We are in a message series on the book of Ruth called “Rescued.” The book of Ruth begins with Naomi moving with her husband and two sons from a famine Judah to the pagan country of Moab. In Moab, the two sons get married to Moabite wives. Then tragedy strikes, as Naomi’s husband and two sons die. Ruth, one of the widows becomes a believer in accompanies Naomi back to Judah. Ruth gleans grain in the field of a godly man named Boaz who treats her kindly. God give Naomi a plan for Ruth to propose marriage to Boaz, which she does. Boaz accepts, but there are complications, which brings us to our message today from Ruth 4 entitled “Rescued from the Past.”
So, in our story, the past of Naomi and Ruth is shrouded in tragedy. The remain alone, a younger and older widow, with no one to protect or provide for them. But we are starting to see great hope of their being rescued through the kindness of Boaz. God loves to rescue people. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God rescued them and brought them out, eventually to the Promised Land. In the preceding book of Judges, we see God rescuing His people from invaders through judges like Gideon and Samson. God still rescues people today.
Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV2011) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Every person who does not believe in Jesus Christ is in the dominion of darkness. God rescues people from their sin through forgiveness and brings them into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The process of being rescued is called here in these verses, redemption. Redemption means that Jesus redeems people by paying the penalty for their sin and setting them free from Satan’s dominion. In our story in Ruth, Boaz is a redeemer, recognized by Naomi and Ruth
Ruth 3:9b (ESV) And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
The redeemer in the Old Testament was the closest male relative to her deceased husband. He was the one who could rescue the family of Naomi and Ruth. In some ways Boaz is a type of the great redeemer, Jesus Christ. As we continue with our story today, we’ll see two applications for our lives to keep in mind. If you’re in trouble, if you are not yet a believer, God wants to rescue you. Then once you’ve been rescued, redeemed, God wants to use you to help rescue others. So, on our outline today, we’re going to follow Boaz as a redeemer, to learn how God wants to use us to rescue others.
As we’ve studied the book of Ruth, we’ve seen that God has been at work behind the scenes in many different ways. Ruth’s heart was changed to believe in God, which is key to the story. God arranged for Ruth to meet Boaz in the fields, even though she had no idea who he was. God gave Naomi a wise plan for Ruth to propose to Boaz. Now, it was Boaz’s turn to play his part in God’s plan.
Ruth 4:1-2 (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. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.
As Ruth was talking to Naomi, that same day, Boaz had already gone to the city gate. In that time, the city gate was the place where the town leaders did important business. So, Boaz prepared by going to the place where the town business was done. God then, arranged for the other redeemer to come by just at the time Boaz was there. You’ll remember that the other redeemer was closer to Naomi’s deceased husband. He would have the first choice as to whether redeem or not. Boaz, then asked this nameless redeemer to take a seat, as he got ten elders of the city to be a witness of this important business. Boaz had followed God’s plan by preparing faithfully.
Ruth 4:3-4 (ESV) 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. 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.”
In the Old Testament, the land was always to stay with the family’s head, in this case Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech. When Naomi and Elimelech moved to Moab, someone else was given rights to use the land. Now, one of Elimelech’s close relatives, either this unnamed redeemer or Boaz is given the opportunity to purchase the rights to the land. The redeemer also should marry into the family and so raise up an heir to continue the family on its land. The unnamed redeemer that Boaz is talking to, although aware of Naomi and Ruth’s plight had done absolutely nothing to help them. Boaz, on the other hand, had gone out of his way to show love and support for the two widows. The unnamed redeemer was a closer relative to Elimelech than Boaz and so had the first option to redeem the land, so he said that he would.
While, Boaz had executed the plan, things appeared to be going the wrong way. The unnamed redeemer now wanted to redeem the land and use it for his purposes. Although this was God’s plan that Boaz was following, there now was opposition. The other redeemer, who has not had the character or godliness to help the two widows, now desires to purchase the right to the land. Boaz, however, is not discouraged.
Ruth 4:5-6 (ESV) 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.” 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.”
Boaz that adds some more details to the transaction. When the land is redeemed, the redeemer also acquires Ruth, the widow, so that the family line would continue with the land. This is all based on the principle of levirate marriage instructed in the Old Testament law. The unnamed redeemer, says that he cannot then redeem the land. Why? Because if he would marry Ruth and have a son, the son would then become the heir of the field. This unnamed redeemer was only interested in his own family, not in helping the family of Naomi’s deceased husband. So, Boaz overcomes opposition to the plan.
One of the most important Hebrew words in the Old Testament and in the book of Ruth is the word hesed. It is impossible to translate hesed with one English word. Hesed means love, compassion, faithfulness and kindness. God shows hesed in the book of Ruth, as do Ruth and Boaz. As Boaz acted with godly character or hesed, so God desires us to show hesed or His love to those around us.
Who around you is going through trouble in life? God wants you to show them His love. God wants you to help rescue those in trouble or difficulty. Now, you and I don’t have the strength or power to rescue people on our own. But we serve a God who has the power and the plan to use you to help others. As you do, you will open their eyes to a living God who loves and cares about them. Pray and let God use you as you follow His rescue plan for others. Boaz was following God’s rescue plan, but now he had to …
It takes perseverance to finish the plan that God has for us. Oftentimes, we’re tempted to quit before God’s plan is fulfilled and finished. So, let’s see how Boaz finished being the redeemer of Ruth and Naomi
Ruth 4:7-8 (ESV) 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. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.
It used to be that your handshake was your word of honor. Before a handshake, giving your sandal confirmed the deal. So, we now have the agreement of the unnamed redeemer. Those without names in the Bible are not regarded highly, as this redeemer is not.
Ruth 4:9 (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.
To make this a legal transaction, Boaz had assembled ten elders and there was now a crowd watching the whole transaction. Boaz then states in legal language what he is now doing. He has bought or redeemed the land that had previously belonged to Naomi’s husband Elimelech and to his two sons. The land would now be owned by Boaz, a close relative and family member of Elimelech and so stay in the family. But the land redemption had a second implication.
Ruth 4:10 (ESV) 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.”
Boaz was now officially accepting Ruth’s proposal to be the family’s redeemer and to marry her. Their children would then be heirs of the land and the family’s name would continue down through the generations. We’ll talk more about the significance of that next Sunday. Boaz brought to a successful conclusion the Lord’s plan The end result is that Naomi, Ruth, Boaz and their children would once again live on the land that God had given to their family.
Think about all the people you know. Your relatives, your neighbors, your workmates, your friends. God has a plan for each of their lives. To rescue those who are not yet waved. To help those who are in trouble. And you know the people you know for a reason. The unnamed redeemer in Ruth had no interest in anyone but himself. Boaz, on the other hand, accepted his part in God’s plan for Naomi and Ruth and we read of his story thousands of years later. Ask God how he would have you reach out and be part of his plan in someone else’s life. Sometimes, just a word of wisdom, a gentle act of kindness is the next step in His plan. As you follow and finish God’s plans in your life, you will …
Ruth 4:11 (ESV) 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,
The witnesses to Boaz’ redemption of the land and Ruth then pronounced God’s blessing upon them. First all, the blessing was on Ruth, that she would be like Rachel and Leah. Rachel and Leah were the wives of Jacob, who ultimately were responsible for the 12 sons that led to the 12 tribes of Israel. Next was a blessing on Boaz, that he would continue to act worthily and become famous in his home town.
Ruth 4:12 (ESV) 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.”
The final blessing was on the house of Boaz, which of course, included Ruth. The blessing was that the house of Boaz would be like the house of Perez. Perez was born to Judah and Tamar under scandalous circumstances but became one of the leading families in Judah. Perez was a direct ancestor of Boaz. Tamar was similar to Ruth in that she was a widow twice over, before she conceived a child with Judah, who ultimately had great significance, as we’ll see next week. You’ll remember that Ruth in Moab had a childless marriage for ten years before her husband died. Yet now, the blessing is that she will have children by the hand of the Lord. The character and actions of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi would be blessed by God.
Here we begin to see the fruit of lives that have faithfully lived out God’s love. God blesses those who follow His plan and obey Him. Both Ruth and Naomi had tragedy strike their lives, in the death of their husbands and Naomi’s sons. We don’t know the whole story of Boaz, but there may well have been tragedy there as well, as he was an older bachelor. Perhaps he was a widower as well. Yet, as they chose to be faithful to God and show love to one another, the end result was God’s blessing on their lives and their children. We’ll understand even more the great blessing that God had in store for them next Sunday when we complete this series. The message will be entitled “Part of the Plan.”
Life is not a random set of circumstances for anyone believer or unbeliever. God is in control, sovereignly moving and carrying out his plans. Our choice is whether to seek to follow God’s plan for our lives or to follow our own plans. When we follow our own plans, the Bible calls it sin. Our own plans bring pain and harm to ourselves and others. Our own plans are never founded on God’s love, but rather our own selfishness. If you want blessing on your life and your children’s lives, you must discover and follow God’s plan. God wants to rescue you from your past and use you to rescue others as well. It’s all part of God’s plan for your life.