Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ruth 3 & 4

Background

In chapter three, Naomi sets things in motion! She realizes that Boaz is a close enough relative to act as their kinsman-redeemer. She instructs Ruth how to present herself as an offer of marriage – she was to make herself attractive by washing, anointing and dressing herself in her best clothes. Then she was to go secretly to Boaz’s threshing floor and as he was sleeping, uncover his feet and lie down and wait. Ruth follows Naomi’s instructions and when Boaz discovers Ruth, he understands what she is asking. He praises her merits and reveals his desire to redeem her but tells her that there is a closer relative with rights to redeem. He promises to settle the matter the next day.

Chapter four begins with Boaz, indeed seeking out the closer relative. The closer relative is all ready to redeem the land of Elimelech until Boaz reveals that marrying Ruth is part of the deal. The closer relative is no longer willing to be the kinsman-redeemer because it will jeopardize his own inheritance. He transfers the right to Boaz and Boaz takes Ruth as his wife. We are finally introduced to the fourth main character of story, Obed – the son of Ruth and Boaz who will get the inheritance of Elimelech. The story ends with Obed on the lap of Naomi, who is now full again. A brief genealogy is given at the end and it is revealed that this Obed is the grandfather of King David. (Note on Ruth 4:21 – Matthew 1:5 reveals Salmon’s wife is Rahab.)


Reflection

The role of the Kinsman-Redeemer is a major theme in the book of Ruth. From our reading and study of the books of Moses, we know that God is Israel’s Redeemer –specifically from their bondage in Egypt. In the Law, a family member could serve as a redeemer for one sold into slavery (Leviticus 25:47-55). In the New Testament, Jesus came to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin. It is interesting to see the parallels between the Kinsman-Redeemer Boaz in Ruth and the Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus Christ in the New Testament. For example look at the four requirements of a redeemer:
1. A redeemer must be a near kinsman – Boaz was. Christ fulfilled this by taking on human form. 2. The redeemer must be able to redeem – Boaz was a wealthy landowner. The blood of Christ was the only thing that could pay man’s debt.
3. The redeemer must be willing to redeem – Boaz is contrasted with the closer relative. Christ was willing to be our redeemer (Hebrews 10:4-10).
4. The redeemer must not need redemption himself – Boaz was free from debt. Only Christ was free from the debt of sin and therefore able to redeem mankind.

Boaz’s willingness to redeem Naomi and Ruth gave them freedom and rest. In the same way, Christ’s redemption of us brings us freedom and rest. Remember how bitter and empty Naomi was at the beginning of the story? Her redemption brought her happiness and fullness. In the same way, our bitterness and emptiness are restored in Christ.

Obed is also a picture of Christ in the book of Ruth. Five things said of him are also said of Jesus!
Redeemer (Obed – Ruth 4:14; Jesus – Gal. 3:13)
Restorer of Life (Obed – Ruth 4:15; Jesus – John 11:25)
Sustainer (Obed – Ruth 4:15; Jesus – John 4:14)
Name Famous (Obed – Ruth 4:14; Jesus – Phil. 2:9)
Servant (Obed’s name means servant – Ruth 4:17; Jesus – Matt. 20:28)

Application

In the book of Ruth, we see God working in the affairs of man in order to carry out His divine purpose. Can you think of a time in your life where you saw God working in the same way?

One thing that really strikes me about Boaz is his driven personality. It is the middle of the harvest season and yet he stops everything to resolve the redemption of Naomi and Ruth. It sounds like the closer relative was either clueless or ambivalent about his role, so Boaz’s urgency had to be because of his own integrity and desire to marry Ruth. How often do I make excuses for putting off the right thing or even something I want to do – “Oh, it’s really busy right now with the harvest and all and I don’t even think anyone else is going to jump in and take Ruth from me, so I’ll get to it later.” No! He jumped on it - I need to jump on the things God has given me to do, too!

Claim Jesus as your kinsman-redeemer. The problem of sin is the dilemma of mankind. We might pretend there is no god or that he cannot be known but really you can’t ignore the evil heart of man. What to do? Only Christianity has an answer to the problem of sin – man’s redemption was bought through the blood of our kinsman, Jesus, the Incarnate Christ. We our free from our debt of sin by claiming his death and resurrection as the basis of our faith and worship.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming as our kinsman-redeemer. We are in such hopeless bondage without you. Thank you for restoring us and sustaining us. May we praise you for your great and mighty work.
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