January 25, 2017

Boaz at the Gate

Ruth 4:1-10; Psalm 15

Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite . . . as my wife . . . .

—  Ruth 4:9-10

Like the good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, Boaz goes out of his way to help. At Bethlehem’s gate, where legal decisions are made, Boaz lets the closer relative know of Naomi’s situation. The man is ready to do what is right. But when Boaz points out that Ruth is part of the package, the closer relative steps back; he does not want to endanger his own estate. He knows that if Ruth has only one son by him, then that son, as his only heir, will inherit his property, but another family name will be on the deed.

Boaz doesn’t bat an eye. The elders and people at the gate witness Boaz’s costly kindness. This good Israelite will keep his oath, even when it hurts: he will father a child for Mahlon in order to secure his property and name. Thus Boaz risks his own property and name. What generous humility; what a citizen of the kingdom of God!

The good Israelite Jesus, born in Bethlehem, did not consider equality with God something to hold on to. So outside Jerusalem, in the presence of all the people and elders, he humbled himself and paid the highest price to fill the emptiness of all who yearn for a Redeemer. “Therefore God . . . gave him the name that is above every name . . . to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Father God, may we confidently entrust our name and all our property to Jesus Christ, in whose name we have all that we need forever. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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