Wednesday April 25, 2018
Ruth 4:1-6. Final chapter - opportunity for exceeding graciousness.
The nearer relative of Naomi is not willing to be overly gracious to his kinswoman, yet Boaz is and Boaz reaps what he sows. This has led us to look into the way of graciousness for the disciple of Christ.
LUK 14:33 "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Jesus is not telling us to give everything away and then stand naked in the public square or the wilderness.
Christ is telling us to be willing to give anything when called upon by the Father.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit have eyes to see and ears to hear all that the Father wills. There is no place for claiming that we never heard the call from Him to give.
All believers are called to be disciples. There is no other option. We are fooling ourselves in ignorance if we think so.
If anything, or anyone is as important in our hearts as the Lord or His kingdom then discipleship is not for us and we are living in conflict - our house will fall.
The Lord isn’t going to ask you to become a monk or to give away someone who is dear to you. He will ask you to be a cheerful giver of all that He requires, and the reward to you will be one hundred-fold.
All of us are to consider the cost of discipleship just as a builder and a commander considers the task ahead. However, there is no option not to follow the path of the Lord’s disciple. He gave us the warning clearly. If we hear and do we will stand upon the rock, yet if we hear and do not do then the storms of life will turn our lives upside down.
The disciple of Christ gives up his personal right over all possessions.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He goes on for another 106 verses to describe what His disciple is. It is clear and not in any way ambiguous. At the end of it He states that we must hear His words and do them. He doesn’t leave open any other option. We must perform all that is said.
Therefore, we conclude that God’s providence equals generosity and graciousness.
We must remember that the text of the Bible is inspired. Therefore, not only are the facts of what happened exactly what we need to know, but how they are presented is also important to us. Ruth is presented in four acts. The first act has Naomi on center stage, but in acts 2 and 3 she fades into the background. In act 4, at the culmination and climax of act 4, Naomi is once again center stage, but with a completely changed heart to go along with her completely changed circumstance. As in any presentation, this impacts our souls. We almost forget about Naomi while focusing on Ruth and Boaz, but then she is placed directly in our view again and all we can see is the faithfulness and goodness of God who will do the highest and greatest for His people. It pleads with us to remember and have faith that God can do and change anything while He fills us and fulfills us.
RUT 4:1 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.
RUT 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down.
RUT 4:3 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.
RUT 4:4 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."
RUT 4:5 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."
The matter of the land and Ruth are mentioned separately, but Boaz makes the case in front of the elders that they go together. We can conclude that the elders agreed.
Naomi’s husband’s land not only should stay in the family, which the closer kinsman was willing to do, but also Naomi should be provided an heir, which the man was not willing to do. The redeeming of the land and levirate marriage were combined by Boaz to the agreement of the council.
The council sees Boaz’s wisdom and agrees with him. If the land is going to be redeemed then the young Ruth should also be redeemed in order to provide Naomi with an heir, which would leave the land in the name of Elimelech.
Elimelech’s name should not die. To the Israelite, a person was remembered after his death because he had living relatives, and hopefully living on his land, and so they cherished children and land remaining in their family name.
A man’s name (in this case Elimelech) survived through his own blood relatives working his land generation after generation.
Therefore, the land stays in the family and so does the memory of that family. Elimelech’s family are of the first settlers of Bethlehem. The name perpetuates as ownership of the land graciously given by God.
However, in Boaz’s thinking, Elimelech’s land continuing in the name of this relative is not enough to continue Elimelech’s name when he had a living daughter-in-law. If Ruth is not there then this is the best they can do, but since she is there, the most gracious thing to be done is to perpetuate Elimelech’s name through a grandson rather than a cousin or nephew, or whatever relation this other man happens to be.
And so, Boaz mentions the land and Ruth separately, but then ties them together in the true heart of the Mosaic Law, the true heart of God.
The spirit of the Law is the heart of God; love, mercy, grace, compassion, as well as righteousness and justice.
Some think that Boaz emphasized the matter of Ruth being a Moabitess in order to drive the man away, but that is not like him. It was likely just an identification so that legally there was no ambiguity as to whom he was referring.
RUT 4:6 And the closest relative said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it."
Since the man is not a brother of Elimelech or Mahlon then he is not obligated under the Law.
If this man were the brother of Elimelech or Mahlon then there would have been condemnation upon him for refusing, but being a more distant relative, there is none. He is not obligated to do so under the Law.
He legally renounced the opportunity to be a goel. The reason he gives is that he would mar his own inheritance. This probably meant that he was not rich. If he bought the land alone then at least he could hope for a profit soon, but if married and having children, then he imagines them eating all of it, or so we imply, and providing for Naomi, and then, after 20 years or so, the land goes to the oldest son of Ruth anyway. This son would also have right to some of the man’s property as his own oldest son. Eventually the man would lose Naomi’s property, his initial investment, some of his own property, and his own flowing capital by supporting Ruth, their sons, and Naomi. Because the man is not married doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have heirs of his own. He may be a widower himself, and if not, he likely has nieces and nephews that he has already desired to leave inheritance. If he has a child of his own, then his prior heirs will get very little. All around it is a bad financial decision to marry Ruth.
Marrying Ruth is a bad financial decision for the man. His investment would be large and eventually would be lost to Ruth’s child.
Financially it is a bad decision for the guy. And that gets us right back into the true value of things, of land, and of people. This man did nothing wrong in refusing, and business wise it was a smart call and the right call, but what of the real substance of these things did he refuse? What in them that was of the glory of God did he refuse? We can answer that with another question. What is the man’s name?
He missed out on being in the greatest and most important lineage of all human history. He missed out on redeeming Ruth, one of the most important and influential women in history. He missed out on redeeming Naomi, and seeing his actions influence her happiness raise up from the ashes of bitterness. And all for a good financial decision.
Marrying Ruth was a terrible financial decision. Not marrying her was a terrible spiritual decision.
There was no way he or anyone could know that the line of the Messiah would go through Ruth. However, what he and everyone did know is that redeeming Ruth was the most sacrificial and gracious thing to do. That was for certain and that alone should have been his motivation: it was most Godlike. He did not have to do it, but that makes it even more Godlike.
We can hardly ever know the results of our deeds, but no matter, we do know that doing the most sacrificial and gracious deeds will have the greatest effects.
The relative chose the letter of the Law as a way around the Spirit of the Law.
This unnamed man should make all of us pause when we see an opportunity to be gracious and sacrificial and we know that we are not obligated, knowing that if we don’t do it then someone else will. We should all pause when we see opportunities to be gracious, more gracious, and most gracious and consider the first to be good enough. Pause and consider, not what you will gain, but what you will miss.
RUT 4:7 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.
The sandal represented treading upon the soil and so owning the land.
The author explains that at the time of the writing of Ruth, this custom was no longer practiced. The giving of a shoe was a custom that arose from the fact that fixed property was taken possession of by treading upon the soil, As Abraham and Joshua did.
“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”
“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.”
If anyone were to challenge the right of ownership, all the man had to do was to produce the sandal.
RUT 4:8 So the closest relative said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." And he removed his sandal.
Redeeming Ruth would have cost the relative quite a bit while not redeeming her only cost him one sandal, or so he thinks. His lost opportunity by not taking the most gracious way is very great.