Sermon Text Questions and Answers

Sermon text Questions from 4/30/17

What if Ruth never shows up in my field? How should I live? Should I move to another field or wait for God to bring about the circumstance?

I answered this one at the end of the service, which should be uploaded with the sermon itself onto the church website.  But another texter sent in the following after my response:

The person who is wondering about Ruth showing up in his field, needs to do what Rebekah was doing in Genesis 24… and keep watering your camels. Be faithful to do what God has called you to do. Don’t put God in a box. 1 Cor. 2:9… “eye has not seen or ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” Live expectantly!

What if Boaz doesn’t notice me in his field?

There are several possible ways to think through this question.  From the passage, Boaz *did* notice her (see 2:5), but he didn’t let her know he noticed her.  From 3:10, it seems that Boaz assumed she would be interested in a younger man and therefore kept silent.  So, the first way to think through the question is that the “Boaz” you have in mind considers you out of his league somehow.  Another possibility that the “Boaz” you have in sight hasn’t noticed you is because he is stuck on level 1 thinking and is therefore not looking for a marriage covenant situation at all.  That is not the right kind of man to marry anyway.  Yet another possibility is that he *is* looking for a marriage covenant situation but hasn’t seen the evidence of that in your life.  That may seem harsh, and I don’t mean it to sound like a black and white answer, so let me explain a little more what I intend.

Boaz’s mother was Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho who truly trusted the LORD and committed her life to Him.  So, Boaz’s ideal of a virtuous woman (Prov. 31) was likely based on what his mother was like – both in personality, looks, and priorities.  It makes sense that Boaz would notice all the right things in Ruth because she aligned with his model wife.  Not every eligible bachelor in Israel would have considered Ruth as a potential wife because she was a foreigner and their particular ideal for a wife include being Jewish.  In other words, the “Boaz” you have in mind might have a really different ideal in his mind for a wife than who God has made you to be, and therefore he won’t notice you. 

This, of course, works both ways.  You’re looking at a particular man as a Boaz because he aligns with your ideal of a husband.  So, you see, we all must start with the correct foundation – following the LORD wholeheartedly, and allowing Him to shape us and our thinking so that we can “see” each other the way He intends for us instead of creating idols that we inadvertently expect to fulfil something that only God can fill.

Would the story of Ruth be symbolic of Jesus’ future redemptive work of salvation in the new covenant for all people and not just for the Jews?

Yes, which is the primary reason it is part of God’s inspired Word.  The examples and instruction we receive in other areas of life from the book of Ruth are all in light of God’s ultimate purpose to reveal truth about Himself and bring glory to His name.

What would you say to rebuke brothers and sisters in Christ who would say ‘don’t you need to sin or sin more to understand sin (or the weight of sin) to be relatable to the world and reach the world?’

This kind of thinking is really saying – I need to disobey and dishonor God in order to obey and honor Him – which is self-evidently illogical.  1 Cor. 6:19-20 hit this head-on: our body belongs to the Lord because He bought us (with His precious blood); therefore we must glorify Him in our bodies.

Is marriage the covenant solution to singleness and temptation?

Yes, with one exception.  There are those with the “gift” of singleness (1 Cor. 7:7).  In general, though, God’s plan for marriage was designed right into the very way He created our bodies even before He brought Adam and Eve together.  God’s Word always speaks against sexual immorality and always honors biblical marriage.  So, apart from those with the gift of singleness, biblical marriage is His solution.

Ruth definitely wasn’t unattractive… was she?

Her beauty was, without a doubt, a beauty that came from inside.  I kind of doubt that she was physically attractive.  Her first husband (either Mahlon or Chilion 1:5) was a foreigner in Moab.  Mahlon means “wasting away” and Chilion means “puny.”  It seems neither of Naomi’s sons were tall, dark, or handsome!  So, Ruth wasn’t married to a Moabite man with prospects which may mean that she didn’t possess the attractiveness that might have positioned her for a more successful (Level 1) marriage.  In Ruth 3, Naomi’s advice to get all cleaned up may indicate that Ruth wasn’t too concerned with looking her best usually.  I won’t be too opinionated on this, but it seems that the text doesn’t mention her physical attractiveness at all, so it would not be the reason Boaz thought so highly of her as an excellent woman (3:11).

How do you avoid wanting a relationship just to fulfill the need of having a relationship– one other than with God?

Prov. 18:22 says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.”  God is pro-marriage, just anti-idolatry!  If we allow anyone or anything to occupy the primary place in our hearts, we will reap the wrong kind of fruit.  But God wants our relationship with Him to be growing, and in the context of that happening in a healthy way, is all for us also wanting a marriage relationship.  It’s not an either-or, it should be a both-and. 

But you asked how to avoid the either-or problem.  The answer is, make sure you are actively pursuing a healthy, growing walk of faith.  The way you do that varies from person to person, but always involves spiritual disciplines.  So let me say just a quick word about spiritual disciplines.  They are activities (like Bible reading, worship, prayer, journaling) that *create space* in our lives for God to do the work of conforming us to the image of Christ, which is work only He can do.  Spiritual disciplines are not buttons we push to make God act.  If I pray 30 minutes today, it doesn’t obligate God to bless me somehow.  Spiritual disciplines give God access to our whole so that He can shape us (intellect, emotion, and will) and guide us. 

Should we, in Boaz’s situation, get up from the floor and leave or just stay in the presence of temptation?

In general, we must flee temptation (2 Tim 2:22).  In this particular case, though, I think Boaz recognized her excellence (3:11) and realized she wasn’t trying to trap him in immorality.  He needed to communicate that to her and encourage her; fleeing the threshing floor would have crushed Ruth and done the opposite.

How should we respond if a sibling marries a woman that is not walking with the Lord? This happened last week and I’m trying to sort through it.

I answered this one at the end of the service, which should be uploaded with the sermon itself onto the church website.  If that isn’t true for some reason, then I’ll write out the answer here later.

I’ve been told many times that Christian men need to be the ones pursuing the girl and taking leadership in the relationship. In light of that, how can we justify Ruth’s bold pursuit of Boaz on the threshing floor? Shouldn’t she have trusted the Lord and His timing and waited for Boaz to come to her?

I answered this one at the end of the service, which should be uploaded with the sermon itself onto the church website.  If that isn’t true for some reason, then I’ll write out the answer here later.

Why didn’t Boaz ask Ruth to leave?

I answered this one at the end of the service, which should be uploaded with the sermon itself onto the church website.  If that isn’t true for some reason, then I’ll write out the answer here later.