Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today is the Day

"Boaz wanted Ruth. The writer allows no question about that. He wanted to call the rabbi, exchange vows, and take her to bed. If I were writing a steamy novel, I would describe in lurid detail his sexual attraction to Ruth. 

"The description would be accurate. But his passion, though including physical desire, is deeper, richer, more enduringly passionate than fleeting, easily satisfied lust. The inspired writer tells the story of a man who strongly desires a woman. The picture of Christ is hard to miss."
 ~ Larry Crabb; Shattered Dreams

There are people we learn about from Scripture with whom we seem to have a connection. For me one of these men is the apostle Paul.  Part of that connection can be attributed to the fact that I was named after the apostle who was from the tribe of Benjamin.  I also believe we are somewhat kindred spirits, sharing a love of intellectual things and yet having a passion to share Truth in a way which connects with everyone.

Joseph is another man that I admire. I like Joseph because he showed integrity even when his world came crashing down around him. He trusted God when his brothers sold him into slavery, when he was thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit, and when he was elevated to the right hand man of Pharaoh.

One of my heroes who is a little more obscure is Jonathan.  One reason I love Jonathan is because of his courage he demonstrated in 1 Samuel 14.  A second reason is because of the humility he had, willing to hand over the kingdom of Israel to David.  Jonathan could have demanded it, but he wanted to obey God's will.

The next man from Scripture that I have developed a connection with is Boaz.  Boaz is a little more obscure than Jonathan for his story is only told in the book of Ruth.  The reason I admire Boaz is because of Ruth 3:18;  Then Naomi said to Ruth, "Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won't rest until he has followed through on this. He will settle it today" (NLT). 

In Boaz we meet a man who is willing do everything in his power to be with the woman he loves.  Boaz doesn't put the task off until tomorrow, rather he puts everything else aside to accomplish it. I think Boaz is the model every husband should attempt to become. He is the leader, the provider, and the protector of his family.

Paul provides us with an excellent example of boldness in pursuing his purpose. Joseph is a wonderful model of integrity for men to follow. Jonathan's courageous attack on the Philistines is the stuff of legend, something that every man wishes he could achieve.  In these three men we begin to see this wonderful picture of the type of character God intended men to have.

Every man needs the boldness of Paul, the integrity of Joseph, and the courage of Jonathan.  Those men called to be husbands also need the commitment of Boaz.  What our wives need isn't the mushiness of romantic love (though this is important), but the security of committed love.

This commitment is first seen in the fact that Boaz not only allowed Ruth pick up grain in his field, but he also instructed his workers to drop grain for her to pick up.  Boaz wanted to repay the kindness this beautiful foreign woman had shown to his relative Naomi.

Ruth kept going back to Boaz fields, but Boaz did not make any moves toward her.  So Naomi and Ruth began to push the issue. Naomi had Ruth get all dressed up and sent her out to the field where Boaz and his workers had celebrated the end of the harvest.

After the celebration Boaz laid down on the ground and slept.  Ruth went to Boaz, uncovered his feet, and laid down. Boaz woke up, probably from some sort of wonderful dream, and found his dream girl at his feet. Rather than taking advantage of her vulnerability, Boaz sent Ruth back to Naomi. 

As much as Boaz wanted to marry Ruth he could not marry her because of the law. There was a closer relative to Ruth's dead husband than Boaz. Boaz understood that if he was going to be with Ruth then he had to get this issue settled.  He didn't put it off, but he went right away to the close relative.  While the man wanted the family land, he did not want to marry Ruth.  His rejection of Ruth opened the door for Boaz to marry her. 

Here we discover that Boaz is a man of commitment. He did not give into his lust for Ruth. Instead he kept his distance, and when she did come to him, he respected her. He waited until marriage to sleep with Ruth. He showed sexual integrity, while many men wouldn't have. Boaz also honored the Law when he went to the closer relative and gave him the opportunity for the family land and Ruth's hand in marriage.

We also discover Boaz is a man of responsibility. Boaz worked among his workers during the harvest, he made sure the poor widows, Naomi and Ruth, were provided for, and he took on the added responsibility of making Ruth his wife.  The important part here is that Boaz went immediately to take care of the issue that prevented him from marrying Ruth.

That is the main focus husbands need to take away from the example of Boaz.  Too often we allow deadlines at work, problems with the house, or even our hobbies to distract us from resolving the issues that haven't crept into our marriages.  Right now is the best time to deal with these issues, because the longer we wait the bigger and more messier they become.

Dealing with these issues right away is the way our wives deserve to be loved.  They need to know that whatever happens we will do what we can to make things right.  This provides them with the security they crave in marriage.  Today is the day to follow the example of Boaz.

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