Refresh & Restore — August 12, 2021

Refresh & Restore — December 29, 2022 (Behold the King) Refresh & Restore | A Podcast

This is the Refresh & Restore Bible study for December 29. You can find the written version of this (complete with Scripture references and footnotes) on our website.
  1. Refresh & Restore — December 29, 2022 (Behold the King)
  2. Advent 2022 — The Story of Christmas
  3. Advent 2022 — December 24 (Christmas Eve Reading for Our Kiddos)
  4. Advent 2022 — December 23
  5. Advent 2022 — December 22

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.[1]

Ruth 4:1-17

Greetings, Sojourner!

It has been a few weeks since we have last been in our study of God’s Redeeming Love in the book of Ruth, so I am glad to get to return to it today! We last saw Ruth and Naomi discussing Boaz’s promise to ensure that they would be redeemed – if not by him then by the redeemer closer than him (ch 3:12-13). I love how, for the first time since all her losses and throughout her time of grief, we get to see a glimpse of Naomi (Sweet) again where there was only Mara (Bitter). In fact, the last thing we saw in chapter three was an example of her faith and hope in what was to come: “Wait, my daughter [she told Ruth], until you learn how this matter turns out, for the man will not rest but settle the matter today” (ch 3:18).

This position of faith is important for us as we look at this narrative. First, it is important because all reading in God’s Word needs to be understood from a position of faith rather than a mere intellectual exercise or simply reading comprehension; it is, after all, not just a book but the Scriptures that are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and contain all that can be known about God. Second, it is through faith that we can see the beauty, depth, and breadth of God’s redemption for all people as He displays how He had been working behind the scenes in the lives of the clan of Elimelech, showing that He, indeed, is their God and King!

So, join me as we walk through the final scenes in Ruth that display God’s redeeming love, specifically in the lives of these seemingly ordinary individuals while illustrating the especially spectacular love of our great God and Savior! We will be able to see this in both the interactions between Boaz and their unnamed relative and in their beautiful new reality when redemption finally happens.

Do You, Redeemer, Take This Woman?

I have titled this section similarly to the wording of the vows in most contemporary wedding ceremonies. Typically, you will hear the pastor ask: do you {groom} take {bride} to be your lawfully wedded wife? In the case of Naomi and Ruth’s redemption, it was a bit more complicated. You see, there was more than meets our contemporary eyes.

Marriage to Ruth would be what is known as a levirate marriage:

“A law and custom in ancient Israel that if a man died without sons his brother would take the widow for a wife in order to provide male offspring for his dead brother. The children then would be the heirs of their dead father’s land and possessions and the family line would not be broken.”[2]

This was typically meant to honor both lineage and the keeping of the land (see Deuteronomy 25:5-10). In the case of Ruth and Naomi, this would involve taking possession of Elimilech’s land and marrying Ruth; however, this means both marrying a Moabite, the first-born child belonging to Mahlon, and possession of Elimilech’s land reverting to “Mahlon’s child” when he came of age. This would require selflessness and an understanding that it would not be a lucrative long-term investment for the redeemer.  

Boaz did what he promised and followed suit with what is written in Deuteronomy 25. He went to the city gate and waited for the closer relative to see whether he desired to be the redeemer. One thing that stands out in the narrative is that this relative’s name is never mentioned. Sinclair Ferguson holds to the idea that his name is not mentioned because he “will have no role in the advance of God’s kingdom” since he “refuses to fulfil his covenant obligations”[3]. Whether or not this is the case, it is clear that God did not intend for his name to be recorded – as clear as his desire for someone else to take his place in redeeming Ruth and Naomi.

At the gate, Boaz meets him and discusses the situation. All the elders of Bethlehem are witnesses. Boaz first tests the waters by asking if he would be interested in having the land (vv. 3-4), offering the opportunity to buy it right them. The anonymous relative sees the value in the land and the increase it could bring to his financial portfolio and agrees to redeem. Then, Boaz reminds him that he would also “acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance” (v. 5). Sadly, the relative sees marrying Ruth as something that would “impair [his] own inheritance” and asks that Boaz take his place. He chose “what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), just as Elimilech had done years before, and missed out on the blessings of redeeming – in being a part of what God had planned.[4]

I do not want you to miss the sadness and the beauty in this scene. The one who was supposed to be the redeemer saw no value in redeeming even though God laid this out in His Word. Imagine the heartbreak that would have been solidified in Naomi’s heart should redemption be denied her. Imagine the inferiority that Ruth would have felt. Imagine how destitute they would have been with no way to provide for their livelihood. Thankfully, we do not have to imagine, because Boaz wanted to redeem them. He had no qualms about marrying Ruth. In the same way, there is nothing but sadness on the horizon for sinners like us if we wait on the world or people to redeem us or love us, yet there is a Savior “who loves [us] and gave Himself for [us]” (Galatians 2:20). And the redemption that takes place in the lives of these seemingly insignificant people is exactly what God uses to bring us Jesus!

Redemption at Last

I plan on talking about the blessing of the elders and the women in the community next week in a sort of epilogue to this study, so we will move on to the big moment: the marriage!

It seems odd to say marriage instead of wedding, but that is what is emphasized in the text. Boaz did just what he said he would do and married Ruth. Then, “the Lord gave her conception” (v. 13). This is important because, no matter how happy we are for Ruth no longer being alone, we must be happier that God’s will was being carried out in her life and in these circumstances! Three chapters before, Ruth had been a childless widow in a foreign land but now is neither anymore. Three chapters before, Naomi lost both of her children, her husband, and her home and found her heart empty and bitter, but now she “took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse” (v. 16). There is no doubt in my mind that Mara (Bitter) was long gone as the cries of that baby boy gave way to joy – to Sweet once again – in her life.

As far as Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi knew, God had visited them just as He had Bethlehem in Ruth 1:6. But we know the fuller and better truth: one day Ruth’s son Obed would marry and have a son of his own named Jesse. Then, Jesse would do the same and have a son named David, and David would be a king in Israel and a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). Then, one day centuries later, God Himself would be born of that same lineage in the person of “our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:13-14).  

While Ruth and Naomi did not know the fulness of what God was putting together in their lives, their hearts were no less full because they had been redeemed. It can be the same for us today!

Just as God worked and loved and redeemed these regular people in their times of trouble, He still works and moves in lives like theirs (ours) today. Maybe you look at your life and think that no one cares, but I assure you that there is a God who cares for you very much (1 Peter 5:7). He cared – no, He loved you enough that He would choose death on your behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) when no one on earth would even attempt it (Romans 5:7). All one must do to receive redemption is to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9), and you will be saved – you can be redeemed.

I do not know your situation or your history, but I would love to talk with you if you have questions or would simply like to have prayer. There is hope to be experienced in Jesus Christ, and it is my prayer that you find and experience it for yourself!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 4:1–17.

[2] David Witthoff, ed., The Lexham Cultural Ontology Glossary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[3] Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth (Wales, UK: Bryntirion Press, 2013).

[4] The sandal ceremony has some interesting facts, history, and cross-references, and I would love to discuss it if you find yourself interested. But I do not want to take the focus off of redemption in this devotion.

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