Displays of Love
Updated: Jan 10, 2022
December 19, 2021 | Redeemed | Displays of Love| Ruth 4:1-17
As we have journeyed through the book of Ruth we have seen Naomi and Ruth experience loss, grief, and hopelessness. We have seen their story building each week to what we can only hope will be a wonderfully climactic end.
One of the more poetic aspects of this book is the symmetry the author used to tell this story. Chapter 1 saw Naomi lose almost everything, Ruth widowed, and a return to Bethlehem, where Naomi described herself as bitter and empty. Chapter 2 and 3 followed an identical pattern of a short conversation with Naomi and Ruth, a longer encounter between Ruth and Boaz, and a concluding conversation where Naomi and Ruth evaluated what had happened. Now, in chapter 4 we see where God providentially restores Naomi, through being redeemed, along with Ruth in a way that mirrors what happened in chapter 1.
We can’t always see our own story laid out so neatly and clearly, but be assured this morning, God not only desires, but offers redemption to every person who desires it. With that in mind, let’s turn to the final act of this story as we examine three aspects of redemption from the story of Ruth.
Redemption is costly
Ruth 4:1-8 1 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. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. 3 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. 4 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.” 5 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.” 6 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.” 7 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. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.
We were introduced to this nameless character at the end of chapter 3. A redeemer who is closer to Naomi than Boaz. Boaz wastes no time finding out if this man will act upon his rights. That morning, he went to the city gate. (The city gate was the place where business happened, where the elders sat and discussed matters.)
Boaz gets there early and when this redeemer comes by, he invites him to come and sit. Then he asks 10 elders to sit with them. This isn’t a casual conversation, Boaz is establishing everything he needs to ensure that this business with Naomi and Ruth is handled quickly and properly.
Notice that it doesn’t give the redeemer's name. In the original language, it literally calls him the equivalent of Mr. So and So. It’s a good indication that this man isn’t an important character to the story, but I think it also is an important note to make as we examine this encounter.
The encounter goes like this:
Boaz- I wanted you to know that you have a right to redeem the land of Naomi
Mr. So and So- great, I’ll do it
Boaz- great, by the way, it includes Ruth the Moabite and redeeming her as well
Mr. So and So- I can’t do that, you do it
Boaz- great, thanks
In this quick encounter, what we have is essentially two approaches to redeeming reflected.
Elimelech (Naomi’s husband who has passed) has no heir, but in the nation of Israel, the land was familial, that is it stayed within the family clan. So, here was a piece of land without an inheritor, so the next of kin had a responsibility to step in and care for it as his own. In this case, to purchase it from EliElimelech'smilech’s widow. This was twofold, one it would provide Naomi a means to care for herself, and two, the land would stay in the family, so to speak. This was a great deal for Mr. So and So. He would increase his inheritance, it was a no-brainer. Low cost- high reward. ‘I’ll do it”
However, when he learned that redeeming the land meant redeeming Ruth, suddenly the cost was too great. The key is in what Boaz says, ‘in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.’ By purchasing this land, this man was also claiming responsibility to care for Ruth and produce a child that would be an inheritor for Mahlon. Why is that important? Because when their child was old enough the land would revert to him. Mr. So and So would not only have to care for Ruth and the child, work and cultivate the land, but eventually, it wouldn’t even be his.
All of a sudden the cost outweighed the reward because his approach was ‘I will, if it benefits me’. So he passes on his right to redeem.
Boaz is of course ready to step in because his approach to redeeming is based not on financial sense, or benefits to him, but motivated by his concern for Naomi and Ruth. Essentially, he says, I will, despite the cost to me.
One was motivated by gain, one was motivated by compassion and love. For one it cost too much, for the other, he would gladly pay the cost. To redeem the land, it was simply a matter of money, but to redeem Naomi and Ruth, it was a matter of personal sacrifice and love. True redemption is always costly. But it is also more than costly, redemption is personal.
Redemption is personal
Ruth 4:9-12 9 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.”
The Israelite practice of redemption is not simply transactional. The words selling and buying are used to describe the land, but as we’ve seen, redemption is more than a transaction. Redemption is based on relationships. The practice is outlined in Leviticus.
Leviticus 25:25-28 (ESV) 25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 28 But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.
See, redemption wasn’t about acquiring a belonging but was about restoring what was once the possession of your relative, whether when he could buy it back on his own from you, or when it returned to him in the year of the Jubilee. Don’t miss the implication of this command in Leviticus. This is a way for God to care for those who, through quite possibly their actions had impoverished themselves to the point of being bankrupt. God provided a way that no matter what, every 50 years, the land would revert back to the original owner. A family wouldn’t be destined for poverty because of one generation's poverty. Redemption is personal.
In the context of Ruth, this establishes a permanent relationship for Boaz as Ruth's husband and provider, and subsequently, a permanent relationship with Naomi since Ruth has pledged to be with her for life.
The personal nature of redemption is echoed in the elders' blessings on Boaz.
They asked that God would build his house through Ruth, that is, grow his family, that his legacy would continue to be one of worthiness, that his family would be renowned in Bethlehem. That his redemption of Ruth and Naomi would be a blessing to his family for generations to come. Redemption is so much more than a transaction. Yes, it is costly, but it is also personal. Finally, we will see that redemption is restorative.
Redemption is restorative
Ruth 4:13-17 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.
In your mind, go back to the first chapter.
Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem because of the famine to find better fortune in Moab. Elimelech passed, leaving Naomi widowed but with two sons, then sometime in the next ten years, they married two Moabites, and then Mahlon and Chilion passed as well, leaving Elimelech’s family line cut off and Naomi with two widowed daughters-in-law. Naomi was left with no husband, no son, no heir, and no real future beyond eking out an existence based on the kindness of others. Ruth was left with no husband, and because of her devotion to Naomi, no real chance of a family of her own.
Naomi asked the women of the town to call her Mara (bitter) because God had treated her bitterly, and there was a great murmur about them when they returned.
Watch how the Lord restores it back through this redemption.
Ruth gets a husband in Boaz.
Ruth finds the rest Naomi prayed for while they were still in Moab.
Ruth has a son to carry on the lineage of Elimelech through Mahlon.
The women praise Naomi for what God has done for her.
Naomi becomes the nurse for the child and has her joy restored.
Both of them will be cared for by Boaz.
She is full again.
In the last part of verse 17, we have one, surprising twist left in the story.
The son born to Ruth would father a man named Jesse, who would father a man named David.
Yes, that David! The future king of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, the line that Jesus would come from.
This wasn’t just about redemption and restoration for Naomi and Ruth, this was about redeeming God’s people by setting into motion the birth of their king, before they had even asked for one.
Remember, the book began (ESV) 1 In the days when the judges ruled, this period of history was the period of judges. During this, the people were constantly straying from their covenant and God, repeatedly coming under God’s judgment, until they would repent and God would raise up a judge to free his people, and they would repeat their rebellion and fall under God’s judgment again. Moreover, the judges weren’t always good and progressively got worse, but God was going to usher in a new era with David. This story of Ruth affects all of God’s people.
But the greatest part of this story is that God was ultimately providing redemption for all mankind through David’s descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, whose offer of redemption is beautifully reflected in the three aspects we have examined this morning.
Ruth’s redemption is illustrative
I want to share three sets of verses with you this morning based on these aspects.
Costly- Romans 3:22-25 (ESV) For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Personal- Romans 8:15-17 (ESV) 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Restorative- Ephesians 1:7-14 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Why? Why did God make redemption possible for you and me? Why pay such a price? Because he loves you. Love is the heartbeat of redemption, or to say it another way redemption is love in action…
John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows (displays) his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Boaz’s love was displayed when he redeemed Naomi and Ruth. When words became actions.
God’s love was displayed on the cross when he paid the price for you to be redeemed and restored.
Your story isn’t over, it doesn’t end with loss, pain, regret, hopelessness, or shame, not if you will come to the one who loved you enough to act. Not if you will call out to him as your redeemer.