Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ruth Chapter 4 - The Redeemer Redeems

The Book of Ruth has everything to make a good story - death, romance and a happy ending. But it is much more than a good story. There is a deeper story, a deeper romance - I hope you have seen something of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God.

We have seen our desperate need for redemption.
We have seen the commitment required of us in redemption
We have seen the character and goodness of the redeemer
We have seen the manner in which we are to come to the redeemer

As we come to Ruth 4 we see the Redeemer redeeming. And we see not just a wedding, but a birth of a child, a child that brings joy and happiness and purpose to the lives of many.

We see the work of the Redeemer and the blessings of the redeemed

The Work of the Redeemer v1-10
Now from one point of view, Naomi's story is the story of everyone in Israel at the time of the Judges. There was no king and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Which is exactly what Naomi's husband, Elimelech, had done. He had deserted the land of promise and had gone over to pagan Moab, bringing his wife and family to the brink of ruin.

Her only hope was to turn for home, and throw herself on the mercy and provision of God. And as we have seen God had provided a way - a way in his word, the provision of a kinsman redeemer, and he had actually provided a good and godly man who would fulfil that role and ensure that not only would the family name continue, but family land lost would be secured - redeemed.

However, not only is this the story of one family and one nation, it is your story and mine. For we too have behaved in a similar fashion. Rejecting God as our rightful ruler, we have wandered off doing what is right in our own eyes, bringing ourselves to the bring of eternal ruin.

We too can no more rescue ourselves than could Naomi, we need someone to look upon us in kindness, so as to provide a way whereby we can be restored and have a future hope, an inheritance which will last into eternity. And that is precisely what the final chapter of this story promises - a kinsman-redeemer who can begin to mend the most messed up of lives, restore us to God, and secure for us a destiny which no one can ever take away.

Something I haven't thought of until now was this fact - Boaz had to be some sort of relation in order for him to rescue Ruth and Naomi. That is why the NIV calls him a kinsman redeemer. He was one who was from the same family as Naomi. Our redeemer is one who was made like us, who was God and is God, but who became man in order to rescue sinners. To rescue us he had to be God, to take our place and pay for our sins, he had to be man, a kinsman. He is our kinsman redeemer. How thankful we should be that God the Son came to earth and took on human likeness and was made in appearance as a man, and humbled himself and was obedient to death even death on a cross.

There is part of the character of the redeemer - like us, and yet not like us. Boaz was like Naomi, in that he came from the same family, and he was not like her, in that he had the means to redeem, to do what she couldn't do.

The Redeemer Does All That Is Necessary
Last time as we worked through the third chapter we saw how Ruth approached Boaz the Redeemer and asked him to marry her, to answer the prayer that he had earlier prayed for her.

Throughout the book Ruth has been the one who takes the initiative. She has been centre stage. She returned from Moab. She spoke out. She went into the field to glean. She went to Boaz. She asked.

But now as we come to ch 4 when it comes to the actual act of redemption in chapter 4 there is not the least mention of Ruth doing anything more. Boaz is now centre stage. Previously Ruth had come with her need and now this chapter is given over to all the work that Boaz the kinsman redeemer has to do.

He is busy with the task of redeeming Ruth. In v1 Boaz seems to have been up early that morning and goes to the city gate

Ancient cities were fairly compact, filled with narrow streets. The gate area provided a spacious spot for people to gather and do business. In general there was a large area outside the outer wall, and perhaps another bench lines area just inside the wall. was a It was the place where prophets would later address kings, and where Ezra would read the Law. It was the equivalent of the public square or the market square. But most importantly it was the courthouse, the place where public officials sat to administer justice and to oversee legal transactions.

Boaz arrives there and he sits and waits for the arrival of the other closer relative. Most cities only had one main gate. So everyone entering had to go through it. So Boaz gets there early to make sure he doesn't miss this relative. In those days most people would have lived in the city for safety, but their lands were outside the town walls.

v2 he has taken 10 elders with him, he has a quorum of the town council gathered up to oversee proceedings.

As we look at these verses we see that Boaz has taken everything into consideration. He has worked out a careful plan and he carries out every detail of that plan - the interview with the other kinsman, the gathering of witness and the marriage to Ruth. Boaz does everything that is needed to redeem this needy woman.

And is that not the same with our great Redeemer, Jesus Christ?

But God did all that was necessary for our redemption. There was a plan made in the counsel of God before the beginning of time. There was the election of a certain number to everlasting life. Jesus Christ came and lived the life of obedience that God's law demands. He died, taking the punishment that our sins required, and rose making the way possible for redemption, and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of the work of Jesus Christ to all who have been chosen from eternity past.

The Redeemer does everything. And the only thing that we contribute is our sin, our need.

Now of course that is not a message that fallen mankind likes. We like to think that we have something to give in return. This message that God does everything wounds the pride of fallen man.

It ought to remind us of our inability to do anything to please God before we are Christians.

It ought to humble us. And for the Christian there is great assurance in this - for if our salvation is all of God we are safe and secure forever.

And for the person not yet a Christian - what hope this brings. There is an answer, given by God to your deepest needs.

The redeemer does all that is necessary. There is a great difference between us and Ruth. Ruth in 3:18 is told to wait until the matter is settled. The KJV has it "He will not rest until he has finished the thing". She is told that Boaz will finish the thing. So Ruth, and the reader are on the edge of their seats as we enter into ch4 - will Boaz be able to redeem. Will he be able to finish what he set out to do? How happier it is to be on this side of Calvary. Ruth looked forward and hoped that her redeemer would be able to finish the thing, but not us, there is no edge of seat stuff for the Christian. Our Redeemer has already said, "It is finished". All that is necessary for salvation has been done.

The Redeemer Is Motivated by Love
In these verses we are introduced to the other nearer kinsman redeemer. He happens to pass by. There's that phrase again that we met in Ch 2. Its funny how co-incidences happen! For God there are no accidents. He is the one who orders everything for the well-being of his people.

Here again we are reminded that Boaz is not the closest relative to the dead, there is another one closer than Boaz. As we saw last week Boaz was therefore under no obligation to take up the task of kinsman redeemer. It was within His rights to turn and walk away from the whole situation.

What is it that motivates this man to do this? He did what He didn't have to do because He loved her.

That is made clear by the reaction of the other kinsman. When he hears of property that could increase his bank balance, he is all interested, and is willing to redeem, even willing to pay a price.

This is brilliant story telling - as you read it you, think "No! Boaz has lost out, its all gone wrong."

It teaches us the lesson that sometimes things will look as if God's plans have been thwarted, but they are never thwarted.

But when he hears that it will involve taking a Moabitess under his roof, and marrying her, and having children with her. He suddenly backs off. This man appears in the story as a artist paints a shadow, to make the focus of the painting stand out all the more brightly. And this man's money centred, land grabbing motives cause Boaz's love to stand out in all its brilliance. He is going to redeem Ruth because he loves her, not because of what he can get out of it.

Just like Jesus, the great redeemer.

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 15:13 Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

The great Triune God, Father Son and Spirit, was complete, and completely content before time began. He did not need to make us. He did not need to redeems us. He wasn't lonely. He wasn't needing anything. He simply chooses to.

He looks at you, helpless, sinful, and he chooses to redeem you. Why? Because he loves you!

Its worth noticing here that anything else that seems to offer hope and salvation in this life is just like this other redeemer. Not motivated by love for you. Only interested in lining it's own pockets. Only interested in you for what it can get out of you. We see that clearly with alcohol. We see it clearly with drugs. We see it clearly with sex outside of God's design in marriage. These things offer love or peace or promise to forget the past, but they are only interested for themselves. Some people give themselves to pleasure - it will chew them up and spit them out. Some people give themselves to being famous - and they are famous, but only for a short time. And that fame brings its own price.

Only Jesus is motivated by unselfish love.

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