May 19, 2019

The Redemption of God

Passage: Ruth 4:1-22

Good morning! If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to the book of Ruth. And if you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can grab a Bible, we’re going to be in Ruth 4, this morning.

Next Sunday, just to let everyone know, our family will be away at the Village Missions Staff Conference in Kelowna. We will be leaving this Wednesday and will get back the following Thursday, so if you could be praying for safety in our travels, there and back, we would greatly appreciate it.

This morning, we officially come to the end of what has been an incredible sermon series on the gospel love story of Ruth. My hope has been that we would see this as more than just a love story between a man and a woman, although it is that, but that it’s also the love story between God and His people.

Throughout the book of Ruth, we have seen tragedy, tension and romance. Last week, we even saw that there was another guy in the picture. The book of Ruth has all the makings of a good love story. But we have also been reminded of the loyalty of God towards His covenant people, the providence of God in ordaining all things for the good of His people and the praise of His glory, and the love of God in sending His Son to be our shelter from the wrath of God against sin.

And this morning, we are going to conclude our series by looking at the redemption of God. As if there were not enough twists and turns in this book, there is also a surprise ending that is so glorious and so hopeful for us, today.

Just to recap the story in a nutshell: The curtain opens in Ruth 1 with Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, and their two sons journeying from Bethlehem to Moab, because there was a famine in Bethlehem. And when they get to Moab, suddenly, Elimelech dies. And then, Naomi’s two sons also suddenly die. And Naomi is left with two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Naomi then hears that Bethlehem has food, again, so she heads back home with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. And when they arrive in Bethlehem, Naomi feels as though she has come back with nothing and that even God is against her.

In Ruth 2, we see that these two women, Ruth and Naomi, are in need of food and family. So, Ruth goes out into the fields to glean and finds herself in the fields of Boaz, who likes what he sees in Ruth. And Boaz protects her, provides for her, and sends her home with enough grain for a year. And while the need for food has been met, there is still the need for family that is to be met.

And this leads to Ruth 3, where Naomi, who is getting more and more excited as the story goes on, devises a plan to get Ruth a husband. And the whole thing is sketchy. Naomi tells Ruth to get all dressed up, go down to the threshing floor where Boaz was, and wait for him to fall asleep, so that she can go and uncover his feet and lie down. Essentially, this was Ruth proposing to Boaz.

And when Boaz wakes up, he’s shocked that Ruth is there, until she tells him why she’s there, and then he’s relieved, because it means that Ruth isn’t chasing after younger men, she wants to be with him.

And just when you think it’s the end of the story, where Boaz and Ruth will live happily ever after, there is this big letdown. Boaz tells Ruth that there is another guy—another relative nearer than him—who has the potential of redeeming Ruth. And so, the answer to the need for family is still up in the air. Who will be the one to redeem Ruth? Will it be Boaz, or will it be this other guy?

And this brings us to Ruth 4. And just like what we have done throughout this series, we are going to break this passage down, section by section, so that we are able to understand what is going on.

Ruth 4:1: “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.”

Now, you will notice in this verse, the word, “redeemer,” or, “kinsman,” as some translations say. The word used in the original language is “goel,” and we have seen it used a number of times in its various forms, throughout this story. But this one Hebrew word gives us a twofold picture of what is commonly called, the kinsman-redeemer.

The “kinsman” was the nearest adult male relative to someone. For example, in order to be the kinsman to Naomi and Ruth, you would need to be the nearest adult male relative to Elimelech and his sons.

But the other word, “redeemer,” means that that kinsman would have the right, if he was willing, to purchase the property that belonged to Elimelech and his sons.

If you turn back in your Bibles to Leviticus 25, God had set up a way for the land that God had given His people to be redeemed by relatives, in the case of disastrous and tragic circumstances.

In Leviticus 25:23, it says, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.” What does that mean? Verse 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.”

In those days, land was everything. And so, if land was lost because of something, like famine or poverty or death, there was a means whereby a kinsman could come and redeem that land, where the land would be kept within the family or, at the very least, kept within the clan.

But then, flip ahead to Deuteronomy 25. We looked at this a little bit, back in the first sermon in this series. God had set up a way for a widow to be cared for, in the event of the death of her husband. Here is what Deuteronomy 25:5 says, “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”

Now, we need to understand that this was extremely sacrificial on the part of the living brother, because he was giving up his name for the sake of his dead brother—that his line might be carried out through him.

But then, look at how serious it was if the man did not do this, in verses 7-10: “And if the man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9 then his brother's wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’”

It was a serious thing to provide for your family and the families within your clan, by keeping the land in the family and maintaining the family name. So, as we come to Ruth 4, we have this picture of the kinsman-redeemer—an adult male relative who is closest to Elimelech, who has the right to redeem the land and take in this family.

And we see that Boaz sits down by the gate and this guy, this relative, comes by. And Boaz asks him to come sit down, because there is a serious matter that they need to discuss.

Look at verse 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.’”

The elders here are basically witnesses to a transaction. They are there to hold everyone accountable.

And what Boaz is offering the redeemer, in the presence of the elders, is the land that currently belongs to Naomi. Remember, because land was everything, Naomi is wanting to sell the land to the kinsman-redeemer—the nearest male relative who is willing to redeem it—in order to keep the land in the family.

Now, this sounds like a really good deal for this redeemer, right? He’s getting this land that he can use to grow more crops, and all that is basically being required of him in return is his willingness to provide for and protect Naomi, who is past the age of childbearing, so he doesn’t even need to worry about carrying on her family line or anything like that. All he’s thinking about is the land.

Boaz lays this offer out on a silver platter. It doesn’t get any sweeter than this. And it causes the redeemer to respond, in verse 4, “I will redeem it.”

And we’re all thinking, “Of course, he’s going to redeem it, Boaz. What were you thinking offering it to him so easily? You made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. We don’t want this other guy to redeem it; we want you to redeem it, Boaz. We want you to be the guy who redeems Ruth, not this other guy.”

Because with this guy agreeing to redeem the land and the family of Elimelech, he would also be agreeing to take in Ruth, as well. If we ended the book right here, it would seem as though Boaz was giving up on his future with Ruth.

But thankfully, Boaz knows what he’s doing. Look at verse 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.’”

In other words, Boaz is saying, “Oh, I almost forgot, when you redeem this land from Naomi, you also redeem Ruth. You know, Ruth? Naomi’s daughter-in-law, who’s husband died while they were in Moab? Well, you see, they never had any children of their own, so if you bring Ruth into your family, then you have the responsibility to provide her with children.”

And all of a sudden, this isn’t as great a deal as this redeemer thought it would be. He was not expecting a young widow to be part of the package. And that is maybe because he had a wife and children of his own, or because Ruth was a Moabite and there would be a stigma attached to her that he didn’t want to bring into his home.

Whatever the case, the redeemer says, in verse 6, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

And this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, because it means that Boaz is now the rightful redeemer of the land, and of Naomi and Ruth. The need for food has been taken care of, and now the need for family has just been taken care of. Everything is finally falling into place.

Verse 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.”

Do you remember what happened to the man who did not fulfill the duty of taking his dead brother’s wife and carrying on the family line through him? The dead brother’s wife would pull the man’s sandal off and spit in his face and the name of his house was to be called, “The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.”

We don’t see that here. Rather, we see the yielding of the right to redeem the land and Ruth and Naomi to Boaz. And Boaz wastes no time in claiming that right to redeem.

Verse 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.’”

Notice how Ruth is described throughout the book: She is called a “Moabite,” a “foreigner,” a “servant,” and now here in 4:10, she is called, “wife.”

Do you see the progression? Remember, Moabite women were known for their sexual immorality and idolatry, and here you have a Moabite woman breaking free from that stigma, as she is recognized as a member of Israel. And this is realized fully in the blessing of the elders upon Boaz and Ruth.

The reference to Rachel and Leah here is particularly interesting, as these two women, like Ruth, were barren at one time, before God opened their womb. But between Rachel and Leah, they bore 9 children. And here is this Moabite woman being prayed over, that God would be faithful to build up His people, Israel, by granting Ruth, the Moabite, the foreigner, the servant, that same kind of fertility.

And this reference to Tamar is yet another one of those instances, where God used a woman outside of Israel, in this case, Canaan, to carry on the line of Israel. In fact, Boaz’s mom is Rahab, who was a prostitute in Jericho, and who helped the Israelite spies when they were scouting out the land.

Over and over again, we see God at work, bringing in these women from outside of the covenant, grafting them into the people of Israel, and carrying on the line through them.

And we continue to see God at work, in verse 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.”

Notice this: In 1:6, we see that God takes care of the need for food, as Naomi hears “that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.” And then, here in 4:13, we see that God takes care of the need for family, as “the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.”

Don’t miss this. At the forefront of this entire story, from begin to end, is God. The narrator isn’t leaving any of this up to debate or question. It’s the Lord who met the needs of food and family in the lives of Ruth and Naomi. It’s the Lord who gives and takes away. And it’s the Lord who is able to meet the deepest needs of each one of us in this room.

It’s how the women can say to Naomi, in verse 14, “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.”

Think about where Naomi was at, at the end of Ruth 1. She arrived back in Bethlehem, bitter, alone, with no husband and no sons, blaming God for all of her misfortune. And now, these women are pointing Naomi to this child, whom God provided to be the hope for her and for each one of us here, today.

And here’s why. Verse 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.”

The reason why this son of Ruth and Boaz will be a restorer of life and a redeemer and his name renowned in Israel is because of who that son points us to. Their son, Obed, eventually leads us to David, who eventually leads us to Jesus, who is our ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer. There’s the surprise ending that I don’t think we would have seen coming, if we didn’t already know it was coming.

You see, there were two things required to be a kinsman-redeemer:

1. You had to have the right to redeem. Boaz did not have the right to redeem, until the rightful kinsman-redeemer yielded his right to Boaz. Only then could Boaz obtain the right to redeem Ruth.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the only One who has the right to redeem sinful and fallen humanity. Jesus became like one of us, yet without sin. He is fully God and fully man. He is the only righteous One. There has been no one in all of human history who has had the right to redeem, except Christ alone.

Picture this: Jesus would take the shoe, like Boaz, and acknowledge the obligation of the Redeemer. He would pay the price, standing in the sinner’s place, offering up Himself, instead.

This is the rightful redemption of God. It was the plan of God from the beginning to redeem us for Himself. And it has been extended to sinful humanity with no conditions on our part. We cannot earn it or work for it; it’s offered to us by grace.

2. And so, the kinsman-redeemer needed to have the right to redeem, but the kinsman-redeemer also needed to have the resolve to redeem.

When the rightful redeemer of the land, and of Ruth and Naomi, heard that Ruth was part of the deal, he backed out. He didn’t want to impair his own inheritance by bringing Ruth into his home. And so, Boaz calls together the elders of the city to witness his acknowledgement of the responsibility of the redeemer.

But here is the good news about Jesus: Jesus didn’t shrink back when He heard that we were part of the deal. I mean, if you think about the Moabites and the kind of people they were, in God’s economy, we’re just as evil as them. Each one of us has sinned; therefore, we all fall short of the glory of God.

And yet, Jesus took up a wooden cross—and not just a cross, but your sin and my sin, the wrath of God against sin that was coming our way—He took upon Himself, not because He was obligated to, but because He desired obedience to the Father more than He desired His life.

Jesus did not consider us an impairment to His inheritance as Son of God, praise God, but welcomed us to receive an inheritance as adopted sons and daughters of God, and co-heirs with Christ.

Jesus is our rightful and willing Kinsman-Redeemer. And the good news of the gospel is that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised this same Jesus from the dead, we will be saved. We will be redeemed. And trust me, we need to be redeemed.

It’s not like we are exactly Ruth, in this story, gleaning in the field, until God sees us and likes what He sees. There is nothing in us that is drawing holy God to us. Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

In our natural state, we want nothing to do with God. And yet, He pursues us and desires relationship with us, not because of anything redeemable in us, but because He is a redeeming God.

I mean, look at Ruth. A Moabite was a link in the lineage through which our Kinsman-Redeemer entered the world. This should amaze us because, according to Deuteronomy 23:3, the Moabites were the ones who were not able “to enter the assembly of the Lord.”

And this simply reveals the redeeming nature of God. It doesn’t matter how far from God you think you are, God is willing and able to rescue you by His grace. Church, the good news of Jesus Christ is that there is nothing that you have done or that I have done, that cannot be fully redeemed in Christ.

Tragedy. Loss. Walking away from the faith. Loneliness. Despair. Bitterness. Anger. Barrenness. Look at Ruth 1 and then Ruth 4, and tell me that all of these things cannot be fully redeemed in Christ. That’s the hope that we have.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these will be redeemed on this side of glory, although if God sees fit to redeem these now, He will. But I am saying that there is coming a day, when even these things that don’t get resolved here on earth will be resolved when Christ returns. In that day, all will be made right.

That’s what I'm holding on to. I have an eye disease that’s causing me to go blind. I’m holding on to the hope that God will redeem that here on earth, but that even if He doesn’t, He is still the rightful and willing Kinsman-Redeemer of my eyesight, where my eyes will be fully restored in heaven. That day is coming.

And so, whatever your hardship, if you have declared that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour, the best is still to come. That’s a promise.

Whether your hardship is that you don’t have enough money coming in, or you lost your job, or you’re having marriage problems, or problems with your children or your relatives, or you’re unable to have children, or you work with difficult people, or you are struggling with the work you need to do, or you struggle with something like, anxiety or depression, whatever it is, it is not unredeemable.

This past week, the state of Alabama passed a law banning all abortions at any point during gestation, except in cases where the woman's life is in danger. This is certainly a win for pro-life, but the reality is that there are still millions of abortions performed all over the world. And even this will one day be redeemed when Christ returns. Even this has been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Do we believe this? Do we believe that the best is still to come? Do we believe that it’s the Lord who meets our deepest needs, or are we still trying to meet our own needs, doing things our own way, in our own power and ability?

As many of you probably know, Helena and I have a heart for the Pregnancy Care Centre. They do an amazing work with women facing unplanned pregnancies, giving them the support and resources and counselling they need to walk through this challenging time in their life.

We are firm believers in protecting life in the womb, which is why we are so glad that we have the opportunity to participate in their Baby Bottle Campaign, that we have going on, from now until Father’s Day, June 16. There are still bottles on the back table that we need to fill up with cash or coins or a cheque, so that we can support the amazing work that the Pregnancy Care Centre is doing.

As we bring our series on Ruth to a close, if you are not a follower of Jesus, if you have never made that profession of faith in Jesus, I just want to encourage you with the good news that you have a Kinsman-Redeemer, who has chosen freely and willingly to redeem broken humanity.

And if you want to know more about that, you can talk with myself or one of the elders, Ellwood or Fred, after the service. We would love to walk you through making that commitment to Jesus, today.

And if you are a follower of Jesus, I just want to encourage you that your inheritance has been purchased, the work has been accomplished, and you are invited to receive and enjoy the blessings of being a child of the Most High God. May the truth that the best is still to come give you hope, today. Let’s pray…

One Reply to “The Redemption of God”

  1. Brendan & Helena,
    Praying for you both at the staff conference in BC! Your series on Ruth has been a such a blessing to me. I have studied and taught this book, and God has continued to teach me more about it through you. Thank you!
    Nancy Cole

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