Hope For The Hopeless – Ruth 4:1-22

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INTRODUCTION:

We’re going to finish our verse-by-verse study through the Book of Ruth today. In the first three chapters of this short book we’ve been introduced to Ruth and her mother-in-law, both widows, both poor, both somewhat hopeless. They’ve traveled and moved to the city of Bethlehem where Ruth has run into a well-known, well-respected, and well-to-do man named Boaz. Boaz, throughout this story, has been a picture of Jesus Christ, as Ruth has been a picture of you and I… the Bride. This is a Biblical love-story and it has been a beautiful picture of the love story that Jesus is desiring to have with you and me… and it is here we see how God can bring HOPE to something, even lives, that were hopeless.

We left the story, at the end of chapter 3, with Boaz sending the message for Ruth to simply ‘wait’ for Him to work. He wanted Ruth to be his wife… he wanted to come in and take care of her… to save her, however, he mentioned that there was a ‘nearer kinsman’… a relative that was closer to Naomi and would thus have first rights of refusal to marrying Ruth. He desperately wanted Ruth, but would have to go through the proper channels and protocols before he could make her his bride. This is where chapter four begins…

Ruth 4:1a – “Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there;

The next day, Boaz went to the city gate, where business transactions took place. No doubt amazed that Ruth would see him as her kinsman redeemer, he was eager to complete the process of redemption.

Ruth 4:1b – and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down

This was the nearer kinsman of whom Boaz spoke in chapter 3. Who was he? Check this out…

Ruth 4:2-4 – 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 close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.”

The ten elders of the city are an illustration of who our nearer kinsman is. It’s the Law.

Think: The Ten Commandments. The Law came first. Before Jesus came to earth to redeem us, the Law was already in place. With its dos and donts it was an unmerciful nearer kinsman which laid claim to you and me.

Ruth 4:5 – Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.

According to Deuteronomy 25, the nearer kinsman – not only had the right to redeem the property, but an obligation to take care of the family. If the nearer kinsman refused to meet his responsibility to the family – in this case, if he refused to marry Ruth – the Law said he was to be spat upon. Then his shoe was to be removed from his foot, signifying that he was walking away from his responsibility – that he was a ‘heel’ and that he had no ‘sole’.

Ruth 4:6 – And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

“I’ve already got my own thing going… and I don’t want to ruin it” said the nearer kinsman. “I can’t take on the responsibility of all that right now. I cannot redeem.”

Ultimately… this guy couldn’t redeem Ruth. So too… Many people think the Law can save us through our good works, but we realize in the end that it cannot redeem. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes that the strength of sin is in the Law. The more you read the Law, study the Law, and know the Law – the more you realize that the Law is not your redeemer.

It’s your condemner. The Law points out your weaknesses, your failings, and your flaws.

It is only when you stop trying to earn your salvation and merit brownie points with God in your Christian walk that you are free. Once you realize your rules and regulations – joining the right clubs, working on the right committees, and being nice to your dog and cat – will not redeem you, you look to your Greater than Boaz. You look to Jesus Christ. You see, it’s not what we’re doing that counts – it’s what He has done that matters.

Ruth 4:7-8 – Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal. 

Biblically, the shoe always refers to possession.

In Joshua 1:3, the Lord said to Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you”.

It was when the Israelites came to the Jordan River, and when the priests put the soles of their feet into the water that it departed (Joshua 3:13).

Now, think with me: The true Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who came to redeem the nation of Israel, had His heel bared as He was nailed to a Cross, and received spit in His face when the nation rejected Him. Thus, although they didn’t know it consciously, Scripturally, what Israel said was, “You will not be our Kinsman-Redeemer. We spit in Your face. We take off Your shoe. We will not have You rule over us.”

Today, if you have not acknowledged Jesus as your Redeemer, you, too, have taken off His shoe. You have spat in the face of the One who died for you and wants to live inside you. Your rejection of Him is the greatest insult that could ever take place. It’s called the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and it is the one sin which is eternally unforgiveable (Matthew 12:31). 

Ruth 4:9-10 – And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. 10 Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”

Boaz stepped up and said, “Since the nearer kinsman cannot redeem, I will!” And that is exactly what our Greater-than-Boaz, Jesus, says concerning us.

  • Jesus alone has the right to redemption. Rules and regulations do not, will not, and cannot.
  • Jesus alone has the resource for redemption. He purchased us with the richness of the blood that flowed through his veins and onto the ground at Calvary.
  • Jesus alone has a reason for redemption. It is His grace, His undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor which brings us into His family.

Ruth 4:11a – 11 And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses

Acts 10:39-43 says that the Law and the prophets are a witness of Him.

And we are witnesses for Him, as the Holy Spirit enables us.

Ruth 4:11b-12 – The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.”

Ephrathah” is an old name for the city of Bethlehem.

No longer is Ruth a stranger. Never again is she called a Moabitess because now she has been absorbed in the covering of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer.

Ruth 4:13-16 – 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.

Remember Naomi’s story. She left full. She came back empty. And now God is blessing her once again. The women told Naomi that Ruth was better than seven sons, seven being the number of perfection. Their words were prophetic indeed for out of Ruth’s line would come forth not only King David, but the Perfect One – Jesus Christ.

Naomi, this prodigal daughter of the Old Testament, came back to Bethlehem, where God rebuilt, rebirthed, restored, and renewed her.

And that’s what He’ll do with us – if we’ll just come back to Him.

Ruth 4:17-22 – 17 Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Obed in Hebrews means “worshipper”. I love that out of this love story between Boaz and Ruth, a worshipper is born. So too, when you and I realize the love relationship that Jesus wants with us, what comes forth is worship. People who are in love with Jesus can’t help but worship… it is the natural reaction… it is what comes naturally… in a sense, it is what is birthed.

18 Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; 19 Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; 20 Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; 21 Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; 22 Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.

This genealogy is a bit strange to me. Why in the world does it start off with “Perez”? Who exactly is Perez? And why is he so important that he’s being brought up now… at the end of this love story?

In Genesis chapter 38 there is an incredibly disturbing story. It involves a guy named Judah. Now follow this: Judah had a bunch of sons. His firstborn son’s name was “Er(I know, they must have really struggled to find that name). Er had a wife named Tamar. Er was killed. So Judah asked his next son, Onan, to take Tamar so that the family name could be carried on for his older brother. However, Onan, wasn’t down with that idea and took appropriate measures to insure that she wouldn’t become pregnant… and then Onan was killed. At that point, the father, Judah, told Tamar that if she only waited for his third son, Shelah, to grow old enough, then HE would marry her and things would be groovy. However, Shelah grew up… and Judah, the father, didn’t allow him to marry Tamar. I guess he thought she was bad-luck or something and he didn’t want to lose another son! Anyways… Tamar took things into her own hands and went and disguised herself as a harlot and went to another town where she knew her father-in-law would be visiting… and came on to him. Her face was covered, so he didn’t recognize her being Tamar. He slept with her and she became pregnant. Three months later, when he found out that Tamar was pregnant, he was furious and demanded that she be burned! However, she was smart. She had kept some of his belongings and was able to prove that the father of her unborn baby was none other than Judah! Wow! She was actually pregnant with twins,… but the first baby to come out… was Perez.

You’re thinking, “Man, Michael! Why in the world did you tell us all that!” Because here, at the end of Ruth, we’re given this long genealogy, and for some reason it starts with Perez! I believe, there is a reason for this… and I hope you can catch this today…

According to Deuteronomy 23:2-3, no descendant of an illegitimate child could enter the tabernacle until ten generations had passed. Judah’s son, Perez, was illegitimate. The author of the Book of Ruth shows us exactly ten generations, starting with illegitimate Perez and ending with David – ten generations between the illegitimate son and the greatest king Israel had ever known, the one who’s son, Solomon, would in fact build the new House of God.

CONCLUSION:

What’s the point? Listen, at the time this Book was written, King David was (and still is) the greatest King to ever rule over Israel. He not only killed Goliath, but the guy was revered for all the incredible things he did as Israel’s king. The author wants everybody to know that, not only was David’s great grandmother a ‘dreaded’ Moabite, but David’s lineage also included a woman who was a harlot and a deceiving liar! However, even though that was all true… He was still, according to Scripture, the one that would bring back the presence of the Lord for Israel.

So too, Jesus, would be born in the lineage of David… we know He was called, ‘The Son of David’. This means that Jesus, in His genealogy had harlots and sinners! I’m so grateful for this fact.

We can’t pick our relatives, but Jesus did! He knew exactly who was going to be in His lineage before the foundation of the world. And He chose people like this, to give us great hope no matter who we are, no matter where we’re at.

I hope that every person listening to me today will understand that the Gospel is Good News, and that Good News is that Jesus takes people like Ruth… a Moabitess, a total outsider,…

and people like Naomi… a woman who walked away from God and His people, and was brutally   broken and hurting and hopeless,…

and people like Judah, who snuck out with a harlot, only to be found out and shamed,…

and people like Tamar, who WAS a harlot and a liar,…

and people like Michael, a guy who was absolutely nothing special.

This is the message of the Book of Ruth:

Our Lord is a Restorer; He is a Rebuilder; He is a Reviver; He is a Redeemer.

He can take the totally messed-up… and if we’ll come to Him

He can bring HOPE to the wiped-out, hurting, and hopeless.

Let’s pray…

 

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