Integrity in the Tapestry of History
Ruth 4:1–22 – God’s Unexpected Kindness (Series in Ruth) – Aug 21, 2022
A reading of Ruth 4:1–8.
This week we took our son Daniel to Campbell University. For the freshman something called “Tartan at Campbell University.”
A “tartan” is a woolen cloth connected to Scotland. Campbell’s founder had Scottish roots—though born in Angier.
For tartans, families would have distinctive patterns to identify their clans. There was a “McLeod” (MacLeod) pattern—and likely McLawhorn and McClellan.
The tartan cloth idea fits our passage today. The way you create tartan is by taking yarn and dying it and then carefully weaving it into an artistic design.
When the ingredients are lying there on your floor, it’s not tartan but a mess.
But in the hands of a skilled weaver all those ingredients come together in a beautiful, intentional pattern.
In our passage this morning, it becomes clear that for Ruth and Boaz all the seemingly small decisions they make are actually part of this beautiful tapestry.
A tapestry that makes them a key part of a plan set in motion hundreds of years earlier—and one with ripple effects that extend into eternity.
Series on Ruth: The Unexpected Kindness of God. This morning, the unexpected kindness that makes us part of the richest of all heritages and the most glorious of all futures.
The plot of the passage: (1) The Transaction (4:1–8); (2) The Witness Statements (4:9–12); (3) The Results (4:13–22).
Remember 3:18. Boaz will not rest. It seems like later that same day…
“The gate” — center of military protection. But also center of judicial and financial business. Where the citizens would gather to perform official functions. “The elders” of the city would be a part of it.
“Behold, the redeemer” — Unexpected he would happen to pass by
“Friend” — “Friend” here is just a fill-in word. The real sense of it is something like, “Mr. So-and-so.” He is presented as anonymous. And given that he’s painted in a negative light, this is intentional. Boaz’s name will be celebrated. This man’s name completely forgotten.
“Ten men of the elders of the city” – Likely this was the number needed to witness to an important business matter.
Then the negotiations begin.
First he tells the man Ruth is “selling” the land.
At this point the man is willing, “I will redeem it” (Ruth 4:4).
But then Boaz introduces the complete picture.
Well, at that point “Mr. So-and-so” isn’t so sure he can do it.
The interesting thing here is that he’s not violating the letter of the law of Moses.
Well, once Mr. So-and-so steps aside, Boaz steps forward to redeem Naomi’s family.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him, after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first?
Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty
Almost as soon as the act is complete, Boaz and Ruth are brought into a whole new storyline.
Read Ruth 4:9–12.
Once the transaction happens, there are two dramatic statements made. The first is by Boaz, “You are witnesses” (Ruth 4:9–10). The second is by “all the people who were at the gate and the elders,” who begin, “We are witnesses” (Ruth 4:11–12).
The Statement by Boaz (“You are witnesses”) – Ruth 4:9–10
9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”
The Statement by “all the people who were at the gate and the elders” (“We are witnesses”) – Ruth 4:11–12
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 act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
First blessing, “May the LORD make the woman…like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.”
Second blessing, “May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned [literally, “be named”] in Bethlehem.”
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate….
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespear, Sonnet 18
Third blessing, “May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Read Ruth 4:13–22.
As soon as the marriage occurs, the ripple effects begin.
First there’s Boaz and Ruth: “She became his wife.”
Second, “the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son” (4:13).
Third, Naomi becomes a “nurse” to her grandson, the woman who came back to Bethlehem “empty” and in her mind forsaken by the LORD (Ruth 1:21), is now holding in her lap her future provision.
We’ll read that they name him OBED (“servant”)—The story could have ended here.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Genealogies in the Bible are usually a lot of names we can’t do much with sprinkled with fascinating discoveries.
If all you knew was David’s family history back four generations, you might think it compromised his claim to the throne.
The reason it’s a big deal is because of a prophecy spoken by Jacob to his son Judah as Jacob was dying.
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Gen 49:8–10)
But the prophecy doesn’t say it would be a long reign. It says, “the scepter shall not depart.”
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king….and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matt 1:1–6, 15–16)
But Jesus the King is not qualified just because he’s in the line of Judah—and David.
He’s qualified because of the sacrifice he made—Revelation 5:
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:1–10)
As we think back over the book of Ruth:
In the time of the judges even this faith and kindness can be lived out.
Boaz: laying down his name he finds an even greater name.
Ruth: embracing the life of faith connects her to the richest of all heritages and the most glorious of all futures.
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:26–29)
 Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty (HarperCollins, 1979), 9.
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