LAWS AND PROMISES
Holy Lord, may Your Word and Your Spirit empower me to live life each day in Your might and victory.
Read RUTH 4:1–12
Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.
2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3 Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”
“I will redeem it,” he said.
5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)
8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”
11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“My destiny in life is greater than just surviving and knowing selfish pleasure. There are important things for me to do. Therefore, I must look beyond the circle of myself and what is best for me in this moment, and ask, how can I serve the common good?” (John Claypool, 1930–2005). This is what cross-bearing is all about.
Boaz is a man with a mission as he takes responsibility for Elimelech’s family line. Waiting at the town gate for his relative sounds very casual, yet the whole event is carefully structured. Ten elders as witnesses listen to Boaz presenting the case for Naomi, that her inheritance be properly redeemed. The immediate positive response of the closer relative is hasty and Boaz needs to explain that it is not simply land that is at stake, but the name and future lineage of Elimelech. The kinsman–redeemer will be required to marry the younger widow and maintain the dead man’s name through their progeny.
The speed of the man’s withdrawal exposes the priority given to personal risk over obligation towards his dead relative. It contrasts strikingly with the selfless commitment shown by Boaz. Attested by witnesses, his pledge to shoulder kinsman–redeemer responsibilities towards Naomi and Ruth is total, without reservation. It is exactly what we have come to expect from Boaz’s desire for integrity before God. The cry of assent from the witnesses marks its significance, also powerfully sealing the full inclusion of Ruth into the house of Judah. Ignoring her identity as a Moabite, their prayer for blessing places her firmly in the line of Rachel and Leah, those founding mothers of Israel. It is indeed a prophetic chorus.
The story reminds us that redemption is always costly. Throughout history it involves the denial of self for the freedom of another. Making sacrifices for others is asked of Christians today, especially in our relations with those who are needy or disadvantaged. For Boaz, it meant allowing a relative’s family name to live on through him.
Boaz’s obedience to God would produce a future redeemer, who would pay the ultimate cost to make redemption available for the whole world.
What do you think redemption means in our culture today? Are there ways you can live Christ’s redeeming love that makes sense to unchurched people?
Lord, give me courage to face the cost of discipleship in any decisions I have to make and to choose wisely.