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WEEK 4 . FEBRUARY 23-29
THE REDEMPTION OF ROMANCE
"Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day." (Ruth 4:10, KJV)
Adjudicate—To settle or determine (an issue or dispute) judicially.
Stipulation—A condition, demand, or promise in an agreement or contract.
Veneer (vuh-neer)— A superficial or deceptively attractive appearance, display, or effect; a façade.
When we left Boaz in the previous lesson, he had awakened to the fullness of romantic attraction to Ruth; nevertheless, he had pledged himself to secure redemption for her even if it cost him the opportunity to wed her. Her welfare and restored social standing was his only concern. And he was determined, as Naomi prophesied (Ruth 3:18), to see the matter settled as soon as possible. He would not have Ruth feeling restless or worried for long. His love for her inspired a bold plan that we see revealed in this fourth chapter of the book.
Emphasis 1: A Legal Proceeding (Ruth 4:1,2)
Boaz reasoned that a resolution to Ruth's marital dilemma had to be proper and legal. However, this did not mean he couldn't protect both Ruth's and his interests in the matter. He was wise enough to understand that marriage was contractual—it necessitated the thoughtfulness and diligence of any other business transaction. A contract needed witnesses, so he chose to confront the closer kinsman to Elimelech in a public and well-frequented locale: at the village gates. Boaz anticipated that the relative would be passing by, and at that moment other Bethlehemites would be present.
It appears that for legal proceedings, ten adult male witnesses were required (Ruth 4:2). Boaz chose village elders, probably because if there were any resulting dispute, these were men who would be called upon to adjudicate the matter (e.g., Deut. 21:19).
Every city was governed by its elders. As Jezebel and Ahab's plot against Naboth demonstrated several generations later (1 Kings 21:8-14), even a conspiracy by the king required the veneer of sanction by the elders.
Emphasis 2: The Choice of the Nearer Kinsman (Ruth 4:3-12)
Boaz could then explain to the near kinsman the purpose of their meeting. He articulated his intention to buy back Elimelech's property, which had perhaps been sold off to finance the family's move to Moab. Boaz observed that this nearer kinsman had the right of redemption, and asked him if he intended to assert this right. When the man said he would like to buy back the property, Boaz reminded him that redeeming the land would also entail marrying the widow of the son Mahlon. The kinsman was not disposed to marrying Ruth so he then declined the offer. According to the stipulations of the Mosaic Law (Deut. 25:7-9), the man took off his shoe and presented it to Boaz: this symbolized a transfer of the right of redemption.
In this way, Ruth's sweetheart won the right to marry her. It was done with the sanction of the town elders, who pronounced blessings over the proposed union (Ruth 4:11,12). It was done in a manner that could not be challenged or overruled later. It was done in a way that safeguarded Ruth and Naomi's rights as well as his own. Boaz guided his passions with careful deliberation and thereby guaranteed everyone's future happiness.
Emphasis 3: Redemption Through Marriage (Ruth 4:13-17)
The tale of romance ends with the birth of their child Obed. This firstborn son of the union of Boaz and Ruth would be raised in the name of Mahlon, to keep the dead man's legacy and heritage alive in Israel. In a legal sense, then, Naomi had a new son; the birth of the child brought her full circle, from fullness to barrenness to fullness again. She became a nurse to baby Obed.
God's love, as exhibited by Ruth and Boaz, had the power of redemption behind it. Boaz prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ in his role as the kinsman redeemer of Ruth. Ruth herself was a type of the Savior in her love and support of Naomi. The story oozes Christian symbolism through its repeated images of sacrificial love. Moreover, we see the principle that romantic love can be redemptive, specifically when God's love is overlaid. Our marriages, when we animate them with agape, have restorative and sanctifying power ("For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband..."1 Cor. 7:14a). Spouses minister grace to one another when they commit themselves to be agents of agape in their marriages.
Where did Boaz choose to meet with the nearer kinsman? What reasons were behind this choice?
Why was it important that Boaz follow through with all the legal stipulations?
What did Ruth and Boaz's son represent for Naomi?
Let us pray to realize true love will always seek what is best for the other ahead of self.
Let us pray to have our marital union sanctioned by God.
Let us pray to minister grace in our marriages to honor what Christ has done in our lives.