Redemption: Rest and Restoration (Ruth 4)

Publié le 27 décembre 2020 dans Traductions

Sermon by Pastor Samuel Niblack

This chapter offers a happy ending to the story of Ruth and Naomie. It begins with a famine, but ends with a beautiful harvest. It begins with death and sterility, but ends with Ruth who is described as being « worth seven sons », and with the birth of her child. It starts with Naomi filled with bitterness, but at the end, she’s filled with joy and sweetness.

Characterizing the book of Ruth, German writer Goethe called the book “the
loveliest little epic and idyllic story.” What makes this story so beautiful? What turns death into life, and sadness into joy? We all know it takes more than a magic wand, or a snap of fingers, to turn evil into good.

This is a story of redemption. What changes everything is that Ruth is redeemed by Boaz. Almost every verse in this chapter talks about the concept of redemption or the right of redemption, “man having the right to redeem” = one word in Hebrew = Redeemer.

The other day, we were listening to the French Christmas carol, “Minuit Chrétiens”, whose English version is “O, Holy Night. » The end of the first stanza says, “Here is the Redeemer”. One of my children asked me: “Daddy, what’s a redeemer?” It is a word, an idea that is unique to the Bible. God didn’t give us a dictionary, he gave us stories like Ruth’s to help us understand that God is a redeeming God.

Our sermon today can be broken down into three parts: 1 The redemption of Ruth, 2 the redemption of Naomi, 3 The redemption of
all people

I. The redemption of Ruth

Boaz had pledged himself to do what Ruth asked him to do. But the story leaves us in suspense, because Boaz, the noble, rich, kind hero states that there is a closer relative who has the right of redemption. So, there are two potential redeemers.

Let’s now compare Boaz and the other. The other is not even named: in v1 “Turn aside, friend” In a story that puts so much emphasis on names, this is important. “Friend” highlights that there’s no personal relationship with Ruth. Boaz has scrupulous respect for the law of Moses regarding the redemption of lands and people (a secret marriage is out of question). When he first proposes to the other, that man is motivated: v4 « I will redeem it. » But when he learns that he has to take care of Ruth, and share and sacrifice his own inheritance, he no longer wants to.

Let’s look at his attitude: he is willing to redeem if it costs him nothing, as long as it is purely in his interest, to enrich himself personally. But Boaz is willing to pay a lot of money, and to make a sacrifice. Just as we could have a clear understanding of the goodness and faithfulness of Ruth by comparing her to her sister-in-law Orpah in ch 1, we better understand the redemption and character of Boaz by comparing him to the other relative. One is not willing to sacrifice his possessions, but Boaz, on the other hand, is willing to pay a high price and he is doing an amazing work.

By the way, this story gives us the biblical definition of love. The kind of love that makes marriages successful. It is true that this story is not a typical love story, nor a typical path towards marriage. Imagine Boaz going to see the pastor: I found her in my bed last night, she is just converted, she is a Moabite and a widow, she has no diploma and no resources. Will you marry us today? In today’s society, this is weird, and might raise questions: Was it love at first sight? Do you find her beautiful? Did you sleep together to check whether you were sexually compatible or not? But this way of thinking does not produce strong marriages. This is rather selfish and self-interested. As long as it suits me, it’s okay for me.)

Let’s go back to the act of redemption. As the word implies, a redemption is when someone pays to release someone, settle one debt, and acquire another person. As soon as it’s a done deal, Ruth’s status changes entirely. She is no longer a widow, but a married woman; she is no longer poor, but rich; and she is no longer a foreigner, but has become a full-fledged citizen. It is legal, permanent, formalized by an oath, that is a kind of signature (v7 “Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner
of attestation in Israel.”) All this helps us to understand the redemption we have in Christ.

II. Naomi’s redemption

This story tells of the redemption of both Ruth and Naomi. The end of the book mostly emphasizes Naomi. v14: “Then the women said to Naomi, « Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.” In v15, it is Naomi who is restored and supported. She who said that “the Lord had brought her back empty” Ruth 1/21, is now filled with a daughter-in-law who is “worth 7 sons”. For her who has lost her own sons, it is as if she has another son (“Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.” v16), and her neighbors even say, « A son has been born to Naomi! » (v17)

This is another dimension of redemption, it is restoration, transformation into good, and release. This is called “rest”: « May the LORD grant that you may find rest », Ruth 1/9; « My daughter, shall I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Ruth 3:1. “Rest” is what Naomi wishes for her daughter-in-law. This has nothing to do with sleeping. It means release from worry, exhaustion, and stress in her life. In 3v18, Naomi says about Boaz: “… for the man will not rest until he has settled it today » in order to offer rest.

This year 2020 has been exhausting, when we were less active. It was emotionally tiring. The uncertainty about the future is tiring. Precarious professional situations hinder our peace of mind. We need rest. We would like to know that 2020 will be “redeemed” for good; that dark hours can lead to peace and joy, just as for Naomi. This is what the Bible offers:

III. Redemption for all people

This story is not just about rest for Ruth and restoration for Naomi, but it is also about the redemption of the whole community. Through this child Obed, and his own child Jesse, the people will have King David, who will bring the people out from its dark hours (Judges) to know an age of glory (Solomon).

At the beginning of the New Testament, Matthew covers this genealogy that leads to Jesus. And this is where this story gets really interesting. It is a picture of the Gospel. The characters help us to understand God’s plan, that is our redemption.

Boaz represents Christ, who has payed a high price to deliver us, and marry us. He has labored, he has deprived himself of rest to get us rest. The religions and idols of this world all act in a self-serving manner, and man must redeem himself. You must work for your salvation. It’s tiring and exhausting.

What the law could not do, Christ did out of love. The law is not dismissed or trampled on. The payment of our debt required by law is paid by Christ.
Furthermore, Christ gives us a guarantee of our redemption through the Holy Spirit while awaiting redemption, final deliverance, and heavenly rest.

Both Naomi, a Jew, and Ruth, a Moabite, help us to understand God’s plan to
include Jews and Gentiles together. It was through Naomi that Ruth came to know the true God, the only good God, the Eternal Savior, and it was through Ruth that Naomi was restored.

2020 ends, 2021 begins. Despite what you are going through, Jesus offers you rest. Receive him as Redeemer.