2019-08-11 – Ruth 4 – Why is Life So Complicated?
Bible Text: Ruth 4 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Ruth | 2019-08-11 – Ruth 4 – Why is Life So Complicated?
(College trip, QCABA Annual Picnic, Birthday Cake Celebration)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
School is starting, a hint of autumn is already in the air. Many folks are contemplating projects they would like to accomplish before winter, and at the same time our check books seem to be quickly eroding. Frankly our stress levels are hitting their peeks, and you might be asking yourselves, “Why is life so complicated?” That is the title of today’s message, and it’s what we will see in the lives of our early Jewish kinsfolk, they felt the same types of pressures too.
We have been going over the Old Testament book of Ruth, where we find many great lessons for dealing with what life has instore for us. Last week we went through the third chapter where the land-owner Boaz decided he was going to help Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi by championing the issue of getting them redeemed. You see, Naomi’s Jewish husband and her two only sons had died, and now she and her daughter-in-law Ruth were having to somehow make due on their own. Life was complicated, it was challenging to say the least, but Ruth proved to herself and everyone else that she was up for the challenge.
Please turn in your Bibles to Ruth 4, Pew Bibles pg 231, in what we call God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, and let us start with Prayer.
We left off last week, where Ruth had maneuvered herself into a loving relationship with Boaz, and he promised her that he would present her case to the closest living relative (who by law was first entitled to become their Redeemer). In verse 13 Boaz stated “if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the LORD lives, I will”. So now in this final and forth chapter of Ruth today, we are going to see, as Paul Harvey would frequently exclaim, “the Rest of the Story”.
Ruth 4 – 1 Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. 2 Then Boaz took ten men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. 3 He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the territory of Moab, is selling the portion of the field that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do it. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.” “I want to redeem it,” he answered.
Again, like was stated last week, being designated an official redeemer was something that God setup through Moses to maintain the bloodline and land ownership of the Jews. You might recall that the land of Israel was given to each of 12 Jewish families or tribes under Jacob, and it was intended that those same families would maintain ownership of the land throughout the years.
In this first set of verses today, Boaz was so smart, so cunning. He knew that he had to present the case for redemption properly and with witnesses so that there would be no subsequent repercussions within the family and with the Law. The bible tells us that while we are in the world, we are to be smart on how we carry out our business. Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves”. That means that we need not to be like helpless lambs to the slaughter as we carry out our business. Instead God wants us to wise in our transactions, especially when it comes with doing business with the world. We all know that some people will take advantage of you and even trample you under their feet if they can. God wants you to be wise investors of what He has entrusted and blessed you with.
The other day I sold our little Honda Civic to a young family. I found out that they were Christians and that they were struggling like so many trying to make ends meet. The Holy Spirit nudged me to reduce the price by $500. In that, He was happy, I was happy, and I think God was happy. I remember once reading a book on business leadership a long time ago called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Franklin Covey. The fourth habit was called “Think win/win”, where
I win and you win in a transaction. However, I generally like to expand that notion with instead a win/win/win paradigm, I win, you win, and God wins too.
It makes me feel good about the transactions I make. We all must endeavor to present a Christlike, “What Would Jesus Do”, attitude and example when we are given the opportunity to exchange or relate to others.
So in our text here, Boaz presented a clear business case in front of ten witnesses, and now at verse 5 continues,
5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from Naomi, you will acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.” 6 The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”
7 At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel.8 So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”
(Take off shoe, “anyone got change for this old shoe?”) Lol
Last week I showed an old twenty dollar bill that had written on it that it was redeemable in gold. We use money as our currency today, but money is really just a mechanism that we use carry out fair transactions. This also reminds me of when I was stationed in the South Pacific Marshall Islands. I had heard that one of the islands called Yap traditionally used stones with holes for their financial transactions. The bigger the stone, the more valuable it was. When they sold houses or land, the stones would be as big as a man even. I once told my old military friend about it, and a few weeks later he gave me this picture of him next to a large stone on that Yap Island (Thanks Jim Porter).
So in our story today, Boaz negotiated this redemption deal with amazing prowess and finesse, and sealed the deal with a sandal. He effectively convinced this young relative, in the presence of witnesses, that he really didn’t want or need the land or the ladies. It would be bad for him in the long run.
Verse 9 continues: 9 Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his hometown. You are witnesses today.”
11 All the people who were at the city gate, including the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and your name well known in Bethlehem. 12 May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.”
Boaz didn’t have to do this, he wanted to do this. As we learned in previous chapters, Ruth was a woman of nobility. When a man recognizes that he has the opportunity and privilege of “marrying up”, if he is smart, he will do anything to make it happen. This is another fine example where doing the right thing, showing honor and nobility really does pay off in the end. It may not be fun to stay on the more righteous path all the time, especially in times of chaos and challenge, but in doing so, you are setting yourself up for success. Had Ruth went back to her hometown of Moab, who knows what would have happened to her and Naomi. However, as we will see in the next verses, they all got that they had prayed for. Verse 13 says,
13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. He slept with her, and the Lord granted conception to her and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nanny. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
So the lady Naomi, who lost her husband and her two sons, lost her livelihood, and even struggled to find something to eat, through God’s grace found her way back to her hometown of Bethlehem. God subsequently made a way for her to get redeemed by Boaz without compromising herself or violating the law.
The lady who had no hope at all, now has bountiful hope. You might recall from previous chapters, Naomi was once wanting people to call her Mara because she felt the oppressive hand of God was on her head. Now she has a new family, a new outlook on life, and she has a new grandson by Ruth and Boaz named Obed, who will eventually become the grandfather of King David and even in the family tree of Jesus Christ through Mary.
There was nothing easy-going for them throughout this four week, four chapter message. They had much pain and sorrow, much toil and hard work, but it all eventually lead to much joy as well. They had to be cunning and shrewd to get ahead, and they did it in a humble way that didn’t defame their family name.
What started out as a sorrowful piece of His-story also proved to be a great opportunity for Ruth to show everyone what she was made of.
Like the old saying goes, “When going gets tough the tough gets going”.
After one becomes an adult, we quickly realize that life is just tough sometimes. We ask questions like “Why is life so hard?” or “Why is Life So Complicated?”, Amen? Even Jesus himself agreed that life is hard, but He didn’t stop there.
In John 16:33 He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. We have a compassionate God that knows our struggles personally. I don’t know about you but that gives me much comfort.
However life was never intended to be hard. When God created the world and placed the first man and woman in it, life was perfect. Bodies were perfect. The temperature was perfect. The first couple’s relationship was perfect, and they had everything they needed or wanted. They even had the presence of God with them. They lived in actual paradise.
But because of sin, everything changed. When Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s, perfection was marred, and life became hard. As a result of humanity’s disobedience, God cursed the perfect world He had made so that it turned on the man and woman. Weeds and Thistles sprouted where flower beds had been. Everyone must now forage, plant, struggle, and reap in order to survive. Man’s sin ruined everything. Now according to Romans 8:22 “the whole creation groans” and we groan with it.
But as Christ followers we have now hope in the resurrection story. Jesus Christ died and defeated sin and death for us, and He now promises us a new life with Him in a new heaven and earth restored. Those who belong to Jesus are really here on visitor’s passes. We became citizens of another kingdom the moment God adopted us into His family. We are ambassadors here, on assignment for our Heavenly Father, the King of kings. We’re not supposed to feel at home in this world. So it’s only natural that we often feel like aliens and strangers. When life is complicated and hard, it is a reminder that this world is not our final destination.
As we grow through our troubles, we develop the character of Christ—who also struggled much during His time on earth. In Hebrews 12:3, is written: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.
Life is complicated, life is hard, but Christ is our advocate and our intercessor who pleads our case to the Father. He knows what it feels like to struggle through difficulty, depression, fear, heartache, and the host of human situations that make life so hard. Life is hard, but the Holy Spirit is our comforter who helps us and stays with us forever.
Life is complicated and life is hard, but it is brief. According to James 4:14, compared to eternity, our earthly lives are like a mist that vanishes with the morning sun.
What we do during this brief time on earth affects the rest of our eternity. We can grow bitter, hard, and waste our struggles. Or we can endure, grow in our faith, develop compassion for others who are also struggling, and wait for our final reward. At that time, we will hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!”
Let me tell you that, just like in Naomi and Ruth’s situation, God is with you always dear brothers and sisters, and He has gifted you this church family to help you get through your life struggles together. But it all starts with acknowledging His majesty in your heart. Giving Jesus your allegiance and allowing Him to be Lord over your situation and your life. Are you willing to do that today?
Would you now please rise.