January 6, 2012

Ruth & Boaz: To the Alter They Go

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by... -Ruth 4:1
All great love stories have one thing in common: a challenge. There's some kind of obstacle that's working against the couple that must be conquered in order for the two to be together. It's scattered in nearly every love story throughout history, and we'll see it here in Ruth and Boaz's as well. Boaz is not legally bound to take Ruth as his wife because of another closer kinsmen redeemer, but Boaz loves Ruth, so he's going to find a way to get rid of this other man. There's a great lesson to be learned with Boaz's actions here. If you're a guy, there's going to be a problem (or problems) that you're going to have to fight through in order to prove your love for the girl, and you shouldn't shy away from that. If you do, then that speaks volumes of how you really feel in your heart. It could be that she's still in college, or she has debt that needs to be taken care of, she doesn't live near you, so there are geographically issues, she's a single mom, or she's been abused, or she doesn't come from a great family or background... there's a long list of possibilities here. But, these obstacles serve the purpose of you demonstrating just how much you love and care about her. Before you ever marry a girl, you have to win her heart, which means there's going to have to be some fighting and overcoming. Boaz gets up goes to town the very next day (he's not going to waste time) in order to settle the matter. And it just so happens, that God blesses Boaz by bring along the other redeemer while Boaz is there. Boaz immediately seizes his opportunity:
And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here" So they sat down. 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." 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" -Ruth 4:2-5
Now this first redeemer... to put it bluntly, he's a jerk. The Bible doesn't even bother giving him a name because his character. Here's destitute Ruth and Naomi, and he does nothing for them. Doing nothing is sometimes a sin as well. The guy doesn't even have a clue what's going on with the two of these women. He dropped the ball. This is probably the first time he's even hearing about them, and foolishly he just agrees to redeem the land without reading the fine print or knowing the details. And it's here we see how Boaz is going to get Ruth. Boaz mentions just the land (which would equal more money), waits till Mr. whats-his-face agrees to it, then Boaz shares with him the details. Mr. what's-his-face will gain the land, but he also has to marry Ruth (who was a Moabite and has already been married), have children with her so that the family line doesn't disappear, and then he gets to take care of her bitter, complaining mother in-law Naomi. Not surprisingly the deal has gone sour for this other man, and he no longer wants to redeem the land.
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" -Ruth 4:6
Boaz is shrewd in his business here. And it's biblical. When it comes to business Boaz knows how to make wise decisions that benefit and care for those whom he loves, but he does it in a legal, moral, biblical way. In the following verses we see Boaz redeeming Ruth as his wife, Naomi, and Elimelech's land. All the elders present congratulate Boaz and bless him! Worthy men, like Boaz, who continue down the path of righteousness surly are blessed for their obedience. Time for a wedding and the tossing of rice!
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. -Ruth 4:13
It's in these last few verses of the book we finally get to see what we've been waiting for. All the prayers are answered. Despite her past and her background, Ruth gets a fantastic, loving man, Boaz gets a beautiful, godly wife, and Naomi, whose been bitter and angry with God finally gets her joy and blessing from the Lord:
Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 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" Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 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. -Ruth 4:14-17


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