Wear That Shoe / Ruth 4

Boaz Redeeming Property and Ruth

Boaz redeeming Ruth.

If God wants two people to be together, nothing can stand between them. We clearly see this in the Book of Ruth. She has fallen for Boaz and he has fallen for her. Yet there is a major obstacle in the way, another man. According to ancient tradition, he is first in line to redeem Ruth. Though the deck is stacked in his favor, God has the better hand. His will trumps tradition every time.

“Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there…” (Verse 1a)
In times of old, if you wanted to find somebody, the gate was the place. This was the equivalent of the town square. Before cell phones, e-mail, and Facebook, this was where people made contact. They met at the gate. This was also where town meetings were held and where judicial matters were resolved. Boaz goes here to meet up with that mysterious relative who could potentially sweep Ruth away.
“And behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down.” (Verse 1b)
It was only a matter of time before Boaz spotted his competition. Everyone passes by the city gate sooner or later. Being a perfect gentleman, Boaz calls the closer relative “friend” then offers him a seat. Although this is a legal matter, Boaz prefers to keep things civil. We learn a great deal from his example. Even though legal proceedings can be unpleasant, we don’t have to be. You may even be surprised by the outcome should you choose to show respect.
Years ago I appeared in court for a traffic citation. The officer clocked me speeding 42 miles per hour in a 30 mile zone. It was probably an innocent mistake, but the ticket stated I was going 49. I sat in the courtroom a good while before my case was heard. In the meantime, I heard other violators come up with every excuse in the book, which placed the citing officer at blame. The judge had no mercy for any of them.
Finally, I was called up. The judge asked, “How do you plea?” I answered, “I’m not sure.” Then I proceeded to explain the discrepancy between what the officer had told me verses what was written on the citation. I went on to say that the officer was a complete gentleman, and further expressed my respect for those who uphold the law. As a result, the good judge showed mercy and dismissed my offense – even though I was guilty.
All this to say that it pays to have a good attitude and show proper respect. We learn this from Boaz as well. He is every bit a gentleman.
“And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.” (Verse 2)
With the ten elders present, court is now in session. Any agreement made will be considered “legally binding.”
“Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.” (Verse 3)
Boaz begins with the issue of Naomi’s property. Though the New King James Bible indicates it had been “sold” the transaction had not been finalized. It was still in escrow or under contract, as we might say. In other words, Naomi never signed over the deed.
Most Bible translations do state quite plainly that Naomi was in the process of “selling” the land, initially purchased by her late husband. It seems she was forced by circumstances to do so. She had no means to keep up with the property or the payments.
“And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ” And he said, “I will redeem it.” (Verse 4)
Boaz tells this fellow, “We need to decide who is going to redeem this land. If you won’t, I will.” The unnamed relative seizes the opportunity. Little does he realize there is a string attached – one that demands he tie the knot!
“Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.” (Verse 5)
The big hitch is finally announced: the one who redeems the land must also marry Ruth! He must also redeem the name of her late husband. It’s a package deal, all or nothing. This would certainly raise concerns, as most Jews had nothing to do with Moabites.
“And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” (Verse 6)
The closer relative quickly changes his mind. He didn’t want to jeopardize his current assets. At least, that was his excuse. The real reason for declining, he didn’t have any desire to perpetuate the name of a Moabite. Nor did he wish to marry one! “On second thought, I’ll pass,” he tells Boaz. “You go for it!”
“Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal.” (Verse 7-8)
The sandal exchange was a public way of saying, “So and so will fill my shoes as redeemer.” However, when the welfare of a widow was at stake, the law also stated:
“If the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.'” (Deuteronomy 25:7-10)
This explains why the closer relative is never referred to by name. He is only known as ‘the one whose sandal was removed.’ This was not an honorable title. The man had publicly disgraced himself by not stepping up to his responsibility. On the other hand, Ruth didn’t want this dead beat. Therefore, no spit was flying.
“And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.” (Verse 9-10)
The one word that really stands out in this passage is “moreover.” Boaz bought the field but “moreover” he got the girl. As wealthy as Boaz was, he didn’t need more real estate. His interest was solely in Ruth. Yet, he was willing to pay the price of the land to have her.
Jesus once told a parable of a man who sold all he had to buy a certain field. It wasn’t the field he desired, but the hidden treasure within it. (See Matthew 13:44) Jesus taught this parable to illustrate how God redeemed the world. He wasn’t after real estate; His interest was in you and me. We are His treasure, His bride.
Boaz also offers a picture of what Christ did for us. He paid the price of the land but “moreover” he redeemed the one he loved, making her his bride. Boaz paid cash but Jesus paid a higher price. He paid in blood. He thought we were worth it.
“And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.” (Verse 11)
Rachel and Leah are recognized as the matriarchs of Israel. Between these two women, Jacob fathered twelve sons, and through them came the twelve tribes of Israel. Boaz was of that tribe from which the Christ would hail. We’ll see how this all ties together real soon. Suffice it to say for now, the words of these elders turned out to be more prophetic than they probably realized.
“May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.” (Verse 12)
Here we meet one of Israel’s twelve sons, Judah. Tamar was married to one of his three sons, but the poor guy died. Judah quickly fixed her up with the next oldest son, but he also died rather suddenly. Judah began to think this gal was bad luck, so he held back on offering his third son.
Tamar found herself in quite a quandary. She had no boys of her own to perpetuate the family name. As a quick fix, she disguised herself as a harlot and slept with Judah. When it was later discovered that Tamar was pregnant, Judah demanded she be killed. He changed his mind upon learning the child was his. Tamar gave birth to a boy; the name given him was Perez.
With such a scandalous history, it seems somewhat shocking that the elders would tell Boaz, “May your house be like theirs!” That sounds more like a curse than a blessing. But God redeemed this whole mess, as it was through Tamar that the family line of Judah was restored.
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.” (Verse 13)
This son is listed in the genealogy of God’s own Son. More on that later.
“Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” (Verse 14-15)
Things have truly turned around for Naomi. She returned to Bethlehem bitter, now she is blessed. She arrived empty, now she is full. God does work all things out for good. He never leaves His people high and dry. Be patient, be still, and He will come through for you as well. He always does.
The women blessed the Lord for He had not left Naomi without a redeemer (close relative; goel). “Nor has He left us without a Redeemer,” the women declared, “May his name be famous in Israel!” Just like our Redeemer! His name is famous throughout the world. “May he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher,” the women cried. Again, that’s our Jesus! He is the One who redeems, restores and nourishes.
“Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.” (Verse 16)
Naomi became a wet nurse to her grandchild, which was not uncommon in ancient times, especially under this family’s circumstances.
“Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed.” (Verse 17a)
Obed is the Hebrew term for “serving.” This child would serve to keep alive the family line of Judah through Naomi and Ruth, a family line that extends all the way into the New Testament.
“He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.” (Verse 17b-22)
In Matthew 1 you’ll find these same names in a much longer genealogy. The purpose of these records is to trace the family line of Jesus, thus proving Him to be the Christ spoken of by the prophets. Obed was the father of Jesse. (Isaiah refers to Christ as the root of Jesse.) Through Jesse came David, and through the seed of David came the Christ, just as foretold long ago in the Scriptures.
This is what makes the genealogy in Ruth so significant. You may ask why this wonderful love story ends with a boring list of names. It is here we find the seed of our Redeemer, who was also born in Bethlehem. Yes, He, too, would hail from the House of Bread, for He is the Bread of Life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story of Ruth. It is the story of every believer. All of us come to the House of Bread just as Ruth did. We come from afar, we come empty and we come with nothing but debt. Yet we have a Redeemer who paid it all. He bought the field to claim us for His treasure and His bride. We who were once far have been brought near. Though we were empty, He has filled us. He has secured our future and given us hope. Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a Redeemer!

Login Form