Date Written: August 15, 2012
Date Taught: August 15, 2012
Church: OPBC (Wed Night)
Series Title: A Study in the Book of Ruth
Sermon Title: Faith Answered
Text: Ruth 4:1-22 NLT (read ALL passage here)
How many times have we come to a point in our lives when we looked back and the plan of God is revealed to us and we see just how God has worked out things…through the course of our life… and how He has delivered us and provided for us even when we did not see it at the time?
I am sure that all of us have had that experience, not just once but many times! I know I have… I believe that Ruth and Naomi were RIGHT there as well…
I don’t believe we need to complain about those women of this time who were forced into marriage with a man who could have been a stranger.
This was a desperate position to be in and the woman had to do what was needed so it was the widow who usually would have had initiated the proceeding for redemption… this is what Naomi was doing thru proxy by sending Ruth to Boaz on the threshing floor in chapter 3.
Normally we would think that it would be the kinsman who initiate the process and I guess Boaz had somewhat initiated the process by being so kind to Ruth when it was not required of him…
But a marriage ‘forced or not’ was really the only way a widow of this time would have had the opportunity to have children, and carry on her husband’s lineage but this also meant food, clothing and shelter that might otherwise have been hard to find.
The widow 1st had to claim her right to what was called a Levirate Marriage. There was an order of precedence with the oldest brother of the deceased first in line. If he refused then the second brother could accept, and if he refused then it continued down the line…
If no brothers accepted or were available to accept this request then the opportunity fell to other male relatives in the family. The widow could make the claim for Levirate marriage BUT she had to accept the first man on the list who said yes.
When we left the story last week Ruth had been sent by Naomi to make her claim for the Levirate marriage and propose to Boaz… Ruth had done what Naomi had sent her to do and Boaz’s reaction was very favorable.
He told Ruth that he was impressed that she chose him rather than a younger man, and that he would do all in his power to become the redeemer kinsman she had asked him to be…However, Boaz informed Ruth that there was another closer in the blood line that he had to ask first and if that man desired to redeem Naomi then it was his right and there was nothing Boaz could do about it…
At that point, Boaz had done all he could to protect Ruth’s reputation and he had sent her home with MORE food (yet another act of kindness by Boaz) and Ruth had reported to Naomi all of what Boaz had told her and the positive report that she had…
Naomi, whose faith had been strengthened since she returned had told Ruth at the end of ch3… “sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man (Boaz) will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day…”
Naomi was now confident that God had brought them to this place and that Boaz was the instrument thru which God was going to redeem her and Ruth… Naomi rested in her faith in God to provide redemption!
So when we left the story last week the ladies were in a waiting mode, until Boaz went about the business of redeeming them…
What we have learned from the 1st 3 chapters is that Ruth and Naomi have come from desperate and hopeless to the verge of redemption… they had seen their faith strengthened through God’s work in their situation.
Theirs is a picture of redemption that we can relate to today… As sinners we are on the outside looking in… we are a foreigner in a strange land with NO hope or rights… But Jesus has come and He has shown his compassion thru His provision of forgiveness and grace so that we can know redemption and deliverance!
So the ‘verge of redemption’ is where we pick up the story in ch4…Now chapter 4 is basically a description of a business deal that is happening because of Naomi and Ruth’s situation…
Naomi had sold OR was seeking to sell her property (just which is not clear) and the law says that she could ‘redeem’ this property and keep it in her family, but she could not do this on her own… it had to be accomplished by the closest willing MALE kinsman to her husband Elimelech… Boaz qualified for this position:
Boaz indicates at the end of ch3 that there was however another kinsman redeemer that was closer in relation to Elimilech than he was, so Boaz had to go to this man and find out if he was willing to redeem Naomi and marry Ruth… this is where we pick up the story:
READ chapter 4 here…
What we can see here in this chapter is that Boaz was very willing and moved swiftly on this matter… Just as Naomi had said at the end of ch3… Boaz did not rest until the matter was settled!
Let’s break down this chapter into sections and look and see what we can glean from its message of faith and redemption…
First we can see that Boaz was serious about his promise… read v.1-4 [NLT]
1Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.” The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”
Boaz had promised Ruth he would get to the matter soon and Naomi had confirmed his promise in telling Ruth that she was confident that Boaz would get right to the heart of the matter as soon as he could!
The matter was NOT Ruth but the ‘matter’ was the redemption of Elimilech’s property. Naomi was going to have to sell it… but the law was clear… if a relative was able to buy it, it was to be offered to them 1st to keep it in the family. Boaz knew this and knew he was in the line to redeem the property but knew of one who was closer…
Boaz went directly to this one and informed him of the situation and this man says initially that he is willing to redeem the property! He finds the one closer than he is and asks him if he wishes to redeem the property… this man tells him YES I am willing!
Now how is this relevant for us today? Well I see this as tremendously relevant in that it is a picture of God in the redemption process of our soul… God went straight at the heart of the matter! Jesus came willing and able to die for our sin! To redeem us…
Here we find that Boaz saw the need and he acted… and this is a picture of what God has done in Jesus… God saw the need and He acted in sending His son as a redeemer for our soul! God is all about getting to the heart of the matter and getting us to surrender to Him as soon as we can…
Unlike this story, God does not have to go to anyone else who has a claim on our soul, but God has conquered death and sin… once in the grip of grace that God provides, we are no longer the slave of anything of this world, but we have become children of God.
Boaz steps out, knowing full well what was going to be required of him. He approaches the closer kinsman and makes him aware of Naomi’s situation and asks whether or not he wishes to redeem the property and Naomi… Let’s read v.5-6
5Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.” 6“Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”
Here the closer kinsman shows initial interest in redeeming the property, but backs away when a commitment to a foreign wife enters the picture.
At this time marriage to a foreign wife was looked upon with great disdain, and he uses this marriage to Ruth as a way of NOT claiming the right to redeem this property.
The reason this man gives is that it could hurt his future estate… so he backs out! This is music to Boaz’s ears as it gives him the opportunity to fulfill his promise to Ruth and Naomi…
This is the picture of God for the redemption of our souls… Although there is NO ONE person he would have went to… the point here is that God is the ONLY one who can and will redeem our sinful soul! And He is FULLY willing to do so!
There are things and people in this world and in the spirit realm that offer promises and a false hope of redemption… but it will always lead to disappointment and destruction, as NO ONE is able to deliver on this promise but God!
In this story Boaz is painted at the redeemer that was not only able, but more importantly he was the one who was WILLING! He was the one who loved outside of himself… willing to take upon himself one who was an outcast. What a great picture of Christ… what a great picture of God…
Over the next few verses we find the process of the business transaction described…read v7-12
7Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.” 9Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.” 11Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”
In these verses Boaz goes through the process of redeeming Naomi’s family name… AND arranges to marry Ruth as well. These actions on his part fulfilled the levirate marriage custom and redeemed the family.
Where there was NO hope, Boaz had stepped in and had brought not only HOPE but the actual deliverance and redemption for this family… He took Naomi and Ruth into his family and they became heirs to his estate!
In Christ, God has fulfilled His redemptive plan for humanity! Not only did he provide redemption for our soul, and forgiveness of our sin, but He has redeemed us to be able to become part of His family! NO longer are we like the widow or orphan… but we are included as His heirs…heirs to the very throne of heaven!
13So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!” 16Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. 18This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron. 19Hezron was the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab. 20Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
21Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed. 22 Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David.
Do you remember those fairy tales you read as a youngster… or that you read to your children when they were young… do you remember that phrase that usually ended each story? “…and they lived happily ever after…” well most of us understand that that IS a fairy tale and that ‘happily ever after’ does not happen!
BUT we come to the end of the book of Ruth and I believe that we find the closest thing to a ‘happily ever after’ moment in Scripture… Ruth is married to a wealthy man, no longer a widow, no longer an outcast, no longer wondering about food, shelter or protection…
Ruth is married and is able to bear a son to carry on her 1st husband’s name… She is now part of the lineage of David… the future King of Israel! I am not sure, but this sounds an awful lot like ‘happily ever after’ to me!
The point is that ‘happily ever after’ does not mean that there will never be problems… I am sure that they had issues, but we see the fruit of the redemption of this family in the lineage of David and ultimately Jesus Christ…
When we are saved, forgiven and redeemed by Christ and we are welcomed into His family, we DO become heirs to his glory but that does not mean our life here will be without peril or difficulty!
It is true that there is security in our salvation and that ultimately we will be redeemed happily ever after… that cannot be taken away from us BUT in this life we live in a broken and sinful world and will suffer because of it… but knowing that our redeemer is faithful and true allows us to see our reward and revel in our redeemer’s love for us!
Ruth was in a hopeless situation and God moved in a great and mighty way to redeem her and Naomi through using Boaz as His agent of redemption… God is faithful and today God is still willing to redeem those in need of redemption… but here is the key for believers to remember…
Like Boaz, WE are the instruments of God’s redemption today! WE are the tools God uses to reach and win the lost! We must be willing instruments in the hand of a loving God! Are you a willing instrument today? Let’s pray!