by Pastor Ola Joseph Kolawole
RUTH 4 and CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
I will be wrapping it up. First, I will share briefly on chapter 4 and then share a concluding thought on the book.
REFLECTION ON CHAPTER 4
- GOD ALWAYS GETS TO WRITE THE LAST CHAPTER!
Yes, the book of Ruth opens with three funerals… but it closes ever-so-beautifully with a wedding and a naming ceremony! How beautiful! And how hope-inspiring! The implication of this happy ending is that you and I don’t have to be afraid of the future. No matter the curveballs and lemons life may have thrown our way – no matter the mistakes we might have made in our past – we serve a God Who delights in bringing it altogether in a consummate Christo-centric happy ending!
2. LIKE BOAZ, LIKE JESUS
To read the book of Ruth without ever mentioning how the story prophetically mirrors our redemption will be to do a disservice to the story. As members of GOGO, I know we are already aware of these semblances between the character of Boaz and Jesus, but let me re-highlight them just for the sake of re-highlighting them.
The laws that were at play in this chapter are the *Law of the Kinsman Redeemer* given in Leviticus 25:23-34, and the law governing levirate marriage found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. When obeyed, these laws made sure that a dead man’s family name did not die with him and that his property was not sold outside the tribe or clan.
However, not everybody could perform the duties of a kinsman-redeemer. The requirements include that the person must:
- be a near kinsman (Lev. 25:25). This was the major obstacle Boaz had to overcome because another man in Bethlehem was a nearer relative to Ruth than he was (Ruth 3:12-13). This is also why Jesus had to become related to us before He could redeem us. He became flesh and blood so He could die for us on the cross (Heb. 2:14–15) — and He will remain our “near kinsman” for all eternity. Glory!
- be capable of paying the redemption price. In other words, the person should be wealthy enough. From chapter 2, we are not in doubt about Boaz’s wealth status. And is there any as wealthy as our blessed Saviour? Indeed, the payment of money can never set sinners free; it is the shedding of the precious blood of Christ that has accomplished redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19; Psalm 49:5-9).
- be willing to redeem. This where Naomi and Ruth’s nearest kinsman redeemer failed. He was near, he was capable, but he was not willing! He had the money but not the motivation. Boaz, on the other hand, was free to purchase both the property and a wife! And Jesus? He was so willing that if you were the only one alive, he would still have come to die for you! I once read a line from Max Lucado in one of his books where he said that if Jesus had been forced to nail himself to the cross, He would have done it. It was not the soldiers who killed him, nor the screams of the mob; it was his devotion to us. So call it what you wish: An act of grace. A plan of redemption. A martyr’s sacrifice. But whatever you call it, don’t call it an accident. It was anything but that. Profound!
Why did the nearest kinsman redeemer to Naomi and Ruth turn down the offer eventually? He was afraid he would jeopardize his own family’s inheritance. But Boaz wasn’t concerned about such jeopardy. And even more so, like Boaz, Jesus wasn’t concerned about jeopardizing His own inheritance; instead, He made us a part of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, 18). Also, like Boaz, Jesus made His plans privately, but He paid the price publicly; and, finally, like Boaz, Jesus did what He did because of His love for His bride. Hallelujah!
3. THE BOOK OF GRACE
I think in another sense, the Book of Ruth is also a Book of Grace. God’s signature of grace runs through the whole book! God had been gracious to Ruth back in Moab by giving her the faith to trust Him and be saved. His grace continued when she moved to Bethlehem, for He guided her to the field of Boaz, where Boaz fell in love with her. God’s grace continued at the town gate, where the nearer kinsman rejected Ruth and Boaz purchased her. After the marriage, God poured out His grace on Ruth and Boaz by giving her conception and then by giving her the safe delivery of a son, whom they named Obed (“servant”). Grace all the way!
May the same grace find expression in our lives In Jesus Name.
I have had to look back to the beginning of this beautiful story and spot one more application for us all. Here’s the point with which I intend to conclude: THE EASIER WAY OUT IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST. This is one of the main lessons this book presents us.
We discover in the opening verses of the book of Ruth that her husband has died, leaving her destitute and alone. To fully grasp the depths of her despair, we must understand that in ancient Near Eastern culture, to be widowed meant that a woman would be without security—no one to provide for her food and shelter, and no one to protect her from physical harm. (Remember that in chapter 2, Boaz had to instruct his workers that no one should molest Ruth or rape her. The implication is that such wickedness was not uncommon in that time towards someone of Ruth’s status.)
Ruth had an important decision before her: She could leave her mother-in-law, Naomi, and go back to her hometown to remarry and start all over again, or she could stay with her mother-in-law, remain alone, and most likely live out the rest of her life in poverty. One of those options was surely easier, but she went for the more difficult one. And ain’t we all glad for how that decision panned out at the end of the day?
I wish we had a record of the àtubọ̀tán [aftermath] of Orpah who opted for the easy way out. But while we don’t, we do know that whatever became of her is not significant enough to merit a space in God’s chronicles preserved for His children. She dropped out of history!
May the gleanings we picked from the book of Ruth abide with us all and may the Lord order our steps into divine appointments with the Boazes or Ruths He has ordained for our help and for His glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen!