The Hope for the Hopeless
THE HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS:
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE RELATIVE REDEEMER
[Reflection shared by Pastor Nomer to BreadCom-Mandaluyong last September 10, 2017.]
In Ruth 1, we read about the worsening tragedies in the life of Naomi, which made her asked the women of Bethlehem to call her Mara, which means “bitter,” instead of Naomi, meaning “pleasant or delightful” (Read Ruth 1:19-21). We also read about her returning back to Bethlehem with her daughter in law Ruth. But what future would be there for an old widow and a younger alien widow? Without help, the older widow might end up a beggar, while the younger one would be a prostitute. However, both the beginning and last verse of Ruth chapter 2 introduce to us Boaz, Elimelech’s relative.
Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz . . .
Ruth 2:20b Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives . . . 23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest.
Why did the writer highlight the fact that Boaz was of the family of Elimelech? In the Old Testament a relative, meaning a brother, uncle or cousin, is given both the responsibility and privilege to redeem the property of a relative (Lev 25: 25) or the relative who sold himself (Lev 25:46-49). If a brother died and had no son, the remaining brother would take her widow and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her in order to give the name of the deceased brother to their firstborn son, so that the name of the deceased will not be blotted out from Israel (Deut 25:5-10). The relative was also lawfully given the right, after investigation, to avenge a relative who was criminally murdered (Num 35:9-34)
Through the person of Boaz we will learn what kind of person the Lord will use to redeem the two widows, the line of Elimelech and in the future the world. Let us learn how the redeemer is introduced in Ruth 2.
I. THE REDEEMER IS A RELATIVE – Rut 2:3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Was her coming to the field of Boaz accidental or providential?
II. THE REDEEMER IS RICH. Ruth 2:1 tells us that Boaz was a man of great wealth, see also Ruth 4:9-10. This was important, because redemption involves payment of a price. Unfortunately, some relatives are not rich, and those who are rich are tight-fisted. Boaz was depicted in the book as generous (Ruth 2:14-16).
III. THE REDEEMER IS GOD-FEARING. Ruth 2:4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” The story-teller describes Boaz, contrary to the spiritual condition of the people in the time of the Judges, as god-fearing. Boaz was cognizant of Israel’s covenantal faith in the Lord and appreciated Ruth, that despite her being an alien, demonstrated covenant allegiance to the Lord.
Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
IV. THE REDEEMER IS PROTECTIVE. The narrator also presents Boaz as a caring relative who wanted to protect her cousin’s widow. He told Ruth “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you” (Ruth 2:8-9; cf. vv.21-22)
V. THE REDEEMER IS GRACIOUS. Ruth was amazed with how Boaz, whom she did not know was Naomi’s relative, was treating her. Falling on her face to the ground, she said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Then after Boaz commended her loyalty both to the Lord and to Naomi, she said,
“I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants” (Ruth 2:13)
After Ruth went home and narrated to Naomi what happened, the latter pronounced blessing upon the man who took notice of Ruth, and upon learning it was Boaz, she blessed him for extending covenant kindness to the living and the dead and told Ruth he was their relative (Ruth 2:19-23).
Two applications of this narrative. The first one is the good biblical tradition that piety begins at home. In the NT, the apostle Paul exhorted the believers to practice charity to their parents especially if they have dependent widows, for such is acceptable in the sight of God, not to do so, is denial of the faith (1Tim 5:3,8,16). However, for the widows indeed, meaning those with no one to take care, had fixed their hope on God and practicing godliness, the church has responsibility to take care of them (1Tim 5:5,16b; cf. James 1:27).
The second is for those who feel they are helpless and hopeless, and who have no rich and generous relatives, there is good news. The Son of God who was there in the beginning with God (John 1:1-3; 3:16) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and to some degree became our relative. But was not Jesus poor? We read the good news:
2Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
If Naomi and Ruth had a Relative-Redeemer in Boaz, in Christ Jesus, we have a much better Redeemer, who took a stand on earth (Job 19:25) and died on a cross to accomplish redemption for His people (Luke 1:68). In Jesus, we have eternal redemption (Col 1:14; Heb 9:12). But what about our sins and mistakes? The apostle Paul wrote –
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. (Cf. Heb 9:15)