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Summary: Boaz is the restorer of life, granting Naomi restoration and fullness. Thus does Jesus give life and hope to His own.

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RUTH AND THE RESTORER OF LIFE

Ruth 4

It is beautiful to see the way that the LORD restored the broken line of the clan of Ephrathah.

Naomi, whose name means Lovely, renames herself Mara, Bitterness. However, her new name never caught on: she is always called Naomi, and in the end must lift herself up from her low self-esteem. The name Mara reminds us of Mary, who also knew what it was to be pierced to the very soul (Luke 2:34-35).

Naomi complains that she has gone away from Bethlehem full, and returned empty. In fact, she had gone away during a famine, and returned when the famine was over. What she means is that she had gone with a husband and children, but returns a widow bereft of her children.

Naomi's bitterness is no longer evident after the birth of Ruth's son.

The formulaic blessing given by the men-in-the-gate about the contract whereby Boaz took Ruth as his wife is poignant, full of significance for the couple.

In the first instance, it is an acceptance of Ruth the Moabitess into the clan. She becomes an ancestor of David, and it is as if great David's greater Son is already reaching out to the Gentiles.

Ruth is wished fertility, like Rachel and Leah the mothers of the tribes of Israel. Rachel had been cured of barren-ness, and was buried at Bethlehem. Ruth had previously been married ten years to Naomi’s son, and had also proved barren - so far.

Boaz is wished a lineage as distinctive as that of Judah, who had been tricked by his daughter-in-law Tamar into playing the part of kinsman-redeemer to her. Judah had an obligation, and Tamar had rights. In the case of Boaz he had no specific obligation as a kinsman only of the second degree, and Ruth had no rights as a foreigner: their union was in some measure voluntary.

We are given some indication that the consummation of this marriage took place after the legal obligations had been fulfilled, not before. Then for the first time, after all the formulaic wishes for the LORD to do something, He is acknowledged in doing something directly: opening the womb of Ruth.

Ruth’s son is fostered by Naomi to maintain the name of Naomi’s husband and sons on the land. Ruth and Naomi are bound up as one woman in the eyes of their neighbours.

The restoration of life comes first of all through the positive faith, and action, of Ruth. All along, whilst the people around Ruth are hoping that the LORD will bring blessing, she is pro-active in her faith. She is up-and-going, the kind of vibrant believer it is a joy to know.

However, the restoration continues with Boaz, who voluntarily fulfils the role of kinsman-redeemer for Naomi and Ruth, keeping Naomi’s late husband’s land within the clan. Thus he undertakes to provide for them. Boaz is the restorer of life, granting Naomi restoration and fullness. Thus does Jesus give life and hope to His own.

In the end, even in the process of becoming a mother herself, Ruth is reckoned as “better than seven sons” to Naomi (Ruth 4:15). Perfect.

The child is named Obed, “he who serves” (Ruth 4:17). It is better to serve than to be in bitterness. Obed is the grandfather of King David.


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