With thanks to Jonathan Durke for this guest blog.
Read Ruth 4:1-6
So, Ruth has presented herself to Boaz at the wise and caring recommendation of Naomi. Boaz, in response, has shown concern for Ruth and even gone the extra mile. He sets out to find the relative closer to Naomi than he, so he can honourably give that relative the first opportunity to provide and protect for Naomi and Ruth. We now read of Boaz making his way to the city gate of Bethlehem to sit and wait for his relative to come along. Soon enough he walks by and is called to sit with Boaz along with ten city elders he has gathered, to discuss the matter.
In the ancient Near East, the city gates were where legal transactions would take place. Official business regarding property, law and economics etc. would be processed while the people involved, including the respected elders, would sit and negotiate. So, Boaz explains the entire situation and offers the relative the parcel of land that was Elimelech’s and which now Naomi is selling to make ends meet. The relative thinks this sounds good – he gets more land – but Boaz adds that he must also redeem Ruth. At this the relative rejects the offer. If he took it, it would have adverse effects on his own children and their inheritance. Marrying Ruth would mean producing more children which would take away from his own children’s inheritance.
- How do you think this made Ruth feel?
- How does God act differently to us compared with Boaz’s relative to Ruth?
Read Ruth 4:7-12
The right and responsibility to now redeem Ruth has come to Boaz. Boaz proceeds to make this transaction with love and integrity. He does it properly and with transparency, making sure there are witnesses to the authentic and honest way he has dealt with this matter.
- Are there any areas in your life (family, business, etc.) in which you think you could be more transparent?
- Are there areas of your work or private life where there is pressure to NOT live with integrity?
We may never know how the outcomes of our actions will unfold. They could work out differently than we thought, take longer than we anticipated or fall short of our expectations. That can be especially frustrating when we have gone about them with integrity and in a way God is pleased with. However, regardless of the outcome, if we have done it with integrity, that pleases the Lord. He will work out what is best for us and most glorifies him.
Read Ruth 4:13-22
Ruth and Naomi have both received a kind of new identity in and through Boaz and the kindness he extended to them.
Remind you of anyone?
Jesus Christ has redeemed us, just as Boaz did for Ruth. Jesus is our “kinsman redeemer” because He became incarnate as a human being, so He relates and empathises with us.
Jesus, has also given us a new identity, through his life , death and resurrection. Martin Luther, a 16th century German Catholic monk turned Protestant reformer, called this transaction ‘the great exchange’. Christ exchanged His righteousness to us and He received our sin. As Boaz took on himself Ruth’s, poverty, hunger and shameful reputation, he gave her his righteous reputation, home security and bountiful provision.
All Jesus has He has now transferred to us.
The cross was a similar and greater declaration of payment. It was a divine transaction. We have received new identities as righteous children of God through Jesus’ gracious kindness.
- How will knowing we have a new identity inform and influence your lives?
- What does the truth of ‘The Great Exchange’ conjure up in you?
Ruth is now married and bears a child. She is protected, provided for and blessed. Naomi is blessed too, as she nurses her grandchild and has her life restored to her again.
This child of Ruth’s, Obed, will become the father of Jesse, and Jesse will become the father of David. David’s descendants will lead to the birth of Christ and the salvation of the World. (Matthew ch1 lists Ruth as one of Jesus’ ancestors!)
God is always at work, unleashing His plans and purposes to accomplish His desires. We do not know the full fruit that will come from our ministry and decisions….
In conclusion, let’s do the following:
- Wait in faith that his plans are GOOD!
- Embrace our new identity, learning who we are ”in Christ” and that all he is, is ours.
- Believe God for fruitfulness