This sermon is number 4 in a series of 4
"In His Family"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2009 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Let's covet the Lord's presence tonight as we turn to Ruth chapter 4, that's where we are now, the crescendo and the climax of this whole story - and of course we have taken as our title throughout the series: 'The Romance of Redemption and Revival in Ruth', and we're going to read the whole chapter 4 tonight, beginning at verse 1:
"Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people". Just pause there for a moment, please note that many times the word 'redeem' is now found in the passage. "If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. 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. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David".
Let us pray for just a moment please: Father, we take the words of that hymn as our prayer tonight: 'Beyond the sacred page, we seek Thee, Lord. Our spirit pants for Thee, the Living Word'. Lord, we thank You for the wonderful pictures inspired for us in Scripture - and yet, Lord, with all that we will learn tonight, we ask one thing: that the face of Boaz, the face of Naomi, the face of Obed would fade into insignificance as we focus and see clearly the face of our Kinsman Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ. In whose name we pray, and whose help we ask now by the Spirit, Amen.
Now this may well be your first night with us in these studies - and for that reason I want to just recap a little on where we have come until now. You will remember that on two occasions now I have given you the purposes that we have this book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the little book of Ruth, four chapters in the Old Testament. The first reason, very clearly - as we have seen directly tonight from the latter verses of chapter 4 - is an historical purpose and reason. The book is given to us to explain the ancestry of King David, and what it effectively does is: it builds a bridge between the period of the Judges - the book of Judges, of course, coming before Ruth - and the period of the Kings beginning at 1 and 2 Samuel. So there is an historical reason why we have it, it gives the genealogy of King David.
There is a prophetic reason as well. I pointed out that in chapter 1, Israel was being chastened by God - there was a famine in the land because of their backsliding, and the Lord turns from them, effectively, and turns His attention toward a Gentile woman and begins to deal with her. That is exactly what is happening today in God's prophetic calendar. The book of Romans teaches us that blindness in part has happened unto Israel for her disobedience, and the fact that she did not accept her Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. At this very present dispensation God is calling a people for Himself, for His name, out of the Gentiles. We are now in that time of the Gentiles - but as we see from the book of Ruth, it was blessing that came to Naomi after Ruth was married to Boaz; and so Israel will be restored once the church of Jesus Christ is married to the Saviour at the Marriage Supper. God's prophetic calendar for Israel will start to tick again.
There is also a typological purpose for this book. Historical, prophetical, and typological - and we know that a 'type', of course, is a picture, an Old Testament picture of a New Testament truth beforehand. Of course we spent some time looking last night at the kinsman redeemer, and we saw that that was a wonderful portrayal and illustration of the relationship of our Lord Jesus Christ to His bride, the church.
Of course there is a fourth purpose, and we dare not miss this one: it is practical. This book is intensely practical. Of course we should always apply the word of God to all our lives, but the message of redemption and revival in Ruth has got all to do with our own redemption and our own potential revival as we tap into the wonderful eternal truths that are found within these four chapters. So we have to be challenged individually and personally from this book, and I hope we have in our series, and will be tonight.
Now in chapter 1, you remember on the Lord's Day morning, we looked at the sojourn into Moab, and how Elimelech had gathered his little family together and went into Moab - which is a picture of the world. They left the house of bread, Bethlehem, and we saw the ramifications of that. Elimelech lost his life, his two sons died - Chilion and Mahlon - and Naomi had to return back to her home in Bethlehem with no husband, no sons, but just two pagan Moabite daughters-in-law.
Of course, on Sunday evening, we called Naomi the prodigal daughter of the Old Testament. We saw how she returned, and what tragic words we read that night, she said: 'Call me not Naomi', which means 'pleasant one', 'but call me Mara', bitter, 'for I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty'. The words of a backslider, if ever there was any. Then in chapter 2 we saw last night - I'm trying to remember what night it was! - last night we saw first of all the beautiful picture of Ruth as a gleaner in the field of Boaz. God providentially led her there, and she gleaned the leftovers that were directed to be left there by the law of God for a social basis, for the needy - whether it was the stranger, the widow, or the orphan in the land, they had to lie there - and Ruth decided to go out and glean for her and her mother-in-law. God directed her to the very field and to the face of her kinsman redeemer that God had chosen, and indeed the one whom she would marry.
Of course what poignant words we read in verse 8 of chapter 2, Boaz said: 'Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens'. It would have been a supreme insult to the goodness and grace of Boaz for Ruth to try her chances - chance her arm, as we would say - in other people's fields when he had been so kind. We saw how it is incumbent upon us as Christians not to glean in any other field, the Lord has been so good to us. It's only when we realise who He really is, and what He has done for us, that we become satisfied truly in Him and we don't need to go to the world any more for a buzz - because He is the Altogether Lovely One to our souls.
The second picture we saw last night was: Boaz, the near-kinsman. We spent some time looking at what Leviticus 25 teaches us about the near-kinsman's right to redeem his brother's estate. We saw that 'redeem' means 'to set free by paying a price', and Deuteronomy 25 specifically said that if a brother died, the other brother surviving in the family had the responsibility to take on his widow and raise up seed in his brother's name...in order to inherit his lands. Of course, the margin of chapter 2 and verse 20 bears that out very well at the very end, in relation to Boaz Naomi said to Ruth: 'The man is near of kin unto us', the margin says, 'One that hath right to redeem'.
We saw that there were three qualifications for a go'el, the Hebrew word for 'kinsman redeemer'. One: he had to have the right to redeem - and we saw how, through the incarnation, and the Lord Jesus not only being made flesh, but being made sin for us, He had the right to redeem us. He had to have the power to redeem, and what great power God has to do that - His hand is not short that it cannot redeem. But the most important of the three qualifications was: he had to be willing to redeem - praise His holy name, He was and still is!
In chapter 3, the last picture we looked at was Ruth at the feet of Boaz - that's where we left her in chapter 3 verse 9, where she said: 'Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman'. That's where we left her - effectively verse 18, the last verse of chapter 3, Naomi's advice was: 'Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day'. Ruth believed what her redeemer said to her - that he would, with all his power, if he could, redeem her. She received gifts, which were like a guarantee, a deposit, that he was intending to be true to his word. Now she is waiting in patience for him to do the rest. We saw last night - I think it's worth repeating - we can rest because our Kinsman Redeemer will not rest until He has our redemption complete.
I omitted to tell you a little story last night about Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission. During the Boxer Rebellion in China, many of the missionaries were under threat. At that time Hudson Taylor was in his seventies, and he was far from well. He said to one of his colleagues during that tumultuous time: 'I cannot read, I cannot think, I cannot even pray - but I can trust'. Isn't that wonderful? That's where Ruth was: she's left now just sitting at her kinsman redeemer's feet, resting under the wings of the God whom she had come to trust. That's where we are meant to be:
'Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart'.
So there we left her, and now we must move her on - because, as Boaz goes away to take upon himself this work of redemption, he finds a potential blockage. Now, of course, he already alluded to this right away when Ruth made the request. If you turn back in chapter 3, you will see in verses 12 and 13 he responded to her and said: 'It is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning'.
You see, the nearest kinsman had first claim - if you like, we would say 'first refusal' - to redeem lands or indeed a widow. Now it is very interesting to note, to his eternal shame, that the name of this nearest kinsman is never recorded. It was Matthew Henry who said: 'It is a just punishment upon him, he who would not preserve his brother's name, that he might lose his own'. Now although Boaz, clearly, was more willing to redeem Ruth than this nearest kinsman was, Boaz could not legally redeem Ruth until the next of kin - the go'el in Hebrew - had first refusal.
Now you might anticipate that we have encountered a problem typologically - because if we are saying that Boaz is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, near-Kinsman Redeemer, well then how do we understand this nearer kinsman that was nearer to redeem Ruth? Well, I think most Bible scholars agree that in this nearest kinsman we have a picture of the holy Old Testament law of God. Now how can that be? It might seem a bit far-fetched for some of you - well, when you consider it, it's obvious, because the law of God has a prior claim upon all of us. You see, the law of God cannot be bypassed in our redemption. The claims of God's law must be met first, before Boaz redeems Ruth and plays the part of a go'el. It is the same with our Lord Jesus Christ. You know people think He just came as the Saviour of the world, and He could do anything. They think that because we preach a free gospel of grace - and we do, praise God - that redemption is like sweeping sin under the carpet, wiping the slate clean and nothing else has to be done. Now listen: God can't do that! There are things God cannot do - and because God is a holy God, and God is faithful God, and God is a God of His word, He cannot go against His own purposes or transgress His own law. The holy standards of His law must be upheld.
Let me show you this clearly from the New Testament. Turn with me to Romans 3 verse 26, I'll read it if you don't want to turn to it, but it's good for you to see it for yourself - Romans 3:26. I just want to take up the verse where it says: 'that he might be just', that's God in the working of salvation and redemption, 'and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus'. Now God wants to be the justifier of sinners who believe in Jesus, but God has got to be just in being the justifier of those who believe in Him as Saviour. Therefore, if He's going to be just, the law has to be satisfied - there's no way around it. So in this nearer kinsman we see the law of God.
Now when Moses presented the people with the law from God, he pronounced: 'Do, and thou shalt live'. If you're able to keep this law, you'll live. Romans 10:5, if you turn over to it as well, we read there Paul reiterating that sentiment: 'For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them'. If you want to live by the law, you've got to keep the law perfectly in every point. So therefore the law condemns us - if you like, the law is our kinsman-condemner, rather than our kinsman redeemer - now why is that? Well, Romans 8:3, turn back a couple of chapters, tells us why the law condemns us - and I just want to take up this little statement: 'the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh'. The law could not redeem or save us because it was weak through the flesh. Now that doesn't mean there was a problem with the law, the problem is with us: God's law is holy - but as Romans 3:22-23 teaches us, 'There's no difference between any of us, for all have sinned, and come short', fallen short, 'of the glory of God', the standard of God's holiness.
So, as Romans 7 verse 10 says: 'the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found', Paul says, 'to be unto death'. 'Do, and thou shalt live', but because none of us can do it and keep it completely, it causes death to us. Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying - that doesn't mean that Christians can just discard God's law and do as they like. None of us can keep God's law of our own accord, and the miracle of the gospel is that the Holy Spirit - who has been gifted to us by the redemption that is in Christ - when He lives in us, He lives out God's perfect law, and His law becomes part of us.
But on our own, we are hopeless. In chapter 4 we see this confessed by this nearest kinsman, twice he says in chapter 4: 'I cannot redeem, I cannot redeem'. He couldn't redeem, he could only condemn. Now Paul goes even further in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 56, and we're all familiar with this verse from funeral services, but we don't really grasp the import of it all. He said: 'The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law'. What he saying? He's saying that God's law, effectively, has added power, now, for us to be condemned for our sinfulness. If it was bad enough being sinners, now that God's law has been given, the law has added power to condemn us in our sin.
Now let me illustrate this to you from everyday life, for you have experienced this without realising. Whatever sphere of existence you want to apply it to, if you have standards - they can be spiritual standards, they can be sporting standards, they could be working standards - if you have standards, the higher your standards will be, the harder time you will give yourself. That's why perfectionists are always beating themselves up. God's standards and laws couldn't be any higher, and because of how high they are we are all the more condemned.
I want to ask you tonight - and I don't have the circumstances of everyone here - but I want to ask you: are you experiencing a hammering from God's law? Maybe you're finding it difficult to live up to His standards found, perhaps, in the Ten Commandments. Or maybe it's other aspects of God's word - I don't know what it is - but it's very possible that this is what you are experiencing. You see, when you try to live by law - whether it's God's law, or your own laws, or other man-made laws - what we do is: we set these standards high, and we allow the accuser of the brethren, that's the devil, to condemn us over again, and again, and again. He can do it, because we will always fall short.
Now, you know 1 John 1 and verse 9: 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness'. This is the great question: if our nearest kinsman condemns us and can't redeem us, how can God be just in saving us and cleansing us from our sin? Well, it's the same as it was with Boaz. To redeem Ruth, Boaz first had to satisfy the demands of the law; and to redeem us, the Lord Jesus Christ had to do the same.
Boaz, in chapter 4 verse 1, took this matter of redemption to the gate of the city. He took the law to the gate. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to satisfy the just demands of God's holy law to redeem us, He went without the gate, without the city, without the camp - Hebrew says: 'Bearing the reproach'. What was His reproach? His reproach was being numbered among transgressors, that's how Isaiah puts it. That means more than Him being impaled between two thieves, and being treated as a criminal - He was taking the just judgement of God's holy law upon Himself.
Turn with me to Galatians chapter 3, because this is exactly what is taught there by the apostle Paul - to a people, incidentally, who thought that 'OK, Christ has died for us, but we need to keep the law, the ceremony, and the ritual to get into heaven. It's not enough that Christ died, we've got to keep the law'. Paul points out to them very forcibly in chapter 3 of Galatians verse 10: 'For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse' - if you're wanting to live by law, you're cursed, 'for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them'. You see, we can't do them all, and because we fail even in one point, we're cursed. 'But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them' - it's by works, by doing, but we can't do it! 'Christ', now mark this, 'hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree'.
There at Calvary He satisfied the demands of God's law. Effectively what He did was, He robbed sin of its power to condemn us. He took the curse of the law, and there is no more for me. Romans 6 and verse 10 says: 'For in that he died, he died unto sin once' - that does not say He died for sin, it says 'He died unto sin'. It goes on, 'but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God' - and what it means is that there was no longer any reason for the Lord Jesus Christ to stay in the grave one more moment than God ordained, because sin's power had been broken. Now the nearest kinsman, our nearest kinsman, the law, has no more power to condemn us - hallelujah!
In verse 2 we read that there were ten elders that were called out to witness this legal transaction, and I just wonder is God in His inspiration wanting us to think of the Ten Commandments that are a witness to the inability of God's law to redeem an outcast, particularly someone who wasn't even in Israel in the first place - that's a Gentile like Ruth, and you, and me. Well, I hope that you can see clearly that it's very foolish for anybody to be living under law. If you're not a saved person, born again, and you're trying to earn your salvation, it should be obvious to you now that it's impossible - that's not why God's law was given. It was given more like a magnifying glass to show us our sin, than a ten-runged ladder to heaven to climb to glory - it's impossible to do that, for every one of those rungs is broken.
But you know, believers can live under law - and believer, if that's you, do you know what that's like? It's like Ruth trying to marry this boy that didn't love her and didn't want her! But it's worse than that, and I want to be sensitive in what I say, but it's almost like wanting to marry someone that's going to beat you to a pulp - because that's what the law will do to us. It will condemn us, not redeem us. Yet Christians are letting the devil, day after day, hammer them with the law. 'You don't shape up! You're not what you ought to be!', he is the accuser of the brethren. But God's word very clearly says that if we get a grasp of grace and redemption, that ought not to be the case. Romans 8, we quoted verse 3, but read it all: 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh', not keeping the law by flesh, 'but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death'.
Now the law of sin and death there is not talking about our old sinful nature, he's talking about the law of God! It magnified sin to us, and condemned us to death: 'For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh' - here it is! - 'God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us' - hallelujah! Now Christian: the devil has a lot of believers over a barrel because of their guilt, and he's hammering you. Now I'm not exonerating you in sin or backsliding, you should know that by now through this series, but I'm telling you this: if you're a true child of God, you have no reason to be condemned, you have no reason to have a troubled conscience. If you confess your sin, if you own up to it, if you get this road of repentance and revival that we find in the book of Ruth - whatever your failure is tonight, maybe you're struggling, as we heard earlier, with some kind of standard in God's word, or a manmade one. You need to know, listen: Jesus Christ has delivered us from the curse of any law, through the shedding of His precious blood:
'Abel's blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.
Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion
Terror struck departs'.
Revelation 12:11 says: 'They overcame him', the devil, 'by the blood of the Lamb' - that's our victory ground, and we're on it if we're saved! The devil can't get us off it, but he can make us think we're not on it! That's where a lot of the damage is: he robs us of our joys, he robs us of our triumphs, he robs us of our victory - and do you know what happens? We go down deeper and deeper into sin. You might think: 'Oh, you're talking about an easy-believism, an antinomianism, no law and people can just have grace and live as they like' - you know, the opposite is the case, it's the people who are living under law that find they're on the downward spiral of sin, because it convicts them more of their sin - but it's only by grace that we can be free from sin through the blood of the Lamb.
It wasn't just the blood of the Lamb, it was the word of their testimony. I'll tell you: your testimony, if you're enslaved by something and shackled by something tonight, your word of testimony - you might think you haven't got a testimony as you stand before God - it could be how, this very night, God delivered you by the precious blood of Christ from the bondage you're under. He has already done that, but it's about you experiencing it in your own life here and now.
Verse 6 of chapter 4 shows us that the near-kinsman, he was qualified, he was eligible in other words, to redeem - but the problem was: he's not willing. When he thought there was a field and land in it, he was happy - but when he found out that he would have to marry Ruth, that was a different thing. The reason given was: 'I mar my own inheritance', that was his fear. He was afraid to harm his inheritance, maybe for his own children. But the miracle of God's grace - and you only need to read Ephesians 1 - is that our Lord Jesus Christ, for Him it was no concern to mar His own inheritance, He made us a part of His inheritance! Miracle of miracles, He shares His inheritance! We become joint heirs, and everything that's His is ours.
Boaz was like that you know, he wasn't ashamed of Ruth the way the nearest kinsman was, the way the law of God would be to us. You remember, I told you last night, chapter 2 and verse 11, he shouted of the virtue of this woman. He was not ashamed to own her! Boaz planned this marriage privately, but he went to the gate in chapter 4 and verse 1 and he paid the price publicly. There were the witnesses, in verses 7 and 8 of chapter 4, 'this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe'.
Now Deuteronomy 25 and verse 9 actually specifies that the widow was the one who should have took this boy's sandal off, and after she took it off she was to spit in his face - it's a disgrace for him not to be willing to redeem her. But here we see what is happening, is that this man himself, the nearest kinsman, takes off the shoe and hands it to Boaz. He is relinquishing his right as nearest kinsman to redeem Ruth, and he's conceding to Boaz.
You know, there's a great symbolism here. This custom of taking the shoe off is linked to what God told Joshua's generation. You remember He told them: 'Every place where the sole of your foot shall tread, I'll give it to you'. So whenever your foot, the sole of your shoe, tread on something, it was tantamount to claiming it as your right. What's happening here is: he is relinquishing his right over all that Naomi owned, and Ruth herself, and he's handing it to Boaz. What we see, as New Testament believers, is - as someone said - 'The law has no right to walk over, to condemn, that which Christ has redeemed'. He has redeemed you if you're saved, the law has no right to hammer you, to condemn you. The devil has no right to accuse you for, just like in this situation, verse 9 'Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi'. The claims of the law were fully met at Calvary! John 19:30: 'It is finished!'.
It's very interesting to note that when this transaction took place in Ruth, at the gate of the city, we read - I think - five times in verses 1 and 2 (you can check that when you get home) of these men sitting down. That signified that this was going to be a deliberate transaction, legally. A price was going to be paid to redeem, whether it was by the nearest kinsman or the near-kinsman. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says He sat down having made redemption for us, having purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. The wonderful thing is: Ruth was told by Naomi, 'Now you sit still, Boaz will not rest until this work is done' - and because the work has been done, and the Saviour said 'I go to prepare a place for you', and He wasn't going to heaven, He was going to Calvary, then He went on to heaven after He rose again, and He sat down for the work was finished; and so we can sit still. Is it not beautiful?
What are you getting uptight about tonight? Is the devil condemning you? Oh, we all could do a lot better, and the grace of God has been given to us, and the Spirit of God, to be the best that we could be - 'Be perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect', the Lord said - but don't let the devil accuse you and take your joy, for the Lord has finished the work! Don't be looking to yourself. A lot of people have trouble over assurance. I remember for years being perplexed about the issue of salvation, whether I was really saved. I used to go to school in the centre of Belfast, and almost every week I would go to one of the three or four Christian evangelical bookshops in the centre of town to read books to try and get some kind of comfort of mind and heart to tell me that I was saved. But my problem was I was looking to myself, I was looking to my circumstances, I was looking to my sins, and I wasn't looking to Christ. I wasn't looking to what He had done, I wasn't looking to what He had said: 'It's finished!':
'Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus has bled and there is remission,
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it' - what's the message?
'Cling to the cross, your burden will fall,
For Christ hath redeemed us once for all'.
A potential blockage was there, that was the problem, but grace got by it. We find then in chapter 4 a perfect marriage. The potential blockage gave way to a perfect marriage. Now, I wonder do you have the perfect marriage? There's some Christians I know, and they talk about the perfect marriage. There's one, an entertainer in America I think it was, he said: 'Marriage is a mistake that every man should make at least once in his life'. That's not the way we view marriage as Christians, it ought not to be - but this was a marriage made in heaven, literally.
Let me put it like this: love found a way to redeem Ruth's soul. In chapter 4 and verse 10: 'Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife', isn't that beautiful? Paul says: 'Love suffereth long. Love is kind'. This was a match made in heaven, this is the romance of redemption and revival in this book. It's a happy ending! You know, everybody loves a happy ending, but the story of grace has the best ending of all. God specialises in happy endings. I don't know where you are tonight, but for the one who, like Ruth, casts themselves at the feet of our heavenly nearest Kinsman, and says: 'Cover me with the border of your mantle. Take control of me. Take my life, take over', I'll tell you: there's always a happy ending. It'll be hard, but it will always be for the best in the end.
It's only those who do that who can know a happy ending. Here were two lonely people: Ruth a young widow - well, it's obvious she's lonely, but you might say: 'Where are you getting it from that Boaz was lonely?'. Well, you remember that he was a mature man, he wasn't a young man - he said that himself. I'm sure he had been lonely without a partner in life. 'What are you going to get out of that? Are you going to tell us the Lord is lonely?'. Well, I mightn't use those terms, but let me put it like this: He is our heavenly Bridegroom, we are His bride, we're not His wife - but the Marriage Supper is going to come one day, and He will not rest until that day. J.N. Darby wrote some beautiful hymns, and one verse of one of them goes like this:
'Yet it must be, Thy love had not its rest
Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest.
That love that gives not as the world, but shares
All it possesses with its loved co-heirs!'.
Christ's love will not rest until He gets us there, until His redeemed - that's you and me - are fully blest, and He shares all that He possesses with His loved co-heirs. That is the perfect marriage made in heaven, and that's what we have a picture of here in the book of Ruth. Oh, the great blockage was there - sin, and the law that condemned us - but praise God, through His precious blood, through His love for us, 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it', He purchased the church with His own blood. It's beautiful, isn't it?
But come with me again: there was a potential blockage, a perfect marriage, but then we see at the end of this story a prestigious lineage. In verse 11 of chapter 4 the witnesses blessed Boaz and Ruth: 'The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah'. Now please notice that they called her now 'a woman'. 'Oh, what's big about that?', you might say. Well, up until now she was being called 'a Moabitess woman', 'the Moabitess' - but something had happened here, and her past had died because she was now united with Boaz. She is never referred to that way again in the rest of this book.
Remember in chapter 2, the way she referred to herself in verse 10 when Boaz allowed her to glean in his field: 'Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?'. But she is no longer a stranger from the promises of God that are to the commonwealth of Israel, she is open to everything - why? Because she took the lowly place as a gleaner, she stood upon the promises of God to gleaners, and God led her to her kinsman redeemer. She took the lowly place at his feet, and he took her in and made her his own. You know, that's what He has done for us.
They did more than that, they prayed for the couple, particularly this woman Ruth, that she would be like Rachel and Leah. Now you know who Rachel and Leah were, they were the mothers of Israel. Don't forget that this woman is a Gentile, a Moabite, and now they're treating her effectively as royalty, as the princesses of the nation. Actually this was proved prophetically, God answered their prayers - because just the way that Rachel and Leah were in the lineage of Israel's kings, and indeed of Israel's Messiah, the Lord Jesus, Ruth and Boaz would be...all because Ruth found grace at the feet of her kinsman redeemer.
Now, what other blessing was given? Look at it, verse 11, at the very end: 'be famous in Bethlehem'. How could they not be famous? Because Boaz was set in God's plan to become the great-grandfather of King David, you can't get much more famous than that! But more than that, we turn to Matthew chapter 1 - turn to it please - and we find that the lineage of David is the lineage of the King of the Jews, the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Boaz is in it as well. May you be famous in Bethlehem! Now when we look at the Gospels we find that this phrase, 'be famous', is used in connection with our Lord Jesus. In Matthew 4:24, it says 'His fame went throughout all Syria'. In Matthew 14 and verse 1, 'At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus'. But what was He famous for? Was it kow-towing with politicians, and celebrities, and business figures? We're told what He was famous for. You remember John the Baptist sent his disciples to the Lord Jesus asking: 'Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?'. The answer that the Lord sent as a reply was regarding His fame: 'The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them' - that's what His great renown was for! He was famous for meeting the needs of people, people who come to His feet.
Now keep your hand, please, in Matthew 1, and look at verse 12 of chapter 4 again of Ruth. We're almost finished - the blessing continues from these witnesses, 'let thy house be like the house of Pharez', or Perez, 'whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman'. Now that's significant, you've got to go home and read Genesis 38 for this story, but Tamar had a similar situation to Ruth, inasmuch as she was married to one of Judah's sons, and God slew him because of his wickedness, and he died - Er was his name - without having any children. So Tamar was a widow. Now what happened in the story was more than appears to the naked eye. We find Tamar's name mentioned in Matthew chapter 1 - if you look at it, you see it in verse 3, it's there in the Authorised 'Thamar', but it's the same person, Tamar, there she is.
But you've got to understand from Genesis 38 that Tamar had a right to marry her brother-in-law because of this levirate marriage of the nearest kinsman that we've been dwelling on these nights. His name was Onan, but he wouldn't perform what was his responsibility. Her husband Er, deceased, now only had one other brother who was too young to be married, and Judah - her father-in-law - promised that when he was of age, she would be given to him in marriage. He became of age, and she wasn't given to him. So she plotted, she dressed up as a harlot, she tricked her father-in-law, Judah, into committing immorality with her, and she conceived a child.
Now I haven't got time to elaborate into that story, it's a torrid affair, but the fact of the matter is: it is astounding to think that this woman is mentioned in the messianic line. Ruth is there, Ruth and Boaz are there. Matthew chapter 1 verse 5: 'Boaz begat Obed of Ruth', but here, hold on a minute! Look before that, verse 5: 'Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab' - now that's Rahab. Rahab, who's she? She's the harlot from the book of Joshua, she is Boaz's mother. It's coming together a little bit - maybe that's why he was loving and gracious toward a Gentile, because Rahab was a Gentile - but she was also a prostitute, and here she is in the lineage of Christ.
Come with me a bit more. In verse 6 it's alluded: 'Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah'. Uriah, who's that? Bathsheba. So what are we seeing here? There are four women in the lineage of Christ mentioned in Matthew chapter 1, two are harlots, one is an idolater, one is an adulterer - in the lineage of Christ! What is God thinking of? He's thinking of you. What I mean is, as someone put it: 'These four were included to show that sinners might have a share in Christ. For if sinners were among His ancestors, there's a place for sinners among His descendants, spiritual descendants'.
Now, don't get me wrong: His sinlessness, the Lord's, was not affected; His divinity was not affected, because He was conceived in the virgin womb by the Holy Spirit. He did not have an earthly father, but according to the flesh He was of the line of David. These were His ancestors, and what is it there for? It's a demonstration of the grace of God, that where sin abounds grace doth much more abound! It's wonderful, isn't it?
What a blessing Obed would be to Ruth. She never had a child through her deceased husband. What a blessing Obed would be to Naomi, a first grandchild, drying her tears as she nursed him. The future was secure, look at the pronouncement in verse 15: 'He shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age'. She didn't have to worry any more about her inheritance being lost - but Obed would not only be a blessing to Ruth and Naomi, he would be a blessing to Bethlehem. He would be the grandfather of King David the Great! But what a blessing Obed would be to the world! For, in the fullness of time, God would send forth His Son, made under the law, born of a woman. It's mighty, isn't it - the Redeemer?
Oh, the romance of redemption and revival in Ruth. In her years of prosperity before the famine, Boaz meant nothing to her. In chapter 2, by divine design, she is found in his field. In chapter 3 she is at his feet. In chapter 4 she's in his family. The difference was made by obeying God's word, when Ruth put herself at her redeemer's feet and entrusted herself to him. He took over, he changed everything. In chapter 1 Ruth had faith; in chapter 2 she's gleaning leftovers; in chapter 3 she gets generous gifts; and in chapter 4 everything that belongs to Boaz belongs to her, because she belongs to him!
'My Redeemer! Oh what beauties
In that lovely Name appear;
None but Jesus, in His glories,
Shall the honoured title wear'.
I trust you're at His feet tonight. If you're not, you need to get there. You'll never know redemption, you'll never know revival, unless you take the low place and say: 'Cover me'. May God bless His word to all our hearts.
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This sermon was delivered at Monkstown Baptist Church in Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth recording in his 'Romance of Redemption and Revival in Ruth' series, entitled "In His Family" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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