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May 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 29, 2022



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to RefleXion…Good Morning!         May the Lord be with you.

Naomi and Ruth were survivors.  We are all survivors.  Perhaps Naomi thought that when she married Elimelech that finally she was loved, and maybe when she had her two sons she felt in control of her destiny, and when they moved to Moab, she felt secure.  We have all developed this way, with strategies for making life work.  And then life happens.

We all, at some time when we were little, felt alone and disconnected; and we let our Ego create ways of being OK.  We developed an adaptive self for coping with life that would substitute for the more direct inner knowing, because that’s all we knew to do, and thank God we could do it—we survived. Our illusion of separateness just led us down any track away from shame, fear, or lack of control.   It created the persona that we use to cover our nakedness and shame.  The problem is that ego, who took on this task, is small and disconnected compared to soul, with no real source of life. All during our lives, fears arise about our own inner deficiencies and about threats in our environment that could unmask or destroy this assumed self, so, we just keep piling on the covers.  But the beautiful thing is though that no matter what we survived or how we developed, it did not touch our core authentic self (you can call it the True Self, the Imago Dei, the Beloved or Essence).  It is the REAL because of the divine indwelling, the Holy Spirit; it is our birthright.

Now our work is to let go of everything that doesn’t belong, all the scaffolding, the pretense, and to integrate all that is redeemed.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but are we willing?  The world is changing.  Our small self will not be enough for the demands of the days to come.  Contraction in to the little me will not help or heal ourselves or the world.   Here’s the phrase I’m sitting with: 

“We’re afraid to give up the control we think we have over the life we think we are living.”

Paul said it this way in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Join me in prayer, will you? Thank you God for the Real Life freely granted to us.  Let us not remain unaware of our own presence connected to Yours.  Let the strategies lose their grip on us, not in hopelessness but in hope.  Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds not in arrogance, but in humility. You call us new creatures and that we need no longer live in the old way, but in the new and living way.  May we, like Naomi and Ruth, find ourselves on the journey home.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz Ruth Chapter 2

Intro: In the apartment complex where my son Scotty lives,

There’s an old vending machine where residents can buy sodas
– Calum was six the first time I bought him a cola drink from it
• we inserted the money, he pressed button, machine rumbled,
◦ and a can of soda dropped into the slot at the bottom
• then before we could insert more money, the machine rumbled again and another soda dropped down
◦ as I was worrying about how we could return the drink we had not purchased,
◦ Calum exclaimed, “Oh! It’s my lucky day.”
– that could be the title for this chapter
• it’s a lucky day for all three of the main characters
• at first, people are just doing ordinary things, but
◦ before day ends, something extraordinary has happened

The chapter opens with a small piece of information
– the storyteller introduces to “a worthy man”
• the Hebrew word for worthy suggests force or strength, and elsewhere is translated mighty man of valor
◦ but it can be used also for a person of great wealth
• in some instances, the word refers to the quality of a person’s character
◦ here: Boaz was either wealthy or a man of integrity
◦ same word is used of Ruth, which is translated virtuous in the King James Version (Ruth 3:11), but could just as easily be translated a woman of integrity
• Boaz is also a relative of Naomi’s husband
– but this information in verse 1 is not helpful–it doesn’t explain anything
• however, it prepares us for what is about to happen
• it foreshadows a future development
Smith, jr., “Our storyteller is using a device that is similar to what modern movie makers use: focusing the camera briefly on a specific object—a glove, a cufflink, a coffee cup—without giving any explanation for it. The experienced moviegoer will recognize the importance of that brief closeup as a clue to the plot and will keep it in mind. At this point in Naomi’s story, Boaz has no clear role. But we need to keep an eye on him.”

(Please read verses 2-3) A quick scene change: Ruth goes to work

The storyteller alone will refer to Ruth by name,
• no one else will speak her name
◦ the storyteller also reminds us she is “the Moabite”
◦ her status as a foreigner remains in the foreground
• she volunteers to follow the harvesters and scavenge for grain
– Ruth intends to find someone who will treat her well
• we’ll see further one that the harvest field could be dangerous for a young woman
◦ she wants to find favor in someone’s sight – someone who will treat her kindly
◦ it could be one of the harvesters, an older woman, or one of the other locals
• this is an ironic twist on stories of famous Israelites in foreign lands
◦ Joseph found favor in Egypt; Esther found favor in Persia — these are key themes
◦ Ruth, however, is a foreigner in the land of Israel looking to find favor in someone’s eyes
– Naomi simply says, “Go, my daughter”
• she gives her permission, but she is not enthusiastic
• I think Naomi assumed Ruth’s gleaning after the harvesters was a necessary risk

Now we learn why the chapter began with that bit of information
– Ruth “happened” to stumble onto a field belonging to Boaz
• the meaning of the Hebrew means more than an event
◦ it refers to a happenstance, to happen by chance, a coincidence
• biblical Hebrew has a way to forcefully emphasize special word
◦ by saying the word twice: the heaven of heavens, the Song of Songs, the holy of holies
(there is a lot of this in the later chapters of Isaiah)
◦ Ruth happened to happen upon just this particular field
– it’s a total coincidence the the field she gleaned belonged to the man mentioned in verse 1

(Please read verses 4-7) The storyteller tells us to look at who shows up

Robert Alter tells us that in scripture, a person’s first recorded words reveal that person’s character
– if so, we learn a lot about Boaz when he greets his crew
• their back and forth blessing is part of the charm of the Book of Ruth
• but after that, Boaz gets straight to business
◦ there is one particular woman Boaz did not recognize and inquired about
“She is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi”
◦ and she had been a hard worker from early morning

(Please read verses 8-13) This conversation is too rich to cover all the details

What is obvious is the role Boaz plays, which is authoritative and paternal
– immediately and quite naturally he begins telling Ruth what to do
• it’s as if he’s giving instructions to one of his servants (cf. vv. 15-16)
◦ at same time, he promises her protection under his care
◦ and he grants her the privileges of his hired crew
• it wasn’t necessary for Ruth to bow before Boaz
◦ it is a dramatic gesture that illustrates the depth of her gratitude
◦ here is the person she hoped to find, in whose eyes she found favor
– Boaz explains his generosity, and then adds his blessing (v. 12)
• what Boaz has to say about God is noteworthy
◦ he says his name, Yahweh, then identifies him as “the God of Israel”
• when in chapter 1 Ruth said she would swap her gods for Naomi’s God,
◦ we cannot know if that was a cultural accommodation or true conversion
◦ it is possible storyteller wants us to know Ruth’s faith was real
– put a mental bookmark here at verse 12 at this metaphor of Ruth finding refuge under God’s wings (cf. Ps. 91)
• in chapter 3, Ruth will finding refuge under someone’s wings will recur in the next chapter

One thing Ruth makes very clear, is her status in Bethlehem
– verse 10, I am a foreigner – and now here in verse 13
you have . . . spoken your servant, though I am not one of your servants
• Boaz has giver her preferential treatment as if she belonged with his hired crew
• but she wants to point out that she is not his servant
◦ she may be holding to the line of her outsider status
◦ or she may be implying,
I’m not your servant, but I could be something more

(Please read verses 14-17) Boaz continues to take a special interest in Ruth

And to grant her special privileges:
– she is allowed to join him and his crew for a meal–baked bread dipped in wine
• his instructions to his crew, do not reproach her, do not rebuke her
• she was allowed to glean, not only in the harvested field,
◦ but also around the bundled sheaves where more grain might have fallen
– Ruth’s last job for the day was to beat out what she had gleaned
• that is, to “thresh” it to separate the chaff from the grain
• this is another foreshadow of things to come

(Please read verses 18-23) Naomi is obviously impressed with Ruth’s good luck

Naomi has a couple of questions, but even before she gets answers,
– she pronounces a blessing on the stranger who was so kind
• when she learns it was Boaz, she blesses him again
• Boaz’ interest in Ruth is not lost on Naomi,
◦ and for the first time she reveals, he is not only a relative,
◦ but a special relative, one of our redeemers
– the ga’al was a family member with the legal right to perform certain duties
• if a family lost property, or if a husband died and left no male heirs,
◦ the ga’al had the right to purchase property and provide the widow with an heir
◦ this legal provision will set up most dramatic moment of story
• one other function of the ga’al that is often overlooked, is the avenger of blood
◦ that is, to service a vendetta (Nu. 35:12-19)

Conclusion: I have struggled over how to bring this home to us

The easy message might be, trust God for divine coincidences
– since we cannot make happen everything we want to have happen,
• let’s put ourselves in God’s hands and see how things play out
• let’s wake up each morning and say, “This may be my lucky day”

But this is Memorial Day weekend
and we mourn those who died in service to our nation
Why did they die? For what did they give their lives?

This weekend we cannot help but mourn other tragic deaths;
the children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas
Is this what our brave soldiers gave their lives to protect?

What I find in the book of Ruth this morning,
are biblical examples of basic decency:
• Trust God–then we can live without envy, or fear, or hate
• Express gratitude for whatever kindness is shown us
• Whatever needs to be done, work heartily for the Lord and not for men (Col. 3:23)
• Remember we are not trash, but we aren’t the Messiah either
• Be generous with what we have
• Be especially generous with our blessings
Giving a blessing doesn’t diminish what we have, but multiplies it

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