Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Picking Up the Slack

Devotion: Ruth 4:3-6

Inevitably in life a situation arises when someone let's us down. We are counting on someone to come through in a pinch, to do the right thing, or simply to do what is required and, for whatever reason, nada, zip, zilch. Left in a lurch, we have to scramble and try to pick up the slack. That's what happend to Boaz in our passage today.
"Then he said to the redeemer, 'Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, "Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people." If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.' And he said, 'I will redeem it.' Then Boaz said, 'The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.' Then the redeemer said, 'I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.' " -Ruth 4:3-6 ESV
Boaz had promised Ruth that he would see to the matter of redemption that very day. He made sure to meet the closer kinsman-redeemer at the gate. Boaz is a man of his word and he promised that if, for whatever reason, the closer redeemer refuses, he would take up the role and redeem Naomi's property. Boaz, a man of honor and custom is bound by the Law of God and by respect for the way of his people. Boaz is to be emulated in our own lives as well. He does what needs to be done to bring about God's will in the lives of Naomi and Ruth.
Contrary to Boaz is this other unnamed man. The man hears that he will be able to purchase some land to help Naomi. This is a real win-win as the laws governing property in Leviticus detailed that all property would eventually revert to the family of the seller in the year of Jubilee. Naomi would get some much needed cash in the short-term, the man would get some more land to farm (and thus improve his income) and eventually, the land would revert to Naomi's family. And here is where the diabolical part of the man's reasoning kicks in. Naomi is beyond child-bearing years and so the man must believe that he will be able to keep her land in perpetuity as their will be no sons to inherit the land. Far from the lease/reversion system of Leviticus, the man will be able to outright claim the land and thus keep it forever as no male heir will be available to reclaim the land.
Boaz must sense what is happening and so he adds to the situation a requirement of Levirate Marriage. In essence, Ruth as the widow of Naomi's son must be married and sons must be raised up through her to perpetuate the family of Elimelech. Ruth, as a Moabite, would have been seen as a less than ideal wife. Further, the man is concerned that any son born to Ruth would endanger his own line of heirs. That last bit is strange, but it may have been a way for him to save face because he simply did not want to marry a foreign woman. So, despite the economic loss, he relinquishes his claim and cedes the right to Boaz, who is happy to pick up the slack.
From this I think we can learn a few things. First, we need to understand that following God will sometimes mean consequences for our faithfulness. We are to bear this consequences in faithfulness to Christ and not count the cost to us. Second, when other's come up slack, we need to be willing to pick up the slack. We should not do this to bail out others from their responsibility, but because some things simply cannot be left undone. Finally, we need to count obedience to God as the highest priority of our lives. That obedience may cost us as it cost Christ his very life, but it is only hope we have.

  • News for You:

  • The Okanogan Community Homeless Shelter is looking for volunteers to be overnight hosts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at New Life Church in Okanogan.  Please see the sign-up sheet at the Welcome Center for available dates.
  • The new youth director position has been posted online. If you know of anyone who is qualified for the position, please contact the church.
  • Rooshie Mintzer is considering becoming an EPC World Outreach Missionary. Our Presbytery of the Northwest is sending her on a short-term missionary trip to Malaysia in February 2018! Please be in prayer for her!

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