A Love That Redeems
Read Ruth 4:9-10 (ESV)
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. 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.”
How do you see the love of Christ reflected in the story of Ruth and Boaz?
God gives us a glimpse of just how much He loves us by putting a love story in His Word—the book of Ruth. Remember from yesterday that the time of the judges was a mostly dark time during Israel’s history. The people were overwhelmingly unfaithful to the Lord. And yet, in the midst of the violence, evil, and ugliness of sin that we find in Judges, we see a sliver of beauty and hope in Ruth’s story.
The story begins in the time of the judges when there is a famine in the land, likely as discipline from the Lord. A Jewish man named Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons flee from the famine in Bethlehem to Moab (enemy territory) in an attempt to survive. Unfortunately, while there, he dies and leaves Naomi a widow. His two sons marry Moabite wives named Orpah and Ruth but unfortunately, the sons die and leave their wives childless widows as well.
At this point, Naomi bitterly felt as if God must not be on her side but she couldn’t have been more wrong! She heard that the famine in Israel has passed so she decided to return to Bethlehem. She urged her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab and remarry. So Orpah kissed Naomi good-bye and left her. But Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side. She said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Ruth had every opportunity to selfishly look out for her own interests. As a young widow, remarriage was her only hope of financial security. But she selflessly pledged to leave her own home and gods behind to remain faithful to her mother-in-law and friend, Naomi. Significantly, she also vowed to serve Naomi’s God, Yahweh, instead of the pagan gods of the Moabites. Notice the contrast between the faithfulness of Ruth (a foreigner) and the unfaithfulness toward God of many of Israelites at that time.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, it was the barley harvest. Because they were poor widows, Jewish law allowed them to glean grain that was left on the edges of the fields or that had fallen to the ground in the harvest (Leviticus 19:9-10). As God’s providence would have it, Ruth ended up gleaning in a field that belonged to a relative of Naomi’s husband. His name was Boaz.
Now, Boaz had heard of Ruth’s faithfulness to his relative, Naomi as well as her decision to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. As a result, he was happy to grant her permission to glean his field and ensure her safety.
There is a bright Scarlet Thread of redemption in the story of Ruth and Boaz. In Ruth 2:20, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was a close relative, one of their “redeemers.” Leviticus 25:23-25 explains property redemption to ensure that property remains in a family in the event someone dies or is financially at risk of losing the land. Deuteronomy 25:5-6 explains the law concerning a “levirate marriage” which made provision for a man’s brother (or close relative in Boaz’s case) to marry the widow and provide an heir for his dead relative.
At Naomi’s urging, Ruth approached Boaz and asked him to be their kinsman redeemer, to which he agreed. Boaz redeemed or bought back the land that belonged to Naomi’s husband and agreed to marry Ruth. This marriage ensured that any child born to Ruth and Boaz would be an heir for Elimelech, Naomi’s late husband.
In Ruth 4, we read that Ruth and Boaz end up having a child which brought great happiness to grandma Naomi. The Lord’s hand had not been against her all this time, after all! But wait, there’s even more. The book of Ruth ends with a genealogy. Ruth and Boaz’s son was named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of King David. And as we read on in the next few days, we’ll discover that Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, comes from that very same family line.
Friends, can you see how God blessed the faithfulness of Ruth? A foreign woman went from poverty and childlessness to belonging to a wealthy, land-owning family and a mother in the line of King David and eventually, the Messiah. That kind of blessing is available to us too. By Jesus’ blood we have been redeemed out of our sin and brought into the family of God. Praise God for His faithful love toward us! His love redeems.
Lord, thank You for Your faithful love. Thank You for loving me so much that You were willing to suffer and die to redeem me from the curse of my sin and bring me into the family of God (Galatians 3:13-14). Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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