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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Little Hard Work Goes A Long Way

Well, at last we have arrived at chapter two!  Did you think we would ever make it?  If you go back and reread the text of chapter one {which I hope you will do}, it takes relatively little time.  I know it seems as though we have taken a short, quick chapter and stretched it out but, I wanted you to get a good feel for the weight of the famine, the depth of Naomi's sorrow and the commitment level of our dear Ruth.  I could have economized on words but, who am I kidding??  I've been on this planet long enough to know that succinct really isn't my style!
 On a little side note here: I got an email from a sweet friend who happens to be reading along with our overview of  Ruth.  Her name is Stephanie and I love her to pieces.  We have long studied the Bible together and she never ceases to amaze me with her Scripture recall and depth of insight.  To say I am honored that she is even 'listening' to anything I have to say is an understatement!!  She let me in on a little known fact the other day.  Maybe those of you who follow Oprah know this but it was news to me.  Apparently Oprah's mother's original intent was to name Oprah, ORPAH.  {That name ring a bell??}  The name was misspelled on her birth certificate and thus, Oprah was born.  The prophecy in that situation is profound!!  If you remember from our last time together, Orpah kissed Naomi good-bye and returned home and to her gods.  She choose to walk away from Jehovah God.  Eerily similar to Oprah and her 'church'.  I had no idea of this and thought it so profound I just had to share with you! 

Ok, on with our study.  Turn with me to the second chapter of Ruth in your Bible.  If you are like me and love a good story, are you in for a treat!!  Today we will meet the character who is about to change this whole story - every element.  Enter Boaz.

 Read Ruth 2:1-3

Let's take a look at the first verse.  As before, it doesn't seem to say much but, when we look deep, we see the importance of it.  Now, when Scripture says that Naomi had a relative from Elimelech's side of the family we might be tempted to think, "Great!  She will have a place to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas!"  But this is a significant fact in Israelite family law and custom.  The fact that there is a male relative from her husband's side of the family is the first sign of hope that someone just might be able to help Naomi and her terrible situation.  This goes far beyond a turkey dinner and Christmas gifts.  We'll get to that soon.  For now, know that that is a very important fact.

 We see in this first verse that Boaz was a 'man of standing'.  Hmmm.... what exactly does that mean?  If we go back to the original Hebrew {gibbor hayil} we see that it means, " war hero", "capable person", or "wealthy man".  {Any of you ladies single?:0)}  I can't find any facts to support Boaz being in the military, so in his case it means a "person of high standing".  He was a man of position, power, wealth, and a good reputation.  He likely had much influence in his town and among his peers.

 Verse two tells us that Ruth the Moabitess, {see how that name/label follows her around Bethlehem, but not prior to her return?} was looking for fields to glean in.   The fact that she is a foreigner is emphasized.  It would be highly unlikely that any success comes her way, as her native land was hostile to Israel and her God.  Tuck that away in the back of your head for now.  Ruth sets out to work the fields and glean what she can.  She is a hard worker and is looking for favor from someone who will allow a foreigner to glean from their fields.  After all, she and Naomi need food and she wasn't about to tarry in that department.

It is here that we see the first glimpse of her character.  I would assume that not much time has passed since she has lost her husband; she is still in the thick of the grieving process.  I challenge you here to see her right response to loss.  She gets up and gets to work.  She isn't going to sit around her tent and mope.   No, there's work to be done.  Pieces to pick up and a life to put back together.  Much like the friend I mentioned in the previous post or two.  You get up, hard as it is, and put one foot in front of the other.  Ladies, your character is more important to your man than you know.  When the hard times come -  the diagnosis is cancer, the finances fall apart, the kids are demanding, or the romance has gone -  character holds it together.  

I love verse three, specifically the phrase, "as it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz."  As it turned out, my foot!!!  This is more than just casual coincidence, dumb luck or happenstance.  No, this is the divine hand of Yahweh, alive and active, even in the most mundane circumstances.  Ruth is going about her work and God is going about His.  I love that!!  It strikes me here that there is another theme in the book of Ruth:  God doesn't leave us in hard timesWhen we question it the most, He is closest!

 Have you ever felt as though your circumstances have been too hard?  That surely God would never be in the pit with you?  You can't seem to find Him anywhere?  Take heart!  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  And when God makes a promise, you can trust Him to be faithful.

Read Ruth 2:4-7

I also love how is says; "just then Boaz arrived".  Interesting timing for Boaz to make an appearance in the field for the day.  Scripture never directly states why, but Boaz is intrigued by Ruth, asking whose young woman she was.   The foreman states who she was, her title {Moabitess}, and then goes on to describe her work ethic.  Our blood lines will never be as important as our character and reputation.

As a mom, I take seriously the job of teaching character to my kids.  Hard work is just one value we have the opportunity to teach daily.  I try to emphasize that hard work not only brings blessing, but IS the blessing.  Often I can be heard telling my kids, "Do it nice or do it twice", hoping to instill the knowledge that we will be known by our character and our character always points to God.

Well, it is late and I am tired.  How about you?  We will finish up chapter two tomorrow - I promise the second half will go faster than the first!

See you tomorrow!


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