Picking up where the last post left off, we’re about to find out what the response is from the nearer-kinsman concerning the redemption of Naomi’s field, and Gentile Ruth. Boaz has promised to provide a covering for Ruth, speaking figuratively, but he needs to make sure nobody else is going to claim her for His own.
6 Then Bo'az said, "The day you buy the field from the hand of Na'omi, you are also buying Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the dead, in order to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance." Then the next of kin said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it."
What’s the inheritance this unnamed* nearer-kinsman is speaking about in verse six? Let’s continue with the idea that Boaz represents Jesus, and the unnamed nearer-kinsman is God. Would God say that he can’t redeem the Gentiles (through marriage) because it would impair his relationship to Israel? I think so. A redeemer can’t have more than one bride, and if he takes the Gentile bride, Ruth, to Himself that leaves Israel out in the cold. And God would NEVER do that.
In keeping with the theme of marriage that’s woven through the Old and New Testament, Israel was divorced by God as plainly stated in the book of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 3:8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the harlot. 9 Because harlotry was so light to her, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, says the LORD." 11 And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, 'Return, faithless Israel, says the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the LORD; I will not be angry for ever.
God divorced Israel, so the only way they can be redeemed is by God. If Jesus is represented by Boaz, then Boaz had to redeem Gentile Ruth. God couldn’t take on Ruth as his bride, because it would prevent him from reconciling with Israel. It would impair his own inheritance. Pastor Sandy Armstrong of Soldiers for Christ inLong Beach, CA has preached this very same message, which I’m reminded of as I write this post. If you haven’t listened to Pastor Sandy, you really ought to. His insights are remarkable.
This is the divvying up of the redeemed ones: Israel and the Church. The unredeemed, represented by Orpah, are completely left out of any marriage. If there are unredeemed of the gentiles, then there are probably unredeemed in Israel. I don’t know this for certain, but I think there’s a clue in chapter four:
Ruth 4:2: And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here”; so they sat down.
There were ten elders, instead of the normal twelve that would represent each of the twelve tribes. Regardless of who was witnessing, the agreement was struck between the two kinsmen about who is going to redeem whom. It was time to seal the deal.
Ruth 4:7 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. 8 So when the next of kin said to Bo'az, "Buy it for yourself," he drew off his sandal.
There are a couple of other times a sandal removal indicated a redemption or exchange in scripture. Each time, something truly significant is happening. One of them was when Moses is called by God to lead Israel out of bondage:
Exodus 3:5 Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
Moses is asked to make an agreement to be redeemed by God as a leader of Israel. Scripture does not clearly state that Moses took of his shoes. Rather, he hid his face. Remember, he wasn’t allowed to cross the Jordan.
Joshua 5:15 The captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
The second time, Joshua has accepted leadership of the people he brought into the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan. Joshua complied immediately. And that exactly the odd little bit of scripture that brought my attention to the symbolism of Joshua, which I also wrote about in the spring of 2018. Back to the story of Ruth…
Boaz also removed his sandal. So, now that the deal is sealed between Boaz and the unnamed kinsman, all the witnesses make a very bold declaration Boaz:
Ruth 4:11 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 prosper in Eph'rathah and be renowned in Bethlehem; 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the children that the LORD will give you by this young woman."
The actual translation of “May you prosper in Ephrathah…” as listed at Blue Letter Bible, is “May you achieve wealth in Ephrathah...” That said, the word that is being translated to wealth is חיִל (khah'-yil) from H2342; which more typically is used to mean a force of men, means or other resources; an army. According to Abarim-publications.com, the name Ephrathah probably comes from the root-verb פרה (para), meaning to be fruitful or to bear fruit. But, para has similarities with the roots פרץ (paras), meaning to break (through), פרש (paras and parash), meaning to spread out or declare, and פרס (paras), meaning to break in two or divide. In fact the website further explains that the root-verb פרר (parar) generally reflects the undoing of a previously established agreement. Almost half of the more than fifty occurrences of our verb conveys the "breaking" of a covenant.
This little phrase about prospering in Ephrathah might really mean, “May what comes of the union between you and your gentile bride result in a force that breaks a covenant.”
Isa 28:18 Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it.
Looking at the rest of verses 4:11-12, Boaz’s is offered the blessing of Ruth becoming like Rachel and Leah, who birthed the tribes of Israel. He is also offered the blessing to become like the house of Perez. Not only is Perez obviously the blood line of David (therefore Jesus), but is also a tribe that kept its unique identity for a long time. The sub-tribe begins at another remarkable birthing point where the older twin son is usurped by the younger. If we look at the letters that the name Perez is comprised of, they are Pey, Resh, and Ayin. The meanings of these letters are: Eternal Life, Sufficiency of God/Insufficiency of Man, and Nations. These sound like great blessings to have. Then the passage gets even more interesting.
Ruth 4:13 So Bo'az took Ruth and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Na'omi, "Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next of kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him."
Ruth gives birth to a son named Obed. Obed means “Servant.” The servant she bore is to become famous in Israel, and Ruth becomes a blessing worth more than seven sons to Naomi. That says a lot. Note the instance of the number seven, as in the number of spiritual perfection, the seven lamps, and the seven churches.
Ruth 4:16 Then Na'omi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Na'omi." They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
The father of Jesse, who is the father of David, the line of Jesus was born in verse 17, which is the number of victory. Take a moment and offer some praise to God – I’ll wait. He really is amazing.
If you have read my blog at other times, you’ll know that I am fascinated by the translations that come out of a series of names given in scripture. This is especially true if the list of names is touted as a genealogy. I believe these genealogies are given as portions of the larger story of the redemption of mankind, and this list of ten (a great work!) names is no exception:
Ruth 4:18 Now these are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron of Ram, Ram of Ammin'adab, 20 Ammin'adab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, 21 Salmon of Bo'az, Bo'az of Obed, 22 Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David.
|Enclosure/ Surrounded by a Wall
|People of Liberality
|Strength / In Him is Strength
Let me break it up according to verse, to make it easier to see:
A Breach (in the) Enclosure
The Enclosure (that’s) High (of the) Exalted People of Liberality
The People of Liberality, (the) Enchanters, the Serpent Garment
Here’s where the mighty work is completed by Naomi going to Moab and returning with a willing family member in Ruth. A new story line begins, and poetically starts out with a new garment.
The Garment (of) Strength, In Him is Strength, (the) Servant
(The) Servant, My Husband. My Husband Bringing Love.
Recall that I said out feelings about a broken covenant depend largely upon what that covenant is. The same is true about a wall, isn’t it? I wish more people would take that to heart as they argue with each other about whether the border wall is evil.
Walls are, in simple terms, just enclosures. They’re just as capable for keeping people in, as they are of keeping people out. While Adam and Eve were inside the garden with God, enclosure looked pretty good. While they were on the outside of it, it was awful.
Whether a wall is good or evil is wholly dependent upon the intentions for its purpose. And the southern border wall isn't nearly as life-changing as the one that has been in existence since the Garden of Eden. We've had a wall to fight over throughout the entire history of humanity.
Perhaps you already know this, but many people mistakenly believe the famous Berlin wall was to keep West Germany out, but it was really erected to prevent East Germans from fleeing conditions of oppression to the more attractive West. The wall was built to prevent escape to freedom.
The wall created between us and God by Sin is the same thing. You may think that God’s commandments are standing in the way of your freedom, but they’re actually standing in the way of your imprisonment.
The wall created by a sinful life, has been breached by Jesus Christ, if we only do as Ruth did, and give that life up to willingly accept redemption through Christ, the Lamb of God.
And THAT, my readers, is what I see in the Book of Ruth.
Be a Ruth. Recognize your kinship with Israel and show your willingness to be redeemed through Jesus. Follow him willingly and labor diligently in the harvest of his field. Let him break your covenant with death and set you free – breaching the wall of your imprisonment. Commit as if it were a matter of life and death. Because it really is.
Keep looking up!
*This is a great time to draw the connection between Boaz, who will redeem Ruth, and the pillars at Solomon's temple. Boaz, we can clearly understand. Jachin, the other pillar, means "God Will Establish."