of this story—the Davidic dynasty.”

The same can happen in our families.  What is the tragedy, the brokenness in your family?  Will you see yourself as the one who can be used by God for renewal and healing?

How can you practice loving-kindness to the people in your family this holiday season?  The process of healing what is broken can take time, and that is normal.  Can you practice hesed at least in some way big or small this season?

Ruth chose loving-kindness when she could have easily responded to her loss and pain in a self-focused way.  She could have been bitter and angry at God.  Instead Ruth responded to her pain in a selfless way, reaching out, serving, and helping.  She decided to trust that God was at work and she reached out to her mother-in-law, Naomi. How can you reach out?  By giving selflessly, you just might launch your family on a whole new trajectory.

So where is the pain in your family that needs to be healed?  Where is the brokenness?  Ruth ran toward the broken with loving-kindness.  She could have easily stayed with her family in Moab and let Naomi go back to Israel alone.  I think most people would understand if Ruth had stayed in Moab, and we would not have faulted her.  If she had stayed in Moab, of course there still would have been healing to do in her life.  She just lost her husband.  But Ruth didn’t stay. She took an even riskier path.  She gave herself to care for her mother-in-law Naomi, who was of a different nationality, thus taking Ruth away from her support network, her family, her country!

What do you need to do to practice that kind of loving kindness in your family?

A most unusual marriage proposal – Characters: Ruth, Part 4

21 Nov

Do you remember your marriage proposal? Or if you aren’t married or engaged, do you have a hope or dream for what your proposal will be like? In our culture proposals have become more and more elaborate. Today we learn about a very unusual one!

The ancient Hebrew story of Ruth has been unfolding, moving from tragedy to hope. If you want to catch up, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. At the end of Part 3, we learned that Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, has gotten over her bitterness at losing her husband and two sons when she observes the Lord’s blessing on her life through Ruth, who not only stuck with Naomi, but also goes to work for their relative Boaz and he cares for them with food. So Naomi concocts a plan.  It might sound bizarre.  Look at Ruth chapter 3, verses 1-4 where you can read Naomi’s plan.

What Naomi suggests amounts to a marriage proposal, but it sounds totally unfamiliar to what we would consider a marriage proposal. Naomi says Ruth should go to Boaz’ barn at nighttime, because it was harvest and Boaz and his workers would be working late to bring in the harvest, so they wouldn’t go home but would sleep in the barn. Naomi instructs Ruth to find Boaz asleep, uncover his feet and lay down there!

Are you thinking, “Huh? How is that a marriage proposal?”

Imagine people a couple thousand years from now trying to explain the significance of our engagement rituals.  Men spend lots of money buying a rock, usually a very shiny one, and they pay to have that rock fastened to a ring, and then they super nervously get down one knee and ask a woman to accept the rock.  She starts crying tears of joy. Assuming she says yes, he then puts the rock on her finger, and that starts a process whereby they will be together for the rest of their lives.  Totally normal and romantic and even emotionally joyful to us, right?  But imagine people from another culture looking at that. They might think our ritual is weird.  That’s very similar to what we just felt reading what Naomi says Ruth should do.  Uncover his feet while he is sleeping! 

And yet we need to know that what Noami suggests is not totally normal for their culture.  In their culture, Naomi and Ruth are being forward.  

Even here in the USA in previous generations, a girl never approached a guy to ask him out.  You would be considered a floozy.  Parents would be very suspicious about a girl who just called a guy on the phone to talk.

What about a Sadie Hawkins Dance?  That is a dance, usually once/year, where the girl asks a guy to be her date to the dance.  But it is the exception that proves the rule. 

In America, however, things have been changing to the point where little by little women are taking the initiative to ask men out.  Though it is still most common, in my observation, that males make the first move.

Back to our story.  What is going on here?  Like I said above, the harvest has to get in, so Boaz is up late into the night working, and he crashes in the barn for a few hours.  Like sleeping in your the office when things are so jammed up at work, you can’t come home. 

If any of you noticed a sexual connotation to what happens next, you are right!  Ruth is very daring.  She doesn’t actually do anything sexual, but when she finds him there sleeping in the barn, and she uncovers his feet, this is a proposal for marriage.

The imagery is fascinating. Look at verse 7.  This uncovering of the feet essentially says, “Open your bed for me to come in.” 

It could go very wrong, and she could be shamed if he wakes up to a woman sleeping next to him and says, “What the heck are you doing…get out of here you inappropriate women.” 

But Ruth is not inappropriate at all.  Instead I want you to notice a beautiful wordplay that Ruth uses.  Look at verse 9.  As Boaz groggily rubs the sleep out of his eyes, not even sure who this is and what is happening, Ruth says to him, “I am your servant Ruth, spread the corner of your garment over me.”  In the original language, Hebrew, this is literally the phrase “spread your wings” over me.

If you’ve been following along with the story, do you remember where we have heard that phrase before?  Look at Ruth chapter 2, verse 12. There Boaz had said the same thing to Ruth when he first met her. It was essentially a prayer of blessing: “May God bless you as you have taken refuge under his wings.” 

It very well could be, and I would say likely, that Ruth is remembering these words that Boaz said to her, and basically is saying to him, “You are a kinsman-redeemer (which we talked about in Part 3), you are part of Naomi’s husband’s extended family, and you could be the means by which God provides refuge for us.”

In no uncertain terms, Ruth is saying, “You desire God’s blessing for me? Will you be that blessing, and thus will you marry me?”  Do you see the boldness in that? It’s so risky.

Though contemporary America is far more egalitarian than ancient Israel, it is still in our culture very uncommon for a woman to propose marriage to a man.  How much more in her culture, then, was Ruth making a bold, rare move! Because of that, the gap between verse 9 and 10 is interesting.  I wonder how long it took Boaz to answer Ruth.  Maybe it was quick.  Sometimes the answer is obvious.  Perhaps he had been thinking about this for some time and just didn’t know how to go about it.  But as in our culture when people get engaged, the guy is usually a nervous wreck, wondering “What is she going to say when I pop the question?” Ruth was probably very nervous.

How long did Boaz wait to answer? What will Boaz say? Check back in to the next post!

When you’re crazy in love – 2nd John, Part 1

9 Sep
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Oh the crazy, creative, wild things we’ll do for love.  Have you ever been bonkers in love and did something like that for the one you love? 

I recently heard the story of a guy who made a necklace for his girlfriend.  He carved a small pear shape out of wood, and placed a little seashell in a divot, and then attached it to a chain and gave it to her for their first anniversary.  And she wore it faithfully, daily.  Then a year later, they were out visiting one of their favorite places, he asked her for the necklace.  He broke it in half, got down on one knee, and revealed that inside, all along, was an engagement ring. 

She said, “Yes!  And then after thinking about it awhile, she said, “Wait…it was in there the whole year?  I could have lost it!”  So creative and risky, right?  That blows my proposal to my wife out of the water.  My grandmother had given me a diamond that part of another ring that her grandmother gave her.  So I had the diamond made into an engagement ring, but once I got it, I was so anxious to propose, that I did it that night in a misty rain in the gazebo in Greenfield.  I was, and am, so in love with Michelle, but I admit I wasn’t all that creative about my proposal.

I learned about another guy who was way more patient and creative. This other guy started writing love letters to the girl he was dating.  She would write back.  They didn’t live far apart, but the letters would a great way to pour out their hearts to one another, and a wonderful record to keep of their relationship.  Well, after three years, and 13 letters, he asked the girl to get all the letters out, and he started arranging them.  And this is what she saw.

image

Can you read it?  The first letter of every love note spells out “Will you marry me?”  She also said, “Yes.”  What is so amazing is that year by year as she was receiving the letters, she didn’t know they were slowly spelling a proposal.

When you’re in love it seems you can’t help it, can’t stop it, you are just flowing with it.  The emotion, the energy, the creativity. 

All summer we have been reading other people’s mail.  Ancient letters.  Not love letters.  But letters in the Bible.  As we’ll see in this next letter, there are other views on love that we need to hear.  Thus far we’ve read the letters that Paul wrote to Titus and Philemon

Today we turn to another writer.  John, who was not only a disciple of Jesus, but also possibly Jesus’ first cousin.  We’re not talking about John the Baptist, who was another cousin of Jesus.  We believe the disciple John wrote the Gospel of John, and then also the epistle of 1 John, and the short letters of 2nd and 3rd John, as well as the book of Revelation.  Going by word count, John wrote 20% of the NT, third behind Paul and Luke.  John was one of Jesus’ inner three disciples, Peter, James and John.  Because of this privilege, they had some unique experiences, such as seeing Jesus’ transfiguration.  John was the only disciple who visited Jesus at the foot of the cross, at which time Jesus asked John to care for Jesus’ mother, Mary.  John would go on to be a leader in the early church.  We believe, of all the original disciples, he passed away last.  Most scholars believe that while much of the New Testament was written around the years 50-70 AD, John wrote all of his works in the range of 85-100 AD.  Lastly, John is often called the Dr. Seuss of the New Testament because he uses the fewest variety of words and he repeats them often. 

As we’ll see, both of his very short letters of 2 and 3 John talk about truth and love, but in 2 John we’re focusing on love and next week when we study 3rd John, we’ll focus on truth.  So go ahead, open a Bible to 2nd John, and read it.

In verse 1, the writer begins by identifying himself with the title, “The elder.”  We think John was the elder or leader of the churches in Ephesus.  As you’ll see, the name John is not mentioned anywhere.  Then he mentions who he is writing to, and it is quite curious.  The recipient is “the chosen lady and her children.”  This could be a real person, but as we’ll see in the content of the letter, it seems that John is using “the chosen lady and her children” as a metaphor.  The chosen lady most likely refers to a church, probably the local congregation he is writing to.  Throughout scripture the church is often referred to in the feminine, for example when Paul calls the church the bride of Christ.  And her children, then, would be the people in the church.

Check back in to the next post, and we’ll see John begin to talk about love.