Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 27 2011 - E100.30d – Ruth 4, A happy ending

Boaz is as good as his word. He does all that he can to make Ruth his wife.

In Israel, land was not supposed to be bought and sold. It was God's gift to his people and was to be handed down as a trust within the family from generation to generation. When Elimelek left for Moab, his land would have been taken over by others, but with Naomi's return it should revert to Elimelek's descendants. Since both his sons were dead who was going to inherit it?

This is where another Old Testament law comes into play – a law that may seem strange to us. When a married man died childless, a close relative could marry his wife and raise up a child who would be considered as the deceased man's heir. Boaz uses these laws and customs to make Ruth his own.

Boaz intercepts the closer relative of Elimelek as he makes his way through the city gate – the place where men met to talk and where deals were struck. Asking others to witness his conversation he speaks of the land that belongs to Elimelek and which Naomi is ready to pass on to a close relative who will provide her with a price for its harvests. The closer relative jumps at the chance of increasing his landholding until Boaz says that he must also take Ruth and raise up a child to inherit Elimelek's property. At this the man refuses the deal. Suppose he and Ruth have only one son? This would be considered Elimelek's grandson, heir to Elimelek's land. What would happen to his own lands and inheritance?

Boaz has achieved his objective. He calls the men at the city gate to witness that he will acquire the land belonging to Naomi and Elimelek and that he will take Ruth to be his wife.

The crowd at the gate respond with delight and with words of extravagant blessing. "May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah" (Ruth 4:11-12). And their words find an answer in the child that is born to Boaz and Ruth; Obed will become the grandfather of King David.

God has been at work through every twist and turn of this story – through times of sadness, moments of kindness, scenes of high drama and times of joy. God has been working out his own purpose through the lives of these ordinary people. These were the days when the judges ruled over Israel, days when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. But some sought to live lives that recognised and honoured God and through them God would provide a king for Israel, and ultimately a Saviour for the world.

Lord God, help me to see that you are still working through the lives of ordinary people, devoted to you, to bring salvation to the world. As you have blessed me, enable me to be a means of blessing to others.

Peter Misselbrook