Author: Bible Traveler

The ol’ “cover me with your cloak for you are a kinsman-redeemer” trick

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I’m sure Ruth was beautiful, but I don’t know if she was as pretty as my cat.

When we left off, Ruth was spending the harvest time gleaning in the fields belonging to Boaz. There were provisions in the Torah for this very thing: “When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the works of thy hands.” – Deuteronomy 24:19

Boaz honored this command, and went above and beyond it, telling his reapers to deliberately pull out stalks for Ruth to glean.

I’m thinking maybe he liked the girl…
Ruth chapter 3

1 And Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2 And now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor. 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the threshing-floor, but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. 5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest I will do. 6 And she went down unto the threshing-floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself; and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thy handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thy handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. 10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: thou hast showed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou sayest; for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a near kinsman; howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. 13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning. 14 And she lay at his feet until the morning. And she rose up before one could discern another. For he said, Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing-floor. 15 And he said, Bring the mantle that is upon thee, and hold it; and she held it; and he measured six [measures] of barley, and laid it on her: and he went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17 And she said, These six [measures] of barley gave he me; for he said, Go not empty unto thy mother-in-law. 18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

… Did Ruth just propose to Boaz?!?

… Will the other kinsman get in the way and thwart true love?

… Is Naomi as bitter and desolate as she claimed?

STAY TUNED TOMORROW for the action-packed conclusion to this lovely story!

 

 

 

My vote for #1 [human] Biblical total dream-guy heartthrob

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Closest picture I have to Ruth in the barley field. I call it “Baylee in the knapweed patch.”
THE STORY CONTINUES! AS PROMISED! When we last saw Ruth and Naomi, the two widows left Moab and went back to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem. Destitute, barren, with nothing in the world except each other, how will they survive?
Ruth Chapter 2
(American Standard Version)
Apologies for the Elizabethan English, but if I use a copyrighted version I could get my heinie sued.
1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
3 And she went, and came and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and she happened to light on the portion of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
4 And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, the LORD be with you. And they answered him, the LORD bless thee.
5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
7And she said, Let me glean, I pray you, and gather after the reapers among the sheaves. So she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, save that she tarried a little in the house.
8 Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither pass from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens.
9Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found favor in thy sight, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a foreigner?
11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thy husband; and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people that thou knewest not heretofore.
12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to take refuge.
13 Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord, for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken kindly unto thy handmaid, though I be not as one of thy handmaidens.
14 And at meal-time Boaz said unto her, Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers, and they reached her parched grain, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left thereof.
15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not.
16 And also pull out some for her from the bundles, and leave it, and let her glean, and rebuke her not.
17 So she gleaned in the field until even; and she beat out that which she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
18 And she took it up, and went into the city; and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth and gave to her that which she had left after she was sufficed.
19 And her mother-in-law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to-day? and where hast thou wrought? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she showed her mother-in-law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to-day is Boaz.
20 And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is nigh of kin unto us, one of our near kinsmen.
21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, Yea, he said unto me, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.
22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter-in-law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, and that they meet thee not in any other field.
23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz, to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law.
…Does Ruth make a success of gleaning?
…Are sparks flying between her and Boaz?
…Could Naomi have a scheme or two up her sleeve?
STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE AND FIND OUT!

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  – Romans 10:9-13

“Born again?” What’s that?

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Ruth by Susan R. Hummel (an awesome artist and also my sister)

After mulling it over for days, it occurred to me this morning why I haven’t been able to get past John 3:3, “…no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The reason is that this is the most important thing of all. Nothing is more important than being born again. No matter who you are or where you are from, it is the most important thing in your life. All the concerns of this world will pass away; each and every one of us will pass away. Where will we spend eternity? We can either spend it with God, worshipping and enjoying him and all he provides us, or we can spend it in Hell where we will live in eternal torment with only our worst memories and thoughts to keep us company. The choice is ours to make.

For me, looking at it from the point of view of an outsider, that raises the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to be born again?
  2. Why is Jesus the only way?
  3. How do I know Jesus is trustworthy?
  4. I’m a good person, why do I need a redeemer?
  5. How can Jesus save everybody who ever lived when he is just one person?
  6. How do I become born again?

It raises many more questions, too, but those are the basics. That is one of the exciting things about really studying the Bible; when you read one passage, so many other questions and things leap to mind. It’s why it takes me forever to get through a book, because I keep going back and searching out other passages and issues that come up while I’m reading. 

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is telling just one story. And it is a love story. A love story about God and mankind, a broken relationship, and how it got fixed. If it were a novel and you were analyzing it for your literature class, you would see all the elements of good storytelling: Introduction, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution. It’s an amazing feat, especially considering it is a collection of 66 smaller books written by dozens of authors in different languages and cultures over a 1,500-year time span.

So, anyway, to get to the point of what being born again means, a good place to start is the book of Ruth. Ruth is the eighth book of the Old Testament. It is a love story—not just a romance, but a love story on several levels. In many ways it is like the entire Bible in miniature. 

It is very short, just four chapters. I am going to reprint it here, one chapter a day, for the next four days. My text comes from the American Standard Version, which I am using because it is in the public domain. For full disclosure, I did change the original text’s “Jehovah” to “the LORD,” (which most modern English translations use) to avoid any confusion that this might refer to the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), which it does not. I also changed two or three archaic words to their modern equivalents.

Take some time to ponder this lovely little story, and Enjoy! 

The Book of Ruth
Chapter 1

1 And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.  2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.  4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelt there about ten years. 

5 And Mahlon and Chilion died both of them; and the woman was left without her two children and her husband. 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 And she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. 

8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each of you to her mother’s house: May the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 May the LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voice, and wept. 

10 And they said unto her, Nay, but we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should even have a husband to-night, and should also bear sons; 13 would ye therefore tarry till they were grown? would ye therefore stay from having husbands? nay, my daughters, for it grieves me much for your sakes, for the hand of the LORD is gone forth against me. 

14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law. 16 And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; 17 where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death part thee and me. 18 And when she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left off speaking unto her. 

19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and [the women] said, Is this Naomi? 20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty; why call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

…Chapter 2 coming tomorrow.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  – Romans 10:9-13

 

Don’t get this whole “born again” business? (John 3:1-21)

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Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus at night.

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. – John 3:16

I always wondered if Jesus was really tired that night and just wanted to be in bed, but then Nicodemus showed up and so instead he had to stay up half the night trying to pound some serious theology into N’s thick skull, and then say the most famous verse in the Bible while he was at it.

I am way behind in my Bible studies and prayer time and feeling it. Over tired, run down, depressed, overwhelmed by all that’s happening in the world as well as my own little corner of it. My ability to cope is directly correspondent to how closely I am walking with God. I am nothing without my prayer time (my alone time with God), and without studying His Word. So back to it! Anyway I’ve read quite a ways past this chapter but keep coming back and re-reading it. “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.” Something is nagging at me. Something needs to be dragged out into the daylight and analyzed.

Nicodemus was a big shot. A Pharisee, and a member of the ruling council. He met with Jesus at nighttime. Why nighttime? Maybe just because the crowds would have gone home and he could have a peaceful chat. Maybe he was afraid of being seen by his peers. Maybe he was busy all day and the night was the only free time he had. We aren’t told, but I wonder.

It sounds like he’s just trying to lay the groundwork for the conversation he wants to have with Jesus when he says, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (v. 2). I wonder what he’s tiptoeing around. Trying to get Jesus to confess whether or not he is the Messiah? Maybe. If Nicodemus had ever read the book of Daniel (chapter 9) and done the math, he would have known that it was just about the time that the Messiah was supposed to show up. 

There’s a lot of room for pure speculation here. Maybe Jesus didn’t look the way Nicodemus thought the Messiah ought to look. Maybe Jesus’ Galilean country accent and working-class family was off-putting to someone raised in elite society. Maybe Nicodemus expected a bold warrior like David. Maybe he thought when the Messiah came there would be no question who he was. And this modest man from Galilee, walking around like a beggar with his ragtag band of misfit disciples, didn’t fit that picture at all. But the Bible doesn’t give us Nicodemus’ inner thoughts so we can only guess. 

But then Jesus takes the conversation in a whole different direction. He starts talking about our need to be born again. This blindsides Nicodemus, who doesn’t have a clue what Jesus is talking about.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (v. 3-6)

There is a lot more in this passage that needs to be read, but for now I am thinking about what it means to be “born again.” As Christians we’ve heard it so many times we forget its powerful meaning. My NIV notes say that the Greek for that phrase can also mean “born from above.” There is so much in Jesus’ words and I can’t quite get my head around it. “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the spirit.”

My little nephew, if he heard that, would cock his head to one side, curl his upper lip up just a bit and say “HUH?” I think most people in my own society would say that, and we are considered a “Christian” nation. For people in different cultures, especially those ones that actively discourage Christianity, it must be completely baffling. It is a topic of upmost importance and I don’t want to blow off the significance of this passage without digging more deeply into the whys and hows of being born again in Christ. My next few entries are going to do just that, starting at the beginning. 

…Apple, anyone?

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EXCITING CHAPTER! or, HOW DID THIS PLANET GET INTO THE BIG STINKING MESS THAT IT’S IN?

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  – Romans 10:9-13