I wonder, if years after Ruth married Boaz and had had her son, how often, as the years went by, did she mull over this story with a sense of wonder at how God brings things to pass?
There have been several times over the past few days where I have felt seeds of doubt creep in about some things on my heart and I wonder if Ruth was like me and allowed her heart to drift back to the times when significant things about her story bought new direction for her every day normal life. I love to look for the times, where there is no doubt that the partnership between my choices and the hand of God, brings about what I could never do on my own….the times when I have simply put my heart in his hands and asked him to do what he needed to do despite my fretting and fear and uncertainty. That’s what I felt I must do today.
Sometimes it can just be simple things I see in my parenting style or how I have responded to a pastoral situation that doesn’t seem to be producing much fruit or simple the rut of everyday living. I find as I look back at simple things, like that season of youth ministry I was a part of as a teenager, or I look at the season I was in school with those friends at that time in my life, the season of college under that particular prophetic leadership, and the season when I connected with my husband in that year at college. What were ‘chances’ that our friends at wanted a full time youth pastor at that time we were seeking to work in full time ministry and we were willing to go anywhere. What about thattime God orchestrated the paths for us to end up on the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and spending the past 10 years of proving he had set things up for us is just what helps me remember how faithful God is when we choose to trust him. And then there was That time when a friend offered to care for my little girl and I had been asking God for that lady to care for her.
Boaz was a man of character and a businessman who needed to be at the gate at That time. He needed to meet with that man and amongst those witnesses. He trusted the law to do what he needed it to do.
Ruth heads back to Naomi to await the outcome of Boaz’s promise to work things out. Boaz heads to the very place he knows he will find the other relative…the one who should be the ‘one’. Boaz simply follows what he knows is the right thing to do. He follows through with wisdom, the actions he must, to ensure not only that Ruth and Naomi are looked after but that his integrity and the law is upheld, and his reputation as a businessman and a man of God is kept pure. God always sees fit to set things up in this story…the man in question just so happens to be in that place at that time.. As we listen in on this conversation with the wannabe ‘one’ ( Boaz) and the rightful ‘one’, (the one who has the right to the land and to Naomi and Ruth), The pivotal moment in this story is when there is a shoe exchange. This may seem strange to us, but back then a covenant in blood can also seem strange; The whole concept of a sacrificial lamb is strange and so is the Passover feast and the many other rituals that make life in Bethlehem so different to the surrounding nations. This sandal thing : It simply represents a contractual arrangement, a business arrangement that could be held up in a court of law. Boaz does what will enable each person in the story to keep their integrity and ensure the prosperity of all members of this story are considered according to the business of the times. When the nameless redeemer considers the fortunes of his own children, he can see that it would jeopardise his own kids and his own family inheritance. It makes me ask questions about Boaz. Surely if this man decides not to take the land because he is trying to protect his family chooses Boaz is jeopardising his?
The sandal exchange is a powerful picture for a jewish business man because it is a tangible physical contract witnessed in front of other businessmen and acknowledged by the law which for the Jews of that time meant everything. Boaz is not just going to try and look out for Ruth. He is going to do right by ALL involved and to ensure it is written into the law and that his purchase of the property is done in a way that no one can question and come back to him and try and jeopardise the future of this family inheritance. I love how the law was not written to inhibit or restrict but to protect and enable the people. I love that the law ensured that a man’s property and his people could be protected by laws of redemption. The law as we know it shows up our weaknesses so much that we miss it protective importance. The law was never meant to be about religion. It was written because of grace. The law is frustrating in the negative but we see it in this light it has great weight and importance in personal and individual lives.
This picture is powerful and beautiful and mysterious but brings great credibility and honour to Boaz (as a man of God) but more so my trust in God’s faithfulness. There is something about the choice to honour what is right and allow God to do the rest that helps me see how important it is to trust the ways God has laid out for me.
The doubts that creep in as they do, dissipate by the sense of faithfulness of a God who is protective and redemptive by nature. My directives from heaven or from scripture, seen through the eyes of his grace, compassion and generosity, reassure my heart and remind me of God’s faithfulness.