As we come to the end of the book of Ruth, I feel that I must emphasise the same things that was emphasised, was shown to me, as the true messages of Ruth were drawn out before me. Ruth and Boaz are image of the Church and Christ. Boaz’s protection of and commitment to Ruth point towards God’s love for his people and the sacrifice that Jesus carried out on he cross.
In chapter four we see a peculiar transaction of a sandal. Upon refusing to take upon the responsibility of Naomi’s land and the ‘shame’ of marriage to Ruth, the alternative ‘guardian redeemer’ was required, in such a culture, to give his sandal to Boaz, who was willing to fulfil his duty in providing for Ruth. Boaz takes upon the name of Ruth’s former husband, sacrificing his own. Boaz and Ruth are honoured and their marriage soon takes place. They have a son together and Naomi cares for him. The chapter, and therefore the book, ends upon a geneology of David, and therefore that of Jesus. God has placed Ruth and Boaz in the direct line of the birth of Jesus
In the first of the two sermons at The Globe Church on Ruth, Chapter Four, a great focus was placed on covenant love. Our eyes were opened to the true beauty and significance of the marriage between Ruth and Boaz. The relationship is shown to be pure, it does not argue wrong things to be right, as I can see myself to have done in many areas of my life. It is good in the sight of God. Jonty talks of how true covenant love cares about the future, Boaz’s promise ‘I will’ resonates on from the present, covenant love is long sighted. And we see, with great wonder how God has shown the same love and yet far greater, He has secured our eternal inheritance, has given us Jesus so that we may receive eternal life. Jonty spoke of how covenant love is. Boaz sacrifices his reputation, his name for Ruth, he takes upon the name of her past husband in order to provide for Ruth and Naomi. And with the image of sacrifice we are pointed, of course, to Jesus. Jesus entered into a transaction that cost him his blood, he was tortured, humiliated and killed for the sake of us all, what greater sacrifice could there be? We see the public love of Boaz just as we see the public display of Jesus’ love for us all. With a feeling of gratitude and relief we are given these words…
Don’t ever think that Jesus is ashamed to love you.
In the Christian Union weekend away we were given another image, so similar, and yet opening doors to the opportunity to understand more, to journey deeper into the book of Ruth. The sermon is opened with the statement:
God makes nobodies into somebodies.
Our preacher begins with an image of ‘the other guardian redeemer’, we see how is name is absent, we see how us unwilling to provide the same sacrifice, the same commitment, that Boaz did in fact fulfil. He is concerned by his name and his reputation, he sees it as too costly to take on ‘the shame’. But with unfortunate irony, we see how. in trying to retain his name, it is in fact forgotten. Boaz, who let go of his family name for Ruth, has been remembered in the very pages of the book of Ruth itself. And I am reminded that we must show more concern for the lives of others than for our own. Boaz is compassionate, committed, he gives his focus to others, placing Ruth before his own reputation. Boaz, out of love and compassion accepts ‘a foreigner’, as every day Jesus accepts us. We are reminded of a very prominent image within the bible…
So the last will be first, and the first will be last. Matthew 20:16
We are reminded of how God raises up those who humble themselves, of how a nobody is made a somebody in God’s eyes. We are reminded of how Jesus notices us, outsiders, he and takes on our sin so that we may become a child of God.
Returning to the second sermon at The Globe Church we a brought to the end of the chapter, with a very clear message…
It is all about the child.
Jonty shows to us how the book of Ruth started in famine and ended in praise, with the sound of singing in Bethlehem. Jonty showed us how we should allow the praise of Bethlehem to become an anthem of our lives. We see in the birth of Ruth’s son ‘the Lord enabled her to conceive’. Just as God provided Sarah and Abraham with a miracle birth so has he done with Ruth. In the ten years of her previous marriage she did not conceive, and yet now she does. And just as God provides Ruth and Boaz with a miraculous birth, so he gives Mary, a virgin, a miraculous birth. All such miracles in the bible are pointing towards one child, all pointing towards the birth of Jesus.
A light has dawned.
To us a child is born, a son is given
She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Mathew 1:21
We are told that our song should be our own, but I believe that we must sing together, and sing the praise of Jesus – it must be that Jesus so grasps our hearts that we can’t help but speak and tell others of Him. And so, if you find yourself free and in London these evening, I ask of you to go at least consider going to the event below, to see how the book of Ruth has brought our church together, how it has taught us as individuals and as a family.
And as I finish this small series on the book of Ruth, I want to give you the last images that the two sermons gave me…
Jesus gave everything for us. He became a nobody so that we may become a somebody.
God loves us, we have refuge under his wings.
Jesus loves us, and he will never let us go.