Ruth 3

What is going on in Ruth 3? Is there a moral lesson for us? How about this;

  1. Do what is asked of you.
  2. Be submissive, yielded, willing, and take direction.
  3. Put yourself into action and submit, do as Ruth did, and Naomi did, and as Boaz did.

Again though, that is putting you and me at the centre of this, making us the main character in this story, and essentially we’re then saying that the Bible is really about us. But, we know it’s not, don’t we?

So, where is Jesus in this?

Well, Ruth called out to be saved in v.9,

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 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. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

Ruth 3.6-9

Ruth here then is living out the truth that redemption is found under the protection of the wings, being in the care of, submitting to, the redeemer. This brings safety, security, and salvation.

This has been a consistent message from Genesis to Revelation, maybe it is easier to see in some places than others, but that’s ok, more light is shone on this as we move along the bigger picture of the Bible. But, at the core, the truth has always been the same – call on the name of the Lord to be saved; call out, ask, seek, knock, trust.

One place that it is really clear and that helps us understand what Ruth has done here, and what you can do, is in the book of Joel, one of the Minor Prophets.

In Joel, we are reading a prophesy, a future prediction about the Day of the Lord. Joel writes on a couple of variations of it, ready?; 

  • The day is past, being experienced in a plague of locusts and in a natural drought and famine in 1.2-12
  • The day is current or imminent, the day was to be carried out by an enemy military force in 2.1-11
  • The day is future: immediately in the salvation of Jerusalem from current problems, long term, in the giving of the Spirit of God on all people and the deliverance of all who call on the name of the Lord, and ultimate in the eternal holiness of Jerusalem, protected from its enemies in 2.28-32 and 3.

In the future day of great judgement (end of the world type stuff) God says to His people Israel look, 

return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the LORD your God,

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

and he relents over disaster.

Later in ch.2 we read that at this time of universal judgement, those Spirit-empowered, faith-filled, Redeemer-trusting people will be saved, will be redeemed. Now, Joel 2 is not a blanket truth; we don’t need to pretend we are the people of Joel 2, because we are not the people of Israel, are we, but, the principle within that pledge is so applicable and true; 

call on the name of the Lord to be saved, ask, seek, knock, 

as Ruth said, “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 

See, no matter how much evil there is in the world, no matter how far from God we think we may be, no matter how desperate the situation may be in which we find ourselves, no matter if we are childless widows from a different country, no matter the current state of the world or your life, God has already provided the solution, God has already provided a way out.

This solution came, He lived, He died, He rose again, and He ascended, at which time He sent another solution, another solution of the same kind. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us, to abide in us, to walk with us.

Ruth called out and said

Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer. 

Joel says to God’s people of the OT

The sunlight will be turned to darkness

and the moon to the colour of blood,

before the day of the LORD comes–

that great and terrible day! 

It will so happen that

everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.

Paul says to the believers in Rome

…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. 

… because…

“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I’m saying to you today, now, that the same God who redeemed Ruth from a desperate and dire situation through the person and work of Boaz, is the same God who Joel says promises to redeem His people who call out to Him on the future Day of the Lord, is the same God who Paul is saying will answer the prayer of salvation from the believers in Rome, and is the same God that stands ready to redeem you if you call on His Name and take refuge in Him through faith in the person and work of Jesus. 

For more on the Minor Prophets, check out this daily devotional walkthrough!

Titus 3.12-15 – Final Words

Today Paul closes his letter to Titus in typical fashion. 

When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Titus 3.12-15

We see that Artemas or Tychicus are to be sent to Crete to carry on the work that Titus has been doing, and that Zenas and Apollos are to be sent out from the church, fully supported. The practical instructions from Paul to Titus about Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas, and Apollos add a dimension of reality to the letter: these are real people in a real place being addressed by a real person in a letter to another real person. These personal closing words add real authenticity to the text.

Paul gives Titus a nutshell-summary of the entire letter when he writes, let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

The entire text has been about what Titus should and shouldn’t do as the pastor, what he should and shouldn’t focus on, what he should and shouldn’t teach, and this is all so that the people learn to devote themselves to good works…and not be unfruitful

In essence, Paul to Titus to the people is saying look, there needs to be fruit to evidence the root. As we’ve said in previous days, faith alone saves but saving faith is never alone, it will be accompanied by good works (3.8). 

Titus is a wonderful little letter for us to read whether we are in full-time vocational ministry or whether we are serving the Lord and His people in another line of work. There are points for us all to apply, there are principles for us all to apply, there are do’s and don’ts, and they are all built on the platform that He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Our prayer is that having walked thought-by-thought through Paul’s letter to Titus you have a fuller picture of the life of a believer, have a richer appreciation for Scripture, and a deeper love for the Saviour to whom it all points. 

Titus 3.10-11 – Leave Alone

At the end of this big passage wherein Paul is preparing Titus to lead and teach the people (3.1-11), we now see the advice given when Titus comes across a person who stirs up division.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Titus 3.10-11

We see that Titus is to have patience with those who seek to stir up division (…warning him once and then twice…), but eventually the course of action taken against those who are going their own way or insisting on their own way within the community of God’s people is to have nothing more to do with him. The true punishment is being self-condemned, having lived a life totally inconsistent with everything Paul has taught Titus to teach. 

We don’t go out of our way to disrupt the false teaching ways of those who stir up division by leaving the Orthodox and well-beaten path, we simply leave them alone and have nothing more to do with him

This can seem counter-logical to us as people of action; that person is making problems within the church family so I must do something, but, on the contrary, the stronger punishment (and the model employed by the Lord in Romans 1.24-25) is actually just to leave people alone. People cannot stir up division if they are ignored, left alone, or by themselves. 

This might seem like a harsh word to effectively close the teaching portion of his letter on, but, Paul is charging Titus with the care of God’s people, a heavy responsibility. Titus is there to feed the sheep, not hunt the wolves. 

For you and for me, we would do well to take this principle and apply it to our own lives; when we disagree, when someone has a proven record of stirring up division, when someone is obviously teaching falsely, we are not to go out of our way to attack them, simply guide what the Lord has given you to guide. Protect your people from error, yes, feed them what accords with sound doctrine, yes, but leave alone the rest.  

Titus 3.8-9 – A Solid Platform

The poem found in 3.4-7 lays out for us the foundational Christian truth that really, God has done and provided everything so that we can have everything. Today, Paul reinforces this and encourages Titus to platform his teaching on this, and for good reason…

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Titus 3.8-9

These things seems to refer back to the truths found in vv.4-7, simply that God has provided everything we need for salvation. Paul insists that his young charge platform his teaching on this so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. This is not Paul going against salvation by faith alone, rather, saying look, now that you are saved by faith alone (so that those who have believed in God), this is how you show it (may be careful to devote themselves to good works).

This needs to be the focus of our teaching in churches and this needs to be the foundation for our individual Christian lives: our conduct demonstrates what we believe and have received. I read recently that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone! Our theology is grace-based, our ethic is gratitude-in-action.

Paul goes on to say that we are to stay away from secondary and non-essential issues in the main teaching time of the church (remember the context, Paul is writing to Titus as the Pastor of this new church). Foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law can, in some contexts and settings, prove very interesting, thought provoking, and useful, but as the steady diet of the assembled church, a Christ-centered, God-honoring, Spirit-empowered teaching time is a must.

Really simply for you and for me, Titus 3.8-9 teaches us that the main thing must remain the main thing. Titus was left in Crete to put things in order and to build up the saints for the work of ministry (1.5 cf. Ephesians 4.10-12) and teaching sound doctrine, based on the truths of 3.4-7 is a great start.

Titus 3.4-7 – He Did So That You Can Have

If we’re honest, we were all the kind of people detailed in 3.3, and when we were living in that state, the state of our natural human fleshly self, none of us thought totally of our own volition ‘Do you know what, I am such a sinner and I need to repent of this and put myself right‘. Today, Paul platforms his exhortation for Titus to teach the people (3.1-2) on a steadfastly-sure foundation. So, simply, teach the people these things Titus because God has done all of this for them.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3.4-7

So, having been living a life that was severely lacking in Godliness (v.3), Paul now says, butbut when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us…Notice with me that the first action, the impetus, the beginning of this wasn’t with you or with me, but with Him; the goodness and loving kindness of God…He saved us

This pattern of God being the initiator in our salvation is repeated throughout this mini-poem, did you see it? He saved us…not because of works…according to His own mercy…of the Holy Spirit…He poured out…through Jesus Christ our Saviour…justified by His grace…

With all of this done for us by Him, what are we to do? Simply, we become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

He does everything so that we can have everything.

This wholehearted, whole-life, wholly others-focused offer can only be made by an entirely loving person for the object of their love. This is not the natural way of interacting with people, is it? The good news for you and for me is that God who made heaven and earth is that entirely loving person, and that you are the object of His love. That’s why He did everything so that you can have everything.