Sunday, October 3, 2010

Taking Up Your Powers

Christianity is not just a story of laying rights down, it is also the story of picking them up…
There is someone to fight for, someone to pursue.  There is a Naomi to feed and a Ruth to cover.  There are individuals everywhere in need of dedicated restoration.  Ruth went to the threshing floor.  Boaz went to the city gate…
Naomi said, “Wait my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today,” Ruth 3:18.
With the heart of a redeemer he went.  In haste and with purpose he strode and sat himself down at the city gate to await the passing by of the first kinsman in line to redeem Ruth and her mother’s property.  “So Boaz said, ‘Turn aside, friend, sit down here.’  And he turned aside and sat down.” Ruth 4:1.  All the elders of Bethlehem were gathered at the gate to observe the dealings of these two redeemers.  The second redeemer, Boaz, locked the gaze of the first. “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it.  But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you,” (4:3-4). The first redeemer strained no thought and lost no words, “I will redeem it,” (4:4).  But of course, it is his duty and right!  However, Boaz was not finished with his discourse.  He had saved a morsel of information that was sure to turn the bargain in his favor: Ruth, the Moabitess, came with the property.  The first redeemer would be expected to carry on her husband’s family name with children, and yet, she was distastefully a foreigner!  
Boaz was shrewd; for, in speaking the following, he reveals that he knows what is expected from this first redeemer.  He reveals that he is able to hold this redeemer accountable to his duty… .He reveals it before all of the elders… .Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance,” (4:5).  The eyes of Boaz danced keenly.  Yes, that was all it took.  Then the first redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance.  Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it,” (4:6).  But, of course, why would an Israelite frustrate his own Israelite inheritance by entailing part of it upon foreigners?
But Boaz did not mind entailing his inheritance to foreigners in another man’s name.  No, he bestowed his generosity upon Ruth with enthusiasm, for, this humble foreigner had caught his eye.  Boaz made full use of his powers, full use of Israelite law, full use of shrewdness and wisdom to secure the right to generously redeem….  

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