“And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he of the Lord who has not ceased his kindness to the living and to the dead.’ And Naomi said to her, ‘The man is a near relative of ours, one who has the right to redeem us.’”
The Right of the Redeemer
“Right:” Conforming with the law, justice, or morality.
“No question is ever settled until it is settled right.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
What “rights” does my “Redeemer” have when it comes to the way I deserve to be treated?
How has my heavenly “Redeemer” treated me with His mercy?
“A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offering to bring:
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.”
Augustus M. Toplady
“Justice is mercy’s highest self.”
She was from Moab – a point the author of the book of Ruth seems to want to make, over and over again! But in order for you and me to understand what it meant to be a woman from Moab, we need to go back in the Bible to the book of Numbers, one of the books written by Moses that at a first, quick glance, makes you think there isn’t a lot to learn from it. As God’s daughters and sons, we found this book to be a treasure containing unmined wealth. In Numbers 25: 1-3, Amplified Bible we are told that “Israel settled down and remained in Shittim, and the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab, Who invited the Israelites to the sacrifices of their gods, and they ate and bowed down to Moab’s gods. So Israel joined himself to the god Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” Biblical historians tell us that during their wilderness sojourn, the men of Israel were seduced by the women of Moab. As a result, the Moabites were prohibited from entering the Israelite camp. They were completely forbidden and excluded from ever being part of the Israelite community. In Deuteronomy 23: 3-4 Amplified Bible, Moses told God’s children , “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation their descendants shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord forever. Because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired Balaam son of Beor of Pethor…against you to curse you.”
The Moabites had quite a list of evil deeds stacked up against them. The Moabite women lured the Israelite men into their trap even getting them to worship their god, Boal of Peor. They refused food and water to the Israelites in the desert. And finally they hired someone to curse Israel. Frankly, I’m not surprised God informed His children these trouble makers should stay out of the Israelite camp. It does take “two to tango,” and it appears the Israelite men had little ability to resist the charms of the women of Moab, so God said, “Keep these women out of the camp.”
And now, during the time of the Judges, we find that a woman from Moab not only entered the land of God’s children, she settled there permanently. She walked into the House of Bread, no less, and planted herself there. When she was hungry, a “redeemer” stepped forward named Boaz who welcomed her into his field; he let her sit and eat from his table; and instructed her to drink from the jars his workers filled.
I ask you, “What happened here? Did God go back on His word? Did He change His mind about the Moabites?”
No, this isn’t the story in Ruth. Her life is not a portrayal of a woman of Moab trying to bring down Israel. Instead, Ruth’s story is a tremendous example to you and me regarding what happens when God’s mercy and justice combine and are recognized as the gift they are to the undeserving. Ruth had done nothing to merit the favor of Boaz. He held all the rights in his hands. Boaz could have taken one look at Ruth and told this Moabite woman to get off his property. She had no “right” to be gleaning in his field. She had no “right” to be treated as one who was worthy. She wasn’t entitled to a thing. Except that the “redeemer,” Boaz, claimed her as his own – and that gave her every right he possessed.
In Psalm 85, some of the most touching words about the way our Redeemer deals with us are penned. Like Ruth, we have no rights. We’re undeserving. We merit nothing. But in this passage we find this prayer: “Lord, You have at last been favorable and gracious…You have forgiven and taken away the iniquity of Your people. You have covered their sin…You have withdrawn all Your wrath and indignation. You have turned away from the blazing anger. Restore us, O God of our salvation… Will You be angry with us forever and spread it out to all generations? Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?...I will listen with expectancy to what the God the Lord will say…His salvation is near to those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him and is ready to be appropriated (CLAIMED)! Mercy and loving-kindness and truth have met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85: 1-13, Amplified Bible).
What a phenomenal description of what happened in the life of Ruth. As this woman from Moab turned her back on the country and family ties that bound her to a life unattached to the God of heaven and earth, she chose to set her feet on the path to the House of Bread, where in the field of Boaz she found her “redeemer” who claimed what was his – for Ruth, by her choice, belonged to a new family now.
This story is such a tremendous representation of the redemptive life you and I find when we choose to let the Son of God claim us as His own – as part of His family. Isn’t it wonderful that even with a history that ties us to Moab, no “Moabite chain” is too strong to keep us away from our Father?
Recently, I was reading about thoughts penned by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when in prison. I want to share what author Wayne Floyd wrote for these concepts help us better understand how the book of Ruth and her relationship with her “redeemer,” Boaz, is a foretelling of the “Redeeming-Time” each of us experiences through our acceptance of the claim on our life by Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer:
“In prison Bonhoeffer spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the Bible, particularly the theme of redemption in the Old and New Testaments. In doing so he realized that Christians have tended to turn on its head the Old Testament stories of God’s saving actions in history. We have made “redemption” mean something that occurs, in Bonhoeffer’s words, “on the far side of the boundary drawn by death…in a better world beyond the grave.”
“Yet isn’t this a cardinal error, which separates Christ from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the Israelites clearly understood redemption to refer to something here and now, a deliverance into this very time and place, not hereafter.”
The redemptive work of Boaz, in taking the one who was cast-out and bringing her into the family, shows us the “right” our Redeemer has here and now, to give us today, all that is His to give – life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.
I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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