Last time we looked at chapter 4 of the Book of Ruth. We saw how Boaz redeems Ruth, the Moabitess. They get married and had a son named Obed. We learned some precious lessons last time. Today, in the sixth and final episode of the “Truths from the Book of Ruth, we will see the significance of Obed and from the branch of genealogy that is mentioned at the end of the Book of Ruth. As we read part of chapter 4, listen for the keyword for our time together today. That word is “responsible.”
Ruth 4: 13-21, “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. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.”
According to Ruth chapter 2 and verse 12, we read that Ruth had come to trust the LORD God of Israel. And there she found the measure of Grace far more abundant than she could have ever found or imagined.
Being the last lesson in this series, let us do a quick recap. We saw in the first episode, as we looked at the context, that the circumstances now are similar to that of the time of Ruth. The general trend is to “do that which is right in our own eyes”. We learned that God alone must be our Sovereign and King. Our key word for that episode was “relationship”. Only a personal relationship, we saw, with Jesus Christ is what makes for eternal difference.
In the second episode we covered the key word “Return” from chapter 1. We saw that as Naomi returns with Ruth her daughter-in-law, she had returned at the beginning of barley harvest. Jesus promises the same new beginning as we return home, back to Him.
The key word in our third episode was “redemption” and we looked at chapter 2. Boaz is introduced to us as both an able and a willing Redeemer. We saw how he is a picture of Jesus Christ, our perfect redeemer. There is no one in the history of mankind who both willingly paid the price and continues to offer freedom from the bondage of sin and death.
In the fourth episode we dealt with the word “reliable” as we studied chapter 3. What good is a Saviour who cannot be trusted to keep his promises? In that chapter, as we see Ruth walk back to Naomi we hear Naomi assure Ruth, “Relax and wait. This man will not rest till he has finished what he has promised”. What assurance! What confidence! And Ruth – she could speak of no one except Boaz.
Last time we met we looked at chapter 4; and learned that God continues to be our Great Reward. God rewards faithfulness; not just with the things that God provides; but God presents Himself as our Great Reward.
As we wrap us this series on the study of the Book of Ruth, I want to encourage you to to read the Book of Ruth, again. In fact, I want to encourage you to make Bible reading the most important part of your daily life. For in the Bible we find the greatest lessons to deal with life; love notes from God and precious promises that give us strength to handle our tests and difficulties.
We saw how Ruth found grace even though she did not deserve it. Today, Jesus offers you that same grace. There is grace to be found, and redemption to be had. You might be a Naomi at heart – bitter from the circumstances, but as she returns she found grace and so will you. She was redeemed; her soul nourished, and her future restored. So will you be in Jesus Christ.
Let’s see what God has in store for us to learn and read Ruth 4:17. “And the women her neighbours gave it 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.”
As per tradition during the Old Testament times, this new born child should have been named ‘Mahlon’. The reason being Boaz as a Redeemer was to continue the lineage of Elimelech; and therefore this newborn would take on the name of Elimelech’s son, the one who was previously married to Ruth. Notice however what happens– he is called ‘Obed’ and right here there are at least two very important lessons for us to learn.
First, we learn that this newborn son was not called “Mahlon”, because Mahlon means ‘sickly’ and therefore unable or unhealthy. However, we read in chapter 4 verses 14 and 15. “Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative (or redeemer); and may his name (that is Obed’s name) be famous in Israel! And may he (Obed) be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age…”
This is said about Obed. Obed was to be a redeemer; a restorer of life and a nourisher of their old age. In fact, Obed is presented to us in the Book of Ruth as the third redeemer. The Holy Spirit thus uses both Boaz and Obed to bring a clearer picture of Jesus Christ. That is the first reason why this child could only be called Obed, because he was a Redeemer, just like Boaz.
Second, the reason why the son would be called “Obed” is because Obed means to ‘serve’. Every time we mention Obed, we must train ourselves to hear as it were, our very Lord speaking while He was on this earth. He said, “I came to serve and not to be served…”
This child’s rightful name was therefore Obed. He was able in that he was not ‘Mahlon’, or weak; and also he was willing in that he served. Being the one who serves, Obed is the picture of a true “servant redeemer.”
Let’s continue. There is something else we need to notice as we reach the end of the chapter. Ruth 4:18-22 should have been the genealogy of Elimelech through Mahlon…but we see it is that of Boaz. It is his genealogy that is presented from the branch of Pharez. There are wonderful lessons we can learn from here.
1. Boaz in his willingness to be the redeemer at the expense of his inheritance gains much more. You see the first Redeemer wanted to save his inheritance and therefore refused to marry Ruth. Consequently, this unnamed redeemer is forgotten forever. We read in John 12:25.
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.
The genealogy is thus a testament to the nameless redeemer and in a way to all of us who work so hard to protect our inheritance, treasures, property, finance, health, family at the expense of God’s call on our lives. The nameless redeemer worked to preserve his inheritance and lost the opportunity to be in the genealogy of David and thereby the genealogy of David’s greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Notice that the number of names in the genealogy provided is ten. There are ten names from Pharez to David. Pharez is the illegitimate son of Judah, who is in turn the son of Jacob. We read in Deut 23 and verse 2. ‘One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his [descendants] shall enter the assembly of the LORD’, Up to the tenth generation were prevented to enter into the assembly of the LORD. And David, the anointed King of Israel, is the tenth. God was preparing His king. Saul wasn’t God’s choice. However, about David we read, Acts 13:22 ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ It is no coincidence that David would be the one entitled to enter into the Assembly of God, as the King of Israel.
3. For the third lesson from the genealogy, turn with me to Mathew chapter 1 and verse 5 and 6. We read there: “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.” Boaz’s mother was Rachab; and Rachab, as we read in Joshua, is the prostitute saved from the ruins of Jericho. Tradition has it that Salmon was one of the two spies who spied out Jericho. Whether that be true or not, the implication is that Boaz has had a firsthand experience of grace shown on his mother and therefore on him; and as a recipient of that wonderful acceptance, he extends the same when it was his turn. I am reminded of this truth at the expense of embarrassing ourselves because of our spiritual hardness. We have often received grace but have never given grace. We get, get, get and forget, but God teaches us to give, give, give and forgive.
It is said that Christianity is the only army that shoots its wounded. When we see that a brother or a sister has slipped and fallen in sin we are quick to judge. We shun and we avoid. How different it ought to be. Naomi experienced grace as she returned home – the whole townsfolk had come to welcome her. May we be found in such a crowd extending grace. We are the ones who were forgiven much and we must therefore be willing to forgive much.
I want us to imagine this scene. Imagine we are about to attend a conference of sorts and as we walk towards the conference room and get to the registration table. We see name tags on the table and we are asked to pick the one with our name. The names written out are that of Elimelech; Mahlon; Chilhon; Naomi; Ruth; Boaz; Obed. In fact, there is one with ‘no name’ – the one intended for that nameless, first redeemer. If we were to be honest with ourselves – the question is which one will we pick up? Which name tag do you think, fits you best? Will it be?
- Elimelech: when the going gets tough, will you be found going…going the way that God had clearly told you not to go?
- Mahlon or Chilhon: Sick or Weak. The family may have reasoned that the children are weak and sickly and they will not survive this famine and we need to get help and get it soon and so they leave. They tried to save their lives but in the bargain they lost it. Also, at a time when we should have been teachers and leaders as God’s Word puts it, do we have need for someone to care for us? Are we the perennial cry baby –Great potential, but wasted possibilities and lost opportunities. Oh to God that none of us would have to wear that name tag.
- Naomi: Would we choose to be bitter, instead of being broken and drawn to God? Would we become a Mara instead? Bitter instead of being a blessing?
- Ruth: A stranger! With no standing; no hope; no people to call her own. She had every right, to turn away from Yahweh God and blame Him for all her loss. Yet she willingly comes to that very LORD for protection. We read in Psalm 16 and verse 11.”You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
- Nameless Redeemer: Does that name tag fit? Even if it does you don’t have to wear it. There is grace to be found at the throne. Step up and fess up, get back to God repenting for the times you have lived your life for yourselves. God offers a new life even as we get to the closing verses of the last chapter of the Book of Ruth.
We said today’s word is “responsible.” Have you experienced Grace then you are responsible to pass it on. Freely received, freely given. Have you known Christ then you are responsible to share Him. I have known what it means to be loved by a Redeemer; to be saved by Grace. I have been showered with new mercies each day. All this I received from Jesus Christ, My Lord and it is my joy to share this Christ with you. My prayer for you today, is that you will receive Him too.
We have come to the end of this study from the Book of Ruth. It was truly a relevant study considering our circumstances. We often do ‘what we think is right in our own eyes’. We forget that the giver of Life and the director of our way, is also the Truth. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one can experience God except through Jesus Christ. Just like Ruth, who came under the wings of the Almighty, we must come realizing that there is no other place for us other than with Him.