*“Redemption” \\ **Ruth 4*
We often go through life wondering what God is up to and how our current circumstances can come from him.
As Christians, we may realize and acknowledge that God is sovereign over all creation and yet we may question how death and sickness and financial struggle and relationship struggle can be a part of his plan.
We may also realize that Romans 8 tells us that “all things” are working for the good of the believer.
And yet we don’t see it in the moment.
This is usually attributed to a couple of things.
The good of the believer is to be conformed to the likeness and character of Jesus.
The second is that we can’t see “behind the scenes.”
And so we are left to trust.
To trust God in the trials of life is one of the most powerful testimonies that we offer for the world.
To trust God is not always easy.
You know this from experience.
Let me offer a bit of insight that should help us to trust more completely, more readily, and more extensively.
We need to be anchored into the understanding of his character and his plans.
Because if we’re not, we will be quickly thrown into a whirlwind of doubt.
Recall our Scripture memory for this season.
We count our trials as joy because they transform our character.
We call on God for wisdom /in faith /because the one who doubts is unstable.
Yet the key to understanding God’s character and his ways is to familiarize ourselves with his Word, the Bible.
When you immerse yourselves in the grand plan of his redemption of his children, you see that God works through the weaknesses of people in unlikely circumstances.
And, I don’t know about you, but I know my weaknesses… and the unlikely circumstances I often find myself.
So this helps us to recognize that God is working in us… and through us… in /our /current circumstances.
Such is the occasion for the Book of Ruth.
Here we see a story that involves death and relationship struggle and character weaknesses and unlikely circumstances.
And yet if our eyes are open, we will see the great plan of God at work in the midst of these.
Originally, I had fragmented this last chapter into two weeks.
In the midst of my study, however, I decided that it is best to cover it in its entirety in one sermon.
The latter portion fits too well to wait for the next week.
Turn in your Bibles to Ruth 4 as we will be concluding our study today.
Follow along as I read.
We will look at the sermon entitled “Redemption” in three points.
The first point is *The Appeal.
This is a passage that is saturated with culture and customs.
And as I studied it, I quickly became aware that I could spend the entire time relating the customs and practices of the ancient Israelites.
But in so doing, we might miss “the forest for the trees.”
In other words, we could investigate the specifics and peculiarities and miss the message that the author was attempting to communicate.
So I will do my best to efficiently deal with some of the culture and yet land primarily on this very important message.
We don’t get very far until we are confronted with customs.
In verse 1 we learn that Boaz goes to the gate in the city.
Why does he go to the gate?
Well, let’s recall what happened the chapter before.
Naomi and Ruth plotted how they might accelerate the process of providing for Ruth.
In a risky endeavour, Ruth pursues Boaz in an attempt to discover if he was willing to provide for her as a redeemer.
Boaz recognizes her kindness and commits to deal with the matter as soon as he is able.
He notes that there is a closer redeemer to Ruth and will need to approach him first.
Boaz says he will get to it in the morning.
He sends Ruth away so that there would not be a misunderstanding among the people.
As a worthy and God-fearing man, Boaz followed through on his promise.
The next day Boaz goes to the gate.
The “gate” was significant in these times.
First, it was the best place to track people down.
In a typical day, when individuals would come in from the fields and go up to the town, they would pass right through the gate and go straight to their homes.
Boaz goes to the gate.
And in language that suggests God’s providence, “behold!” the very redeemer Boaz had spoken of arrives!
Would you look at that?? Remember chapter 2 when Ruth just “happened” to end up at the field of Boaz?
It’s almost as if God is orchestrating things beautifully according to his plan.
And I believe that this is evident here in verse 1 as well.
Something else is going on here too.
When Boaz goes up to the gate and “sits down there,” he is communicating that there is some official business to be done.
The “gate” was the local law court.
It was planned with an open space around which benches provided places to sit in the shade of the high walls, making it a natural meeting place.
It had the advantage of being open to the public, who could observe that justice was done.
Do you recall when David’s son Absalom was positioning himself up to usurp his dad’s authority?
How did he go about it?
Remember? 2 Samuel 15:2-6 “*2* And Absalom used to rise early and *stand beside the way of the gate*.
And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?”
And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” *3* Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”
*4* Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land!
Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”
*5* And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.
*6* Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment.
So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”
He did so at “the gate.”
Interesting about this book is the emphasis on particular characters in this book and the emphasis on names.
Here we come across “the redeemer” who will remain nameless.
He serves basically only as a contrast for Boaz.
Boaz asks him to turn aside and sit down.
Curious is the addition of “friend” here.
There is a big of confusion as to how to understand this word.
From what I’ve read, it is best understood to communicate the “namelessness” of the individual – something to the effect of “Mr.
so-and-so” is the closer redeemer and thus receives the offer of redemption first.
Boaz assembles ten elders of the city to serve essentially as witnesses for the case.
These would have likely served as a form of administrators of the town.
And the fact that Boaz could easily assemble this group reflects on his standing within the community.
He must have been respected by his town.
The appeal begins in verse 3. Boaz provides Mr. so-and-so with the background and situation.
He recounts how Naomi had returned from Moab and is looking to sell the portion of land belonging to their deceased relative Elimelech.
Now why would Boaz begin here?
I thought he was out to settle the issue regarding Ruth.
Does it seem that he is being too good of a salesman?
This would likely appear to be a potential investment for an interested party.
The person “redeeming” the land would likely benefit from the added harvest for sure.
So in the presence of the witnesses, he presents the official offer.
And should he decline, Boaz would redeem it.
He is next in line for the offer.
Perhaps a slight pause… those that have gathered await a response… Mr. so-and-so weighs it out in his mind and responds.
“I’ll take it!”
If you’re there, and if Ruth is there also, you might glance at her and watch as her heart sinks.