Last time we looked at chapter 3 of the Book of Ruth. We saw how Ruth went to meet her Redeemer and the assurance that Naomi give Ruth that Boaz will keep his word. We saw Boaz as a wonderful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. This week we will look at the last chapter, chapter 4. As we read chapter 4:13-17, listen for the keyword for our time together today. That word is “reward.”
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
Back in chapter one, Ruth seemed to be giving up on her chances of getting married again, as she leaves Moab for the land of Israel. Ruth turned to the God of Israel at the lowest point in her life. She turns to Jehovah God even though she could have argued that she had suffered enough at His hands. God in return rewards her for her faithfulness. And therefore, the last chapter of the book of Ruth, which we wish to look at today, we see that instead of it being a sad ending, it deals with a birth and a new beginning.
The Book of Ruth is not about fate, but it is about faith. It is not about pointless misery, but about providential mercies. It is not about bitterness, but about blessing. The joy as Children of God is that there is nothing we can do or undo to prevent the fulfilling of His purposes. He reminds us in the Bible that His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. True, our choices may lead to terrible consequences and pain. Pain may be the consequence of our actions; but fulfillment of His promises will always be the result, if you are His child. In this last chapter of the Book of Ruth, Boaz becomes God’s answer to his own prayer for Ruth. We read in Ruth 2:12 that Boaz desires for Ruth in his prayer. He says, “May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
In Ruth 4:1 we read, “Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down.”
As we begin chapter 4 it may be good to review some of things we have been considering about Boaz. We saw he is a wonderful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some comparisons:
• Boaz compares with Christ in that both were willing and able to redeem.
• Boaz overcame a rival just like Christ did while redeeming his bride
• Boaz fulfilled the law in redeeming Ruth. We know Jesus came not to break the law but to fulfill it. It is by fulfilling the demands of the Law He redeems His Bride, the Church.
On the flipside, it is also important to note the tremendous points of contrast.
• We see that Boaz in dealing with the unnamed first Redeemer seats himself at the gate. In Biblical times the seat by the gate is where Judges, prominent people and Elders of the city sat. The People’s Court would be held there. The Lord Jesus Christ however, in redeeming us goes outside the gate. Again, in Biblical times going outside the gate is an experience of reproach and shame.
• Boaz sits down at the seat by the gate and uses the authority of his position to talk to his rival. We know that is not what Jesus did. For Christ humbled himself by laying aside his authority. Jesus is the suffering Messiah, a very different picture from that of Boaz.
• We saw that Boaz was aware of Ruth’s character as a ‘virtuous woman’. We saw that in chapter3. The same however could not be said of us, the ones that Jesus redeemed. There was no virtue in us; and yet Christ in redeeming will present His Bride, that is us, spotless and without blemish to Himself.
Notice two facts about the first redeemer:
1. The first redeemer is not even mentioned by name. Theologian Mathew Poole puts it beautifully. He says: “Doubtless Boaz both knew his name, and called him by it; but it is omitted by the holy writer, partly because it was unnecessary to know it; and principally in way of contempt, as is usual, and a just punishment upon him, that he who would not preserve his brother’s name might lose his own, and lie buried in the grave of perpetual oblivion.” And so the first Redeemer fades from memory with no recognition whatsoever.
2. In Deut 25:9, where we read about the conditions of the kinsman redeemer we also read about how to deal with an unwilling Redeemer. It says that the one who refuses to redeem his brother’s property and perpetuate his family must have his shoe removed and then be spat upon. It was intended to demonstrate how shameful it is for a person to avoid his responsibility of being a Redeemer. However, no mention is made about this nameless redeemer in the Book of Ruth being spat upon. Contrast that with our Lord Jesus Christ, our Perfect Redeemer. Even though He redeems us and that too willingly, He is mistreated and spat upon. In Isaiah chapter 53 and verse 8, we read ‘judgement was taken away from him’. Meaning they treated Him unjustly.
It is true that any comparisons to Jesus Christ always fall short. In fact, it would be good for us to be reminded of what makes for a good Redeemer. That is, what are the qualifications of a Redeemer?
Drawing from the Book of Ruth, we can see that a Redeemer must be at least three things:
1. Legal representative: The Redeemer must be a near kinsman. Someone who is close enough to represent the family. Jesus Christ in taking on human form becomes our valid representative.
2. Rich to redeem: There is a price for Redemption. Thus the Redeemer must have the ability to redeem. We read about Jesus in 2 Cor 8:9. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Jesus Christ was willing to become poor so that we through His utter poverty may be made rich by redemption.
3. Willing to redeem: Lastly the Redeemer must be willing to redeem. An unwilling Redeemer is no Redeemer at all.
From Ruth chapter 4 and verse 6, we see that the nameless redeemer falls prey to the last two conditions. He says in that verse “…I cannot redeem it”. There is the sense of both the unwillingness and the inability in him to redeem Ruth. Note he does not even recognize Ruth but makes reference to her as an “it.”
In light of this, the redemption of Ruth is uniquely significant:
1. Notice Ruth’s past state: It was shameful, for she was a Moabitess.
2. Notice Ruth’s present state: She is a stranger. She is in a strange land with no rights or privileges whatsoever.
3. Notice Ruth’s future state: Her future was hopeless. There was no hope of rescue or redemption.
It is about this woman that Boaz makes a public declaration in Ch 4:9-10. “And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”
In that one declaration the title, “Ruth the Moabitess” falls off like straw singed by grace. Never again is she referred to as Ruth the Moabitess. She is now the wife of Boaz. No more is she a stranger, and no more is she facing a hopeless future. So the leaders at the gate respond in verses 11 and 12.
“And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.”
We hear the leaders and elders of the city bless Boaz and Ruth. Here are four benefits that Ruth receives:
• She has a Family. We read in ch 4 vs. 11. “the woman who is coming to your house…”
• She has a Fortune. We read in ch 4 vs. 11. “may you prosper in Ephrathah”
• She has Fame. We read in ch 4 vs. 11. “… famous in Bethlehem”
• Ruth has a Future. We read in ch 4 vs. 12. “…like the house of Pharez”. Now the house of Pharez was one of the largest families in Israel.
What a privilege and what a picture! That is the picture of what redemption in Jesus Christ does. We said today’s word is “Reward”. Stay with me as we read chapter 4 verse 13, “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.”
A new phase begins – Obed is born. Don’t miss the emphatic statement – “the LORD gave her conception”. The LORD gave… it a strong indictment to our modern day mindset. New birth is a gift from God and not just a mixing of chemicals. Jehovah’s reward for the faithfulness of Ruth is that He gives her conception. No longer is she without a child as she was while she was in the land of Moab.
Let’s continue reading in Ruth 4:14-15, “Then 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. May 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!” May 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!”
A happy ending is always a new beginning. Naomi wanted to be called ‘mara’, but we see that the grace of God continued to call her ‘Naomi’. For it is the Grace of God that can keep us from being bitter, and allows us to bask in the joy of His blessing.
God is debtor to no one. He looks for faithfulness on our part. As we show our faithfulness, He remains faithful. Today’s word was “reward.” I am reminded of the promise that God gave Abraham many centuries prior – we read in Genesis 15 and verse 1. “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Now that is a promise we can apply to ourselves. He will be our great reward as we seek Him and trust Him both in this life and for the life to come.