Ruth 3 
Today we continue with the story of Naomi and Ruth in the book of Ruth as we consider the tidal flow of blessings and troubles in our lives.
Remember Naomi, her husband Elimelech and their 2 boys had gone to live in the foreign land of Moab when there was a drought in Judah. And remember that Elimelech died there, and so did their 2 sons, leaving Naomi, their foreign wives Orpah and Ruth destitute. Remember that Naomi came home bitter and broken and only one of the Moabite daughters in law came with her, that was Ruth.  And that Ruth went gleaning in the fields behind the harvesters and ‘it so happened’ that the field belonged to a relative of Elimelech and she caught his eye.
Recall also the custom that we would consider odd today of a go’el (a kinsman redeemer) who would take the wife of his deceased brother as his own to give her children in the name of his brother and preserve the bloodline of his brother.
With that as a background we turn to the next scene
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. 2 Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. 3 Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing-floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.’ 5 She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’
Naomi hatched a plan to get Boaz to become the go’el for her and Ruth. 
Now let me tell you there are passages in the Bible that are designed for us to follow – the word for those passages is prescriptive – love your neighbour, that sort of thing – things we are supposed to do because that is what God wants us to do
And there are passages in the Bible that are descriptive – which means they tell the story and we are not necessarily expected to follow suit. 
For example, we are not expected to get a foreign general drunk on fermented milk then stab him through the head with a tent peg like Jael did.
We are not expected to cause bears to eat rude boys who call us baldhead like Elisha did.
This passage before us in the story of Ruth is also descriptive.  Please note young ladies: This way of Ruth is not the way young women should get themselves a husband.
6 So she went down to the threshing-floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her. 7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came quietly and uncovered his feet, and lay down
Some might think this was a provocative gesture, as if Ruth was told to provocatively offer herself sexually to Boaz. This was not how this gesture was understood in that day. In the culture of that day, this was understood as an act of total submission. 
In that day, this was understood to be the role of a servant - to lay at their master's feet and be ready for any command of the master. So, when Naomi told Ruth to lie down at Boaz's feet, she told her to come to him in a totally humble, submissive way.
But also don’t forget that Ruth came to claim a right. Boaz fitted the bill as her go’el, her kinsman-redeemer, and she had the right to expect him to marry her and raise up a family to perpetuate the name of Elimelech. But Naomi wisely counselled Ruth to not come as a victim demanding her rights, but as a humble servant, trusting in the goodness of her kinsman-redeemer.  
8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman! 9 He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.’
She was asking him to marry her.  The spreading of a skirt over a widow as a way of claiming her as a wife is attested among Arabs of early days, and apparently it still exists among some modern Arabs. (Morris).  Even to the present day, when a Jew marries a woman, he throws the skirt or end of his talith over her, to signify that he has taken her under his protection. (Clarke) 
Last week Boaz blessed Ruth with the words: 12 May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!’
In Ezekiel 16:8, God uses the same terminology in relation to Israel: I spread my wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you and you became Mine, says the LORD God. 
It is not apparent in English but the word that Ruth uses to Boaz spread your cloak over your servant is the exact same word as wings used by Boaz and by God.
She was asking for his protection just as he had prayed to God for her protection, just as God promised to the nation of Israel.
10 He said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not be afraid; I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman.
Boaz could become the go’el for Ruth (and therefore provide security for Naomi) but as in any good story line, there is a hiccup, a difficulty that needs to be overcome before the right outcome occurs. He continues:
 12 But now, though it is true that I am a near kinsman, there is another kinsman more closely related than I. 
There is another closer male relative who better fulfils the criteria of a go’el.  It is not said but it might have been a more senior brother to Elimelech, who has the first right of refusal.
13 Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will act as next-of-kin[b] for you, good; let him do so. If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin[c] for you, then, as the LORD lives, I will act as next-of-kin[d] for you. Lie down until the morning.’
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before one person could recognize another; for he said, ‘It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing-floor.’ 
He was concerned about her reputation.  He had called her honourable but if she had been seen on the threshing floor where the males were, others may have thought otherwise.
15 Then he said, ‘Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out.’ So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and put it on her back; then he went into the city. 
Ruth goes back to her mother in law to tell her of the night’s events.
Two weeks ago I said that most stories in the Bible with a few notable exceptions are male dominated. Our story started as the story of Elimelech. Then it became all about Naomi, and now extraordinarily it is about a foreign girl called Ruth.  It is a story of redemption of a Gentile, not even a Jew.  Which is great news for us who are not Jews and by right cannot claim the inheritance of Abraham.  We are grafted in to that inheritance by the grace and mercy of God.  Ruth should have been excluded from redemption too and so should we but from this story, we find that God’s grace and mercy is not limited by ethnic group. 
What this story tells us, is that we can be redeemed as well. Great news.
Again like all great pot boilers, there is a twist at the end which is unexpected.
16 She came to her mother-in-law, who said, ‘How did things go with you,[e] my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, ‘He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, “Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.”’ 18 She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.’
So here is a promise of a restoration for Naomi and Ruth.  There is a promise that the tide would come fully in.
 Boaz is struck by Ruth and clearly would like to take her as his wife so he has to tackle this one man with the greater rights with tact and diplomacy.  
For Ruth, this was a time of considerable anxiety. She had claimed her right to marriage, and would be married. The only question was to whom would she be married? Would it be to Boaz, or to the nearer go’el? The issue would be decided that very day.
Let us see next week the final instalment of this saga and we find out that amazing twist.