No “What If’s”

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Ruth 4:1-2 (NIV)
Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.

Ruth 4:1-2 (MSG)
Boaz went straight to the public square and took his place there. Before long the “closer relative,” the one mentioned earlier by Boaz, strolled by. “Step aside, old friend,” said Boaz. “Take a seat.” The man sat down. Boaz then gathered ten of the town elders together and said, “Sit down here with us; we’ve got some business to take care of.” And they sat down.
“Then Boaz went up to the city gate [where business and legal matters were settled] and sat down, and then the close relative (redeemer) of whom Boaz had spoken came by. He said to him, “Come over here, friend, and sit down.” So he came and sat down. Then Boaz took ten men from the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” And they sat down.” -AMPLIFIED

Now we come to the apex of this love story between Boaz and Ruth. Boaz goes to the town gate; the meeting place for any and all business and legal transactions. The town gate would have been the equivalent of today’s town hall and it was there that Boaz has gone to approach the man who would be first in line as Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.

Boaz took his place at the town gate and patiently waited for the next in line, the closer relative, to arrive. The town gate would have also been the men’s meeting place of the day. This would have been where they would have discussed their day-to-day business. It would have been our version of a coffee shop or McDonald’s.

Finally the next of kin comes along and Boaz calls for him to, “Come, have a seat, my friend.” No coincidences here. Remember, God is working everything out for Ruth and Naomi’s good.

It is quite interesting to note that this close relative is never once named. Matthew Henry makes notice of this fact, “Because he refused to raise up the name of the dead, he deserved not to have his name preserved to future ages in this [Book of Ruth] history.” The New English Translation has this footnote which addresses this, “This close relative, who is a literary foil for Boaz, refuses to fulfill the role of family guardian. Because he does nothing memorable, he remains anonymous in a chapter otherwise filled with names. His anonymity contrasts sharply with Boaz’s prominence in the story and the fame he attains through the child born to Ruth.”

While they are sitting at the town gate we find Boaz calling over ten of the town elders or leaders to come and join the two of them. This should have been a good indicator to the close relative that Boaz had something of importance on his mind.

We find that once everyone was seated Boaz wasted no time in getting down to business. “Boaz then said to his relative, “The piece of property that belonged to our relative Elimelech is being sold by his widow Naomi, who has just returned from the country of Moab. I thought you ought to know about it. Buy it back if you want it—you can make it official in the presence of those sitting here and before the town elders. You have first redeemer rights. If you don’t want it, tell me so I’ll know where I stand. You’re first in line to do this and I’m next after you.” -Ruth 4:3-4 (MSG)

The relative’s response to Boaz’s bit of information was quick, “He said, “I’ll buy it.” -(vs. 4) He was rapid to agree to increasing his own property, but he has not taken into consideration the fact that there may be more to this transaction than what at first meets the eye. Boaz goes on to fill him in, “Then Boaz added, “You realize, don’t you, that when you buy the field from Naomi, you also get Ruth the Moabite, the widow of our dead relative, along with the redeemer responsibility to have children with her to carry on the family inheritance.” -Ruth 4:5 (MSG)

The NASB puts it this way, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” There would be a BIG responsibility attached to accepting this piece of property. If and when this relative took responsibility of the property he would also be taking on the responsibility of marrying Ruth and giving Elimelech’s family an heir. The first-born son of Ruth’s would become the heir apparent of Elimelech’s property.

When this bit of information was brought to light, this close relative was quick to turn down the offer that had been made to him. “Then the relative said, “Oh, I can’t do that—I’d jeopardize my own family’s inheritance. You go ahead and buy it—you can have my rights—I can’t do it.” -Ruth 4:6 (MSG)

Everything has been laid out on the table now; no hidden secrets. The close relative has turned the offer down. Why? Because in accepting this responsibility he worried that his own property would be in jeopardy. What if Ruth only birthed one son, that son would be heir to Elimelech, not him. Then what would happen to his property?

When God calls us to do something for Him we better leave the “What if’s” out of the equation and step out in obedience. Our response should be, “I will do anything for you, Lord”!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be obedient in doing everything that you have called me to do for you. No “What if’s” or “But’s”. Rather, let my response be, “I hear and obey.” You have called your children to be obedient to you; no matter what. Let my ear be inclined to you at all times and my heart answer your guidance and direction in my life. I will do anything for you, Lord!


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