The best is yet to come

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Ruth 4

Sometimes you got to take care of a little business before you can go on your honeymoon.

1. Marriage – who is the first priority?

When you are in love and you want to marry, invariably, almost without exception, there will be an enormous obstacle between you and marriage I believe God does that this for two reasons.

1. It allows the matter to be settled in the heart, of how devoted he truly is to that woman. How much is she willing to sacrifice?

2. It then reveals the depth of the commitment.

Now, Boaz, which means strong man, mighty man, had gone up to the gates. So, he leaves his harvest in the field, ten years of famine, he leaves his huge economic opportunity to run into town to marry Ruth, because she is his first priority. She looked adorable and he wanted to get married immediately.  He’s in a hurry, that’s the point.

The gate is where business is transacted and social relationships are made, and sat down there. As soon as he sits down, here what we read, “Behold,” it just so happens, who comes by, Mr What’s-his-name. “The redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by.”

Here’s again the providence of God, subtly working behind the scenes. Boaz was honourable with Ruth on the threshing floor, didn’t have any inappropriate physical relations. Instead, he’s trying to do things honourably, biblically, legally.

2.  The way to do business

a. Be honest
Boaz is a leader. He’s a guy who takes charge – has a plan. So, Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend,” he calls him friend, we never know this man’s name, because he’s not a noteworthy man, but he probably doesn’t know this man very well, and probably doesn’t remember his name. And he turned aside and sat down and, he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, sit down here.”

Naomi 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, that there is no one besides you to redeem and I come after you.

b. Don’t be a loser.
He is legally and spiritually obligated, as the closest living male relative to Naomi and Ruth, to take care of them (Lev 25).  Here’s his sin; he didn’t do anything, that’s the sin.

Sometimes a man sins by co-mission, where he does a bad thing. Sometimes he sins by omission, where he doesn’t do anything. This is the first sin with Adam; he didn’t say or do anything. And weak, cowardly, failed men don’t do anything. The women are starving to death; they’re at such a point of destitute poverty that Naomi is looking to sell the family land.

c. Sort out the mess
He has who has no legal obligation but is paying attention. “And if you don’t want to buy it the land, I’ll buy the land. I’ll fix the mess. I’ll take care of things. I’ll do what’s right.”

There are three kinds of men when it comes to business here in the Book of Ruth:

1. There is Elimelech, who is a bold, courageous, confident man with a plan, who took risks, but he was fool. And it destroyed his family and it led to death.

2. There is this other man, unnamed, who doesn’t do anything wrong, he just doesn’t do anything. He’s a guy who doesn’t follow through on his responsibilities.

3. There’s Boaz. The guy who is picking up the mess of these other failed men, and he is trying to help these women who are in this dire circumstance.

Boaz finds a way legally, ethically, morally, Biblically acceptable to get rid of Mr What’s-his-name, and so he is going to negotiate shrewdly.

d. Negotiate shrewdly
You are going to need to be shrewd. Not sinful, but shrewd. It’s competition. And you’re going to need to win, so that you can feed your family and preserve your legacy and take care of your wife, your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren.  You can also win in business for Jesus, in a moral, legal, ethical, Godly, Biblical way. It’s all about the art of the negotiation, and the subtle selling of the deal.  Boaz is just using Spirit led negotiating. That’s what we’ll call it. Spirit led negotiating.

3. Plan for the future

To get to this point where he is able to redeem Ruth, what has Boaz been doing in the prior years? He’s been building his business. He’s been making a living. He’s been investing in fields, and he’s been investing wisely and tithing generously. And he has been conducting himself in a very responsible way, financially.

Too many guys are chasing the pursuits of boys, rather than thinking, “How can this be an opportunity for me to grow spiritually, put to death sin, make some money, buy a house, learn some business skills, invest in my future, so that if and when Ruth comes along, I’m ready to execute on the deal.”

One of the great distinctions of being a Christian is to be a redeemer. It is a wonderful thing. To be a redeemer, need to plan for the future and then task risks!

Style of preaching at GBC

Bit of a debate going on at present at GBC, should our preaching cover doctrine or be practical. It is not an either/or but a both/and. Ruth good example! In this series we have engaged with one of the great doctrinal themes, the providence of God. I hope you have grasped that! But we have seen that great theme in the practical lives of two people. So our doctrine is not just theological theory but grounded in real life.

Two reasons

1. That’s the way scripture deals with us. Almost always through story. Certainly that’s almost always how Jesus speaks with us.

2. Hardly ever has anyone come to me saying “explain providence to me, explain the role of the ‘kinsman-redeemer’”. Like Naomi, they come with busted up relationships with cause bitterness and corrosive damage. They come with marriages under massive stress. Like Ruth, they come with a sense of trying to live as believers in a foreign land. Like Boaz, they are trying to run a business in a decent Christian way. Like Boaz and Ruth, they are building a honourable relationship which will end in marriage without engaging in Moabite sexual madness.

And in such conversations we need more depth to our application of Scripture than simply quoting some learned theologian, or giving a trite spiritual answer such as “just trust God!”

So that’s why week in and week out we will address the harsh reality of life and discover God’s word in it.

Boaz and Ruth lived in holiness and obedience and godliness until God brought them together. And when he did, they were able to move toward marriage quickly. Even though there were obstacles, they were able to overcome them because they had conducted themselves in such a way that they were ready to enter into that next season of life.

This family, ultimately, leads to the birth of a son, which eventually leads to the birth of whom? Jesus. If it wasn’t for Boaz you wouldn’t get Jesus, that’s how important it is that there’s a good dad somewhere that makes a difference and a new family line.

1. Boaz was a near kinsman to Ruth and Jesus Christ, our glorious eternal God, became a man – entered into human history, took upon himself human flesh, to identify with us to become our near kinsman.

2. Boaz was able to redeem Ruth and Jesus, alone, is able to redeem us. Boaz did it through financial wherewithal; Jesus did it through his sinless life to redeem our sinful life, and to give himself as the price for our redemption. Not only is he able to redeem us, he is like Boaz, willing to redeem us.

3. Boaz was not forced or obligated to marry and redeem Ruth, Jesus is not forced, or obligated to redeem us, but he is willing. Boaz did it out of love, likewise, Jesus redeems out of love, and he’s willing and able.

4. Boaz paid the price for redemption. Likewise, Jesus has paid the price for redemption. It cost Boaz a great deal to redeem Ruth, and it cost Jesus his own life. He went to the cross and died, to give himself, to pay the price for our sins, which is death. That’s the penalty and price. And so, at the cross, Jesus was able and willing and did pay the price for our redemption.

5. Ruth says and does nothing. Her redemption is a gift that is given to her; it is nothing that she participates in.  The Lord Jesus redeems us, his bride, the church, collectively, as a gift; he does all of the work. And Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife. He loves her, and he has an unbroken, on-going relationship with her.

If you’re not a Christian, you need to be redeemed like Ruth was. Jesus is our redeemer. He is a near kinsman. He is able to redeem. He is willing to redeem. He has paid the price of redemption. He has done all of the work. And like Ruth trusted in Boaz, so you should trust in Jesus, our glorious Boaz.” That’s how you become a Christian, you turn from sin to Jesus.