Ruth 4.1-22 Hope in Redemption
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Ruth 4:1–4:22
Good Morning! Today we are concluding our series Hope in the book of Ruth. Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges where “there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in [their] own eyes” It was a dark and nearly hopeless time for God’s people and yet amidst nationwide lawlessness, famine, and idolatry God gives us this brief snapshot of Hope through one small family in one small town, showing that He is still active and working for the good of His people and the Glory of His name across the world.
Ruth 1: Hope in Suffering – During a famine, Elimelech, his wife Naomi, his two son (Mahlon and Chilion) moved from Bethlehem to Moab to try to find greener pastures. Elimelech dies, his sons marry Moabite women, and then the sons both die leaving Naomi a poor widow in a foreign county with no family. In all her suffering, one of her pagan daughter-in-laws Ruth pledges to stay with her and worship the God of the Bible. They return together to Bethlehem where Naomi tells the women of the town to call her “Mara”(or bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me and has brought calamity upon me.
Ruth 2: Hope in Providence – Ruth goes out to “glean” (basically an OT work welfare program) and just happens to end up in the field of Boaz an older, single, respected, wealthy man who just happens to be in Elimelech’s clan, and who just happens to show up to his field and notices Ruth working. Boaz has heard of Ruth’s character in caring for Naomi and now meeting her in person shares a lunch date with her, charges her to only glean from his field for the rest of the harvest and send her home with leftovers for Naomi. While Ruth and Boaz both act in their circumstances, God’s providence is perfect in arraigning this meeting and using it to provide the material needs for Ruth and Naomi while setting the stage for greater things.
Ruth 3: Hope in Petition – After the harvest season, Naomi instructs Ruth to get dressed up and approach Boaz in the middle of the night of the Harvest Party after he’s eaten and drank and his heart was merry. While he’s sleeping off the party on a heap of grain Ruth puts herself at his feet. When he wakes up she boldly petitions him as a redeemer capable of marrying her, providing for Ruth and Naomi, and able reestablish Naomi’s family line through Ruth. Boaz is humbled and honored by Ruth’s boldness and is willing to act in this way, but there is a catch. There is another man who has the first “right” to redeem Naomi’s property and marry Ruth. Boaz vows to redeem them if the other “kinsmen” is unwilling to.
Hope in Redemption
4 Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. 3 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” 5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” 6Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”
Boaz doesn’t hesitate to resolve the legal obstacle between him redeeming Naomi’s property and marrying Ruth, namely the claim/right of another closer “kinsmen”. So the morning after his encounter with Ruth on the “threshing floor” Boaz goes to the city gate to make a deal. The gate was a significant place in the life of a city like Bethlehem. Most ancient Jewish cities, while small in population were even smaller in size so there was usually very little open or public space. The gate was a relatively open high traffic area that served as a sort of public square, city hall, and ad hoc local court. Men of the city would gather to debate issues of the day, conduct both individual and public business of the town, and civil and criminal court would also be held at the gate where people could petition the elders of the city for justice.
Boaz shrewdly waits at the gate for the other kinsmen like a spider waiting for an unsuspecting fly to hit his web. The kinsman, maybe commuting to work in a field, unwittingly ends up in a real estate/probate court convened by Boaz. The 10 elders served as both judges and witnesses to any legal transactions that might take place. This isn’t a friendly conversation, this is an official proceeding and Boaz is confident, and prepared for a positive resolution. 10 men was more than necessary for a real estate deal but served to increase the significance of the exchange and was also the number of witnesses required for a wedding ceremony. Boaz presents the redeemer with an “investment opportunity”. Naomi is selling her late husband’s land, that she is too old and incapable to suitably farm, so she can retire live the remainder of her days off the proceeds. She’s cashing out her 401k. On the surface this seems like a great deal to the redeemer. Jewish land laws at the time said that family land could not be sold forever, so after a generation dies the next generation inherits the right to buy the sold land back or have the land given back at the “year of Jubilee”. This meant most land deals were really more like a lease. Naomi is without any heirs so this redeemer could conceivably buy the land outright and when Naomi dies there would be no more claims on the land but his so it’s a win-win for him, he gets all the future farming income from the land AND gets to have his total property increase. He eagerly and publically says “yes!”
This is when Boaz throws in the fine print. Anytime someone comes to you with a deal that sounds too good to be true it usually is. Once the redeemer buys the field from Naomi he’s also buying it from Ruth and as such Boaz tells the redeemer he’s required to provide Ruth (and by proxy Naomi) with an heir to reestablish the line of Elimelech and Mahlon. Looking at the OT Laws on heirs and redeemers it looks like this is a really strange/unorthodox application of the law to tie Naomi’s land and Ruth together this way, but remember this is the time of the Judges where Israel was constantly drifting from God’s law so the redeemer doesn’t seem to challenge it even though it’s a poison pill in the deal. Instead of the redeemer getting the profits of the farming and increase of his family land forever, he has to pay Naomi for the land then use the profits of the farming to take care of Ruth, Naomi, and give/raise a son for Ruth who will not carry his name but rather Mahlon’s name and will inherit the land back after the redeemer dies. He’ll work the rest of his life on this land and end with nothing from it to pass on as an inheritance. He was willing to deal to increase the wealth, size, and glory of his kingdom, but was NOT willing to sacrifice at all if he is not going to personally benefit. If the redeemer had called up Dave Ramsey on the radio and laid out the implications of the deal Dave would tell him to run! Also remember Ruth is a Moabite whose intermarriage to an Israelite had been part of an episode that killed off two generations of men and the redeemer he wanted no part of Ruth. The redeemer says not only that he won’t, but can’t, redeem both the land and Ruth because it will ruin his inheritance and legacy. Ironically the guy who is so concerned with his name living does not get formally named in this section, thousands of years later we don’t know his name.
But we know Boaz. Why? Because he stands up for Naomi and Ruth as not only a redeemer but also as a type of advocate and high priest. Naomi didn’t have to go to the gate and negotiate her own deal. Boaz advocated for her and did so shrewdly and effectively. Ruth as a Moabite would be considered an unclean outsider and wouldn’t have even been able to get a hearing with the elders of the city to plead for a kinsman to carry on her late husband’s line. Like a priest, Boaz has the status and right standing within the society to bridge the legal gap between Ruth and elders. Boaz gives both Naomi and Ruth tremendous hope for redemption by first simply representing them. Boaz points us to Jesus early in this chapter in a big way because it is Jesus that acts as high priest and an advocate to redeem us in our spiritual poverty.
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12
1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1John 2:1-2
While in many ways we want to relate to Naomi and Ruth as just humble and downtrodden, Ruth is younger and attractive where Boaz is older and single, we can easily see why would want to step in advocate for them and deliver them. They are sympathetic figures that seem as noble victims of bad circumstances who dress themselves up and offer companionship to lonely wealthy Boaz. This is often how we see ourselves with Jesus. The problem is our true condition is much worse and the distance between us and God is infinitely greater then poor Ruth and rich Boaz. Because of sin we are not just spiritual poor, but we are actually hostile enemies of God who are the objects of his righteous wrath.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 8:6-11
Apart from Christ, in eyes of God we’re not as sympathetic as Naomi or attractive as Ruth we are as reprehensible as James Holmes as repulsive as Jerry Sandusky and yet He redeems us. That is what is so scandalous about the Gospel and why it is such good news to condemned sinners like you and me. We have hope in redemption because we’re not just cleared of our legal debt and punishment back to a state of individual neutrality but we are made abundantly whole brought into a family with a loving Father.
Hope in Marriage
7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.” 13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.
Boaz and the redeemer seal the deal with a Hebrew flip-flop exchange. This custom was outlined in Deuteronomy 25 for men who failed to redeem a widow and let their brother’s name die out, it was a sign of humiliation that included the widow spitting in the failed redeemers face, so this guy get off easy and renounces his right of redemption with his tail between his legs. We don’t hear from him again as he fades back into obscurity. Now it’s the Boaz show! Boaz buys ALL!! Restores ALL!! And he does for a purpose to raise the name of the dead and so the name of the dead will not be cut off. Naomi’s family and Ruth will not die off but will live on. He does all this publically so that the whole town can see he is shamelessly identifying himself with the foreigner Ruth and the tragic Naomi. With the witness of all the people a story of death and suffering is now one of redemption and restoration. The people recognize that a status-less pagan Moabite is now part of their people. More than part of their people, because of Boaz, they equate her to Jewish royalty like Abraham’s wives Rachel and Leah. Boaz is also blessed because of who he is and what he’s done they seek to glorify him while also praising what God can accomplish maintain “royal lines” through unorthodox families and weird circumstances like he did with Judah and Tamar in Gen 38.
We see God providing hope in the marriage of a foreigner and a redeemer that there is more to the gospel than just being forgiven of our sin but we get to be in restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe. There is Hope knowing God feels even more compassion for us than Boaz feels for Ruth. In his compassion for us he lays down his life on the cross to pay our debt of sin. Not only to clear our debt but to purchase us from our slavery of sin and to be sealed to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be united with Him FOREVER!!
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1Cor 6:19-20
God is a God of redemption who has the will and the power to redeem the bitter, the broken, and the outcast to fellowship with Him!
The marriage of Boaz and Ruth is an awesome picture of the gospel and it has been beautiful to see this play out in the life of our church, and other churches in our network, as many widows and single moms have been married by godly men in the church. Many of those men are even now raising children who carry the name of other men. Some of these Ruth/Boaz marriages either have children together or are trying for children together. As awesome as that is we need a word of caution to the single moms and the single men to not think finding, or being, a Boaz is what is going to redeem you. You don’t look to Jesus hoping to marry a Boaz or to be a Boaz, we look at Boaz to remind us of Jesus.
Jesus is the prize. He is the one who fully restores us. He is our kinsmen redeemer who has redeemed and blessed us for the purpose of sharing hope and blessings to others.
Hope in Service
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Obed, the son, is a gift from God. Boaz and Ruth have a son, but Naomi is now the focus. The community rejoiced with her after they watched her come to town bitter and broken in chapter 1 now to be fully restored and overflowing with joy. Naomi has gone from famine to fullness. She is a recognized part of a family again; she not only is loved but is able to be loving, by adopting Obed. Naomi’s story doesn’t end with her on a beach or a retirement home. It ends with her serving her grandson as great-great-grandmother of King David. Naomi has more than Hope for the future, she has Hope realized.
We’ve seen this countless time in our church and even in my own life. Individuals who have been bitter and hostile to God, marriages have been marred sin and brokenness, worshipers of other gods/idolatry, people have been enslaved by addictions to alcohol, pornography, drugs, or all sorts of sexual immorality, weary from years or even decades of failed battles many having given up the fight with no hope of deliverance. Then Jesus acts as their redeemer and restores them, not to be happy healthy people, but fills them with real joy that can’t help but overflow in loving and serving others. People go from bitter consumers to joyful servants who praise God by loving and serving His bride the church and proclaiming the good news of the Gospel to those around us. Not just because we have hope but because in Christ our hope is realized! Not because we feel valuable but because of Christ’s work we ARE!
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Ruth gave of herself in poverty to serve Naomi, Boaz gave of himself in wealth to serve Ruth, and Naomi is now restored to give of herself to Obed. Ruth ends with a return to the 20 thousand foot level showing the implications for the nation of Israel that amidst the chaos of the time of Judges a king is coming.
Hope in the King to Come
18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
Throughout the book of Ruth, God reigns supreme. He takes care of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz all while never forgetting His saving plan. Famines in Bethlehem and the death of Elimelich, Maylon, and Chilion all serve God’s plan to get to Israel’s king David. David is a king after God’s own heart but he’s not perfect and he’s not God. Israel needs hope in a better king than David. We read on in Mathew 1 to see His plan goes past David to the arrival of King Jesus who redeems on the cross, renews us by His resurrection, and gives us ultimate hope for restoration upon his return. We see so little of what happens, just one lifetime, so it’s nearly impossible to see/know what part our lives will play in God’s plans, but we do know His plans end with King Jesus seated on a throne and all of his redeemed people praising Him for His glory and their joy for all of eternity.
9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5:9-13
We’re going to take communion remembering the price our redeemer Jesus paid to purchase us from our sin.
We’re going to give our tithes and offerings as an overflowing response to all our redeemer has blessed us with.
We’re going to sing praises to our King who is, who was, and is and is to come.
Benediction Ephesians 2:1-10