Do you remember the movie Titanic? Rose, when in her 80s looks back on her relationship with young Jack and said “he saved me. In every way that a person can be saved.“ Ruth and Naomi were 2 women in need of being saved. Naomi was a women who had lost it all. Her husband led her and her two sons out of the promised land because of a famine. The sons then married two foreign wives one was Ruth. Within 10 years father and 2 sons were dead.
Naomi became a women in need. She was as empty as a person gets. She was in need of food and safety, she had a need to be loved and belong, she had so much shame. She lost her family name and inheritance, so bad, Naomi wanted a change of name. Worst of all, she lost all hope. She was filled with despair and bitterness and then into this bleak situation comes a saviour. That saviour was called The Guardian-redeemer.
God the original feminist. God provides a law that protects women, women who have lost their husbands and had no children to carry the name. The Guardian-redeemer is the next of kin and he would buy the land back for the widow without children. This guardian was to protect those who could not protect themselves.
A few years ago I phoned up my brother to see what kind of a next of kin he was... I asked “Tom would you give me $50,000 if I really needed it to get me out of trouble.” He laughed and then said yes! He is my next of kin, willing to redeem me from trouble.
That is not where it ended....In Deuteronomy 25:5-6, the Guardian-redeemer was to marry his dead brothers widow, relax gentlemen, it's Old Testament law. He was to buy her land, but the first born son would take your brothers name and with him would go the land. Just as God promised Abraham land, descendants and family name. If you have no brother it then goes to the cousins.
Now enter Boaz a cousin to Naomi's dead husband. Naomi knew that Boaz was kind to Ruth. So Naomi wants Ruth to make it clear to Boaz that she is interested. It's an interesting solution to a modern problem, how do you let the guy know that you’re interested? If you’re nice they will think you’re just interested or when you’re interested they will think you’re only nice. But there is no guessing here, Ruth comes to Boaz washed, dressed up and perfumed. Ruth is one modern woman. Boaz is full and asleep. At night but out in the open, while asleep on a bean bag of barley grain, she lays at his feet. Let's look at Ruth 3:7-9
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” (NIV)
Ruth came under the wings of the God of Israel, she now asks if she could come under the wings of Boaz garment. She wants him to be her Guardian-redeemer, so she proposes to him.
I have heard of some interesting proposals.
1. One student minister took his girlfriend to Botany and then went on one knee and recited the whole of Genesis 2. Then he proposed and she said “Yes”
2. I heard of one guy who got up unannounced in the church service and proposed to a women in the congregation. I said "What did she say?" "She said No" I thought: that serves him right for putting her under pressure.
Today's generation are much smarter, the guy gets the ok first and then proposes.
Both Ruth and Boaz are deeply thankful for each other, a great basis for a marriage. Sandy and I just celebrated 35yrs of marriage, I'm still praising God for giving me my wife Sandy. Ruth 3:10-11
“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. (NIV)
They were so different, Ruth was a young widow Moabite and Boaz was older, wealthy and Jewish. It was no problem. Ruths reputation had preceded her. It quite interesting to me that Ruths attraction is never physical in this book. It`s her character that keeps impressing us about Ruth and that is what impresses Boaz.
We fell in love with Ruth when she said to her mother in law, your God will be my God and your people will be my people. She is known for her loving loyalty and hard work. Boaz rightly considers it a privilege that he would stand a chance but Ruth sees the same quality in him. Take note those going out, be more impressed by the beauty on the inside, train your kids to see beauty in character before looks. Ask, do they love Jesus and put him first? Do they tell the truth in small things? Do they love people who are different from them? Do they forgive those who hurt them? Do they apologise?
This is a great love story but there is something stopping these lovers coming together. Boaz is not first in line, there is another redeemer who is closer and he must have first option. And being in love will not stop Boaz from doing the right thing, even if he would lose his chance at love. Look at verses 12 and 13
Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” (NIV)
Boaz takes the offer to the man who is first in line, remember this could be his last chance at love, in public and with witnesses, Boaz goes to the town gate where all things are made legal. Naomi`s land is offered to the closest Guardian-redeemer. Quick as a flash the next of kin says yes I`ll take it, but Boaz has a hunch, this man is not interested in protecting Ruth and Naomi, he wants the land not the lady, he wants the property, not to protect the powerless.
Not even the righteous laws can guarantee a right outcome. Then Boaz tells him, if you take the real estate you have to take Ruth. He is not interested in Ruth, if he buys the land, the land will go with the son who wont carry his name. The answer is No way! what a relief. Boaz is now free to bless Ruth, remember what he said to Ruth when she came at night? “I will do for you all you ask.”
So the blessing flows, now married and with a child. We read in verse 14 and 15:
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (NIV)
Notice how the blessings flow from this redeemer whom God sent. Boaz marries Ruth, she is no longer a widow, the land remains in the family so they are no longer poor, they have a son, she is no longer childless, Naomi's becomes a grand mother and is no longer bitter. They now belong, they are now at rest. You see the kindness of God in the face of Boaz.
Boaz never stopped doing good to Ruth. He is simply reflecting the God he serves. Let's move to Jeremiah 32:40
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, (NIV)
God can do nothing but good to you, even if it doesn’t feel good. God's love for you is not a job description its a joy.
Last year I read Jimmy Barnes biography. He was born into an abusive family with alcoholic parents who were desperately poor and there was constant violence. His mum had 5 kids by the time she was 21, his father would work all week and then spend all the money on grog. His parents eventually divorced but his mum had no way to feed her kids and welfare was threatening to take her kids.
One day Jimmy's mum was sitting in a friend's house crying about the situation when a stranger, Reg Barnes, walks in. He asked her, “What's the trouble love?” She said, “I need to find myself a husband then I need to find a home for me and my 6 kids and I need to do it quickly or they will put the kids in a home” Reg says, “No worries love, I`ll marry you.” “Why would you do that?” she asked him. Someone has to save those poor kids. Reg loved his new family.
One day, Jimmy Barnes came home from school and he saw his step dad Reg in the back yard knee high in sewerage. "What are you doing Reg?" "I'm cleaning out the sewerage tank." "Why are you doing that?" "Because I love you son?" Reg saved Jimmy Barnes family and not surprising, Jimmy took his name. Jimmy Swan is known to you as Jimmy Barnes.
Boaz would be the redeemer who would save Ruth and Naomi.
What do we take out of this story? We don't want men marrying their dead brothers widows. We don't want young women spending the night camping with their boyfriend or going alone on holidays. That is about as uselful as handing over your thong to buy a house. This story is linked with a bigger story. The blessing to Ruth and Naomi are fulfilling promises to Abraham, God is faithful to his promises. If we look forward we see the son born to Ruth and Boaz is the great grandparent of King David, who is the ancestor of Jesus son of David.
A redeemer who would do much more for us then even what Boaz did for Ruth. One Lord Jesus who is our guardian redeemer. Who could save us from every thing a person can be saved from? In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it is said of Jesus, who
…had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)
It was Jesus who stood in the sewerage of our sin. And when you ask why. He looks straight at you from the cross and says because I love you! Boaz said to Ruth “I will do for you all you ask.” Lord Jesus says to you “I will do for you more than you can ask or imagine. I will not stop doing good to you.” It will not all be in this age, He will SAVE you from every thing a person can be saved from.Whatever it cost Boaz, it cost Jesus his life to set us free. Look at Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)
I don't know where you stand now as single or married, with or without children, feeling like you belong or don't belong, more empty than full, more bitter than thankful. Once you know that God is working in all things to do you good through his Son, we live differently.
We learn not to be passive
Learn from Ruth who trusted God, she didn’t just sit at home and cry hoping food would fall from heaven, or some guy would fall through the roof. She gets to work so she doesn’t starve to death. She plans and she is proactive.
We don’t just pray for our loved ones to be saved. We act, we invite, we speak. "Come to this Christmas service with me." It's why at MBM we believe that God is sovereign. We pray, we plan and then we act for the cause of Christ.
We learn not to cut corners
If God is kind and he is in charge then live with integrity, in love and in work. Boaz did not cut corners even if it meant losing the love of his life. Someone at MBM ended relationship with a person they loved because he did not loved Jesus. Don’t cut corners and compromise your conscience.
We learn not to stay Bitter
Life may not have turned out the way you wanted it. You may be the victim of the foolish decision of others, like Naomi. There is a season of anger and a season of bitterness, just don’t stay bitter. Kids not saved, job promotion doesn’t come, spouse doesn’t let you flourish. You have no right to stay bitter. Not after God did not withhold his son from you.
Ruth was a foreigner to Gods salvation and so were we. We got included through Christ.