We have nearly made it to the end of the book! But I encourage you to read it through again for yourself, study it more deeply (so many truths in this book – we haven’t even gotten to the prophetical aspects yet!), and ask God what it means for your life!
Let’s get into the final chapter . . . Ruth 4.
Straight off in chapter 4, we again see Boaz’s faithfulness – he goes directly to the elders in the gate to approach the kinsman redeemer, just as he had promised Ruth.
Why did he want to meet the kinsman redeemer in the city gate? The city gate controlled entry into and out of the city, and as such was a seat of activity for a city in these times. You could think of it a bit like their version of a modern city hall: legal transactions and business matters were carried out at the city gate, and it was where the city elders met.
So we see in Boaz’s actions a man of righteousness. Jesus said:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37).
Boaz did not swear falsely. He immediately fulfilled his word to Ruth so she did not have to wait and wonder. We also see his consideration for Ruth as a foreigner and widow in his actions. Boaz took on the role that Ruth was meant to fulfil. Ruth should have been the one to approach the nearer kinsman:
However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,”9 his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. (Deuteronomy 25:7-9)**
Enter the nearer kinsman
In Ruth 4:3-6 we have the interplay between Boaz and the nearer redeemer. At first the redeemer says he will purchase back the land of Elimelek, but when he hears that he will have to also redeem Ruth, he says that he cannot and gives the right of redemption to Boaz, who purchases Ruth and Elimelek’s land.
So why didn’t the nearest kinsman redeem want to redeem ruth? Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly, but we can make some reasonable guesses:
Firstly, he would have to spend money to redeem the land, but having to marry Ruth would mean their first son would legally be the son of Elimelek and the one to inherit Elimelek’s field. The son would also inherit some of his land, depriving his own heirs of some of their inheritance. Even though their first son would biologically be their child, they saw the child as Elimelek’s son and we see in Ruth that Obed was raised by Naomi.
Alternatively , he could have been married, or perhaps because not only Ruth, but no children of hers through the generations should have been allowed into the congregation of Israel.
“No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation . . .” (Deuteronomy 23:3)**
Remember back to what we learnt of the Moabites in chapter 1: In Deuteronomy 23:3-6 above, we see that God banned Moabites from His congregation – forever! Not only were Moabites not allowed into the congregation, but no Israelite was allowed to marry a Moabite (Deuteronomy 7 and 23, Nehemiah 13, and Ezra 9).
So how Ruth was able to enter into God’s congregation? It is clearly disallowed by the Law! But remember that Boaz understood the heart of God’s Law. In this case they were not allowed to marry Moabites because they led them into idolatry and worship of false gods. Ruth, however, was a woman willingly abandoned the false gods of Moab to worship the True God of Israel! Law couldn’t do it, but grace did. Ruth was a godly woman and thus welcome amongst God’s people.
Endings with beginnings
The elders give their blessing to Boaz. I love what their blessing entails:
Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12)
One of the things I cherish most from the lead up to Glenn and I’s marriage were the words of love, blessings, and prophesies that people spoke over us. Here we see the eldars wishing Ruth and Boaz a large family and renown. The “others” in Song of Songs also show us the importance and blessing of having a strong community around us as married couples and singles alike.
The story ends with Ruth and Boaz marrying and producing an heir for Naomi that will carry on Elimelech’s name. And then we are given the genealogy that goes past the time of when our story took place, down to king David. This leads scholars to believe that the story was written in the time of David to support his anointing as the king of all of Israel, showing that he was from a faithful line. It could, perhaps, also be an attempt to justify David’s rights to Moabite lands, too.
So what does this all mean for us?
We are called to be like Boaz, Ruth and Naomi:
- We are called to be lights in a dark world.
- We are called to be obedient to God amongst a disobedient and wicked generation.
- We are called to be faithful amidst unfaithfulness.
- We are called to serve.
I want to leave you to consider the words of 1 Peter:
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:13-22)**
Up next: Video and audio resources on Ruth, particularly the prophetical nature of the book
**I normally quote Scripture from the ESV, so please note that Scriptures in this post marked with “**” are quoted from the NIV. 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.