Ruth 3-4, Romans 2
Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning. – Ruth 3:13 ESV
The story of Ruth is really the story of God and His relationship with man. Here was Ruth, a poor, widowed Moabite, a non-Jew, who found herself living with her widowed mother-in-law in Bethlehem. They have nothing. They have lost their husbands and have no source of income. As women, they are vulnerable and helpless. They have no rights. And Ruth, as a Gentile, is particularly hopeless, because the Jews would have viewed her as an outsider and undeserving of Yahweh's kindness, let alone their own. But Naomi knew the laws concerning the Levirate marriage. She understood that the nearest kinsman of her deceased son was obligated by law to care for her daughter-in-law. And it was Naomi's wish that Ruth be provided for and protected so that she might have the joy of perpetuating her dead husband's line through the bearing of children. Ruth followed the instructions of her mother-in-law and appealed to Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer. She boldly confronted him and asked him to become her provider and protector by marrying her. “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” (Ruth 3:9 ESV). Here was this poor Gentile widow appealing to the much more wealthy and powerful Boaz to do what the law of God required him to do. She was putting herself at his mercy. She was appealing to his grace and kindness. Without his help, her future was bleak and hopeless. Her very existence depended upon his reaction to her cry for help.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God is our redeemer. And we are each like Ruth, helpless and hopeless and in need of someone to rescue us from our dire and desperate condition. Like Ruth, we are undeserving and unworthy of God's kindness. But because of what Christ has done on our behalf, God is obligated to extend mercy and grace to us, regardless of our worthiness. Christ's death on the cross has made our redemption possible. God has provided a way for us to be made right with Him. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV). The story of Ruth is the story of mankind and God's desire to redeem and restore them. Ruth provides a picture of the individual who recognizes their need and humbly places themselves at the mercy of their redeemer. She came with nothing and was depending on Boaz for everything. We must come the same way to God. We must appeal to Him, not based on our merit or worth, but on the basis of His own requirements. His Son's death has paid the price for our sins and we must come based on that one fact alone. In essence, we must ask God to spread His wings over His servant, for He is a redeemer.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Boaz was a man of character. He was a man of integrity. When Ruth came to him and appealed to him as her kinsmen-redeemer, he did not take it lightly. Even when he knew that there was another relative who had the first right to play that role in Ruth's life and not only redeem her, but also the lands that belonged to her deceased husband, Boaz told Ruth, “Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then as the Lord lives, I will redeem you” (Ruth 3:13 ESV). He was going to do the right thing. Boaz knew the law as well. He was fully aware of Leviticus 25:25-28 and what it said about the redemption of property. He was also familiar with Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and what it taught about levirate marriage. But not only did Boaz know what the law said regarding these things, he was willing to obey them – at all costs. Paul warned the Jews, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God” (Romans 2:28-29 ESV). Boaz was a good Jew. But not because he knew the law and had been circumcised according to the law. He had a heart that was receptive and obedient to the will of God. He wanted to do what God wanted done. It's interesting to note that when Boaz made the other gentleman aware of his responsibilities as kinsman-redeemer, he only told him about the land belonging to Ruth's deceased husband. Immediately, the man was ready to redeem the land, but when he found out that his responsibility included taking Ruth as his wife and making sure that her children were included in his inheritance, he quickly relinquished his rights as kinsman-redeemer. He knew the law, but did not have the heart to keep it. It was too costly for him. “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it” (Ruth 4:6 ESV). Paul warned, “It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Romans 2:15 ESV). Boaz was willing to do what the law required, regardless of the cost. He obligated himself to redeem Ruth and become her provider and protector.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
God has redeemed me. He has bought me out of my slavery and spiritual poverty, providing me with new life and a position as His child in His family. And all I had to do was admit my need and appeal to His grace and mercy made possible by the death of His own Son on the cross. But I also want to be like Boaz, who was not willing to simply know the law or will of God, but was willing to do it. His actions revealed his heart. He was a man of integrity, not because he had all the proper spiritual credentials, but because he was willing to live his life according to God's standards, regardless of the cost. Throughout the story of Ruth, you see what happens when men and women do things God's way. Ruth listened to the advice of her mother-in-law and placed herself at the mercy of the Hebrew law of the levirate marrage. She was a Gentile who knew nothing about this law, but was willing to rely upon it for her future. Boaz was willing to listen to God's call for him to perform the duties of the kinsman-redeemer. And the result was that Boaz redeemed Ruth, made her his wife and they had a son. And that son would become the grandfather of King David, into whose line Jesus Christ would be born. When men and women live their lives God's way and allow their hearts to be directed by His Spirit, the outcome will always be according to His divine plan. Our obedience always results in God's blessing.
Father, thank You for redeeming me. Thank You for providing a way when I had no way out. May I never take Your love, mercy and grace for granted. Help me to be a conduit of that same love, mercy and grace to those around me, willingly sacrificing my comfort and security for the sake of others, just as Boaz did. Amen