Tuesday, April 24, 2012

my notes for The Story, chapter 9 (Ruth)

-style: "a series of intimate glimpses" vs. (mostly) historical accounts in Judges
-Goethe's "the loveliest work on a small scale"; "best of all mother-in-law stories"
-in the period of the Judges
-Bible not always chronological, but here-- a nice fit
-1:1 begins Ruth with "in the days when the judges ruled" and 4:22 ends Ruth with "David" (I Sam 16)-- period of the Kings
-"a period marked by weak faith and irresponsible conduct"
--> God as always faithful....the Q: what about his people?? here-- yes: "a bright spot in a sea of degeneracy"; "faithfulness amid infidelity"; "like a beautiful pearl against a jet-black background"
-GCM's "God has never left himself without witness"; even in the darkest hours, God is still at work
-to show how three people remained faithful and true to God even when the society around them was falling apart
-other themes
-three excellent examples of the self-giving love that fulfills God's word: Ruth --> Naomi, Boaz --> Ruth; God --> Naomi/Ruth/Boaz
-"a story of love thriving in suffering, of hope in difficult circumstances"
-"hesed" (Hebrew) (3x-- 1:8, 2:20, 3:10's "kindness"): loyalty born out of love and kindness toward those to whom a person is "responsible"
-redemption and protection (various forms used 20x); Boaz as a Christ-figure
-suffering and “happy endings” (here and ultimately, in Job) vs. not so much (in Hab)
--> not about wars, victories, idolatry, etc. (as with Judges)-- but the affliction and comfort of Naomi, the conversion and trust/obedience of Ruth, the love and grace of Boaz, the providence of God and the ancestry of Christ

Ruth 1
-1's famine
-prob. punishment from God; indicative of Judges (Lev 26:18-20; I Kings 17:1)
-1's move to Moab (origins in Gen 19:36-37, related to Lot)
-trying to escape (a provincial) God's judgment? (or just trying to get food?)
-w/ app. to trying to run away from problems
-took his family away from God (the Promised Land) as well-- leadership??
-concerned with physical over spiritual; not satisfied with leaner menu
-vs. calling out to God (no record here)
-Moabites had given the Israelites trouble before-- not let them pass through on their way thru Wilderness, on the way to Promised Land (Josh 24:9, Num 22-25)
-going to the wrong place to solve problems; us as well (Jer 2:13)
-went “for a while”—not so much (w/ app.)
-4's marriage to Moabite women
-not Canaanites, so not explicitly condemned but perhaps unwise/risky (1:15; II Cor 6:14's "unequally yoked"; Dt 23:3?!)
-5's picture of three widows-- how rough!
-1’s famine, but 21’s full; now, alienation, death/abandon (husband and in-laws, but then death and no grandchildren) à nothing and nobody
-8-9's wanting the best for them (she can’t provide for them physically), avoiding possible guilt-trips, offering a gracious exit without guilt—giving them a valid choice
-mention of God x 2 (apparently not out of the ordinary); pleasant (cultural) send-off; hope for husbands
-but Naomi's request despite that it would make faith in God more difficult &/or unlikely
-Elimelech's leadership/influence revisited; material vs. spiritual concerns
-her place on the spectrum of faith: faith in God in the midst of a spiritual valley vs. God is in control, but not for me vs. mere platitudes (see: 1:11-13)
-was embarrassment about them a factor?
-was embarrassment about God a factor? when experiencing grief within one’s walk, harder to recommend that to others! (Acts 26:29)
-w/ app. to handling trial, loneliness, etc. well
-11-13's Naomi as a bit insensitive, angry with God, and despairing of her future—despite her faith (1:8-9, 1:20-21, 2:20; Habakkuk/Job)
-13's Lord's hand as heavy on her (Job 2:10 vs. 13:21,19:21)
-accepting judgment and taking responsibility vs. big pity-party, blaming God
-still has hope for them and doesn’t want to drag them down; amazing focus despite her circumstances
à but she doesn't rip into others (see: Israelites grumbling and threatening to stone Moses)
à what was Naomi like before the 3 deaths? before Elimelech took her to Moab? prob. solid faith (by cultural standards), but largely untested until here (w/ app.)
-potentially losing both daughter-in-laws; Orpah returns, but Ruth remains (contrast)
-emphasis on choice; Orpah's presence as a foil for Ruth's decision
-Orpah loved her, but not enough to leave her country and family (“her people”), religion (“her gods”) or to lower probability of marriage and 9's rest
-and Orpah apparently feels little connection to Ruth (sisters-in-law)
-Orpah as a picture of bad seed (Mt 13:19,22)—excited as they begin the trip, but...

-Ruth's vow-- an emphatic reply-- puts an end to the debate
-despite Naomi's (previous) valid points and 15's use of peer pressure
-acknowledging God as her own
-Ruth makes the big decision-- in faith; God wants the best for her...and He delivers (later)
-in contrast to Moab's origins and its tradition of idolatry
-as a contrast to Israel's depravity
-understands (or hopes for) grace—seemingly no doubt that God will accept her
-despite expectation of no marriage/kids, decides to care for Naomi
-Ruth gives up her land, her religion/gods, her security; see: Abraham's break from culture/family and almost-sacrifice (Gen 12:1-4, 22:2)
-but here, without direct word from God or any promises, and despite strenuous discouragement --> tremendous faith
-Ruth and Naomi as unlikely friends
-applies to marriage but context is family by family and friendship
-a generation apart, mother-in-law?, different ethnicity
-on mothers-in-law, at least hope/pray for this type of relationship
-different religious backgrounds—apparently, before and ironically, now
-lost everything when their husbands died; only had each other and God—but grief can drive people apart
à Ruth's unconditional love for Naomi (more in 1:19-22)
à difficult circumstances and God's living presence in a relationship overcome differences that might otherwise create division; adversity and trial (here, mutual, repeated grief) can bring people close together as friends
-importance and availability of unity in Christ (w/ app.)
-Ruth’s friendship despite Naomi’s attitudes and problems; Ruth needed support as well, but found little in Naomi at that time (but perhaps previously)

Ruth 2
-Ruth's humility, courage, industry (I Thess 4:11-12, II Thess 3:10-12), initiative, regard for mother-in-law, reliance on God's providence (3's “as it turned out...”); God’s P and her P
-4-5’s Boaz's character/faith and active in works: treatment of employees, concern for strangers, voluntary/charity
-knew his employees well enough to be able to pick out a plain-looking stranger among many other harvesters
-greetings, laudable behavior between employees and employers (Eph 6:5,9)
-10's Ruth's response: respect, humility, excitement, recognizes and accepts (extent of) grace
-as relationship begins—a picture of J
-13's “may I continue to find favor...”
-understanding and embracing grace—as relationship continues (S)
-Boaz concerned for her physical (16's help) and emotional (15's "embarrass") needs; subsidizing hard work with his sacrifice (not just gleaning-- what was required by the law)
-wage subsidy vs. minimum wage
-an individual and voluntary solution; MH's "the poor that are industrious and willing to take pains are fit to be encouraged"
-17's until evening—could have “called it a day” earlier; working while she can-- in favorable conditions (Pr 6:6-11; Mt 9:36-38, Jn 4:38's grace, Jn 9:4)
-20's kinsman-redeemer responsible for protecting needy members in extended family
-could marry brother's widow (Dt 25:5-10), redeem land or person (Lev 25:23-28,47-49) and avenge a death (Num 35:19-21; Josh 20)
à requirements: blood relative (Lev 25:48), able to fulfill all duties (Ruth 4:1-6), willing to fulfill all duties (Lev 25:47, Ruth 4:6)
-Christ as our k-r: goal-- to restore inheritance &/or redeem person; means-- blood relative willing and able to redeem (I Pet 1:18-19; Gal 4:4-5; Rev 5’s scroll representing land in contemporary Rome)
-Boaz as a picture of Christ
-with Boaz, hope awakens/enters for Naomi-- indirectly encouraged
-recognizes possibilities-- theoretical and practical, given Boaz's character and apparent interest in Ruth
-emerges from her self-pity
-vs. lack of gratitude for the gift
-focus on God (“the Lord bless him”)
-k-r could have been hers &/or Ruth/Boaz might change Ruth/Naomi
-comfortable in risking with Ruth who sought her best interests-- no need to be redeemed directly
-Naomi could have felt threatened/jealous vs. gives space and hopes the best for and rejoices with Ruth
--> the old Naomi?? is this what brought Ruth to saving faith?

Ruth 3
-4's bizarre instructions-- too forward??
-apparently not (3:11)
-in accordance with Israelite custom for servants
-Naomi trusting Ruth and Boaz's character
-a risky and aggressive strategy—esp. since threshing floor not usually a place for women (3:14) at night, and given festivity of harvest
-laying at the feet of the one who could redeem—as us, with Christ
-12's caveat; open to God's will; not pushing the timing—willing to do the right thing; God’s law and her interests come first for Boaz
-apparently, once a "k-r from a distance" is invoked, other closer potential k-r's must be given the opportunity
-literary device builds tension
--> redemption assured, but by whom?
-given 3’s wash/perfume, ironic that Ruth uses her feminine charms in a non-conservative manner!
-“Driving home this point, (Harold) Ellens cites the Old Testament stories where women, most notably Ruth and Esther, employ their feminine charms to seduce men for the furtherance of God's aims (and their own). Far from being condemned, these women earn nothing but praise from the biblical authors. It's ironic that Ruth is upheld as a role model for conservative Christian girls today. Instead of "waiting on God" for a husband, she spotted a good man, followed him home from a party, and jumped into bed with him—violating three "Biblical Rules for Dating" at once.”
à interesting, pro-active obedience!

Ruth 4
-Boaz's good reputation in 3:18-- a man of his word and of action in 4:1
-1’s fail to mention the other k-r's name
-divine justice; not wanting to risk = no reward
-3’s redeeming land (Lev 25:23-25, Jer 32:6-7)
-Naomi poor and forced to sell it-- mortgaged to buy food OR had been sold earlier by her husband
à literary tension; Boaz’s cleverness (on B and C)
à why not step up?
-too poor to maintain wife and land; the relative as a type of the (provisions of the) Law which cannot redeem!
-wives might fight (see other Biblical stories)
-feared marrying a Moabite (legalist); focus on externals vs. internals (Pr 31:10, 21:9,19; 19:13-14, 27:15-16, 12:4)
-worried about impact on his name
-stated reason: feared that his only son would be Ruth's and his inheritance would go to her family
-same risk as Boaz? Unlikely that he was or had been single his whole life; if so—again, the contrast highlights his grace
à in any case, 5-6's revealed motives: willing to take B’s, but not C’s

-Perez as Boaz's ancestor
-Judah/Tamar—another “levirate marriage” (Gen 38)
-Ruth's honorable approach and Boaz's response vs. Tamar's disguise and seduction in response to Judah's sin
--> but without both, line from Judah to David/Christ would have been broken (Mt 1:3,5)

-as with 1:1-5, compressed history in same number of words (71 in Hebrew)
-but here, fullness vs. earlier emptiness; death vs. life
-13's conceive as God's grace (1:6) and providence (no previous children within 1:4’s10-year marriage made this whole episode easier...and a son)
-Ruth had children when time was right (Gal 4:4)
-10 rough yrs in Moab vs. blessings begin immediately and here, culminate within a year
-Mt 1:5 tells us Rahab (from Joshua) was ancestress/mother of Boaz (James 2:25)
-Josh 2’s Rahab and scarlet cord; Ruth 4’s Ruth and kinsman-redeemer; Mt 1’s Mary

Closing themes:
à all this in contrast to faithlessness, impatience, etc. in Judges
à all relatively ordinary stuff—everyday life vs. miracles, revelation, apocalypse, except for God’s providence and his people’s faithfulness
-Boaz as a Christ-figure
-MH's "At a vast expense, he redeemed the heavenly inheritance for us, which by sin was mortgaged and forfeited into the hands of divine justice. Christ likewise purchased a peculiar people, whom he would espouse/marry to himself, though strangers and foreigners like Ruth, poor and despised (Rom 5:6-8)...He ventured the marring of his own inheritance (Phil 2:6-8, incl. Boaz taking the chance)...He put honor upon Ruth, showed that he was not ashamed of her, her parentage and her poverty."
-Ruth in comparison to Esther (other Biblical book with female in title)
-see also: comparison of Esther to Daniel
-both stories of faith amidst Israelite unbelief
-Gentile married to Jew vs. vice versa
-former used to perpetuate the line of the Messiah; latter used to preserve Israel
-God's name as very evident vs. MIA
-in Ruth, 8x God's activity, 3x prayer petitions, 5x blessing requests, 3x misc.
-Ruth goes from a poor Moabite widow to the lineage of David/Christ (Ps 113:7-9)
-see also: Tamar, Rahab/Ruth, Bathsheba (Mt 1:3,5a,5b,6)-- all Gentiles (Gal 3:28; Mt 3:9!)
-not a matter of birthright, but belief (Rom 1:5; Acts 10:34-35)
-faith of formerly "pagan" Gentiles
-foreshadowed full inclusion of Gentiles after Christ
-no different for us... (Is 54:1-5)
-"a picture of how we come to Christ. We begin with no hope and are rebellious aliens with no part in the kingdom of God. Then we risk everything by putting our faith in Christ. God saves us, forgives us, rebuilds our lives, and gives us blessings that will last through eternity"
-"...blessings that will last throughout eternity"; living lives of eternal consequence; see: obedience in the small things and participating in God's providence
-without (Ruth or us) knowing the consequences...
-"Just as Ruth was unaware of her larger purpose in life, we will not know the full importance of our lives until we are able to look back from the perspective of eternity. We must make our choices with God's eternal values in mind...Because of Ruth's faithful obedience, her life and legacy were significant, even though she couldn't see all the results."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home