Title: Ruth: 3:10-13; A community without lies. The God who cannot lie; the Christian who cannot lie.
RUT 3:10 Then he said, "May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
The chesed in Ruth’s heart has displaced the passion and greed of the flesh that can still encroach upon the child of God. Again, it is not as important to make the passion and desire of the flesh smaller in our view, but to make the glory of God bigger, and then the flesh will seem insignificant.
Ruth considers her own happiness to be secondary to Naomi’s. How rare this is, even, unfortunately, among Christians.
Boaz immediately sets to comfort her.
RUT 3:11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
RUT 3:12 And now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
RUT 3:13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning."
There is one obstacle, and Boaz is not going to try and get around it. He is not going to act unbecomingly so that he can get to the finish more quickly. He will face the obstacle and will not take things into his own hands, rather, he will defer to God’s hands and he will openly offer the right of redemption to the closer kinsman.
Boaz bows before God’s law rather than trying to circumvent it.
And he will take care of the issue in the morning on the following day. He does not procrastinate. We could do a series here on procrastination, but I think we’ll wait.
Whatever your hand finds to do - do it. Don’t delay because of being uncomfortable or fearful.
Boaz puts himself under oath - “as the Lord lives.” A man like him could never break such a vow.
His vow affords us a brief study in our Lord’s instruction that we should not make them. This is a chapter in the upcoming book on the Sermon on the Mount.
In the ancient east vows were an integral part of many cultures. In Jonah we see the pagans on Jonah’s ship making vows in the hope of avoiding calamity.
God did not command vows. They were already in practice and God regulated them.
It is interesting to consider why every culture in the ancient as well as new world practiced vows.
Textual evidence of vow-making is known from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Hittite, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and others. [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia] The people of Israel also did the same long before the Mosaic Law was given to them.
So why is vowing so popular amongst all the peoples of mankind? We are full of liars.
It’s important to understand that vows were not introduced by Moses under the Law. They were already in practice. God led Moses to regulate the practice so that whatever the Israelite vowed he would certainly perform. A vow could be an oath stated by an Israelite in which he promised to do something, which is the case of Boaz before us, or it could be a promise of payment to God, usually conditioned on God doing something that they wished.
You might remember Hannah vowing to give her son to the service of the temple if she had a son. God granted her the promise (Samuel) and she paid the vow. One could vow land, animals, and even people and they were given a monetary value by the priests. These things and people were vowed to the Lord and they could be redeemed according to their value and that money would go to the temple treasury. God did not command this, but He made sure that if a vow was made that it was fulfilled. God basically was teaching Israel to do what you say you are going to do.
DEU 23:21 “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you.”
DEU 23:22 However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you.
DEU 23:23 You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised.
God made it abundantly clear to Israel that He owned the land, the animals, and the people. So, no one vowing something to God was not giving God anything that He didn’t already possess. Therefore, the vow was nothing but a symbol.
The vow was a symbol of the fact that God’s people were to be faithful to their words.
This is the key to our study of the Lord’s teaching on vows.
There were vows of devotion (Hebrew: neder), vows of abstinence (Hebrew: esdr or issar), and vows of destruction (Hebrew: cherem), which we know as the promise of the ban upon a city or people.
The rabbis added to the regulation of vows and introduced vows based on other objects besides God. In ignorance they failed to see that God owns all things.
But, as we know, the people of Israel, led by the rabbis, added to the Law other commands that they thought to be a fence around the Law, and the area of vows was no different. They introduced vows that were not given to God. These are the vows on the temple, on the person’s head, or on heaven or earth, and these vows, made in common conversation and not publicly, were breakable.
It seems to be a true principle that when men start splitting hairs within biblical doctrines that they are seeking some form of human allowance not granted by God. Under the broad stroke of the Mosaic Law, God’s regulation concerning vows was for the purpose of holding people accountable for what they professed. It was God’s regulation upon His people to be faithful in all that they say.
This has not changed. Like every ethic in the Mosaic Law, it has been fulfilled by Christ, and He has called us to have the same ethics in the fiber of our beings as new creatures, but not according to the old Law, but to the extent that He possesses them.
MAT 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”
Christ came to fulfill the Law, but not to abolish it. He has taken the ethics of the Law to the level of the heavenly; alive and a part of our fabric. This is the call to be a disciple.
He then deals with the command not to commit murder and surrounds it with agape love for all. In other words, not murdering is a part of the much broader virtue of agape love. He deals with adultery and surrounds it with honor and respect for all women. Adultery is a violation of the much broader law of respect for all women.
The difference is plain between the person who says, “I won’t commit adultery because God says not to,” and the person who says “I won’t commit adultery because I have a divinely inspired respect for the good of all people, for women (as a man), for marriage, etc.”
One is following a command to avoid consequences, which is good to a certain extent, and the other is the result of ingrained goodness within, which is a much higher virtue. However, if your only motivation for an action happens to be the avoidance of consequence, then that is fine and good. There is no justification for sin. But do not remain satisfied with the lower motivation and reach ahead to the virtue that is in the image of Christ.
Then He deals with vows.
MAT 5:33 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.'
MAT 5:34 "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
MAT 5:35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
MAT 5:36 "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
MAT 5:37 "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; and anything beyond these is of evil.
In a subtle and underlying way the Lord points out the ridiculous nature of their reasoning behind “lesser vows.” The religious during the time of our Lord’s incarnation had come to believe that a vow made to God or on God’s name could not be broken, but a vow made by heaven, earth, or head was not as binding. Christ points out that the heavens, earth, and head all belong to God, and so to vow on them was to vow on God. This is important to understand that man made alterations on God’s law is always flawed, but Christ here is making a much greater point. There should have never been the need for vows in the first place, and now that we are new creatures in Christ, there is no need. Yes is yes; no is no, and that’s the end of it.
In order to understand the very important lesson that our Lord is giving about vows, we must first understand what a vow or an oath actually is. On the surface it is a promise made by a man to another, to God, or to himself. It can also be a contract in which the vow is the promise to keep up one's end of the bargain.
An oath made before God is an appeal made before Him in public, calling on Him to be a witness and then to avenge the truth. But why would men need or use such things?
The existence of oaths is due to the fact that there are lies.
Since we don't live in a world void of lies and since each man and every man is capable of a lie, oaths are given before God so that the lie can be avenged by God and if no lie is hidden in the oath, then the promise is upheld by God. Jesus destroys the lie by abolishing the oath altogether.
Think of where you are likely to find liars and where you are not. I’m sure you know of those whom you know would not lie to you, not even using the so-called “white lie.” I’m sure you know of those who have lied to you often. And, you certainly remember being a liar at some point. All of us as children were liars to some extent.
The ramification of lies in the world and in ourselves is tremendous. Enormous damage is done by them.
Think of how much different your life would be as a parent if you didn’t have to check if your kids did their homework or brushed their teeth or did their chores.
Heading to the other end of the spectrum, what if Hitler didn’t lie when he said he would be satisfied with a certain portion of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement? How many millions of lives would have been saved?
Deals are made, contracts signed, promises given and in many places, amongst many people, they are broken.
At the fall we stumbled into the world of good and evil without the inherent resources of discernment. Lying became a way of professing good without character.
ROM 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
ROM 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
ROM 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
ROM 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
ROM 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
ROM 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
ROM 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.
ROM 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Without divine revelation in grace, we were hopelessly lost.