Monday, March 7, 2011

One Woman's Journey - episode 9

Ruth 3:16-4:10
When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, "How did it go, my daughter?"  Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, "He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, 'Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty handed."  Then Naomi said, "Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens.  For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today."

Meanwhile Boaz went up tot the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along.  Boaz said, "Come over here, my friend, and sit down."  So he went over and sat down.  Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so.  Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people.  If you will redeem it, do so.  Bit if you will not, tell me, so I will know.  For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line."

I will redeem it, " he said.  then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dad man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property."  At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate.  You redeem it yourself.  I cannot do it."

(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other.  This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)   So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, "Buy it yourself."  And he removed his sandal. 

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi al the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Maholon.  I have also acquired Ruth the Moabtitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records.  Today you are witnesses!"

These passages tell us a lot about Boaz, the other kinsman-redeemer, and perhaps ourselves.  Boaz took Ruth's proposal seriously, found the man that was the closer relative, and offered him the property of Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion.  At first the unnamed man jumped at being the kinsman redeemer.  Who wouldn't love more property?  However when Boaz mentioned that Ruth came along with the deal, he backed out.  Why did this man with no name turn his back on the lovely widow?  Please read Deutoronomy 25:5-10. The Levirate Law does not require Boaz and the unnamed man to marry Ruth, but Boaz was being a little sneaky.  He offered up Ruth as part of the package, because I believed he loved her.  Boaz wanted her to be redeemed by marriage.  In those times, when a kinsman redeemer acquires the widow, if there were no children from the first marriage, the firstborn child of the unnamed man and Ruth would take Mahlon's name and the property would belong to him.  This would essentially remove the benefit of having paid for the field and providing for Naomi.  He would have no compensation.  He could have bought the land and passed on marriage to Ruth, but when Boaz offered up Ruth as well, he probably didn't feel like he could take one and not the other.

It is just another point in Ruth's brief story where God has provided just what she and Naomi need.  God knew that this man's heart was not as compassionate and held some greed, so He placed Ruth right where she needed to be, in Boaz's fields.  Oh, how the story might have been different if she had found herself anyplace else!  Boaz would not have gotten to know her and this story might have turned out differently.  But our hero (for us girls) chose to redeem the property, marry Ruth, and provide for Naomi.  He certainly did not have to.  He was a man of high standing, wealthy, and a major landowner.  Yet he chose to redeem and provide for those unworthy in the eyes of the Law. 

Boaz's descendant, Christ came to do the exact same thing.  He humbled himself, became human, then redeemed each of us, although we are unworthy.  He continues to redeem and provide for us every day.  God continues to put us where we need to be, within hearing distance of Christ.  Sometimes we reach out and ask Christ to redeem us, other times we turn our back.  I pray that each of us strive to always reach out and ask for redemption.

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