Summary: Key Point: Redemption happens because God is sovereign -- not just in dealing with his "chosen" people but because he is also working through all of us foreigners.
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All scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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We’ve come to the end of Ruth and in a second I want to read the whole fourth chapter for you. As we hear what God has to say through this chapter, I’d like you to keep in mind what has transpired up to this point.
Things started out looking pretty bleak. Naomi and husband and two sons had moved to the land of Moab because there was a famine around the home town of Bethlehem.
The sons married Moabite women. Then Naomi’s husband died – and then her two sons died as well.
Naomi was devastated – and was convinced that God had done this to her and that she has no future – so she might as well return to her hometown of Bethlehem. Besides, the word on the street was that the famine was over. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their original families so they could get married again.
One does – but not Ruth. She is hopelessly devoted to her mother-in-law and leaving behind her native land, language, culture, and people she goes to Bethlehem with Naomi.
So we’ve got these two poor women trying to eke out an existence in Bethlehem. But the curtain starts to pull back to reveal a little more hope with each verse.
Ruth ends up gleaning in a field owned by Boaz. Boaz is really nice to Ruth – giving her preferential treatment and sending her home to Naomi with extra food. Naomi slides into the matchmaker mode – noting the fact that Boaz is a member of her late husband’s extended family. That means that he can “redeem” Ruth – that is he is in line as a possible mate for her.
Naomi concocts a scheme whereby Ruth sneaks into to where Boaz is sleeping, lays down at his feet, and then proposes marriage when he wakes up. Nothing like popping the big question when someone is off guard.
Boaz is startled when this happens but is quickly flattered by Ruth’s interest. He sends her back to Naomi with more food.
There is one complication, though. Boaz wants to marry Ruth but there is another family member who is closer in line to redeemer her. And that’s where we pick up the story today.
READ RUTH 4:1-22
Great story. Boaz negotiates and wins the right to marry Ruth – through a little wise finagling.
By the way, to take on a wife was considered to be a financial burden. We don’t know if Boaz had other wives – likely so. But the point is that he went way out of his way to show mercy to Ruth and in doing so became her redeemer.
And the outcome of his actions had some really extensive ripple effects – which is exactly what the chronicler – the person who compiled the story for us wants us to see. For he wraps the whole thing up with this awesome genealogy that we’ll get to in a minute.
For the sake of brevity and clarity I want to suggest that there are four outcomes to the story of Ruth.
The first is MARRIAGE, Ruth gets a husband.
“So Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him.”
And I should add – not just a husband – but she got a great husband. Boaz went out of his way to show compassion and mercy to Ruth.
He was a great man – but probably not famous in his era – not a war hero – not a king – not a giant in business. But in his quiet compassionate way he had more influence on the direction of his nation than hundreds of more famous people. To say nothing of the joy and security that he brought to Ruth.
And I want to suggest that Boaz is still a great model for husbands. So much of what we do is self driven – we angle for more of this or that in the marriage relationship. We want to get our fair share of the family attention and to make sure that we get to us as much of the family resources for the things we want as we possibly can.
So everything ends up being about figuring out how to compromise.
But this is not at all the picture you get with Boaz. Everything we see of Boaz is that he was a man who lived outside himself. He was driven by a sense of compassion and mercy – what a great husband.
Even in taking in Ruth – she cost him plenty and from his perspective she was probably barren. She didn’t have any children – even though she had been married. That means that the chances of her having a son were slim. And sons were your social security check in those days. There probably wouldn’t be much return on his marital investment.