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Jun 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 12, 2022

Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to our Spiritual Community.  May the Spirit of the Lord be with you!

I’ve been thinking so much this week about the image of the threshing floor from Chuck’s message last week, and particularly about the chaff and the wheat.  Have you?

I was wondering what actually IS whole wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, the chaff.  Well, I learned that the edible part of the wheat is the kernel (which includes the bran, germ, and endosperm) and that is the part that is alive.  The husk surrounding the seed is called the chaff, and it is not alive.  But what’s interesting to me is that the chaff and the wheat kernel are made from the same mother, the same seed, the same material produced them both.  Yet, one is alive, the other is dead, or at least not alive in the sense that it can produce more life.  One is essential for the sustaining of life; one is useful for filler, bedding, or fuel for the fire. 

The kernel is planted to grow more wheat.  If you plant only the chaff, even though it’s of the same material, it will not grow.  You can imagine that with any seed, can’t you…an outer layer protecting the inner seed, but eventually the protective covering must be separated from it.

 Didn’t Jesus say something about that:  John 12:24, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ““If it dies…”  I’m thinking it’s like the false self, the chaff. It’s not evil; it’s protective. But that’s why it’s so hard, our chaff is made of our very self, so it feels like dying.  Dying to self isn’t easy or pleasant.  You’d think we’d be glad to get rid of it, but it’s a part of us! 

And above all, trust God.  He has built in us the becoming, just like the wheat seed can becoming wheat, nothing else.   We allow the wind, the breath of the Spirit, to blow away the chaff in us in due season.  The seed of life in us will bear the fruit of life.  Amen?

Let’s pray:

God, we believe that you began a good work in us and that you will be faithful to complete it.  We pray that we will be faithful to follow your leading and put our hands and hearts into the tasks you give us.  We trust in the unfolding grace that Your Spirit breathes on us.  May we more fully believe that we are in Your care and trust that You know us best and love us most.  Now will you come to open our ears, our hearts, and our minds to receive You.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And, behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Ruth 4:1-2 Ruth 4:1-2

Intro: We’ve arrived at the most critical moment in story of Ruth

Last week, Naomi set the plot in action
– we could say that her maneuvering was relational; she was working with people
• this week, Boaz sets the plot in action, and his maneuvering is legal; he is using the law
– moving through the interaction that takes place in this scene,
• is an important factor that we could miss in all the action
• that is, the reality and depth of Boaz’s devotion to Ruth
◦ last week, Ruth asked Boaz, Spread your wings over [me]
◦ that is what Boaz does in this episode

Reading through the Bible will often bring your to a city gate

The obvious purpose of a building a wall around a city was protection
– the gate was a crucial concern – it a potential weakness
• the entire structure of the gate was built wider than the walls,
◦ sometimes with enough room for stone benches on either side
◦ otherwise, just inside the gate there was an open square
• appointed leaders would sit there to handle legal matters
◦ Abraham haggled with the elders of Hebron in their city gate (Gen. 23:1-17)
– it was inevitable that Boaz’ relative would walk through the city gate
• something unusual and interesting happens here
◦ every key character in the story is mentioned by name (cf. vv. 9-10)
◦ several other important names occur, and the chapter ends wit a list of names
◦ the naming of Ruth’s baby also has a special twist
• however, this one character–the qualified redeemer–is not named
◦ Boaz refers to him as “friend,” but that does not appear in the Hebrew text
– it is not unusual for many biblical characters to be present but anonymous
• frequently, people are not named simply because it is not necessary to know their names
• but this person was not identified by name intentionally
◦ the Hebrew text reads paloni almoni, which could mean “such a one”
◦ a person not worth naming
(the preferred translation of several important scholars is: “So-and-so.” Perhaps by the end of the story you will have figured out why he is treated this way)

(Please read verses 3-4) Boaz presents the legal issue to Mr. So-and-so

The specific concern Boaz mentions is a parcel of land
– when Israel settled in the land, it was divided among the tribes
• cities and villages were identified, and then then personal property was allocated
• the property of a family or clan belonged to them forever
◦ if a family lost its property to debt, it could be “redeemed” (that is, “bought back”)
◦ this is spelled out in the law of Moses (Lev. 25:23-28)
– so the first legal matter has to do with ownership of property
• Boaz had not mentioned the parcel of land to Ruth
◦ that was not his primary concern
• at this point, he hasn’t mentioned Ruth to Mr. So-and-so
◦ we have come to most suspenseful moment in story

Our hearts sink when Mr. So-and-so says, “I will redeem it”
– it ruins everything – Boaz tried, but failed
– in the movie, “Princess Bride,” a grandfather reads a story to his sick grandson
• a character in it says that the hero, Wesley, is dead
◦ the grandson interrupts, agitated and upset– “He’s dead?”
◦ the grandfather indicates that this story will not turn out like he expects
The Grandson: Grandpa! What did you read me this thing for?
Grandpa: You know, you’ve been very sick and you’re taking this story very seriously. I think we better stop now.
The Grandson: No, I’m okay. I’m okay. Sit down. I’m all right.
• that’s how I imagine the original audience reacting to the story of Ruth at this point

(Please read verses 5-6) Boaz presents a second legal issue

Boaz set this up, so that at first redeeming land would look good to Mr. So-and-so
– but now it’s time to drop the other shoe–a complication
• there is another regulation in the law of Moses
◦ if a married man died before having a child, an heir,
◦ a surviving brother was obliged to sire a child with the dead man’s wife, who would then be heir to her dead husband rather than to her brother-in-law
• Mr. So-and-so would have to perform that duty for Ruth and her dead husband, Mahlon
◦ then Elimelech’s property would belong to Ruth’s child, and not Mr. So-and-so
– Boaz implies another downside to this arrangement
• he specifies, “Ruth the Moabite” – Moabites were not mere foreigners in Israel
• they were specifically excluded from entering God’s sanctuary
◦ their women, in particular, caused great harm to Israel
◦ Ruth was a liability, and as such could damage Mr. So-and-so’s reputation

Mr. So-and-so’s response to Boaz is short and to the point
– his answer begins and ends with the same words: “I cannot redeem it”
• he refers to an “it,” because he is thinking only of the property and not Ruth
• I find the way he words his response to be very moving
“Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it”

(Please read verses 7-10) The storyteller reports a custom attached to transaction

What I find interesting, is that there is a memory of the law,
– but the details have become confused
• this is not surprising if we remember first sentence of Ruth
In the days when the Judges ruled . . .
◦ in those days, Israel had lost direct contact with God’s law
◦ yet they still held onto traditions and customs, though they did not understand them
• here’s how the law reads:
And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.” Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, “I do not wish to take her,” then his brother’s wife shall to up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, “So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, “The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.” (De. 25:7-10)
◦ less shame was attached to the uncooperative brother the way that the writer of Ruth remembered it

Boaz’ speech to the elders begins and ends with the same words,
“You are witnesses this day . . .”
– notice that he has no problem with Ruth’s status, but refers to her again as the Moabite
• you are probably tired of me reminding you that in scripture,
◦ a “name” means more than it does to us
◦ it is not always the person’s literal name, but the person himself or herself–their identity
• in the Old Testament there is no clear or consistent doctrine of life after death
◦ a person lived on in their reputation, their family, and the property they shared with their descendants
(that what it means to perpetuate the name of the dead)
◦ to continue to show respect for their ancestors who once lived here

(Please read verses 11-12) The blessing of the elders

Rachel and Leah were the matriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel
– more locally to the people of Bethlehem, Tamar was the matriarch of the tribe of Judah
• Tamar was also a widow, and her brother-in-law refused to provide her with a son
◦ Perez was the son she bore (to her father-in-law)
◦ the blessing, in essence, was: “May Ruth’s son be like Perez, our ancestor”
– what would it be like if blessings flourished in our culture?
• not just in church, but in social, legal, and personal interactions
◦ constant expressions of good will and invocations of divine goodness?
• neuroscience tells us we would all be much healthier
◦ our generous gifts of blessings would help to regulate the anxious or angry emotions of others

(Please read verses 13-17) The story does not resolve until this moment

Naomi’s husbands and sons had been taken from her
– if not for Ruth, she would have never held a grandchild
– in a chapter where naming is emphasized, there’s an oddity
• neither the mother nor grandmother name the baby

(Please read verses 18-21) Naomi and Ruth enjoy more than survival in the present

They bring Israel a promise for the future
– Ruth’s great-grandson would be David, God’s chosen king of Israel

Conclusion: There are two points I want to stress

The obvious one is that we have a Redeemer
– this is the message of Redemptive History
• but it is not history so much as it is a story – the story of the entire Bible
◦ God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt (De. 7:8)
◦ now he redeems us from sin and death
In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ep. 1:7)

We underestimate the value of a human soul — of our own soul
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mt. 16:36)
Truly no man can ransom [or redeem] another,
or give to God the price of his soul,
for the ransom of their soul is costly
and can never suffice,
that he should live on forever
and never see death
(Ps. 49:7-9)

This is what I hear in Mr. So-and-so’s statement,
Take my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it
There is nothing else I can say to Jesus
God has given us our soul, and given us the choice of what to do with it
He is willing to redeem our soul to himself, and we can make that choice

Once he begins to work redemption in us, everything is redeemed
Even the wrong that we’ve done, and seems irredeemable
There is nothing in us or about us that Jesus does not want to redeem
Nor is there any person whose soul he does not want to redeem
And at last . . .
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Ro. 8:22-23)

Redemption now only works in us, down to our core,
but it flows through us as well
We become messengers of redemption,
announcing to the entire world that there is a Redeemer

Ruth was a Moabite, but that did not matter to Boaz,
nor does it bother Jesus that we are not saints
The Lord characterized himself as a friend of sinners
Okay, so you and I are part of the anonymous cast
So what if our names will never appear when the credits roll
No matter, our names are written in the book of life (Php. 4:3)
Adele Reinhartz wrote a book about the many nameless people who appear in the Bible. She says, “These bit players, minor as they are, have major literary functions.”
And the same is true of us,
only our functions are not literary, but literal
and God will use us to bring others himself
Prepare yourself to play that bit role this week


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  1. Kate Garvey / Jun 26 2022

    Prayer request. I was in a bad accident and have 2nd and 3rd degree burns on a large part of my body. I am at a hospital in Madison wisconsin that is a top burn center so being well cared for but it painful. I want to feel God’s presenouce and hoping I won’t have to have surgery. Thanks in advance for your prayers

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Jun 27 2022

    Oh, Kate! I am so sad to hear this news. Yes, yes, of course. Praying for you now and will enlist the prayers of others as well. As you are able, please keep us posted.


  3. Nancy Lopez / Jun 27 2022

    Kate, I am so sorry to hear this! Burns are extremely painful. 🙁 Our skin has so many nerve endings that benefit us and that means they are so very sensitive. I’m adding my prayers from the community for relief from pain and continuing good care. We will hope with you that no surgery is needed. We ask that you know His Presence in deep and steady ways. May you never be the same in a good way. <3

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