There is a principle in life that every human being operates under, whether we know it or not. Here it is: if we cling to our lives, we lose them forever. But, if we lay down our lives to follow Christ, we keep them forever. Jesus said it this way, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:25).
Today we will see a man try to hang on to his estate, his name. And what is his name, by the way? That’s right, we have no idea, Scripture doesn’t record it; through trying to keep it, he has lost it. He’s No-Name! But then we see another man, willing to risk his own estate out of love, willing to ruin his good reputation by marrying an enemy Moabite. His name is Boaz! What is said about Boaz? “May you…be famous in Bethlehem” (Ruth 4:11). Let’s look at this story together today:
Ruth is an outcast enemy Moabite, a penniless widow, but she came to God’s people and met Boaz who was one of the people who could redeem her; that is, to buy back her inheritance and marry her. But there was another man who was closer, so in verse 1 Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. “Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, ‘Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.’ So, they sat down together” (Ruth 4:1). Sweet invitation!
It was the custom back then to settle matters of law at the town gate, maybe so people going by could attend the meeting, like a town hall kind of event. But I can’t help drawing a spiritual truth: if you’re new here today, your Redeemer, Jesus Christ, calls out to you to “come over here and sit down, friend”; He wants to talk with you. He wants to tell you about redemption, how He bought you by His own death in your place. So, He says, "Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow. Though your sins are deep red, they can be white like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Then in verses 2-4 Boaz calls ten witnesses, explains that there is land to be redeemed and that the closer kinsman has first rights to it. “The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it” (Ruth 4:4). But verse five is where the problem comes in for No-Name. Boaz tells him, “When you redeem the property you also redeem Ruth”, and he makes sure to say, “the Moabite widow” (Ruth 4:5). Why does he say, “the Moabite widow”? Because Boaz wants Ruth for himself! And Jesus wants you. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
So, here’s the response of No-Name: “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied. Isn’t that sad? "I can’t redeem it," said the redeemer. And why? “Because this might endanger my own estate.” (Ruth 4:6). But he could do it, he just chose not to. He wanted to hang on to his own estate, he had planned out his own life. And he clung to it. So, he lost it.
For someone who is guided by love, this would not have been a problem. Love tells us “Do not be interested only in your own life but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:4). Love looks at the interest of other people and does not put its own interest first. With No-Name, there is No-Love. The thought that he would marry a Moabite. He feels too good for that. He quits. This is the language of the law not of love.
Picture No-Name as the Law, the Old Covenant Law, the 10-Commandment Law. So, you have the man with no name and ten witnesses as the Law of 10-Commandments. Can the Law redeem you? Can the ten Commandments save you? No! “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature” (Romans 8:3), meaning we could try to obey God, try to live a good life to gain acceptance with God, but the Law requires you to be perfect; and eventually we discover, “I’m weak, I’m sinful, I can’t obey perfectly. I can’t do it”.
So, the Law cannot redeem us, it can only condemn us, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Romans 8:3). The Law cannot redeem us, but there’s another Redemer, who saved us and set us free by the sacrifice of Himself. Do you see Him?
“Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading, Blind and unheeding, dying for me”
In verses 7-8, an old custom is shown: the shoe is removed as proof that the right of redemption is waived. So, when No-Name gave his shoe to Boaz it illustrated that he gave up the right to walk on the land to be redeemed; he gave Boaz the right to redeem.
So No-Name wants everything except Ruth, and Boaz wants nothing but Ruth. He’ll take the property if he must, to get Ruth. This is true love. Listen to what he says in verses 9-10: “Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Killion, and Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife.”
Think about something: Ruth was a Moabite; as an enemy of God’s people, she deserved and expected nothing, but Boaz bought her and she received all the inheritance of her father-in-law, Elimelech, her first husband, Mahlon, and his brother, Kilion. Plus, she received all the wealth of Boaz himself. She had nothing, now she gets everything. “In Christ, you have been brought to fullness” (Colossians 1:10).
Meditate on this phrase, “Ruth the Moabite…I have bought to be my wife”! From Moabite to wife. From outcast to adored. From emptiness to fullness.
From poor to rich. From unloved to loved! Boaz loved and purchased her. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
You have been purchased: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). A ransom: a price paid to free someone from captivity. He loved you, so He bought you.
Let’s summarize the entire Book of Ruth by these three verses: “Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13). He died to bring you near.
What does this mean for us? Well, are you still an outsider, are you a pre-believer? One who is living apart from Christ, without God, and without hope? Well come to Jesus as you truly are, in need of forgiveness, and God will show you that He sent Jesus to redeem you and bring you into an intimate covenant.
And if you are a believer, you need to know your identity. You’ve gone from being outsiders to insiders. From living apart from Christ to now having Him as your husband. You were excluded, but He bought near and made you His own. You were without God and hope and now you have both! In spades! Once you were far away, but now Jesus died for you and He rose again, conquering the grave, thereby bringing you near.
One man refused to give up his self-focused life and got nothing, and in the process lost his name. Another man gave up his life plans and laid down his reputation for an outcast enemy, and He got it all and became famous. Jesus “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. (Philippians 2:8-9).
If we cling to our lives of sin, of unbelief, we lose them; but if we humble ourselves and surrender to God, we get our Redeemer and an eternal inheritance - eternal life. If you haven’t humbled yourself and surrendered yourself to God, would you do that today?