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Friday, July 29, 2011

Simply Amazing

When we last left, Ruth was in the fields gleaning and Boaz was watching her every move - he was one smitten kitten!  I love today's study because it speaks to something I often struggle with: generosity.  Though gift giving is my love language, I sometimes find it difficult to open my fist and let loose some change.  I'm sure that stems back to childhood in some way, shape or form - doesn't it always?  Today we will see a shining example of generosity.  We will also be introduced to the term 'kinsman redeemer', and OH, what a word it is!!  Well, what are you waiting for??  Let's go!

 Read Ruth 2:14-20

 We see that Ruth gleaned 1 epah of grain.  Scholars estimate this to be somewhere between 30-50 pounds!  Can you imagine? She leaves for work in the morning hoping to find a field to bring something, anything, home and ends up hauling in the mother lode!  Yes, the men helped her out by leaving some sheaves in the field, but she had to do the hard work of bringing it home.  I relate this to the idea of God providing manna for the Israelites as they wandered for 40 long years.  He provided the food {in essence His Grace, or unmerited favor}, but they still had to go out and gather it.  God will provide, we have to do our part as well. 

I'm sure most of you are somewhat familiar with the process of making bread.  We grab the flour, yeast, and so on.  As there were no 'quick marts' back in ancient times, a girl had to grind her own wheat to make the flour, after hours of laborious work just to bring the sheaves in from the field.  I'm sure this was back-breaking work and took much time. Yet, here we see Ruth showing up on Naomi's doorstep with enough grain for the two of them.  "Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough."  Now, that doesn't seem to be a 'knock your socks off' kind of statement but, think this through with me.  Not only did Ruth fill her own stomach, she thought of Naomi and brought enough to fill her's as well.  In that one instant, she moved from dependent, to provider.  Changes everything, doesn't it?  So far we have seen Ruth as committed, loyal, hardworking, and definitely courageous.  We can now add provider to that list.

Up to this point, we have been largely focused on Boaz and his generosity.  He gave much because he had much to give.  It doesn't hurt that he finds her attractive and intriguing as well.  What about Ruth, what does she give from?   Ruth gives out of her need; her poverty.  What an example she sets for all of us!!  Regardless of what we have or don't have, what we possess or what we are in need of, we all have something to give!!  And I'm not just talking finances here ladies.  We can all give of our time, talent, advise, comfort.... the list is endless.  If you have 'it', whatever that 'it' is, don't be afraid to share it!

If you haven't already figured it out, I love Ruth.  I esteem her so highly.  Her circumstances would likely drive any of us to the role of victim.  But not Ruth.  She refused to wear the label of lowly servant girl, foreigner, or one with nothing to offer.  No ma'am, that wasn't was she was going to be.  Yes, those were accurate labels, but they didn't define her.  She had the humility to accept Boaz's generosity and the strength turn around and use it to help someone else.  That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

In verse 19 we see Naomi questioning Ruth as to where she worked for the day to bring in that kind of haul.  Simply put, Naomi is astonished.  She then goes on to  'bless the man who took notice of you'.  Ruth tells her that she worked in Boaz's fields and Naomi states that he is "a close relative; he is one of our kinsman redeemers."  If you are like me, the first time I heard that term I had no clue of the significance of it or the concept it represents. {Let me define it for you with a little help from some fancy, schmancy commentary that I can't make heads or tails of in my references.  I'll get to that in the credits at the end.  If I ever finish.}

  Let me just say here that the Hebrew word for this our term kinsman redeemer is goel It relates to Israel family law.  It doesn't state a specific relationship, but rather  a role of the nearest close kin and their responsibility to the clan, as directed by law and custom.  No, I'm not hoping to impress you with my knowledge of Hebrew, just giving you all the information I have to bring the picture into sharper focus.

The role of a kinsman redeemer is this:
1.)  To ensure that the hereditary property of the clan never passes out of the clan. {Lev. 25:25-30}
2.)  To maintain the  freedom of the individuals within the clan by buying back those who have sold    themselves into slavery because of poverty. {Lev. 27: 47-55}
3.)  To track down and execute murderers of near relatives. {Num.35:12, 19-27}
4.)  To receive restitution money on behalf of a deceased victim of a crime. {Num 5:8}
 5.)  To ensure that justice is served in a lawsuit involving a relative {Job 19:25; Ps. 119:154; Jer. 50:43}

In short, the main job of the kinsman redeemer is to take over the brothers estate, and if appropriate, marry the widow.  It is important to have a firm grip of this concept.  It not only clarifies Boaz's  role, but will greatly aide in our understanding of Jesus Christ as our kinsman redeemer - the ultimate redeemer.

Finish reading the second chapter of Ruth and we'll close out our day here.  I know it seems as though we never get far in our study, but we do.  It takes me, on average, two hours to get a post up.  Part of that is because I don't want to leave some folks in the dust wondering where I went and where I'm headed.  I want every one to have a clear idea of the historical setting and the cultural references.  It's impossible to get much out of Scripture if you don't have the full context.  The other part is that I'm a slow typist.  Oh, I kid! :0)  I think when the idea to do this popped into my head, I thought it would be a quick 2-3 post thing.  Clearly, that is not how it is turning out to be.  And there is a purpose for it - I'm not sure what that is, but the Lord will use it some way, some how.

Thanks for staying with me.  I'll get back to my other writings just as soon as we wrap up. My boys have called and they are stateside!  I will be back on Monday after a long anticipated reunion - my whole family back under the same roof. 


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