You Can't Unsee It - Ruth 4
(Read Ruth 4:13-17 — Short clip from Meet the Parents and Puff the Magic Dragon plays) Have you ever seen something that you couldn’t unsee? For instance, have you ever had someone tell you something about a song or show that you like that either ruined it or changed the way you saw it forever. Something like this… (Show clip) Thanks, Greg, for ruining the song! Now, every time Jack tries to listen to one of his favorite songs he’s going to go to a dark place!
That’s the effect that seeing the gospel in the OT is supposed to have. That’s the point of the Big Story series. It’s to show you the gospel in the OT in such a way that you can’t unsee it. It’s to so vividly see what God’s plan has always been throughout history and to come to the realization that Jesus has always been the main character of Scripture.
Ruth 4 is one of those pictures of Jesus that you just can’t unsee. It’s so clear and so apparent that when you have the eyes to see it, it just pushes you to your knees and raises your hands to worship. It offered hope to those who were there in the story 3000+ years ago, and it offers fresh hope to us today. Because this is Jesus’ story. This is the plan of redemption unfolding before us.
The Gospel in Ruth: (headline)
The Gospel in Ruth: (headline)
4:17 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.
4:13a So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.
Let’s start this story in reverse, and then go back and fill in the details. Verse 17 gives us a picture of Naomi holding her grandson in a rocking chair. She’s singing to him and feeding him and smiling at him. I want you to imagine with me that the story of chapter 4 is being told by Naomi to her infant grandson.
It’s the story grandkids love to hear and grandmother’s love to tell. It’s the story of how this little one came to be. It starts with a wedding against all odds. It’s a long story how Ruth became Boaz’s wife (v. 13a).
It’s a story of great effort.
4:4 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.” And he said, “I will redeem it.”
This is a quick turnaround. Boaz was a kinsmen redeemer for Ruth, but there was another redeemer closer than, you’ll remember. But, the promise was that the issue of redemption would be solved today. That would be like saying I’m the executer of the will, and I’m going to see to it that the whole estate is settled by tonight, or, my company is going to acquire your company, and we’re going to be fully integrated by sundown. There’s a crazy number of details to sort out. There’s all the things you think of, and there’s all the details you don’t think of. You can imagine how frazzled and focused that Boaz felt.
Redemption is mentioned 13 times in chapter four, including four times in chapter four. Redemption meant that you took over someone in your family’s estate who had died without an heir so that you could see to it that the land which represented God’s covenant blessing remained within your family. It was also a provision by God to make sure that the widow was taken care of; so, responsibility for her care was also assumed as well. That is, redemption was her salvation, you see. Further, if the widow was still of childbearing years, there was a responsibility for the redeemer to marry her, seek to produce a rightful heir to whom the estate would go; thus, his father’s name would continue into posterity. So, redemption represented the salvation of the widow and it represented the salvation of the father’s legacy into the future. There was both a right now and future component to redemption.
So, here is Boaz scrambling to meet with the other redeemer. Laying out the details of the estate. Collecting at least 10 elders from the gate. ALL DURING THE THRESHING TIME. He’s missing work that he has to make up. He’s doubling his workload here! And so, he’s going to all of this effort, and it’s really for someone else’s benefit. Do you see Boaz’s character shining through?
The great effort was the result of great love.
4:4b 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.”
And, here’s the craziest part of all of it. It’s really not even his responsibility. (Lev 25) That’s where the real motive comes into view: He wants to do it. It’s his joy to do it. This is about love.
Two great loves come into view for Boaz. God and Ruth. God? He’s the Psalm 1 man. He doesn’t begrudge the Law; Boaz delights in it. Spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. Have to verses want to. And, how does this come to bear? It comes to bear in his willingness to go great lengths to both uphold the law and to marry Ruth. This “hesed” love from the go. It’s excessive, urgent, practical, and real. It’s a dual expression of love for God and love for Ruth simultaneously.
Great love came at great expense.
Ruth 4:5-6: 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 springs on the redeemer: Oh and buy the way, his foreign wife is included in the deal. Not the most charming picture of her!
Cost analysis by the “So and So” redeemer. If he had an heir, the heir wouldn’t bear his name and would ultimately take from him all of the property. This man would lose every penny of his investment.
Ruth’s redemption was too high a price.
It was all part of a greater plan.
It’s obvious that Boaz had a plan. You can see it in how he told the story. But, his plan was really enveloped within a greater plan.
Ruth 4:1b 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.
Ruth 4:13 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.
It just happened! Right according to plan and timing — it just happened! Yea, right. Look back at verse 13, and hear this grandmother telling the story. “AND THAT’S HOW THE LORD GAVE US YOU.” This isn’t about what Boaz has been doing, though that’s included. This isn’t about what Ruth is doing, though that matters. This is about what God has done! The salvation of his people had always been God’s plan!
This isn’t primarily about Ruth’s redemption; this is primarily about our redemption. This about how God is working to save his people.
Great effort: God’s painstaking providence was pointing toward a fulfillment of his promise to ultimately redeem Israel and to redeem us. His Son was coming, and He would live a homeless life of self-denial. He would walk place-to-place without anywhere to lay his head, healing and offering hope. By the end of his life, He’d be so tired and worn through that He’d sweat great drops of blood and give out trying to carry his own cross, but on that cross he’d hang. It was great effort driven by great love — love for his people, love for his church, love for his Father in heaven. That’s what justified the great expense for him. It was the great love. Anyone doing a logical cost analysis would’ve determined that I wasn’t worth the price. I had nothing to offer and could only take more. But, He paid it!!! He paid it! Because that was the plan, man. That was the plan! God planned to redeem!
God “redeems” through a “son”.
God “redeems” through a “son”.
Ruth 4:13-14 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. 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!
You can imagine grandmother getting a tear in her eye as she gets to this point in the story. “God gave us YOU, our little man, our son, and that makes all the difference.”
The son is the cornerstone.
“God gave her conception” Here is a house being established, but it’s not actually established by Boaz or Ruth or Israel. It’s established by God. Only God can open a barren womb. Only God can give a baby.
Psalm 127:1a Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
This son is being presented as the cornerstone of a new family. He’s being presented as the first building block of a great heritage — even a great Kingdom — that is to come. That is, this son is the result of God’s promise, and this son is the firstfruits of that his promise will be fully enjoyed.
The son is the way for all.
Ruth 4:11-12 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, 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.”
There are three blessings that are spoken by the townspeople to Boaz, and they revolve around Ruth. They’re saying, “Ruth will belong among Israel’s matriarchs. The Lord will bless her so that she is remembered forever as a mother of Israel.”
She’s a Moabitess, yall! And, her name is being mentioned beside Rachel and Leah, the mothers of the 12 tribes of Israel! This would be the democrats naming Donald Trump the party chair!
How? How could this be? It’s the son! Imagine Naomi telling this story. It’s you, little man! The son made a way for his mom — the exact wrong woman — to be exalted in Israel! This son is paving the way so that all people might be grafted into the vine of Israel to enjoy the covenant promises of YHWH!
The son is the redeemer.
Redeemer is mentioned 13 times, and in verse 14, the 13th occurrence, it describes a different person — the baby boy. The Lord had not left Naomi without a redeemer. He’d given her the baby son!
This wasn’t Boaz as redeemer. This was about God as redeemer. God had sent the son! Redemption doesn’t come until the son comes. (“God gave her conception”)
My goodness, do you see the picture? God gave a virgin conception so that she would bear his very Son. He sent his Son to be the chief Cornerstone of the Kingdom that is coming. The Lord is building this house. The Lord is redeeming this creation. The Lord is making all things new, and He’s doing it through his Son. In the kingdom that is being built, there are no longer distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and masters, rich and poor, white and black, there is only the question: Have you been redeemed by the Son? Because if you have, no matter how wrong you are or how messed up you are or how lost you are, He has made the way. He is your redeemer! Oh, you can’t unsee this!
God “redeems” through a “son” who “resurrects” the dead.
God “redeems” through a “son” who “resurrects” the dead.
4:15 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.”
The concern: the family name is dead. The legacy is dead. Their inheritance is gone. This isn’t just death right now; this is death forever. There is no death — particularly in Israel — like death without an heir. How will your family enjoy the covenant promises of God if there’s no one left from your family in the land you’ve inherited?
“a restorer of life” 4:5b "in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Except, there’s the son! He restores life. There’s the son through whom the name would be perpetuated. There’s the son through whom the promises would be enjoyed. We’re talking about resurrection here!
You see, the son represented the full reversal of Naomi’s fortunes. In chapter one, she left full but came back empty. She left blessed and came back bitter. She left rich but came back destitute. She went seeking life but found only death. But, the difference now is the son! What assurance does she have that she will be blessed forever? She’s holding in her lap that son!
This is Romans 8:28 being played out before our very eyes. All things work together for the good of those who love God? What assurance did Naomi have? She had the son! He was literally the representative of her family line being resurrected into the inheritance of the Lord. What assurance do you have as you grind it out and endure the death of people you love and watch dreams die in front of you that it’s all going to turn out okay? You have the Son! You have his resurrection. You have the reminder that the Son turns death to life!
4:17 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.
You see, through Naomi’s line, there would be another son born into Bethlehem, David. And, God would promise David that his throne would endure forever. And, for that throne, God would send a baby to the womb of a virgin.
Just think, as she sat there and rocked her grandson who had restored her whole world, she was preparing the way for another baby and another grandson and a greater story of the baby who would bear Naomi’s and Ruth’s and Boaz’s and yours and my sin upon himself so that we would live forever.