Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Above Board

Devotion: Ruth 4:7-12

Throughout the Book of Ruth Boaz demonstrates his high moral character. When Boaz sees women in need, he moves to provide and protect. When Ruth's own character could be called into question, Boaz provides cover for her. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when Boaz makes a promise, he keeps it. What's more, though, is that Boaz never takes matters into his own hands. He allows God to work and work it out.
"Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, 'Buy it for yourself,' he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, 'You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.' Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, 'We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.' " -Ruth 4:7-12 ESV
Boaz had promised Ruth that he would see to the matter of redemption for Naomi (and her) that very day. He waited for the kinsman redeemer to appear at the city gate and made sure the man made a decision regarding the redemption. When the man decided against taking Ruth on as a wife and therefore refused the role of kinsman-redeemer, Boaz wants to make it official.
Moses taught the people regarding Levirate marriage (taking your brother's widow as a wife to bear a son in his name) in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The consequence for refusing to take your brother's widow is that the widow, before the elders, removes your sandal and spits in your face. This insult is then branded with a new name for man, "The House (read: family) of him who had his sandal pulled off." That name would stick to the man for the rest of his days. This may shed some light on why Naomi instructed Ruth to uncover Boaz's feet in Ruth 3:4. It further illustrates why the removal of the sandal had become important in matters regarding redemption in the name of a dead relative. The man refused to take Ruth as a wife and therefore he refused to raise up sons in the name Elimelech and his elders son Mahlon, his legal heir . The man is spared the new family name and the spitting in his face, most likely because Ruth is a Moabite foreigner, but perhaps also because Boaz is a compassionate and gracious man.
What results is that Boaz calls all present to bear witness to his assumption of the role of kinsman-redeemer and to give blessing on his marriage to Ruth. He has done all of this honestly and openly, what we sometimes call above board. He has not used deception or plot to accomplish the end of redeeming Naomi and Ruth. He has trusted and waited upon God to move and God moved. Boaz takes his sacred duty seriously because he takes God seriously.
The response is an outpouring of blessing from the people upon Boaz and Ruth. Amazingly, they pray that Ruth will be like the great matriarchs of Israel, Rachel and Leah and that Boaz's house will be like that of Perez, son of Judah and Tamar, a revered ancestor of the Bethlehemites. This is amazing because Ruth is foreigner, yet she has displayed the highest form of love and compassion in the name of the God of Israel.
Boaz and Ruth put their trust in the Lord and the Lord provided for them. I think this is our greatest lesson from the text. We must trust in the Lord even in times of struggle and suffering, because ultimately it is the Lord who has provided salvation for us in our true, final and ultimate kinsman-redeemer, King Jesus the Risen. As such, let us take our sacred duties seriously because we take God seriously and serve one another in compassion and grace.

Just a reminder, we are taking our music selections 

News for You:

  • Our next small group session, a 7-week study in Galatians, will begin sign-ups this Sunday, 2/4/18.
  • The Ash Wednesday Service on 2/14 will be at 6:30 p.m. This is an invitation to enter a season of repentance by putting on the traditional sign of ashes.
  • CPC is seeking a part-time youth director. Applications and more information are available at the church office.
  • We are rounding out our homeless shelter year in February. Some dates are still available for overnight volunteer hosts at the Welcome Center.

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