Monday, June 30, 2003

Ruth 4:1-22

Happily Ever-After
June 2003
Cornerstone Covenant Church

We’ve come to the end of Ruth and in a second I want to read the whole fourth chapter for you. As we hear what God has to say through this chapter, I’d like you to keep in mind what has transpired up to this point.

Things started out looking pretty bleak. Naomi and husband and two sons had moved to the land of Moab because there was a famine around the home town of Bethlehem.

The sons married Moabite women. Then Naomi’s husband died – and then her two sons died as well.

Naomi was devastated – and was convinced that God had done this to her and that she has no future – so she might as well return to her hometown of Bethlehem. Besides, the word on the street was that the famine was over. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their original families so they could get married again.

One does – but not Ruth. She is hopelessly devoted to her mother-in-law and leaving behind her native land, language, culture, and people she goes to Bethlehem with Naomi.

So we’ve got these two poor women trying to eke out an existence in Bethlehem. But the curtain starts to pull back to reveal a little more hope with each verse.

Ruth ends up gleaning in a field owned by Boaz. Boaz is really nice to Ruth – giving her preferential treatment and sending her home to Naomi with extra food. Naomi slides into the matchmaker mode – noting the fact that Boaz is a member of her late husband’s extended family. That means that he can “redeem” Ruth – that is he is in line as a possible mate for her.

Naomi concocts a scheme whereby Ruth sneaks into to where Boaz is sleeping, lays down at his feet, and then proposes marriage when he wakes up. Nothing like popping the big question when someone is off guard.

Boaz is startled when this happens but is quickly flattered by Ruth’s interest. He sends her back to Naomi with more food.

There is one complication, though. Boaz wants to marry Ruth but there is another family member who is closer in line to redeemer her. And that’s where we pick up the story today.

READ RUTH 4:1-22

Great story. Boaz negotiates and wins the right to marry Ruth – through a little wise finagling.

By the way, to take on a wife was considered to be a financial burden. We don’t know if Boaz had other wives – likely so. But the point is that he went way out of his way to show mercy to Ruth and in doing so became her redeemer.

And the outcome of his actions had some really extensive ripple effects – which is exactly what the chronicler – the person who compiled the story for us wants us to see. For he wraps the whole thing up with this awesome genealogy that we’ll get to in a minute.

For the sake of brevity and clarity I want to suggest that there are four outcomes to the story of Ruth.

The first is MARRIAGE, Ruth gets a husband.

“So Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him.”

And I should add – not just a husband – but she got a great husband. Boaz went out of his way to show compassion and mercy to Ruth.

He was a great man – but probably not famous in his era – not a war hero – not a king – not a giant in business. But in his quiet compassionate way he had more influence on the direction of his nation than hundreds of more famous people. To say nothing of the joy and security that he brought to Ruth.

And I want to suggest that Boaz is still a great model for husbands. So much of what we do is self driven – we angle for more of this or that in the marriage relationship. We want to get our fair share of the family attention and to make sure that we get to us as much of the family resources for the things we want as we possibly can.

So everything ends up being about figuring out how to compromise.

But this is not at all the picture you get with Boaz. Everything we see of Boaz is that he was a man who lived outside himself. He was driven by a sense of compassion and mercy – what a great husband.

Even in taking in Ruth – she cost him plenty and from his perspective she was probably barren. She didn’t have any children – even though she had been married. That means that the chances of her having a son were slim. And sons were your social security check in those days. There probably wouldn’t be much return on his marital investment.

There was a woman in our church in one of the previous churches we served who had incredible mental and physical health issues... very poor. She had been dumped by her husband – left to raise two independently minded children – in and out of institutions.

Her daughter had a best friend. And when the best friend’s mother died of cancer that girl’s father thought of this other poor woman and decided to make their daughters step-sisters. So there was a marriage.

The health – mentally and physically of the woman suddenly became stable – and it was because of this man’s vision and compassion.

By the way, he was a wealthy man and not ugly – and any number of woman would have been happy to marry him. But he chose to be a Boaz-kind of husband.

The second outcome of the story is MOTHERHOOD, Naomi gets a son.

Verse 14 – “And the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord who has given you a family redeemer today! May he be famous in Israel. [15] May this child restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you so much and who has been better to you than seven sons!’ (Seven sons was proverbial for the perfect family)

[16] “Naomi took care of the baby and cared for him as if he were her own. (More literally – she nursed it) [17] The neighbor women said, ‘Now at last Naomi has a son again!’ And they named him Obed.”

Obed means servant – suggesting that Naomi would finally have someone to serve her – to take care of her into her old age. This started out pretty bleak at the beginning. Naomi had no one left – her husband and her sons were dead. It seemed like God was against her. She only had Ruth – a faithful daughter-in-law – who was a foreigner. And really in chapter 1 you’re thinking that she, a foreigner, was going to be more of a detriment than an asset.

But in the end Naomi has a wonderful son through Ruth. God provides.

Then the third outcome is that of a MONARCH, ISRAEL GETS A KING.

The story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz would stand fine on it own. It’s a beautiful wonderful story. But there is the little surprise at the end which would have sent chills up the spin of every Jew who read the story.

Verse 17 again – “The neighbor women said, ‘Now at last Naomi has a son again!’ And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.”

All of this despair to joy really had a deeper significance than first caught the eye. For it was through the line of Ruth and Boaz that King David – the greatest King in Israel – it is through them that David came to be. And this is of no little significance in the story of God working out his plan through his chosen people. It was through David that the nation was established. They were no longer just a loosely knit confederation of tribes. It was through David that the united Israel entered into it’s golden age. And it was through David that the nation got some of its deepest and richest worship songs.

This was definitely a big deal.

And then finally, close on the heals of this revelation about Ruth and Boaz being the great grandparents of David – the fourth outcome is that of a MESSIAH, THE WORLD GETS A REDEEMER.

Matthew 1:5-16
Salmon was the father of Boaz (his mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (his mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.
[6] Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (his mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).
[7] Solomon was the father of Rehoboam.
Rehoboam was the father of Abijah.
Abijah was the father of Asaph.
[8] Asaph was the father of Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram.
Jehoram was the father of Uzziah.
[9] Uzziah was the father of Jotham.
Jotham was the father of Ahaz.
Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah.
[10] Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh.
Manasseh was the father of Amos.
Amos was the father of Josiah.
[11] Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).
[12] After the Babylonian exile:
Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel.
Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel.
[13] Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud.
Abiud was the father of Eliakim.
Eliakim was the father of Azor.
[14] Azor was the father of Zadok.
Zadok was the father of Akim.
Akim was the father of Eliud.
[15] Eliud was the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar was the father of Matthan.
Matthan was the father of Jacob.
[16] Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary was the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

This is really the postscript to the story – Jesus the redeemer of the world – God in the flesh – the Savior – the one who died to take away the sins of the world – the one through whom we relate to God – he, too, by virtue of his step-father Joseph is in the line of Ruth and Boaz.

He stands in that same lineage of mercy and compassion. All along something greater than we imagined was in process. And indeed, this is our story, too. For we are sons and daughters of the Messiah – and that makes us sons and daughters of Ruth and Boaz.

We’re connected. This is your family story!

And God has been at work in your world from ages and ages past. Truly he is sovereign. This is really what the story teller in Ruth wants us to see – that God is sovereign – that he is in control of history – taking the negatives that we all encounter – and weaving all of those strands together to work out his plan of redeeming his world. And he’s still at it. And he’s still using people and the hard times they face – you face . Even if you’re not really close to God at this point he’s still at work through your life.


Ruth was a Moabite – not originally a part of the chosen people – but because she chose to be a part of what God was doing – she was used by God in an incredible way.

By the way, she was not the only one. I think that there are at least four foreigners – non-Jews in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. One of the other prominent foreign figures was Rahab. Remember her, she was the prostitute who protected the Israelite spies who had come to scope out Jericho.

Rahab ended up marrying a guy named Salmon. And Salmon and Rahab were the parents of – Boaz!

God was using even foreigners to bring about his plan. Do you ever feel like you’re an outsider – a foreigner?
That everyone else seems to be connecting to God but not you?

Welcome to Moab. We’re all there sometimes.

But hey, the good news is that God is doing his thing even through the lives of Moabites.

Trust him.

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