“Redeemer And Redemption”       Ruth 4:1-12                  September 28, 2008

 

SI:  We’re studying the book of Ruth.

It’s a story of how God takes his people from tears to rejoicing.

 

This morning we come to the last chapter of the story.

   In this chapter Boaz becomes the redeemer of Ruth and Naomi.

   Through his work all tears are wiped away, the fortunes and dignity of these

   women is restored, and their lives are filled with hope and joy.

 

It’s a picture for us of the work of Jesus Christ as out redeemer—

   moving us from tears to rejoicing.

 


 

INTRO:  B.B. Warfield, Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, was a professor at

   Princeton Seminary back when Princeton still believed the Bible.

He wrote an article called “Redeemer and Redemption.”

   I took the title of his article for the title of this sermon.

 

In that article Warfield argues that Jesus’ title Redeemer

   is the most precious of all his titles. 

It’s not the one used most often.

   We most often use the titles Savior, Lord, or Christ.

 

But of all Jesus’ titles, Redeemer speaks most fully about what Jesus came

   to do for us.  Redemption is unique to Christianity. 

All the great world religions promise salvation of one kind or another,

   and a program for getting that salvation. 

Christianity alone says—salvation is redemption.

 

Redemption requires a redeemer. 

A redeemer is someone who comes into a broken situation or a broken life,

   and at great cost to himself, makes things good again.

And somehow the good he brings is even more sweet

   because of how broken and low things were before,

   and how much he gave to make things right again.

 

Jesus is the great Redeemer.  He came into this broken world, and he came to us,

   to ruined, sinful people, and at great cost to himself, through humiliation

   and crucifixion, he made things right again.

I think Warfield is right—Redeemer is Jesus’ greatest title,

   and redemption is the greatest word to summarize his work because it includes

   his love, his salvation plan, and the cost he paid to save us.

 

Chapter 4 of Ruth is the great climax of this story—

   and it’s a story of redemption.  Boaz fulfills the role of redeemer,

Up to this point he has helped Ruth and Naomi through his kindness and generosity. 

 

But now he goes as far as possible, and marries Ruth.

   In doing that, Ruth goes from being the Moabite outsider with no future,

   to being daughter of Israel, with a great future.

And the family line of Naomi and Elimelech is restored,

   and the family land is retained, and there is honor and hope again.

Boaz’ work as redeemer foreshadows Jesus Christ.

   It gave the Old Testament church a picture of the Redeemer to come,

   and it gives us, even with all we know about Jesus, a deeper understanding

   of his redemptive work.

 

And Boaz’ work as redeemer does something else.

   It shows us that because we have been redeemed by the Redeemer, Jesus Christ,

   we are called to be little redeemers ourselves.

 

Out of love for God and people, and a desire to honor Christ,

   you are also called to step into the lives of people who are broken

   and hurting and maybe hopeless—and at cost to yourself—make things right.

 

So Boaz not only points to Jesus your redeemer,

   and illustrates the greatness of your redemption,

   he models the role of redeemer that you, as a Christian, are called

   to fulfill as God gives you occasion.

 

Let’s look at this story and I want to show you three things that you,

   as a redeemed person must do to imitate your Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

1.  Love needy people.

2.  Make good plans.

3.  Be willing to pay.

 

Let’s look at each.


 

MP#1  Imitating Jesus your Redeemer requires you to love needy people.

You remember when Boaz told Ruth at midnight on the threshing floor

   that he would redeem her, but he said, “There is a redeemer nearer than I.”

In other words, there was a man who was a closer relative to Naomi.

   According to the law of Moses, it was the closest male relative

   who had to obligation to carry out the role of redeemer.

So Boaz told Ruth, I’ll speak to him tomorrow, and if he doesn’t redeem you, I will.

 

Someone in our Covenant Group asked, Why does this other man

   come into the story?  What lessons are we supposed to learn from him?

I think what this man does for us is that he shows us by his failures,

   how great a man Boaz was and that show us how great Jesus is.

 

Because this man was a loser.  Not named because what he did was shameful.

   When Boaz says, “Friend, sit down here.”  It’s the Hebrew word peloni-almoni.

   Means So-and-so or What’s His face.  KJV: “Ho, such a one.”

   This man’s name is not worth mentioning. 

Mr. What’s His Face was the closest relative of Naomi. 

   According to God’s law, he should have been the one taking care of them. 

   But this man knew practically nothing about Ruth and Naomi and their condition.

They had been living hand to mouth, in poverty.

   He had never provided them with food, never gone by to pray with them,

   to inquire about their financial situation, never stopped by to encourage them. 

 

It would be like a relative of yours moving to Cullman, you know they’ve

   had some bad problems, that’s why they’ve moved, you never pick up the phone

   or go by and see them.

 

Who had provided Ruth and Naomi with food all these months?  Boaz. 

   Who knew about their financial and emotional needs?  Boaz.

   Who was praying for them?  Boaz.

And it wasn’t even legally his responsibility—

   it was this other man’s—Mr. What’s His Face.

 

What motivated Boaz?  Love.  Love first for the Lord,  and then love for the needy. 

   And not just needy people in general.  Easy to say, I care about needy people.

But two needy people in particular—Ruth and Naomi—

   the needy people God had brought into his life. 

 

Jesus was under no legal obligation to redeem you.

It was all grace, all love.  He saw you in your need, even before you were born.

   He knew the devastation of sin, it’s guilt and corruption and slavery.

   He knew you would have an empty life, a scary death and after that judgment. 

And in his great love, he came and redeemed you.

 

Now, here’s what this teaches us—it’s a simple lesson, really.

Because you’ve been redeemed by Jesus, because you’ve known his love

   to you in your need—you are called to be a little redeemer and love

   people in their need. 

Not just needy people in general—

   but those needy people the Lord brings into your life.

 

My parents live in a little gated community in Delray Beach, Florida.

   All the units are duplexes, and my parents neighbors are two women, lesbians.

They live very chaotic lives—lots of fighting, cursing, and weekend drug use.

   Parents know the smell of marijuana, several conflicts with them—

   but parents have tried to bring the redeeming love of Jesus into their lives.

 

A few months ago my folks heard that the mother of one of these women had died.

   So mother went over and said:  I’m sorry about loss.  Bringing supper tonight.

   They looked at her and said, Why?  Because I’m your neighbor.

   That’s what neighbors do when there is a death and people are grieving.

So that evening, mother brought them a meal—here is pork roast, rolls, salad, tea.

   These women were visibly moved and one began to weep and said—

   No one has ever done anything like this for us.  Bertha, can I hug you? 

 

If you are a redeemed person, then you should imitate your Redeemer Jesus.

   You are called to love that needy person he brings into your life.

It may be a fellow student in your school who is on the fringe—

   friendless, lonely—Love for you is to talk to that person, encourage him.

It may be the elderly person in your neighborhood who needs some help

   with small things or a co-worker or employee who is going through a hard time.

 

You know what love requires.  Don’t be a Mr. What’s His Face who just drops out

   of the story and who has no role in the great things Jesus is doing—

   love needy people. 

MP#2  Make good plans

It’s not enough to say, I love Jesus and I love other people.

   That won’t accomplish very much.  You have to make good plans.

   God is a planner and he is honored when his people make plans.

 

You have to admire Boaz in this chapter, for the way he plans and then

   carries out his plan.  He wanted to marry Ruth. 

   He knew she was a good woman, he was drawn to her romantically.

   But there was a complication, there was an obstacle—this other man.

 

Law of Moses required the closest male relative to fill a number of roles

   for kin who had fallen on hard times.

He was supposed to buy their land back, and if all males had died,

   and no children to carry on family name, to marry widow and have children

   with her, and those children received the name and inheritance of dead man.

 

Boaz had to get this man out of the way in order to marry Ruth.

   But he but had to do so legally and righteously.

So he goes to the city gate—this was like the courthouse.

   And he called out to ten elders, please sit and witness real estate transaction.

 

Then the other redeemer comes along, man who hasn’t been fulfilling his duty.

   Boaz obviously knew man’s schedule—evidence of even more planning by Boaz.

   Sit here, friend, we have business.  Not friend, Peloni Almoni—Ho, such a one.

He calls over Mr. What’s His Face.

 

Naomi is selling the field that belonged to Elimelech our relative—

   you are first in line to buy it, if you don’t want it, I’m going to buy it.

Mr. What’s His Face says:  I’ll buy it.  I’ll redeem it.

   Does Boaz say, Aw man, I guess I lost out? 

   No, he has planned for this, proceeds to back Mr. What’s His Face down.

 

OK, but you know when you buy it, you get a mother-in-law with the deal.

   And I hear she’s a bitter old woman. 

Imagine a real estate agent—the bitter old lady in the bedroom stays!

 

Boaz says—And you have to marry Ruth the Moabite the widow of the dead man,

   and you have to have babies with her and see to it that they get this land

   for their inheritance.

In just a minute when we get to the last point we’ll talk about why this

   was so unappealing to Mr. What’s His Face but for now, notice his response.

   Uh, I can’t redeem it.  I can’t buy the field.

I want to, but I can’t.  You buy it Boaz.

 

And Boaz had him exactly where he wanted him—In front of witnesses he said.

   This man has renounced his duty and claim.  I’m the redeemer now.

   I’m buying the field, and I’m taking Ruth as my wife.

And the man gave him his sandal, which was the way of sealing the deal back then.

 

Boaz was the man with the plan and because of that, he was able to redeem

   the land and family line of Elimelech, restore Naomi’s fortunes, and marry Ruth. 

And in all of this he honored God and gives us a picture of Jesus Christ.

 

Because, as I said, our God is a planning God.  He planned our redemption

   before the creation of the world, as Ephesians 1 tells us. 

   In love he predestined us—his loving plans for us. 

Just as Boaz loved Ruth, and planned marriage.

   And then, after making his redemptive plan in eternity,

   Jesus Christ came to earth and worked out that plan.

 

Because you’ve been redeemed by Jesus, benefitted from his salvation plan,

   you must make good plans.  Make financial plans and goals, make educational

   plans, make lifestyle plans, make scheduling plans—so that you can imitate Jesus

   and be a little redeemer.

 

There was a retired couple in our Florida church, from Connecticut,

   over the years had been foster parents for dozens of children, exchange students.

   These children all grownups, continued to contact this godly couple. 

When they felt God’s call to do this, they didn’t just go off half cocked.  Planned.

   Meant setting financial goals, so could get house they needed, lots of other plans.

 

Many times the opportunities God gives you to be a redeemer will require money.

   Or it may require influence, expertise.  All those take planning.

   Lots of young people want to serve God.  Takes educational plans—years ahead. 

 

Often times, day to day life, opportunities—Don’t just say—look at that need,

   isn’t that a shame, I wish we could help that person.  I would like to, but can’t.

Make plans.  And God will honor them.  That’s the work of a redeemer.

MP#3  Imitating Jesus as your redeemer means you must be willing to pay.

Which is precisely what Mr. What’s His Face didn’t want to do.

   Remember what he said:  I can’t redeem it, lest I impair my own inheritance.

 

We don’t need to get into all the complications about Israelite inheritance law.

   It’s clear enough why this man refused this opportunity to be a redeemer—

   it was going to cost him and he didn’t want to pay.

The land deal was great, but marrying Ruth and raising a family with her,

   that was going to mess up his plans for the future and the life he wanted.

 

And here we get to the other side of making plans, don’t we.

   Because it’s one thing to make plans so that you can do what

   you know God want you to do—

But it’s another thing when the plans you have made to get the life you want,

   get in the way of some new thing God has for you.  And when the price you have

   to pay, is to change those plans.   

 

There is always a cost required for redemption.  That’s want redemption means.

   It’s closely associated with the idea of paying a ransom.

Sometimes getting involved in the broken lives of needy people is a little thing,

   and it just requires you to pay a little thing, just a few hours of your time,

   just a little conversation or a little financial help—sometimes it’s huge.

 

We have some close Christian friends who had some relatives move to their town.

   When these relatives moved, doing well in every way—financially,

   emotionally, spiritually—after a few years had a complete breakdown.

It’s a very complicated story, but the long and short of it is that our friends,

   have gotten involved very deeply at great cost to themselves.

The emotional and time cost have been the greatest—not so much financial,

   that has worked out in other ways.  Last time, court put in charge of checkbook.

   Very hard, dealing with hard feelings.  Can’t get out, God’s calling.

 

Why are they doing this?  Why are they paying to go in and try to bring God’s love

   and order to a situation that other people have messed up? 

   Because that’s what redeemers do—they pay.

That’s what Jesus did when he came to work out God’s redemptive plan—he paid.

   He paid through a whole life of humiliation and life under the law.

Have you ever thought how hard it was for the perfect Son of God to be surrounded

   by the coarseness and ugliness of a sinful world?

And he paid by his rejection by his own Jewish people.

   And he paid finally and completely on the cross—My God, my God, why?

Redemption means paying.  You have to be willing to pay—probably little things,

   but might be big things—in either case, your plans, your schedule will be upset.

 

But that’s not the whole story—it’s not just about paying.

Because Bible also says that Jesus endured the cross, and scorned its shame—

   for the joy set before him. 

 

There was a deep joy in Jesus even as he paid for our redemption—

   and that is because he knew that he was getting us forever.

Look at Boaz.  Did it bother him that he had to pay? 

   Did it bother him that he had to tie his life and fortunes and future to line of

   a dead man, Elimelech, and to his old widow Naomi?

No, because in doing that he got Ruth!

 

He got this woman who he saw that day gleaning barley in his field.

   By the standards of his time she was not a good prospect for a wife.

   She was a woman with baggage—a Moabite, widowed, apparently barren, poor—

   and yet when he set his heart on her, would do whatever it took to redeem her.

When he gets her, he’s full of joy.

 

And the elders of Bethlehem, and the people at the gate gather around—

   and they begin to call out blessings.  May Ruth be like Rachel and Leah,

   who built up the house of Israel.  May she be like Tamar who bore Perez,

And they call out blessings to Boaz.

   My you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem. 

   May your house be great and may you have many children.

 

What do all these blessings mean?  Promise of a legacy.  Redemptive work you do

   in the lives of people will somehow, under Holy Spirit’s care, go on and on

   and reap a harvest.

What does this teach us?  That it’s worth it.

   It’s worth it to imitate your Redeemer Jesus and be a little redeemer.

Yes, you have to pay.  Yes, it’s going to cost you.

   Yes, you might not get the weekend you planned or even life you had planned.

But it will be worth it. 

The blessings of God that you have already received through Jesus’ redemption

   will be even more precious to you, and along the way, he will give you joy.

And in the future, the great future he has planned,

   there will be a legacy for all Christians who walk in the steps

   of Redeemer Jesus.

 

Are you a redeemed person?

   Have you been bought at great cost by Redeemer Jesus?

   If you are a Christian, if you’ve put your trust in Jesus—that is your identity.

 

So imitate Him.

   Look for ways to be a little redeemer of the needy people he brings

   across your path.

 

Don’t be full of good intentions, and never make any headway—

   He planned your redemption before the creation of the world,

   He predestined you to be adopted as sons and daughters—

   honor him by planning.

 

And then, with his strength, and with the joy and blessing he promises—

   pay the cost, even the cost of your convenience and your money and plans.

 

An old hymn by James Montgomery says:

 

God is our strength and song,

And his salvation ours;

Then be His love in Christ proclaimed

With all our ransomed powers.

 

You have been ransomed, you have been redeemed—

   with the power that brings, like Boaz, your father in the faith—

   imitate your Redeemer Jesus.