- Machiavelli, The Prince,
“There is nothing so self-defeating as generosity: in the act of practicing it, you lose the ability to do so.”
- Boaz has proven to be generous. He operated on different principles than everyone else.
- Isn’t that the gospel? In the act of losing his life, Jesus saved us. It was self-defeating, then Jesus conquered death as well.
- In Ruth 3, redemption promised, but who fulfill?
Read Ruth 4:1-12
- Difficult elements in Ruth:
- The levirate-marriage (Deut. 25)
- Land and redemption laws (Lev. 25)
- Ban on Moabites (Deut. 23)
- Marriage to foreign women (Ezra 10)
- Ruth, like Rahab, was fully accepted into the covenant community despite being a foreigner. Their faith proved their belonging.
- However, the price of redemption had to be paid.
- Boaz joyfully satisfies the legal requirements to become Ruth’s redeemer.
- The Offer (1-6)
- The Witness (7-10)
- The Blessing (11-12)
The Offer (1-6)
- Local law court where elders gathered (Boaz sits).
- Where Ruth would go if redeemer unwilling (Deut. 25:7).
- “Behold” (2:4). Providence.
- “Peloni ‘almoni” = Mr. So-and-So. “Hey, man…dude…”? Pejorative.
- Boaz knew name (relative, legal transaction), narrator omits it. Why? Foil. Anonymity > judgment.
- Naomi offering land to family first. Elimelech’s heir would inherit land.
- Interest in redeeming land, not Ruth.
- Mr. So-and-So’s unwillingness heightens Boaz’s generosity.
- Boaz did what Ruth could not do for herself. He provided her the security she needed. His generosity was entirely selfless. He thought of Ruth as he accomplished the work of redemption.
- Don’t you see an example of Christ? What was on his heart as he hung upon the cross, accomplishing the work of redemption? Was it not the Church, his bride?
- Boaz, like Jesus, satisfied the legal requirements of redemption on behalf of his helpless bride.
God’s kingdom operates on a different kind of calculus, a “new math” in which the way to fullness runs through emptiness.
- Marriage to a barren Moabite widow was financial loss and tremendous social risk.
- The field he purchased would be inherited by the firstborn son, should there be one.
- Yet he joyfully fulfills the role.
- Ruth, like us, receives all the benefit.
In order for the transaction to be official, the offer had to have witnesses.
The Witness (7-10)
- Surely Mr. So-and-So was aware of Naomi’s return (1:19). Yet, he has offered no help. He seems entirely self-serving. “What’s in it for me?”
- He thought he would be able to keep the land. Naomi was too old to expect a son. But Ruth made transaction a loss.
- Irony: In seeking to preserve his own name, he wound up without one.
- Sandal: Ownership (Josh. 1:3) transferred.
“In his public statement of 4:10, there is an echo of times past. Boaz names her Ruth the Moabitess. And she is thus named for the last time! Boaz redeems Ruth in order to have her to be his bride, not so that she will remain a Moabitess but so that she will come into the family of the covenant people of God.”
- Marriage unites her to Boaz and removes her Moabite status.
- This text corrects Mr. So-and-So’s false worldview. His self-interest and lack of generosity are contrary to the character of Boaz.
- Examine your own heart.
- Do your transactions reveal Boaz’s generosity or Mr. So-and-So’s greed?
- In God’s economy, it is the one who loses his life that will find it.
- The Gospel transforms self-interest > selflessness.
Those who witnessed the transaction respond with a word of blessing for Boaz and Ruth.
The Blessing (11-12)
- The crowd of people who had gathered to watch as well as the elders gave their blessing upon Ruth (“woman/wife” not Moabite) and Boaz.
- Threefold Blessing (emphasizing offspring):
- To become like the house of Rachel and Leah > numerous children.
- They hope for a blessing upon the reputation of Boaz. Large families have potential for greater wealth in agrarian cultures.
- Boaz was a descendant of Perez, which had become the preeminent tribe.
- Like Ruth, we are in no position/condition to redeem ourselves. We are incapable of satisfying the requirements. We had no money to pay for our basic needs.
- Isa. 55:1-3 Jesus not only provides the means for us to receive our basic needs (food and water), but he supplies so abundantly that we have wine and milk too!
- In our spiritual state, we are utterly dependent upon the righteousness of another to be accepted.
- Depending upon others can be humbling. Risk the judgment and scrutinization of others. But, without help we face insurmountable barriers.
- Seeking and accepting the help God sends allows us to experience the community we long for.
- When we belong to that community it isn’t a chore to gather together or show hospitality. Nor is it frightening to invite others to be a part of it!
The crowd became supporters of the marriage and sought its success.
- Boaz accepted a self-defeating proposition > Our Redeemer was humbled to the point of death on behalf of helpless sinners.
- The witnesses saw Mr. So-and-So’s greed and self-interest. His attitude has no place within the covenant community.
- The blessing declared upon the house of Boaz and Ruth reveals the kind of community we long for.
- Naomi was convinced Boaz would not rest until he settled the matter (3:18). What Boaz did on behalf of Ruth points to the finished work of Christ on behalf of his bride.
- Campbell, “We come to a perfect Redeemer with a finished redemption.”