Sermon: Will the True Redeemer Please Stand Up (Ruth 4)

Will the True Redeemer Please Stand Up??

Ruth 4:1-22 (ESV)

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.  [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.”

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.

[18] Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,  [19] Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,  [20] Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,  [21] Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,  [22] Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Preaching through this Old Testament Book has been a reminder for me, a reminder that through difficult circumstances God is leading His people.  In every trip to the hospital, every graveside tear, every discouragement, and in every victory the Lord is moving us to our final destination for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory.  Our Redeemer lives and we will see Him.  Nothing is more important than the fact that we are reconciled and God is glorified.  These two things far exceed everything else, including our comfort.

The Lord often brings trouble into our lives to cause us to depend on Him alone. We must realize that if we’re not experiencing trouble now, we probably will soon.  Jesus promised us that we would experience it.

John 16:33 (ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The Book of Ruth can get us ready to experience trouble in a godly way.  Looking at this Old Testament Book we can learn to take heart.  We can learn that obedience to the Lord is more important than doing what we think is right.

In our church we will probably experience trouble.  When trouble hits, the important thing to remember is that the Lord is at work.  He is molding us to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.  Like Ruth, it’s important that we do the godly thing in the midst of trouble.  Here in our church when trouble hits, how we handle it will be very important.  We must deal with it in love and deal with it swiftly.

The Book of Ruth is also full of comparisons and contrasts.  We saw the contrast between Ruth and her sister-in-law Orpah.  Orpah returned to her people and her gods.  Ruth, on the other hand, returned with Naomi to Bethlehem to be with Naomi’s people and worship Naomi’s God.

Now the narrator of the story is going to show us the two possible redeemers, one being genuine and the other being false.  We must realize today that there is only One true Redeemer for us, His name is Jesus Christ.  There may be others who would make us promises, there may be others who make believable claims, but only Christ can save us.  We are not our own redeemer and there is no other redeemer to come.

1. The True Redeemer (Ruth 4: 1-12)

The narrator explains the setting for us.  Boaz goes to the gate of the city where official business and rulings took place.

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.

Boaz wastes no time.  This is exactly how Naomi knew it would take place. The language in this verse is very similar to the event of Ruth finding Boaz’s field in which to glean.  It just so happened according to the narrator that she ended up in his field.  From Ruth perspective she just happened to enter the field belonging to Boaz.  God’s sovereignty and man’s actions work hand in hand.  Here, the other redeemer just happened by.  That’s what the writer is getting at when he says, And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by.

The writer wants the readers to see the difference between Boaz, the true redeemer and this man.  He begins by leaving him nameless.  The phrase, Turn aside, friend, really could be translated, Hey, you, come over here.  One redeemer cares for Ruth and Naomi, the other cares for himself.

So and so, come over here.  The writer leaves this man’s name out to drive a point home.  This closer relative is not willing to carry on the name of Elimalech so he shall remain nameless.  He is the complete opposite of Boaz.  This man does not deserve his name recorded.

[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.”

When Boaz says Naomi was selling a piece of land he means that she is selling the use of the land.  This would be done until the year of Jubilee.  The problem with this is that the land has no owner and will not pass on because Naomi has no relative to pass the land to.  If this unnamed redeemer purchases the use of the land and if during the time he is using it Naomi dies, this man would inherit the land for himself.  This is a good deal for him.  This is a good deal for a redeemer who only cares for himself.  He wanted the land but didn’t care about continuing Elimelech’s name throughout the generations.

Ruth had asked Boaz to redeem her and Naomi not so much the land.

” And he said, “I will redeem it.” We read this and we say NO!  How can this be?  I thought Ruth would be Boaz’s wife. 

This unnamed redeemer was willing to redeem the land but not the widows.  To redeem land meant it was yours to use to make money off of.  To redeem widows meant it would cost you something.  Boaz cares for these two women and wants to make sure that this redeemer, if he chooses to redeem will care for them.

Notice that the focus of this would-be-redeemer is still on the land and not on the women.  Once he learns that there is a cost involved he turns down the offer.

“I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

The land looked good until he was required to marry Ruth and take in Naomi.  The cost was too great for him so he answers no.

A true redeemer will be concerned about continuing the name more than the benefits to him.

From the beginning, Boaz was concerned about the welfare of Ruth and Naomi.  From the beginning this unnamed redeemer was concerned with his wellbeing.

How do you measure up?  Are you more like the unnamed man or like Boaz?  Do you make calculations before you help or do you help regardless of the cost?

I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance.

This nameless man did the math in his head.  When it was the land, it was a good deal.  He was willing.  His purpose was to preserve his own name.  The writer intentionally leaves his name out of the holy records.  In trying to preserve his own name, he lost it.

Luke 17:33 (ESV)

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Are you so worried about preserving you own life and prosperity that you are in danger of loosing it?

As we’ll see, Boaz’s name will endure.  He wanted to obey the Lord.  He was willing to do what God had commanded even at great cost to himself.

Our Redeemer was willing.  He was willing to redeem us even at great cost.  The redemption of His people cost our Lord everything.

When the table is turned and Boaz explains what all is involved in redeeming the widows, the man is unwilling.

In front of the city officials the redemption is carried out.  Boaz declares in front of many witnesses that he is willing to care for these women.

[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.”

It is clearly stated that his reason for marrying Ruth was to continue the name of Elimelech throughout the generations.  These widows will now have an inheritance.

Notice what the elders of the city do.  They declare a blessing on this union.  They give their blessing and ask that the Lord would make this couple fruitful.

[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.

Remember, so far Ruth has been childless.  Even when she was married to her husband for around ten years she remained childless.

2. The Lord’s Mercy (Ruth 4:13-17)

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.

Boaz and Ruth marry and almost immediately she becomes pregnant.  We should read this account very carefully not to miss anything.  It specifically says that, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.

This child was the Lord’s doing.  He was the One who gave this son to Boaz and Ruth.

The bottom line in this story is that Ruth would be able to bear children after all.  The Lord gave her conception.

There have been two main problems in the Book of Ruth.  First there was no food to eat.  There was no seed in Jerusalem.  The earth could not produce fruit.

The ground could not bear fruit and Ruth could not bear children.

Who gives food to Jerusalem?  Who gives a child to Ruth?  God does.

Ruth 1:6 (ESV)

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.

Who gave this family fruit of the womb?

God did.

And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.

I believe the point of this account is that the Lord often takes things away in order to fill us with more of Himself.  When we endure trials cling to the Lord.  When He empties you allow Him to fill you with more of Himself.

[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!

What an amazing statement these women make.  Boaz’s name is of great renown.  The author purposefully is comparing the no named redeemer who wanted to keep his inheritance all to himself to the true redeemer of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz.  Boaz’s name and family line is famous the other man’s name is struck from the record.

Why does the writer end with a genealogy?

To show us that Boaz’s name will remain because God placed His stamp of approval on this family.

[18] Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,  [19] Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,  [20] Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,  [21] Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,  [22] Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Why was there a famine?  Why did God bring back this family to Bethlehem?  Why did Ruth just happen to end up in the field of Boaz?  Why did the nearer redeemer fail to save this family?  Why did God empty Naomi?  He was in the process of bringing King Jesus into the world.

Boaz and Ruth become the great grandparents of King David who would be an ancestor of King Jesus.

God works in ways we don’t understand.  As we experience the hand of the Lord we must remember that He is working for our good and His glory.

As we wrap up the Book of Ruth, I hope you’ve seen the hand of God guiding these women.  I pray that you also understand that the hand of God is guiding us.  Sometimes God’s hidden providence may seem bitter as when we suffer loss or disappointments.  Other times God’s providence may seem sweet.  Through it all He is working.

As we close, I want to mention that as the writer of Ruth closes the book, he looks at genealogy.  I don’t know about you but sometimes I’m tempted to skip over the long lists of names.  But I want to look briefly at Matthew chapter 1.

If you scroll your way down through the names, you’ll find four women mentioned.

Tamar-Posed as a harlot and was impregnated by he father-in-law

Rehab- Who was a harlot, professionally

Ruth- foreigner from the cursed land of Moab

Mary- An unwed mother

You have this less than favorable history coupled with the hand of God which produced a perfect Redeemer for us.  Jesus is a lamb without spot or blemish.  Only God could take sinful people and produce a sinless Savior.

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