Title: Ruth: Final chapter - opportunity and fulfillment.
As chapter one centered on Naomi, so does chapter four. Ruth fades into the background and Boaz and Naomi take center stage.
At the start, this is about graciousness; the love of giving. It is about being gracious, exceedingly so. The Christian is just that kind of person as a new man, who is in Christ and rules with Him.
It is obvious that the rulership of Christ is not a tyranny. Our King is exceedingly gracious and we are like Him.
You and I must experience the life of graciousness. It is not enough to talk about how nice it would be. No person who does not walk in the love of Christ knows anything about it. As with so much of what it is to be in the image of our risen Lord, it is a virtue meant to be practiced.
Yet, to do so, we must remove fear from our hearts.
We must eject the fear that arises from the flesh when we embark on laying down our whole lives for others.
You know what that fear is. Perhaps just reading it just now evoked it. As we shall confirm, there is nothing whatsoever to fear.
Our stage opens at the city gate where legal transactions were concluded.
Rut 4:1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, "Turn aside, friend, sit down here." And he turned aside and sat down.
RUT 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down.
The elders in any city were to deal with criminal cases and family matters. They would do so at the city gate.
RUT 4:3 Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
The Levitical law of property redemption enabled a family to maintain land ownership despite poverty or slavery.
Naomi had known, since her return to Bethlehem that her and her husband’s land had to be sold. We don’t know if she had already officially put the land on the market, after all, she has only been in Bethlehem for a few months.
As we noted on Friday in LEV 25:23-28, if an Israelite became so poor that he had to sell his land, then his nearest kinsman was to redeem it. The poor Israelite may have had to sell the land to a creditor who was not a relative, but then his nearest relative was to purchase the land from the creditor. God made provision so that land would remain within the ownership of the original families who settled upon it under Joshua.
We know from the history of Israel recorded in the OT along with the condemnation from the prophets that in her dark times, which was most of her history, that the people did not practice the law of land redemption, but schemed and planned to acquire land illegally.
ISA 10:1 Woe to those who enact evil statutes,
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
ISA 10:2 So as to deprive the needy of justice,
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
In order that widows may be their spoil,
And that they may plunder the orphans.
PRO 22:22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
PRO 22:23 For the Lord will plead their case,
And take the life of those who rob them.
Ahab, king of Israel, killed a man named Naboth in order to take his vineyard. When Ahab’s son Joram was killed the house of Ahab came to an end. Joram was buried in the very field of Naboth.
There are dozens more verses in which God condemns Israel for robbing and enslaving their neighbors for profit and advancement. Consider how that all worked out for them.
But we are looking for something far higher than not stealing.
In order to ensure that land remained in the family, on the year of Jubilee, every 70th year, or every 7 Sabbath years, all land was to revert to their original owners.
God will provide for every one of His children. Consider the lilies; you are much more valuable than they. We never have to fear for our provision. God is able to make all grace abound to you. He will freely give us all things that we need. We have received an unshakeable kingdom. Seek first His kingdom and all things will be added to you.
Providence in the NT:
ROM 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
ROM 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
HEB 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, " Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven." (HAG 2:6)
The quote of HAG 2:6 brings us back to Sinai as the author did in vv. 18-21. At Sinai the earth shook, but in the future the entire heavens and earth will shake. This is a reference to the Great Tribulation, the destruction of all kingdoms just before the return of Christ. The writer has another shaking in mind also, which is coming soon after his epistle, and that is the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. What does this show us? The old order is shakable, even the Mosaic Law and the Temple. But, the new order or the New Covenant is unshakable, as is Christ Jesus.
The earth, the old order, the temple and the Mosaic Law are all temporary. The unshakable covenant is like the second coming of Christ - eternal. You and I and all believers are a part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. That means that we lack nothing and we can lose nothing of real value.
HEB 12:27 And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
HEB 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
HEB 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.
The acceptable service to God is one without fear of loss. We stand in awe and reverence of what He has done in Christ, the great cornerstone, upon which the unshakable kingdom is built. Every believer is a member and part of that kingdom. The consuming fire of God has and will consume the nations and also has consumed us with His love.
Since we can be confident in God’s continuous provision, we can be exceedingly gracious.
2CO 9:6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.
2CO 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2CO 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Exceeding generosity and graciousness demands courage. It demands a soul that is not afraid.