New Years Eve/Day 2011/2012
Pastor Don Sutton
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. 18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
Among the various types of literature is the tragedy. A tragedy is a narrative poem, tale or drama typically describing the downfall of a great person or describing a conflict between the “good guy” and a superior force ending with a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that elicits pity or terror. William Shakespeare wrote many tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, to name a few. I don’t like tragedies. Why? They make me sad. Sometimes they make me mad. They hardly ever make me glad. So I don’t like them. I like literature with happy endings, don’t you?
This New Year’s Eve/Day, as we consider Ruth 4:13-22 let’s focus on this: Having a Redeemer Makes for a Happy Ending … This was true for Naomi and Ruth …This is true for Nate and Rachel.
…This was true for Naomi and Ruth
Last weekend we were in Bethlehem for a birth – the birth of our Savior. This New Year’s weekend we’re back there for a wedding – the wedding of Boaz and Ruth. To really appreciate this wedding, one needs to know the background behind it. For that we jump back some years to another marriage in Bethlehem. It was that of a woman named Naomi to a man from Bethlehem named Elimelech. They had two sons, Malon and Kilion. Because of a famine the Elimelech family migrated to Moab (east of the Dead Sea). While in Moab, Naomi’s husband died. Her two sons married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other one, Ruth. But then the sons died leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law. (It makes a male think twice about living in Moab or marrying Moabite women.)
Eventually Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem when she heard that the famine there was over. One daughter-in-law remained in Moab. The other one, Ruth, went with Naomi. Times were tough for the women. Even though Naomi’s husband had land, she was losing it to pay debts. So Naomi and Ruth had nothing. They survived by scavenging the grain left in the fields by the harvesters.
But the Lord blessed the women through a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man named Boaz. He let Ruth glean grain in his fields. Boaz also developed a “yen” for Ruth and she, for him. Things worked out so that according to Old Testament laws and customs Boaz ended up with the right and responsibility to purchase any land Naomi lost and to marry Ruth so that the family of Ruth’s first husband continue on. This right and this responsibility referred to as being “goel”, “the kinsman redeemer,” were conferred on the male who was next of kin. Since a relative closer to Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband, did not feel that he could carry out this responsibility without endangering his own estate, he passed the right and responsibility to Boaz. So Boaz assumed the right of the kinsman redeemer and carried out his responsibility. He redeemed Naomi’s property and married Ruth.
The Lord then blessed Boaz and Ruth enabling Ruth to conceive and give birth to a son whom they named Obed.
When people in your family or circle of friends have babies, unless there are sad circumstances, aren’t those happy times and reason to celebrate? This seems to have been the case with Naomi, Ruth Boaz and more. We’re told, “ 14 The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.’ 16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’”
Who were “the women”? Twice they are mentioned in the account. They are also mentioned in Ruth 1 as the ones who expressed amazement when Naomi and Ruth walked into Bethlehem. While one might cynically wonder whether they were the town gossips or grape vine, putting the best construction on things they were probably the women of the town who took interest in and cared for one another.
Earlier in the chapter Boaz is identified as the “goel”, the kinsman-redeemer of Naomi in that he buys back any land or property that she lost according to Old Testament custom. Boaz is identified as the “goel” or kinsman redeemer of Ruth because he marries her with the understanding that their first-born son will carry on the family name of her deceased husband. But the women go on to call Obed, the son born to Boaz and Ruth, also Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer. They said that the little baby would “renew her life” and “sustain her in her old age.”
When Naomi entered the town of Bethlehem with Ruth she carried a load of bitterness and sadness because she had lost a husband, two sons, a family line and an estate. She had her daughter-in-law, Ruth, probably a few belongings and not much more. At that time, in her mourning, Naomi had said, “The Almighty has made my life very bitter.” But Obed, Naomi’s grandson, would provide her with joy and give her another reason to live. Ask any grandma about the joy that loving grandchildren brings to their lives. If Naomi lived long enough, not only would she find joy in her grandson, but also in his children as well as in the fact that he would be there to protect and provide for her. This little kinsman-redeemer would help to make for a happy ending in the life and times of Naomi of Bethlehem.
Obed, however, would make for a happy ending her life and times in another way. Obed’s family line wound its way back to Judah who was the father of Israel’s tribe from which the Savior was to come. Judah fathered Perez by Tamar. So in that last verses we consider we find the following: “18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.”
From David’s line came another Child born in Bethlehem. He is the Savior, Christ the Lord. He would be holy for the world and take the world’s sins upon himself. He would suffer and die to bring God’s peace to this world and a place in God’s family. As a result of faith in this Savior who was to come, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz and all other Old Testament believers had the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. So Obed, as “the women” said but maybe didn’t fully understand, would enable a happy ending – eternal life – that has no end. In this way he was also the redeemer. So you see having a redeemer makes for a happy ending. This is true for Naomi and Ruth.
…This is true for Nate and Rachel
This is true for Nate and Rachel…. Perhaps you been wondering, “Who are they? Where are they mentioned in this account? How do they fit into the sermon?” Nate is you guys; Rachel, you gals.
As I explained, Obed, the baby born to Boaz and Ruth both foreshadowed and served in the family line of our Redeemer, Jesus. He has provided us with that same happy ending which Naomi and Ruth enjoy now through faith in him. But in order for him to provide for this, he had to endure a less-than happy ending to his own life. Contrasted to the brightness Obed brought to Naomi and Ruth, our sin and its curse brought a horrible darkness to Jesus on the day he died on the cross. According to the Gospels, as darkness came over the land as Jesus hung on the cross, darkness came on his soul. He was suffering for our sins and the sins of humankind. As an earthquake caused turmoil in Israel and caused the tearing of the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, there was turmoil in Jesus’ soul and the separation he felt between his Heavenly Father and himself. The death Jesus died is the death we should die here in time and hereafter in eternity for our sins. He died it for us.
But with that death, Jesus, our Redeemer, has provided a happy ending for our lives – an ending that has no end, eternal life in glory with God. That is ours through faith in Jesus. What a wonderful thought that is when we are struggling with our own death or that of a loved one who has died with faith in Jesus! What a wonderful thought this is was we go through pain of disease and the decline eventually comes with age! What a wonderful thought when we look around us at the world in which we live and wonder with fear what this world is coming to! What wonderful thought when we close our eyes at night or at naptime and wonder whether we will open them to see the walls and windows of our home. If we don’t the next thing we will see is Jesus as we enter into the happy ending that has no end. This will be because of Jesus is our Redeemer.
But remember that he is not only a Redeemer who provides a happy ending in eternal life, but also enables us to have one in our daily life. He did this in 2011, a reason to give thanks as we exit an old year.
Remember this in 2012. Trouble and trial may come into our lives as they did with Naomi and Ruth. The Lord tells us that this will happen – ““We must through many hardships enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).” St. Peter wrote of these trials, “7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7).” But through these trials the Lord will be with you to bless and keep you. He himself has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).” He assures us, “All things work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” This means that at the end of each day, no matter how bad it might have been, having a Redeemer like Jesus who has brought us forgiveness and eternal life, who is with us and working for us, who loves us and rules for us, we can say, “No matter what happened today, with Jesus as my redeemer, the end of my day can be a happy one.”
Having a Redeemer makes for a happy ending.