Dear radio friends,
“I will redeem her.” These were the words that Boaz used to pledge that he would marry Ruth.
But as we hear those words today, let us hear not Boaz but Jesus Christ. Throughout all the ages the eternal Son of God vowed to redeem His church through His own precious blood. And that is what we are celebrating in the birth of Jesus Christ — the coming of the Redeemer, the One sent of the Father to restore us from our sins and to bring us into the eternal covenant of marriage with God. Jesus Christ is the One who redeemed us in His own blood from all of our sins.
This is what is being pictured to us in the book of Ruth that we have been following for the last several weeks. In the book of Ruth we see the wonderful truth that God had purposed to redeem a church and that God had prepared all things in order that He might bring the Redeemer, the kinsman, in the words of the book of Ruth. God shows that He bring Jesus Christ through Ruth the Moabitess. Why? We saw that this was to show the grace of God — God saves the unworthy. It is God’s grace that brings Christ out of those who were utterly unworthy of themselves to have any part with Him. God brings His Son in this way to show that Christ does not come of the will of man. Jesus Christ is not a product of man’s desires. Jesus Christ is not a great example of how good man can be. But Jesus Christ comes entirely of God. He is God’s gift of salvation. And God brings Christ in a way which overcomes the obstacles of the flesh. There are always obstacles to God’s promise. God, from eternity, has promised to save His people through Jesus Christ — but always, from the human point of view, that appears impossible. That is arranged by God, again, to show the wonder of His grace. Nothing can overcome His purpose; He shall certainly save His people from their sins through His beloved Son Jesus Christ. Let us hear today Jesus Christ speak glorious words to every penitent child of God, to everyone who, by the grace of God, is hoping in God today. Let us hear these words: “I will redeem her. I will redeem My church.”
It is God’s grace that brings Christ out of those
who were utterly unworthy of themselves
to have any part with Him.
We left Naomi and Ruth and Boaz last week with Boaz’s pledge that indeed he desires to marry Ruth but that there is someone who stands closer in the relation than he and that, on the next day, he would go and find this man to determine whether or not he wished to perform the part of a redeemer. If the man did not, then Boaz certainly would do so and marry Ruth.
Let us review a moment the law of the redeemer to which we referred last week. In the law of the redeemer there were really two laws that were closely related. In Deuteronomy 25 we see that the redeemer had to redeem the name of the departed loved one. If a man died without a son to carry on his name, the man’s brother, or next of kin, was to marry the widow to raise up a son in his name. Now, if his brother were already married, the law did not require him to marry his brother’s widow. This would be in violation and conflict of the Word of God, Genesis 2:24: “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (singular), and they two shall be one flesh.” There is no room for a third party in marriage. Polygamy is contrary to the law of God. We must not interpret the law of the redeemer as advocating that a man, then, could have multiple marriages — his own wife and then if his brother would die he would have to marry his brother’s widow too. No. The man would have to be single. And the near relative, whom Boaz knew to be closer in line to Naomi’s husband Elimelech than he, evidently was not a married man.
Secondly, involved in the law of the redeemer was the redemption of the place. This is spelled out for us in Leviticus 25. It was not only the name of the man that could be lost if he had no son, but his place, his inheritance, his parcel of land. That land, too, had to be redeemed, had to be purchased, the proceeds of the purchase going for the support of the widow, purchased in a selfless way, in order that the son born of this marriage might inherit that property and maintain the name and the place of his father.
These are the laws that Boaz knows about as he goes the next day to the gates of the city to appear before the elders in order that he might discuss all this with the nearer kinsman. He is concerned about the name and the place of Elimelech. He is concerned that Elimelech’s name not be erased out of the covenant people of God but that it be continued through a son. And the place, the inheritance, that had been promised to Elimelech, not be lost but that it also be continued.
As Boaz sits before the gates of the city, the nearer kinsman arrives. Boaz calls him aside. In a very straight forward way he desires to transact what will happen with Ruth and her inheritance. He explains to the kinsman that Naomi and Ruth have returned from the land of Moab, and that the land of Elimelech, the dead husband of Naomi, needs to be redeemed, and that if he is of a mind, he ought to do so. “Do you want it,” Boaz says as they both stand before the elders. “If you don’t want to redeem it, I will certainly redeem it.” At this point the nearer kinsman shows a great deal of interest.
But then Boaz proceeds. “But not only must you redeem the land, you must also redeem the name of Elimelech. The day that you buy the land you must also buy it of Ruth, that is, you must marry Ruth.” We gather that the nearer kinsman knew of Ruth. Apparently all of Bethlehem knew of Ruth. And it was at this point that the nearer kinsman backs down. He says, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar (risk) mine own inheritance. Redeem thou my right to thyself, for I cannot redeem it.”
Why did he do that? We believe the nearer kinsman did that because he was not concerned with the spiritual things of the kingdom of God. Whatever the interpretation you may take of this passage, there are a few things that are very clear. It was very clear that the nearer kinsman’s interest was cooled when he heard that he would have to marry Ruth. He had no desire to do that. It is also very clear that, throughout the whole transaction, his thought was based upon his own possession. In making his decision he seeks himself first. The needs of others, to him, were second. Therefore, we have no respect for this nearer kinsman. He was not willing to jeopardize himself. He was not willing to put anything of his own at risk for the furtherance of the kingdom and the members of that kingdom. He did not possess the heart of love that beat so strongly in Boaz.
Boaz responds, “If you will not, then I will. I will redeem it. I will purchase all that is Elimelech’s. And I will purchase Ruth to raise up the name of the dead. I will purchase the land. I will put forth the money for the land. And I will marry Ruth.” Now, very interestingly, Naomi had only desired a part of her husband’s land to be redeemed. But Boaz is not stingy. He says, “I will give the value of the whole piece of land. I will give, up front, the entire value of the land, knowing that the land will not remain mine. It will proceed to the son of Ruth and in the name of Elimelech. But I will act in a completely generous and selfless way, without self interest, for the good of God’s people and church.” He acts out of love for the covenant of God.
And he acts out of love in God for Ruth. “I want her to be my wife. I want to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. Elimelech’s name is gone. His sons are gone. But I want their name to continue and, therefore, I will marry Ruth so that there may be a son born who may inherit the name and the place of Elimelech and of his sons.
What great love for God beat in the heart of Boaz. Boaz was concerned for the continuance of God’s church. He acted in such a way as to set his own interest aside and seek only those things which are of Christ and of the church.
Let us be resolved to follow this example. Let us be resolved to follow in self-denying and faithful love that which is for the good of the church.
Boaz made his vow publicly. He says to the elders and to the people, “Ye are witnesses this day that I will take Ruth to be my wife. And ye are witnesses this day that I will perform all that is required of the kinsman.” That was a public vow. Marriage is also such a public vow.
That vow was not simply that he would love Ruth. Love is certainly implied, although he did not use the words, “Ruth, I love you. In love we will work out any details.” No, but his vow was this: “I will support you. I will care for you. And I will do all things for your spiritual good. Ruth, I purchase you to be my wife. I will give up something. I will give up myself. If I think of self, then,” Boaz would say, “this is not something that I should do. But I am not interested in myself. I love you, Ruth. And the proof of that is that I am willing to act out of total selflessness. I will not seek my own.”
That was a wonderful vow. But, as I said before, we must not simply hear Boaz. We must hear the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. We must hear the Lord Jesus Christ throughout all the Scriptures saying, “I will redeem her. I will redeem My church. I will act in the way of total absence of self. I will give myself to remove the debts of My church and My people. And I will act in such a way that My people will have a name and a place recorded of God in glory.”
As the people of God, we deserve destruction. As God’s children, we have nothing. We deserve only to be abandoned, cast out, and forsaken. There is no loveliness in us that would make anyone ever want to have us. But Jesus Christ came to be our Redeemer. That is why He was born in Bethlehem. He came triumphantly with the words upon His heart: “I will redeem you. I will purchase My church with the price of My own blood. And I will do this because I love My church. I love My church out of the eternal love of God, whereby God from eternity elected His church. And I will so work on earth and go to the cross in order that the name and place of the people of God may be forever secured and purchased in glory.” Jesus Christ is the true Redeemer.
On the day that Boaz pledged that he would marry Ruth, the people and the elders of the city responded with great joy and benediction. They responded to him, “Yes, indeed, Boaz, we are witnesses. We observe and can testify what you are doing. We see it all and we see the wonderful love of God in it.” They went on to bless Ruth. They said to her, “The Lord make thee a fruitful woman. The Lord make the woman that has come into the house of Boaz like unto Rachel and like unto Leah who did build the house of Israel.” So they were praying that the Lord would indeed grant to their marriage children in order that the name of Elimelech might be continued and preserved. They blessed Boaz. They said to him, “And do thou worthy in Ephratah and be thou famous in Bethlehem.” There was great joy. For the people of God could see the blessing of God upon Boaz and could see the love of God in the actions of Boaz.
Shall not we also join in great joy to bless the Lord our God? For God has redeemed us through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came in Bethlehem of Judea, out of the eternal love of God, a love of God particular, a love of God for His wife, for His elect church, chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the earth. Jesus Christ came in order that His bride might have a name and a place in glory, a name that would never be taken away or lost, a name with God. Jesus Christ died in order that we might have a place — heaven — where our feet shall stand and where we shall be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came that He
Jesus Christ came in order that His bride
might have a name and a place in glory,
a name that would never be taken away
or lost, a name with God.
might redeem us from our sins. Shall we not respond, also, in great joy and praise before God? Shall we not shout at this time of the year and always, “Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, His child and forever I am”? Shall we not magnify God that He has loved us so much that He gave His own Son to be nailed upon a tree and forsaken to the torments of the hell that we deserve, in order that we might have everything and never be forsaken of God?
Rejoice! Do you see these blessings today? Is this the reason for your celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at this time of the year? Or are you swallowed up with all the human sentimentality and crass materialism of this day?
When God works in our hearts a love for the heavenly and a love for Him, then our joy is not centered in the earthly. It is not centered in wealth or looks, home, clothes, health, or pleasures. But this is the blessing that we treasure: God took us to be His bride and gave us an everlasting name and place in the kingdom of heaven. That is what the birth of Jesus Christ is all about. Jesus Christ came before the gates of eternal judgment and there He spoke the words: “I will redeem her! I will take My church, My people, to be My own. I will pay the price which will forever secure their name and their place in the kingdom of God.”
Oh, let us rejoice and be exceeding glad! Great is the grace of God.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word that is brought to us this day. We thank Thee that in the Old Testament we may see that always that purpose of Thy love was being fulfilled and worked out in wonderful ways; that we may see in the history of the book of Ruth that Thou art the God who works in and through all things to obtain Thy promise in Jesus Christ. We confess, Lord, that we are so faithless, so nearsighted, and so distrusting of Thee. Admonish us and convict us of this sin and give us to hope in Thee. And give us to see the wonder of redemption, that Thou hast given Jesus Christ as our Redeemer. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.