1 Peter Lesson Two

1 Peter 1:13-25 – Holy Living

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ,  like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

All flesh is like grass,

and all its glory like a flower of the grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls,

25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.

And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. (HCSB)

There are three imperatives in this passage.

  • Unshakable hope in Jesus, verse 13
  • Holiness, verse 15
  • Live in reverent fear, verse 17

Verses 13-16

Verse 13

The word “therefore” reaches back to the first twelve verses in the letter. The readers are encouraged to live a godly life because they have a foundation in God’s saving work explained in verses 1-12. Order is essential here.

  • What God has done for us.
  • How we should live our lives.

If the order is reversed, we have a works-based righteousness instead of holiness being a result of God’s grace and power and our response to the love Jesus displayed by going to the cross.

  • Minds ready for action – means to be ready to undertake serious work.
  • Be serious – some translations have “sober” here. Sober is to be understood as having clear minds not impaired, distracted, or controlled by the things of the world.

Verse 14

There are several ideas flowing beneath the surface of this verse.

  • Even as followers of Jesus, we struggle with the temptation of this world and the danger of falling away from God.
  • However, as God’s children, we are to fight those temptations by living a life of obedience through faith and in God’s power and strength.
  • Just as children often have similarities with their earthly parents, we are to be similar to our heavenly Father.

Verse 15

  • The idea of being “called” should not be viewed as an invitation. Instead, it is a picture of God’s power in drawing people from a life in darkness to a life of light, from death to life.
  • Once again, the order is important. God’s power has pulled us from darkness and now equips us to live in holiness if we are obedient.
    • God’s people are to live differently from the world.
    • God’s people separate themselves from the evil desires of the world.
    • To be holy means to be apart from evil.

Verse 16

  • Why are we to be holy?
  • Because God is holy, and if we are God’s people, we should reflect God’s character.
    • Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am Yahweh your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. You must not defile yourselves by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. For I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
    • When thinking about Old Testament covenants, before Israel could be a blessing to other nations, they first had to be holy.
    • Holiness is the starting point for God’s covenant people.
  • Holy doesn’t mean sinless perfection. That is impossible in this life. It does mean to be set apart. If we are God’s children, then we should be acting like Him.

Verses 17-21 Theme is to live in reverent fear.

Verse 17

  • Believers are to live in fear of Yahweh.
  • The question is, what type of fear is Peter talking about?
    • Reverent fear – a feeling of utmost respect and honor towards Yahweh.
    • Terror fear – a feeling of trepidation and apprehension.
    • From the context of the passage and the general concept of the Christian life as being a life filled with joy, it seems clear that Peter is talking about reverent fear.
    • At the same time, we need to examine whether our reverent fear is still…reverent or if it has become dull over time.
    • A responsible and confident driver also has a healthy fear for the damage that their vehicle could inflict on others through reckless behavior.
  • Our loving Father will also be our impartial judge on the last day.

Verse 18

The first idea to note is that verses 18-19 together form a negative/positive couplet. First, Peter illustrates what does not redeem someone with what does redeem someone.

  • Redeemed
    • Signifies liberation.
    • In this verse, it signifies leaving the emptiness of life they inherited from their fathers.
    • In the Old Testament emptiness is often associated with the idol worship practiced by pagans.
    • In the New Testament, it illustrates pre-Christian life.
      • Romans 1:21  For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their senseless minds were darkened.
      • Ephesians 4:17  Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.
    • The life of unbelievers is a life characterized by futility, emptiness, and chasing after false gods.
      • Pursuing money.
      • Pursuing possessions.
      • Both are temporary.

Verse 19

The details of the purchase price are now revealed.

  • In contrast to the temporary things the lost pursue, believers are purchased with the everlasting and infinitely precious blood of Jesus.
  • Jesus poured out His life to redeem sinners.
  • Early Christians believed that Christ’s sacrifice as the sinless lamb fulfilled:
    • The Passover.
    • The prophetic suffering servant.
    • The entire Old Testament sacrificial system.

Verse 20

There are two main thoughts here:

  • Before the foundation of the world.
    • It was not mere chance that brought Jesus into the world at that particular time and place.
    • It was part of God’s plan.
    • Ephesians 1:4  For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
  • Revealed at the end of the times.
    • Followers of Jesus enjoy the blessing of living at the time God is fulfilling His saving promises.
    • “The end of the times” signifies the time that started with the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
    • This does not mean, and should not be confused with, the eschatological end times.
    • Peter indicates that Jesus’ birth, life, and death ushered in “the end of the times.”

Verse 21

  • We are believers in God through Jesus, not through any other means. John 14:6b  No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • Believers put their faith in God because of the finished work of Jesus.
  • Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of the living hope found in 1:3.
  • A holy life is a life that trusts in God’s promises.
  • A holy life is one in which God is prized above all things, in which believers trust and hope in His goodness.

Verses 22-25 The theme is a command to love each other.

Verse 22

  • Purpose of their conversion is to love fellow believers.
  • It is achieved by obedience to the truth – faith in God’s promises of salvation.
  • It rises from a pure heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
  • Peter uses two different Greek words for love in this verse.
    • One is brotherly love.
    • One is divine love, agape.
    • Unbelievers can display brotherly love to each other. However, it takes a Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit to show agape love.

Verse 23

  • Peter explains the origin of their birth.
    • Not of a perishable seed – human birth.
    • But of an imperishable seed – the Word of God.
      • Romans 10:17  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
      • Galatians 3:2  I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?
    • A seed and the Word have similar characteristics.
      • A seed is small but, once planted has the power of life in it and produces fruit.
      • The Word is small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, it has power and life within it. The Word must be planted to do good, but when it is planted in a person’s heart, it produces good fruit.
      • Fruit produced by the Word is lasting, eternal fruit, but things of the flesh don’t last.

Verse 24

  • Peter quotes the text from Isaiah 40:6-8 here.
    • Israel will be restored from their exile in Babylon.
    • Babylon was viewed as invincible at the time that Israel was taken into exile.
    • Those persecuting the recipients of Peter’s letter may have been viewed as invincible.
    • In both cases, Peter is saying that their power is short-lived and that Yahweh and His people endure forever.

Vese 25

  • God’s Word is enduring.
  • It is imperishable.
  • Nothing can overpower God.
  • The promises contained in Isaiah are fulfilled in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Applications.

  • Do you take your faith seriously and prepare yourself for spiritual work? Peter’s words at the beginning of this passage exhort us always to be prepared and to have the proper attitude towards our salvation.
  • Do you take the holiness of God seriously and have a reverent fear of God? We love to read the passages that tell us how loving and merciful God is, which is true. But we often neglect or ignore the passages that tell us that God is also our judge. An infinitely holy God can’t be in the presence of sin. Will our lives allow us to enter into God’s presence or will we be cast out of His presence? We would do well to remember Matthew 7:23 Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers.”
  • Do we immerse ourselves in the Word? We need to be reading the Bible daily, feeding on the truths contained in it. Those seeds of truth will plant themselves in our hearts and grow, producing fruit in our lives.
  • Do we have agape love for our brothers and sisters? Many countries have large megachurches, which in themselves are not necessarily bad. However, they often feel impersonal, and there is little to no connection with other believers. When we look back at the church in the book of Acts, we see a church that closely connected believers together. Make sure you are connected with a church that promotes connecting in smaller groups, replicating the intimacy that is found in the early church.

Ruth Lesson Eight

The Royal Line – Ruth 4:13-22

13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise 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 took care of him. 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.

David’s Genealogy from Judah’s Son

18 Now this is the genealogy of Perez:

Perez fathered Hezron.

19 Hezron fathered Ram,

who fathered Amminadab.

20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon,

who fathered Salmon.

21 Salmon fathered Boaz,

who fathered Obed.

22 And Obed fathered Jesse,

who fathered David. (HCSB)

The concluding section of chapter four is broken down into two parts: the narrative around the child born to Boaz and Ruth and a ten-generation genealogy.

Verse 13

Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Facts to note concerning this verse.

  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to marry Ruth.
  • Ruth’s social progression has reached its conclusion.
    • A Moabite foreigner (2:10).
    • Lowest on the servant scale (2:13)
    • Maidservant (3:9).
    • Boaz’s wife.
  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to continue the family line of Mahlon.
  • Ruth becomes pregnant through Yahweh.
    • Ruth was married to Mahlon for ten years but was not able to get pregnant.
    • Ruth quickly became pregnant after marrying Boaz, maybe on the wedding night.
    • Yahweh closed Ruth’s womb during a marriage that was not based on obedience.
    • Yahweh opened Ruth’s womb and honored the prayers presented in verses 11-12.
  • At least nine months elapse between the beginning of the verse and the end.
  • Ruth gives birth to a son, establishing Mahlon’s lineage.
  • The royal line is preserved through the actions of these two humble and obedient people.

Verses 14-15

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise 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.”

The women are likely neighbors or at least townspeople who know the situation surrounding Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. In the Old Testament, praise or blessings denoted positive relationships between the two parties. The women also acknowledge that a family redeemer has now arrived on the scene for Mahlon’s lineage.

The one question in verse 14 is who is “his name” referring to, Yahweh or Obed?

  • The focus on the verse seems to be on Obed and not Yahweh, although Yahweh is to be praised.
  • The last part of verse 14 indicates that the “name” is currently not well known in Israel.
  • Obed’s name will become well known throughout Israel in the future, if for no other reason than he’s King David’s grandfather.
  • The “name” is clearly referring to Obed.

In verse 15, the women discuss the implications of the birth of a son.

  • When Naomi first returned from Moab, she was bitter and destitute.
  • With the birth of Obed, her fortunes have completely reversed.
  • Naomi no longer needs to be concerned about her future welfare.
  • The idea that Ruth is better than seven sons is a remarkable statement.
    • In Israel, the ideal family consisted of seven sons – the women are saying Ruth is better than an ideal Israelite family.
    • This also could be a prophetic reference to David, as he had seven brothers and became Israel’s greatest king.

Verses 16-17

16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 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.

Some clarification is needed on verse 16, depending on the translation you are using. Some translations use the terms “bosom” and “nurse” in this verse. Those terms can be misleading as Naomi doesn’t become a wetnurse to her grandson. The original Hebrew word that is misleadingly translated to “bosom” is actually referring to the front of a person’s body and is implying embracing a loved one. The original word that refers to “nurse” is better translated as a nanny, someone to care for the child. In essence, verse 16 is saying that Naomi will take care of Obed as any joyous and loving grandmother would care for their grandchild. In Naomi’s case, her fortunes have come full circle. Once stripped of all male support and protection, she now has an immediate redeemer/protector in Boaz and a future redeemer/protector in Obed.

Verse 17 concludes the story of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi in the birth and naming of the baby boy. There are several things to note about this.

  • This is the only reference in the Old Testament where women, other than the mother, were present at the naming of a baby.
    • However, this doesn’t mean the women had a role in naming the baby.
    • But it does mean they were there to witness the celebration and share in its significance.
  • The child is a son.
    • The form is in the normal form of an ancient Near East birth announcement, as found in Isaiah 9:6 and Jeremiah 20:15.
    • Because the family needed a male child to act as the future kinsman-redeemer, the birth of a son was a significant event for the family.
  • The name Obed is not explained in the text.
    • It is a form of the Hebrew word meaning “to serve.”
    • It is an abbreviated form of Obadiah, which means “servant of Yahweh.”
    • Is the boy to be viewed as a servant of Yahweh or a servant of Naomi?
      • If it is the first, then the child will take away the bitterness that Naomi mentions in 1:20-21 and to redeem the estate of her late husband.
      • If it is the second, the child serves by restoring her prosperity and providing security in her old age.
      • It could be a combination of both.
  • The historical significance does not lie in Obed directly. His significance lives on and is achieved through his grandson David.

Verses 18-22

As the book of Ruth closes, the author presents the importance of the book in a concluding genealogy.

  • The biggest need in the period of the judges was a king, since “everyone did whatever he wanted” (Judges 21:25).
  • The faithful actions of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth led not only to a restoration of the family but also the provision of a king.
  • As the grand narrative of the Bible progresses, we see how Yahweh keeps His covenant faithfulness through His people.
  • The genealogy, which points to David, has a greater significance for us. This exact same list is included in Jesus’ genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew.
    • We see that the story of Ruth points not just to David, but ultimately to Jesus.
    • Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all humanity if they place their trust in Him.

Summary and Conclusion on Ruth

  • The book begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding.
  • It opens with famine and closes with fullness.
  • Ruth’s love and obedience brought joy and blessing.
  • Prophetical.
    • God shows His disfavor on Israel because of their disobedience (chapter 1).
    • God uses a gentile (Ruth), just as later gentiles would be reached with the Gospel (Acts 15:14).
    • Naomi’s blessing came after Ruth’s wedding. In the same way, Israel will be restored and blessed after Christ and His church are united.
  • Typical.
    • Boaz is a picture of Christ.
    • Jesus is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.
      • He is the Lord of the harvest.
      • He supplies our needs.
      • He redeems us.
      • He gives us rest.
  • Practical.
    • Backsliding has its consequences.
      • Naomi lost her husband.
      • She lost her sons.
    • No matter how tough the circumstances we are experiencing, the best place to be is in the will of God.
    • God is willing to forgive and restore backsliders.
    • The time we spend in disobedience can never be regained.
    • But we can regain our joy and testimony.

Applications

  • Do we rejoice in the blessings and celebrations of others? If we don’t, is it because of jealousy? Just as we share in the sorrows of those around us, we should also join in their celebrations, giving glory to God for each one of them.
  • Do we keep all parts of our promise? Boaz fulfilled everything he vowed to do. Do we resemble him in our actions, or do we stop short of total fulfillment if it gets tough or we just feel like it?
  • Have we been redeemed by Jesus? If you haven’t placed your eternity in His hands, why?
  • If you’ve been redeemed but have backslidden, don’t wait to return to Him. He stands with open arms to welcome back each truly repentant heart who realizes the mistake they’ve made. Don’t let pride or guilt stand in the way of blessings.

Ruth Lesson Seven

The Redemption – Ruth 4:1-12

4 Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders  and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  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 so. 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.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

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.”

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.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

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 will also acquire 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 home. You are witnesses today.”

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate 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 famous 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.” (HCSB)

Once the sun comes up, Boaz wastes no time in bringing his promise to a conclusion, regardless of whether he or the unnamed male relative is the one to redeem the land and Ruth.

This section is split into four parts.

  • Boaz preparing for “court” action, verses 1-2.
  • The court proceedings, verses 3-8.
  • Boaz’s response to the outcome of the court proceedings, verses 9-10.
  • Public reaction to the court proceedings, verses 11-12.

Verses 1-2 – Boaz preparing for court.

Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come  over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down.

From a cultural standpoint, many important meetings or decisions took place around the gates of cities, especially small or mid-size ones. The gates were also the location of official administrative and judicial business for the local community. Boaz now begins the legal process to acquire the land that belonged to Elimelech, as well as Ruth for the purpose of marriage. The citizens of Bethlehem would recognize and understand that Boaz was there on legal business.

We also see the hand of God at work here as the first verse says, “Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by.” This wasn’t a mere coincidence; this was the divine work of God to bring this specific man through the gate soon after Boaz had arrived and sat waiting for him.

Now that the two principal players in the legal proceeding are present, Boaz needs to gather the men as the required legal assembly for the action of redeeming the land and Ruth. A few observations on this.

  • They were citizens of Bethlehem.
  • As elders, they would be responsible for the administrative actions in the city.
  • The fact that they quickly responded to Boaz’s request signifies his stature in the community.

Now the scene is set for the legal proceedings to commence.

Verses 3-8 – The court proceedings.

He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  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 so. 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.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

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.”

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.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

According to Mosaic law, the land under question was never intended to leave the family, and the concept of a kinsman-redeemer was an Israelite custom, designed to keep it in the family.

Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.

Although the beginning of Ruth doesn’t specify, it is more than reasonable to assume that Elimelech was in financial trouble and sold the land in question before moving the family to Moab. Now, it is time for the land to return to its rightful family.

Another discussion point is contained in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 “When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel. But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she must go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his family name in Israel will be called ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.’

From this passage, it would seem that the legal levirate obligation to marry the widow only applied to the immediate brothers of a deceased man. However, it is possible, if not highly likely, that Israelite custom would follow the pecking order in the inheritance law in cases where no immediate brother existed. Numbers 27:9-11  If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative of his clan, and he will take possession of it. This is to be a statutory ordinance for the Israelites as the Lord commanded Moses.”

From Ruth 2:1, we know that Boaz was from the clan of Elimelech but below the unnamed redeemer now meeting with Boaz.

Boaz now gets right to the point.

  • Naomi is selling the family land.
  • The unnamed man has the first right to redeem it.
  • Boaz asks for the man to make a decision regarding the redemption before the witnesses gathered.
  • Boaz asks the man to make his right then because Boaz will redeem it if the man declines.
  • Boaz is carrying through with his pledge to resolve the issue as soon as it is possible.

Thinking that it is an easy decision, the man agrees to redeem it. Now Boaz presents the complicating portion of the redemption. If the man redeems the land, he will also assume responsibility for the welfare of Ruth, which contains several issues.

  • He will assume responsibility to care for and protect Ruth.
  • Not only is Ruth a widow, but she is also a Moabite, an enemy of Israel.
  • Since Mahlon and Ruth didn’t have a child together to carry on the family name, the unnamed man will need to have a child with Ruth to carry on Mahlon’s family name.

Although the primary reason for Naomi to develop this plan was for Boaz to redeem the land and Ruth was for the protection and well-being of Ruth, we see in the last portion of verse five the most critical piece of the transaction. The continuation of the family line. The next lesson will illuminate the importance of the child.

The unnamed man is now faced with a decision, of which there are four possible courses of action.

  • He could accept the moral responsibility for Elimelech’s estate, redeem the field, marry Ruth, have children with her, and take care of Naomi.
  • He could redeem the field and pledge to marry Ruth but break the pledge after completing the deal. However, doing this would tarnish his reputation and standing in the community.
  • He could reject the offer and cede the rights to Boaz. This would not have been irresponsible as Boaz has already indicated he will redeem the land and Ruth if given the opportunity.
  • He could accept the responsibility to redeem the land but reject the responsibility to marry Ruth and have children, ceding that to Boaz. This would be dangerous on two counts. First, it would have cost him respect and honor in the community in the short-term. Second, any child between Boaz and Ruth could later claim the land costing him financially in the long-term.

Considering the economic and moral ramifications of the possible decisions, he chose the third course of action. From his response, it appears he only considered the first and third choices as viable. His decision was likely based on three main factors.

  • The economic factor.
    • Cost of redeeming the property.
    • Cost of supporting Naomi.
    • Cost of marrying Ruth.
    • He probably considered these cumulative costs as exceeding the positives of acquiring the land.
  • Implications of raising a child to carry on the name of the deceased.
    • It is possible she would have only one child.
    • The child would legally be considered a descendent of Elimelech.
    • The child would legally acquire the land in question in the current discussion.
    • The child would be eligible for at least a portion of the unnamed man’s estate.
  • Ruth was a Moabite.
    • How would the ethnic implications appear to others?
    • His estate could fall to a child that was half Moabite.

Upon reaching his decision, he removed his sandal and presented it to Boaz to signify that he had forfeited his right to redemption. The first portion of verse seven indicates that this may no longer have been an understood custom and the time Ruth was written. He also tells Boaz to buy the property himself. This concluded the court negotiation, and the decision is final and binding.

Verse 9-10

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 will also acquire 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 home. You are witnesses today.”

The land now belongs to Boaz, and he has acquired the right to marry Ruth, as well as take care of Naomi.

If anyone in the future questions Boaz’s right to the land and for marrying Ruth, he can produce both the sandal that was given to signify the legality of the transaction as well as the witnesses who were present during the proceedings. Boaz had three goals, as presented in these two verses.

  • To establish the name of the deceased on his own patrimonial ancestral land.
  • To prevent the name of the deceased from being cut off from his relatives.
  • To prevent his name from being cut off from the gate of his home.

Verses 11-12

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate 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 famous 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.”

Considering the background of Ruth, the response by the elders at the gate is extreme in the positive sense of the word. Their response can be broken down into three parts.

  • The elders pray that Yahweh would elevate Ruth to the level of two of the matriarchs of Israel, Rachel, and Leah.
    • The term “built a house” refers to having children and establishing a family line.
    • Calling upon Yahweh to bless falls in line with Psalm 127:1a  Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.
  • They pray that Boaz would be “powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem.” The meaning is that Boaz would be blessed in his marriage and for the marriage to prosper.
  • The reference to Tamar needs some explanation because of the background of her becoming pregnant.
    • The story of Tamar is probably the most well-known concerning levirate obligation and betrayal. This caused her to disguise herself as a prostitute and bear twins from her father-in-law, Perez and Zerah.
    • They were the ancestors of the tribe of Judah, with Perez’s descendants playing the more significant role in Israel’s history.
    • Perez is the ancestor of Boaz’s clan that is living in Bethlehem.
    • The reference to Tamar is not an endorsement of her behavior, but rather to the idea that the family line continued even though the behavior was sinful. How much greater would the blessing be for Boaz and Ruth, who had acted in the highest moral standards.
    • Their prayer is answered by the birth of David and the establishment of the eternal royal line.

Reflecting on this chapter, we see four characteristics that distinguish Boaz from the unnamed kinsman who refused to redeem the land and Ruth.

  • Willingness – Boaz didn’t hesitate in taking on his responsibility, and he settled it on the first day possible.
  • Purposeful – All of Boaz’s actions were deliberate and well-thought. He didn’t leave anything to chance and made sure everything was done correctly.
  • Faithfulness – He fulfilled all the promises he made to Ruth the night before.
  • Unselfish – His actions were to maintain the name of the deceased husband with the property in question.

Once again, we see Boaz as a typology of Christ through his redemptive actions on behave of Naomi and Ruth.  Boaz was able to be the kinsman-redeemer because of three factors.

  • He was a near relative.
  • He was able to pay the redemption price.
  • He was willing to redeem the land and Ruth.

Christ is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.

  • Jesus became flesh and blood, becoming our “near kinsman” for all eternity.
  • Jesus paid the eternal redemption price, His blood, and life on the cross.
  • Jesus willingly went to the cross on our behalf to restore us to “land” we had before the fall, fellowship with God in His presence.

Applications.

Although not many, if any, of us will ever have an opportunity to act as a redeemer in the same manner as Boaz, we can exhibit the same characteristics.

  • Do we willingly take on our responsibilities? These could be across a broad spectrum of actions, family, job, financial, kingdom work.
  • Are we purposeful in how we plan and execute our daily tasks? This doesn’t mean we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit, but it does mean we don’t just “wing it” every day.
  • Do we display faithfulness? Do we keep our word to do the things we have promised to others?
  • Are we unselfish in our actions? Do we do things to receive something in return, or do we do things because we want to shine the light of Christ, bless others, and love our neighbors as ourselves?
  • One final application in conjunction with the Great Commission. Are we willing and purposeful in seeking opportunities to share the Gospel? Are we faithful in accurately portraying the Gospel message, not adding or taking away from it as some heretical teaching does? Do we give God glory, or do we try and take credit for the souls that are saved? 

Ruth Lesson One

Disobedience Carries Consequences – Ruth 1:1-5

Today’s lesson begins a study on the book of Ruth, a fascinating and unique book in the Old Testament. Before digging into the first passage to discuss, let’s set the stage with some background information.

Title: Although the book is titled “Ruth,” she is not the main character and, when considering her background, it is amazing that the book is named after her. She was a Moabite and not an Israelite. This is the only book in the Old Testament named after a non-Israelite. Of the three main characters, Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth, Ruth speaks the least, and her narratives are the shortest.

Placement: Appearing right after Judges, which is a welcome relief after the continuous downward spiral in Israel’s disobedient behavior. In contrast to such individuals as Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, all of the main characters in Ruth display authentic faith and covenant faithfulness. Ruth is also one of the five scrolls that are regularly read at Jewish festivals.

Author: The author is unknown, as well as the date of writing – scholarly views on the date range from the reign of David to the post-exilic period.

Theme: The book develops the theme of “from emptiness to fullness.” It is also possible that the author had a goal in this book, the exaltation of David by telling the incredible story of his roots.

Theology: The author presents five theological lessons in this book.

  • God will not let His promises to Israel, Judah, and David die.
  • God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform, and His goals to achieve.
  • In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
  • Genuine piety is expressed primarily in devotion, sensitivity, grace, and kindness toward others, and openness to the working of God.
  • God’s grace knows no boundaries. Even a despised Moabitess is incorporated into the nation of Israel. In fact, the royal and Messianic line has Moabite blood in its veins.

Now, let’s look at today’s lesson.

1 During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to live in the land of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the land of Moab and settled there. Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband. (HCSB)

First, we’ll concentrate on verses 1-2 as that sets the foundation and contrast for the entire book.

1 During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to live in the land of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the land of Moab and settled there.

The phrase “during the time of the judges” is understood as the period when the Lord’s people forsook the Lord, rebelled against His rule, suffered the consequences, and needed someone to rescue them.

  • Judges 2:10-13 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. 11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the Lord, 13 for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths.
    • This shows that the faithfulness of one generation can’t secure the faithfulness of the next.
    • This is true for a family, church, or nation. They may “play” the role for a while, but their true nature is revealed sooner or later.
  • Judges 2:14-15  14 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.
    • The consequences of disobedience are set.
    • God hands them over to their enemies.
    • The role of the judges is set in Judges 2:16.

The opening verses of Ruth illustrate and help to understand three significant truths about living in a world where the Lord and His rule are ignored.

  • The Lord’s warning of punishment is no idle threat. Reflect on verse 1, “there was a famine in the land.”
    • This was the land Yahweh promised to give to Abraham in Genesis 12:7 and 13:14-17.
    • It was the land Yahweh promised to give to His people when He rescued them from slavery in Egypt in Exodus 3:8.
    • It was the land “flowing with milk and honey.”
    • It was the promised land where food was abundant, and Yahweh’s people could enjoy the good life Yahweh had prepared for them.
  • Ignoring the Lord’s rule is something to be taken seriously.
    • Elimelech’s name means “God is my King.”
    • Naomi’s name means “pleasant.”
    • They had two sons.
    • They lived in a prosperous area, Bethlehem.
    • They belonged to the tribe of Judah.
    • Moab was the opposite of Bethlehem.
      • No God-fearing Israelite would choose to take their family there.
      • Moabites were the descendants of Lot.
      • The relationship between Moab and Israel was not good.
      • Balak, king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse Israel in Numbers 22-24.
      • Moabite women seduced Israelite men to sexual immorality and to worship their gods.
      • Before entering the promised land, they were commanded not to make a treaty with the Moabites in Deuteronomy 23:3-6.
    • The names of their children may also be significant.
      • Mahlon means “to be sick.”
      • Kilion means “failing or pining.”
      • Both may have been frail children.
    • Both children would never have married Moabite women unless Elimelech had taken the family there.
      • Decisions by parents can have repercussions for their children.
      • Scripture commanded the Israelites not to marry outside their own people.
  • Tasting the Lord’s bitter pill prepares the way for experiences of His kindness. But how do we understand that concept?
    • Naomi correctly understands that Yahweh was in control.
    • Often tasting the Lord’s bitter pill is the necessary step for an undeserving people to experience His kindness.
      • In the time of Joseph, Yahweh used the famine to bring salvation to the sons of Jacob.
      • In the time of Elijah, Yahweh uses a famine to turn His people back to Himself.
      • In the parable of the prodigal son, a severe famine was the vehicle that drove the son to humble himself and return to his father.
    • The Lord can and does use bitter experiences to drive us back to Him, where we can experience His undeserved kindness.

Verses 3-5

Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband.

We don’t know how long they had lived in Moab before Elimelech dies. However, verse two sheds some light on it by using the phrase “for a while.” This left Naomi without her provider, a dangerous situation for a woman at that time. During this time, the two sons marry Moabite women. Let’s look at several factors surrounding these marriages.

  • The Hebrew term used means “to lift/carry a woman” instead of the typical phrase “to take a woman.” This difference creates a negative connotation surrounding the marriages.
    • The term is used only nine times in the Old Testament.
    • In Judges 21:23, it talks about marriage by abduction.
    • Most marriages by abduction were outside the clan and were considered illegitimate.
  • These marriages should be interpreted in light of Mosaic prohibitions against marriage with pagans.
    • Deuteronomy 7:3-4  Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, because they will turn your sons away from Me to worship other gods. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and He will swiftly destroy you.
    • As the head of the household after Elimelech’s passing, Naomi should have prevented these marriages.
  • According to covenant curses, marriages to foreigners in the land of exile was considered the judgment of God.  Deuteronomy 28:32  Your sons and daughters will be given to another people, while your eyes grow weary looking for them every day. But you will be powerless to do anything.
  • Naomi’s sons lived in a married state for approximately ten years without either having any children.
    • The barrenness of both Ruth and Orpah must be interpreted as evidence of Yahweh’s hand against them.
    • Deuteronomy 28:18 Your descendants  will be cursed, and your land’s produce, the young of your herds, and the newborn of your flocks.
    • Later, in Ruth 4:13, it would take Yahweh’s intervention to allow Ruth to have a child.
  • Both sons die, leaving Naomi with no male family members.

Applications

  • Am I submitting to the rule of Christ, or do I act as I see fit?
  • When trials come, and I experience the consequences of living in a society which has forsaken God, what do I do? Do I try and come up with my own escape plan, or do I submit the will of God?
  • The decisions Elimelech made affected his entire family. When I make decisions that can affect those close to me, what principles do I follow? Do I act in fear, or do I act in faith?
  • Ignoring the Lord’s rule is something to be taken seriously. It can have bitter consequences for those who ignore His rule and those around us who are impacted by our godless choices.