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Ruth Chapter Four, Counting The Cost

In our study of Ruth chapter four, we will look at the costs and blessings of listening and following God's instructions for our lives. In this final chapter of the Book of Ruth, we see a tale of two relatives and their very different responses to the very Word of God. At the end of chapter 3, Boaz had promised Ruth that he would find her kinsman-redeemer or take his place. Now, we will look at counting the cost of following the Word of God.

Ruth 4:1

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, 'Come over here, my friend, and sit down.' So he went over and sat down.

We pick up the story of Ruth with Boaz keeping his promise to find her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz followed through with what he had told Ruth that he was going to do. We, as Christians, should also be different from others and part of that difference is keeping our vows and promises. When we say that we are going to do something, there should be no question in other people's minds that we will do what we have said.

Ruth 4:2

Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, 'Sit here,' and they did so.

In these days, it was required to have at least two or three witnesses to almost any agreement. It is much the same way in many cases today as well. Boaz did not just get the two or three required witnesses but he got ten of the leaders of the town. This is a good example for us today about making a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. As we will see, Boaz was not ashamed to stand up and profess his love for Ruth. Likewise, we must not be ashamed to tell people that Jesus has redeemed us and to demonstrate our love for Him.

Ruth 4:3 & 4

Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, 'Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But 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.

So, Boaz tells the relative of the land that was owned by Naomi and of the relative's right to redeem (purchase) it. Today, in our culture, this custom is often referred to as "the right of first refusal". Imagine Boaz wondering if this man was going to redeem the land and so in the process inherit the woman that he loves. Then, when the relative agrees to purchase the land, imagine Boaz as he faces the prospect of losing Ruth the woman that he loves.

Ruth 4:5

Then Boaz said, 'On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man's widow in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.'

Now, Boaz reminds the relative of the second part of being a kinsman-redeemer which is the relationship. He reminds him that, along with the physical property comes the widow and the duty to produce a son. At this reminder, the man must count the cost and decide whether the land is worth the fact that he must marry the widow and carry on the other man's name. In a sense, Boaz is reminding the relative that he was going to have to "man up" and take care of the widow if he desired to have the land.

Ruth 4:6

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, we see that he has made his decision and is honest about the fact that he is not willing to pay the price to be a kinsman-redeemer. At first glance, we may all say that we would have made the other choice but in fact many of us are doing the same thing in our walk with God. We are more than ready for the material blessings of being a child of God but the actually daily relationship and the responsibility of "walking the talk" in our daily lives is another story. Jesus told parables about counting the cost and He was referring to this choice and reminding us that the "kinsman-redeemer" includes a relationship. Jesus knew the cost when He became our kinsman-redeemer and was willing to pay the price for each and every one of us. Ruth also had a part in the duty to produce a son to carry on the dead man's name and that part included an intimate relationship with the redeemer. We, likewise, must have an intimate relationship with our Redeemer.

Ruth 4:7 & 8

(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.

Now, it is official that the man has given up his right as kinsman-redeemer. We can be so grateful, as Christians, that our kinsman-redeemer (Jesus Christ) was willing to pay the price for our sins. Unlike the relative in this passage, Jesus put the will of the Father and the needs of others before His desires.

Ruth 4:9 & 10

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, 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!'

Boaz agreed to be Naomi's kinsman-redeemer and did so in front of the witnesses that had gathered. He knew what the cost would be in that it would keep Mahlon's name with the property not his own but he agreed anyway. That is such a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He knew what the cost to him would be and yet He still chose to be our redeemer.

Ruth 4:11 & 12

Then the elders and all those at the gate said, 'We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house 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.'

Not only did the people at the gate acknowledge that they were witnesses but they pronounced a blessing on Boaz, Ruth, and their family. Even though these people did not realize that Boaz and Ruth were in the lineage of Jesus, the blessing points us to the fact that the Messiah was coming and they would be a part of the family tree. God blessed Boaz and Ruth for their faithfulness and He does the same for us today.

Ruth 4:13-15

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: 'Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.'

God did a major work here and those around them recognized it. God blessed Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz because of their faithfulness. Those around them saw the blessing and praised God for it. That should be our major goal as Christians. Our lives should help others to see the love of God and cause them to praise Him just as it happened in this passage.

Ruth 4:16 & 17

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, 'Naomi has a son.' And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Naomi had lost everything including her husband and sons but now she has been blessed. Notice that the women there said that "Naomi has a son." God not only blessed her when she went home but He richly blessed her in that her son would be in the family line of king David (and ultimately in the lineage of Jesus). This outcome can help us to hang on during the difficult times just as Naomi and Ruth did. In the end, God takes care of his people just as He did here!

Ruth 4:18-22

This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.

Now, we see the family tree of Boaz. It is very cool to note that God knew about Ruth and Boaz's son (Obed) even before they were born and they were a part of God's plan to bring a Savior into the world. That's how big our God is!

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