LESSONS FROM RUTH
CHAPTER 4: REDEMPTION AND THE FRUIT OF FREEDOM
“AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER”
INTRODUCTION TO THIS CHAPTER
The book of Ruth is a love story. At its simplest level It is a love story between two people – Ruth and Boaz – which is going to change not only their lives but the lives of the whole nation of Israel. But, on a spiritual level it is a love story between God and His people, between Him and you and me.
In this wonderful chapter we see that those upon whom the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ rests have been saved from slavery to sin and from the wages of sin – which is eternal death – by Jesus who paid the price that was demanded through giving His own life for us on the Cross. We call this “redemption” which literally means “deliverance from some evil by the payment of a price” (New Bible Dictionary).
SO, LIFE LESSONS FROM RUTH CHAPTER 4
- We have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb shed on the Cross.
- We have been freed once and for all from the PENALTY of sin.
- We are being daily redeemed from the on-going POWER of sin in our lives.
- Understanding the only place our on-going redemption can come from.
- Understanding the part the Law plays in our Christian lives.
- Seeing that FREEDOM (from sin) leads to FRUITFULNESS.
These are good lessons, aren’t they!
THE FIRST LESSON: THE OPTIONS OF REDEMPTION
Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. 2 He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. 3 Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.” 5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” 6 The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.”
WOW! What love Boaz had for Ruth! He was willing to go in front of the city elders and offer to buy the land and redeem Ruth along with it – to publicly declare that this was what he wanted. But he knew that the only right way of doing this was to come head-to-head with his rival – a kinsman-redeemer who was closer to the family than he. Now, under the Law the other man had the RIGHT to all this, but he did not want the RELATIONSHIP with Ruth that this would entail. He could only satisfy the LAW, he couldn’t satisfy the LOVE – only Boaz could do this. There was a life-changing conflict between the LAW and the LOVER.
There’s such an important spiritual message here for us all.
- The need for a redeemer
Have you ever felt a conflict over where your redemption will come from? We know that we have sinned and that we continue to sin.
Oh yes, I know, all who are Christians have been once-and-for-all redeemed by Jesus through His death on the Cross. The wages of sin are death – but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6: 23). Jesus bought us back, saved us, paid the price for us, by dying in our place. And so, by redeeming us, he paid the PENALTY of our sin – like when we owe a lot of money and someone pays the bill for us. We did nothing. It was an act of Grace. And now we cannot any longer be held accountable for the debt we owed – it has been paid in full – or, in the literal case of Jesus – “paid on the nail”.
But you know – and I know only-too-well – that the POWER of sin continues to pull us from side-to-side day-by-day. Who is going to break the power of sin over me?
- Who is going to be my redeemer?
There were only two ways that Elimelech’s property and the person of Ruth were going to be redeemed. Either the close relative or Boaz are going to be the redeemer.
The closer relative is a picture of the LAW– you know, the 10 Commandments and all the rules and regulations that the Old Testament speaks of.
Boaz is a picture of the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – the LOVE that gives us more than we ever deserve.
Who is going to redeem Ruth?
For you, as for Ruth, there are only two ways of being redeemed:
- Through the Law – living in total obedience to the Law of God and not breaking one commandment in the whole of your life.
- Through the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – believe in the work of Jesus dying for you on the Cross.
Which are YOU going to choose? Does our on-going deliverance from the POWER of sin come from our best efforts to keep the Law or is it going to be through trusting in the Lord Jesus day-by-day just as we did on the first day that we came to Him?
- Who is the only redeemer who can truly save you?
The closer relative had a RIGHT to it all. The Law of God has the RIGHT to you.
And the Law of the Lord is perfect (Psalm 19: 7)
But the Law of the Lord cannot save you. It was never meant to! There’s nothing wrong with the Law, but there is something seriously wrong with our sinful nature, and the Law cannot redeem us from this.
The great Victorian preacher Charles Spurgeon explained the purpose of the Law so well:
The law is also very useful, because it shows us our defections and stains. It is like the looking-glass which my lady holds up to her face, that she may see if there be any spot on it. But she cannot wash her face with the looking-glass. When the mirror has done its utmost, then there are the same stains. It cannot take away a single spot, it can only show where one is. And the law, though it reveals our sin, our shortcomings, our transgressions, it cannot remove the sin or the transgression. It is weak for that purpose, because it was never intended to accomplish such an end.
The Law may have had the RIGHT, but Jesus offered the RELATIONSHIP – when you sin the Law will never pay the price for your forgiveness. It cannot do it. It does not have a relationship with you. It is good to seek to live a right life. But stop trying to “buy” your forgiveness through living a good life. You cannot do it. Jesus loves you. Jesus chooses to have a relationship with you. Jesus has paid the price for your sin and continues to pay the price of our on-going sinning. It’s all about relationship. It’s all about love.
THE SECOND LESSON: PHEW! THE RIGHT REDEEMER – SO “OFF WITH THAT SMELLY SANDAL!”
7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. 8 So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10 Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” 11 All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. 12 Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.” 13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
And we all want to cry out “YEHHHHH!” with great joy and celebration. The closer relative (the Law) could not redeem Ruth! But Boaz (Grace) could!
This is Jesus “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1: 14).
Let us notice a couple of really interesting points here:
- The close relative couldn’t redeem, and the 10 elders witnessed to the fact that Boaz could.
The Law is unable to redeem us, but the 10 Commandments witness to the fact that Jesus is the Perfect One who was able to redeem us.
- To “seal the deal” the closer relative took off his shoe. What is all this about? One thought is that the proof that land was yours was seen in that you were able to walk over it. Taking off your shoe and giving it to another was the sign that you were no longer able to walk over the land – it now belonged to the one to whom you handed your shoe. OK, maybe this doesn’t change the message of this chapter…but it’s interesting, isn’t it?
Ruth is now free to marry Boaz and to enter into an intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus has redeemed us, and we are now free from the Law of sin and death. And the symbolism of so much of the New Testament is that of the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) with the Church (us). Wonderful!
Ruth has been barren till this time (despite being formally married to Mahlon). Now, married to Boaz she becomes fruitful and has a child.
Jesus has redeemed us, has come into intimate relationship with us. Are we living in an intimate, daily, significant relationship with Him? And are we fruitful? Are we bearing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
There is so much to consider here – which maybe we can take away and do.
THE THIRD LESSON AND THE CONCLUSION – OUR REDEEMER YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. 15 May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. 17 The neighbour women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18 Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, 19 and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, 20 and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, 21 and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, 22 and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.
A HAPPY ENDING! That’s what you want isn’t it? And certainly, we have here the classic conclusion to a love story – “and they lived happily ever after” – Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. The story began with famine, with fear, with troubles. It began with a family making all the wrong decisions – looking for the solutions to their problems in all the wrong areas (in their case it was leaving the Promised Land of their Father and going to the land of Moab – the land of “no Father”).
God could have discarded them – allowed them (like the Prodigal son) to wallow in their own muck and mistakes.
But our Father God is not like that. Like the good father in the story of the Prodigal Son, He never stops loving us, is always looking out for us, and welcomes us back with a love and Grace that we just do not deserve.
And allowing Him to redeem us – through the Blood of Jesus Christ – and remaining in His intimate love and care – it will be truly “Happy ever after” for us as we enter into His rest and His Paradise in Heaven for ever and ever and ever!
This is a story of Naomi who was BITTER but became BLESSED and of Ruth who was WIDOWED but became a WIFE who was far from the knowledge of the true God but who became intimate in her relationship with the true God. Even if you are as far away as these two were, this story shows us that God can turn things around make something our of nothing. And God loves to make a “somebody” out of a “nobody”.
FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION – ON YOUR OWN OR WITH OTHERS
- What struck you most about this session?
- Does sin still exert power over our lives? What forms does it take?
- To whom or to what do you turn in the daily battle against sin?
- What do you think about having an “intimate relationship” with Jesus?
- What do you see as the keys to building a good relationship with Him?
- Ruth became “fruitful” and had a child. How can we be fruitful in and through our relationship with Jesus?
- Is our life story REALLY “happy ever after” when we are redeemed?