Making/Preserving a Name: Ruth 4
As you're reading Ruth 4 consider these three things: (1) in Ruth 3:13 Boaz makes a promise to Ruth that he will marry her and will take care of the issue with this closer redeemer. Now this was not a prayer, it was merely a promise. But behind the scenes, God is at work making all of this happen. The sense of Ruth 4:1 is that it just happened ‘by chance’ that this unnamed-closer-redeemer comes across his way. And the narrator signals this with the words and behold. (2) And when you arrive to chapter 4 the word redeem or something like it is used 13 times! This is the main word of the entire passage. And (3), the phrase the name is very important in this passage. Remember the chapter is all about names and it even ends with a genealogy.
Let us build on this information a bit more. There are two major themes in this passage (redeemer and name) that are tied to each other. The theme of redeemer is prominent and brought to the foreground of the narrative. But the theme of preserving or making a name for oneself is the underlying (background) theme or issue.
The question is, which redeemer will redeem Naomi's land and marry Ruth? The closer redeemer whose name we’re never given tries to preserve his name and his inheritance by not loving and redeeming the two widows. He essentially says to himself, 'The cost is too high and this will jeopardize my inheritance.' What he means is it will jeopardize his children’s name and status. So, the narrator goes out of his way to never name him! Whereas, Boaz spends himself sacrificially out of love to provide and redeem these two widows. Why? To preserve the name of the dead (Ruth 4:5, 10) and as a result the blessings that are poured out on him in v. 11 is that he would be ‘renowned’ in Bethlehem. The meaning of this blessing is that his name would be made famous! Clearly, this points to our Redeemer, who spent Himself for us and God has bestowed upon Him the Name that is above all names! Why? Because He pursued us in love even though it cost Him greatly. In Christ, this is our calling now too.
How are you trying to hold back? What are you looking at in your mariage, family, or church and saying to yourself, 'this will cost me too much'? Maybe you think discipling a new Christian is too costly. Or seeking the lost is too much? Ruth 4 reminds us that those who seek their own glory will end up not even having their name recorded in a chapter which is dominated by names. So, let us seek the glory and renown of Christ. We have endless resources in Him to spend and be spent. Here is the sermon for this passage.