Advent: O Holy Child of Bethlehem (Ruth 4)

Sermon begins at the 37 minute mark.

Last week we left with a “To Be Continued” and now we resume with a resolute Boaz ready to settle the matter of redemption. Previously, Naomi told Ruth, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today” (Ruth 3:18). In Ruth 4, Boaz conducts business with the closest kinsman redeemer and marries Ruth. Let us look at this wonderful chapter in more detail.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on

Boaz’s Business

Boaz was a man on a mission. Early in the morning Boaz went to the town gate and waited for the closest kinsman redeemer. Once he arrived, Boaz assembled ten elders of the town as witnesses and settled the matter of Elimelech’s property. Boaz told the kinsman, “Naomi, who has come back from the fields of Moab, has to sell the portion of the field which belonged to our brother Elimelech” (4:3). The nearest kinsman indicated that he would redeem the field from Naomi. 

Boaz then continued: “On the day you acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, you must acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the one who had died, in order to raise up the name of the one who had died, on behalf of his inheritance” (4:5). To “raise up the name of the one who had died” was to provide an heir for the deceased to maintain his ancestral property (his inheritance). The role of the kinsman redeemer was not just to keep the land in Elimelech’s line, but to ensure that the seed of Elimelech survived.

The closest redeemer wanted the land of Elimelech, but when told that he would have to marry Ruth as part of the deal, he said: “I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it” (4:6). The kinsman is in a dilemma. He wants to redeem the land but cannot if it includes Ruth. His response indicates that he cannot afford it. Robert Hubbard commented: “The addition of Ruth and an heir for Elimelech to the man’s family would ruin his children’s inheritance. He would, first, here buy Naomi’s property from assets eventually part of his estate—only to lose that investment when Ruth’s first child claimed it, presumably without cost, as Elimelech’s heir.”

Naomi’s Son Who Redeems

Boaz has spoken to the closest kinsman redeemer and has settled the matter. Boaz will redeem Elimelech’s property and acquire Ruth as his wife. Ruth soon had a son and the women of Bethlehem said to Naomi “Blessed be the Lord who has not left you without a kinsman redeemer today; and may his name be proclaimed in Israel” (4:14). We think they are speaking of Boaz, but they are actually speaking of Obed. They continued “May he also be to you a restorer of your soul and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him” (4:15). 

Naomi took Obed and put him on her lap. The women said, “A son has been born to Naomi” (4:17). They gave him the name Obed, which means servant. Warren Wiersbe comments: 

Naomi informally adopted him as her own son and became his foster mother…[Obed] would one day care for the family that brought him into the world, including his grandmother Naomi. Boaz had redeemed the family inheritance; now Obed would continue the family line, protect the inheritance, and use it to sustain Naomi. He would live up to his name: Servant.

Naomi felt empty (1:21) when she returned to Bethlehem. She lamented that she believed the Lord had dealt very bitterly with her (1:20). Now, Naomi has a son who is her redeemer and a restorer of her soul and a sustainer in her old age (4:15). She is full and pleasant once again because of the Lord’s lovingkindness. 

The Son Who Redeems

When we hear of a son born in Bethelhem who will redeem his people, we don’t usually think of Obed. Obed would be a blessing to Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi. He would be a blessing to Bethlehem, Israel and the whole world. Obed would have a son named Jesse. Jesse would have a son named David. David would have a descendant named Jesus. 

When we hear about Obed, let us get a fresh appreciation for Jesus. Obed’s birth as a redeemer in Bethlehem points forward to the ultimate redeemer: Jesus Christ. The angel announced to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 

Jesus is our kinsman redeemer. The Scripture testifies regarding Christ’s redemption:

  • He “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). 
  • He “redeemed us who were under the Law that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5). 
  • Jesus “gave himself for us that He might redeem us from all lawlessness, and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). 
  • We have been redeemed “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19).

This Christmas, let us reflect on the wonderful works of God in bringing us a Savior. In Ruth, we see God’s gracious work of providence in guiding Ruth to Boaz’s field and supplying a redeemer for Naomi. We see Ruth, the Moabitess, becoming a full member of the nation of Israel and through her the Messiah would come into the world. We see that even in a time of great wickedness (Judges 21:25), God is at work amongst His people. 

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let us not forget His death and resurrection. As we gaze upon the manger in Bethlehem in the foreground, let us remember the cross in Jerusalem in the background. The baby in Bethlehem grows and lives a sinless life and gives himself as a sacrificial lamb so that we may be forgiven of our sin and reconciled to God. The manger is glorious because the tomb is empty! 

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray,
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today,
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel. 

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

%d bloggers like this: