Overcoming Obstacles in your Family (Ruth 4:1-12)

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MOTIVATE

While in Nicaragua I met a friend named Wilbur. Wilbur traveled with our group almost every day to minister and evangelize in the villages. He was in his early twenties and is studying business economics and hopes to create jobs for the people of Nicaragua. He is also attempting to learn English as a second language and most of all he is a fellow believer in Jesus Christ.

One of the ways Wilbur is trying to learn English and more about his faith is by listening to podcast mp3 of American preachers. He let me listen in to one of the sermons and asked me about a couple English phrases. The sermon he was listening to was by Adrian Rogers, a late great preacher of BellevueBaptistChurch in Memphis, TN. Pastor Adrian was describing the relationship between worship and the Holy Spirit and as an aside comment said the phrase: “liver shivers”. It is likely that many Americans would be confused at this phrase much less a person from Nicaragua. Essentially, the phrase is equivalent meaning to having a combined excited & nervous feeling simultaneously, or having warm fuzzies or goose bumps.

Sometimes the English language will combine two words that sound alike to create a unique meaning. Consider these: “hodge-podge”, “heebie-jeebies”, “hocus-pocus”, “helter-skelter” or even “baloney macaroni”. In such rhyming wordplays the meaning of the individual words may be absent or unrelated to the combined words; essentially the phrase is greater than the sum of the individual parts. That’s America!

Today’s message is about pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂. Peloni Almoni is an unnamed obstacle. It’s the phrase found in Ruth 4:1 that is translated mysteriously [“friend” in ESV, NIV; untranslated in HCSB, NKJV; and Ho! or behold in KJV]. Some commentators say it is like saying “so and so” with intentionally not naming the person to grant them any significance.

Peloni Almoni are the unnamed obstacles of your life. They are the things that stand in your way from obeying God with passion and persistence. Peloni Almoni are the issues that steal your joy and satisfaction in the Christian journey. Peloni Almoni says faith is hopeless and impossible. YET – God is greater to remind us that faith is full of hope and nothing is impossible with God!ruth logo 1

When we have obstacles lining up against us we can be tempted to think God is against us. We exaggerate our sadness and exalt our suffering. We can become so bitter that we cannot see the rays of light shining through the storm clouds. In the book of Ruth, it was God who returned food from the famine (1:6); it was God who moved Ruth to compassion and commitment and the ability to trust God beyond present life challenges (1:16-17); it was God who preserved a kinsman redeemer to the line of Elimelech (2:1); it was God who granted favor and food to Naomi & Ruth through the field of Boaz (2:12); it was God who joined together the hope and hearts of Boaz & Ruth (3:9-11); and it will be God who blesses this remarkable couple with a son with multiplied generations that would eventually produce the salvation for all human kind (4:13, 20).

And even today, God is still at work overcoming obstacles. Turn to Ruth 4:1-12 as we discuss obstacles to overcome in your family.

EXAMINE              

Obstacle of integrity (Ruth 4:1)

Essentially, Ruth had just proposed to Boaz and it was accepted. Ruth asked Boaz to “spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” and the response was “do not fear, I will do for you all that you ask” (3:9-10). Boaz then sends Ruth home with groceries rather than jewelry but the point is that he is promising to take care of her (3:15-17).

The next day Boaz travels up to the town gate and waits in hopes to meet the other man with legal rights to redeem Naomi’s property and perpetuate the family generations.

The question is, why didn’t Boaz just marry Ruth? Why did he have to go before the townspeople and approach the other kinsman with the opportunity?

The answer is Boaz was a man of integrity. Boaz was a “worthy man” (2:1) to be of noble substance (character), standing (communal reputation), and strength (valiant warrior). Even Naomi has recognized the character of Boaz as a man of honor in “not forsaking the living or the dead” (2:20) and one who settles matters quickly (3:18) – in other words he doesn’t waste time doing what is right. When Boaz is presented with the opportunity to become the kinsman redeemer for Ruth he is honest in saying there is another whom has the legal right and then he immediately seeks to solve the problem with integrity.

When it comes to the obstacle of integrity we all have choices. Our character is not the summation of a few large choices but a million little choices. So, we must decide if we want to be known as a Boaz or a Bozo.

Integrity must be modeled.

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him!”

ð     Parents, would you be satisfied if your children followed your present (not past – there is grace!) example?

ð     Leaders, would God be satisfied if the entire church followed your present example?

ð     Teens, would the world be better and God’s kingdom advanced if they followed your example?

Integrity must be followed.

Proverbs 10:9 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”

Proverbs 28:18 “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.”

Obstacle of redemption (Ruth 4:1-6)

Boaz meets the pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ – the unnamed [So and So, friend] redeemer at the city gate. The language suggest that it was a providential meeting as he happened to pass through and Boaz was sitting there. This is the way God works… and unfortunately it is also the way sin works. Life will always have a fork in the road where you must decide which way to travel.

So, Boaz gathered the town elders to listen to the redemption proposal. Boaz is the initiator. He starts the conversation notifying that Naomi is selling land belonging to their relative Elimelech. If the unnamed redeemer wants to redeem the land then he must act, but if not then he must remove himself from the legal hold.

Shockingly, pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ wants to redeem the land. It is shocking to us because we are cheering for Boaz to be the Prince Charming. But it is not surprising to the book of Ruth because her life has been one trial after another. And interestingly, this trial is not caused by any wrongdoing but because of righteousness. Boaz is maintaining his integrity, he is doing his duty as one of the kinsmen.

–          pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is nameless. In a book where names have been vitally important, this person is nameless. If the person was named he would have been recorded in history and as part of the legal process with Boaz. But he remains nameless for self-preservation. In an attempt to make a name for himself he ends up with no legacy. Mr. Whoever vanishes into whatever-land.

  • Men, beware of how you create a legacy; be sure it’s rooted in eternity (Mat 6:19-20)

–          pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is negligent. In all the hurt and heartache of Naomi & Ruth, this is the first mention of him. It was likely that he knew of his uncle Elimelech’s passing and inheritance coming his way but he has done nothing to pursue or protect Naomi.

  • Ladies, beware of men who neglect responsibility in simple bc it will surface elsewhere.

–          pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is narcissistic. He selfishly wants the land for personal gain to his own inheritance. Once he realizes that the inheritance would also belong to Ruth and future offspring then he turns his back on his family – Elimelech and the two widows. He has neither the reputation nor the resolve to step up and be a godly man.

  • Ladies, beware of men who only want you around for their contentment or convenience.

Life is filled with pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ redeemers. The world is filled with false prophets, functional saviors, idols, and God-substitutes. Who are you following? Who is your Savior? Where is your hope for redemption and escape of this world? Who is your pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂?

In contrast to pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂

–          Boaz is named. His name means strength and he is worthy and righteous.

  • Jesus has a name above all names (Philippians 2:9)

–          Boaz honorable. He is faithful and has gone above and beyond expectations to protect and provide for Naomi & Ruth.

  • Jesus went above expectations of living righteously and also dying cruelly on a cross to pay for our sin (Philippians 2:8)

–          Boaz is noble. He is a selfless servant, seeking to honor his family name and not to mention Ruth.

  • Jesus was humble and considered others in love and sacrifice (Philippians 2:6-7)

ð     Are you choosing pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ rather than choosing glorious Jesus?
John 10:10 “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Acts 4:12 “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
1Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus – who gave himself as a ransom for all”

 

Obstacle of participation (Ruth 4:7-10)

The unnamed redeemer chooses not to participate in redeeming his family, yet Boaz receives the privilege and opportunity. The unnamed redeemer removes his sandal and tells Boaz to make the redemption. The sandal removal custom has to do with walking on the property that belongs to you and now in a public setting the shoe is removed so as to say, this land no longer belongs to me.[1]

Boaz is eager to marry Ruth. He tells all the people his motivation for marriage with Ruth

1)     To redeem Ruth as his wife (4:9).

2)     To redeem and honor the name of his deceased family inheritance – “to perpetuate the name of the dead… and that the name of the dead may not be cut off” (4:10).

Boaz did not get married for selfish reasons: desire for companionship rather than loneliness; desire to please his friends who were all married; desire for intimacy and sex; desire for children; desire for financial security; desire for adventure… many of these are good desires but this was not Boaz’s purpose for getting married.

Boaz’s purpose for marriage pointed beyond himself and Ruth. It stood for a greater relationship so that future generations would know of the death of Elimelech and the resurrection of this family through Boaz.

Likewise, Christian marriage should not be entered into lightly because it is a great and glorious reflection beyond the couple and to Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:25-32).

Likewise, Christians in general are called to participation with Christ. We remove our sandals of sin and exchange the identification of our redeemer to the resurrection hope in Jesus Christ. Like the sandal custom is a symbol of Ruth’s redemption, so baptism is the symbol for the believer.

Obstacle of blessing (Ruth 4:11-12)

After the legal redemption ceremony the town’s elders and people gather to show their support to the relationship and marriage of Boaz & Ruth. They pray a blessing over the couple. The fact that it is all the people and elders gathering to pray for them shows friendship and faith.

Friendship: “we are witnesses” (v.11)

–          The people of God from Bethlehem accept Ruth the Moabite. This shows holy hospitality, warm affection and generous grace.

–          The people of God are all gathered together to show their support in the journey. It has been a long and grueling journey for Ruth & Naomi. They arrived empty handed and now they are embraced with full provision.

–          à Our church can provide friendship blessing and hospitality to those whom are from “Moab”

Faith: “May the Lord…” (vv.11-12)

–          The people of God believe in miracles. Ruth was seemingly barren after 10 years of not having a child (1:4-5). Yet God’s people pray that their offspring will be abundant.

–           Like Rachel & Leah who built up house of Israel (Genesis 35:22b-26; 46:8-27)
Leah gave Jacob 6 sons, Rachel bore 2 sons. 4 others sons (2 each) would be born to maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah to create the 12 tribes of Israel who would then grow to 70+ people initially entering Egypt. Later, the Egyptians would fear the numerous Israelites. In all, the prayer is that Boaz & Ruth would be blessed with many descendants.  

–          Act worthily in Ephratha and renowned in Bethlehem
The prayer is that Boaz would be prosperous and wealthy and have a great name in Bethlehem.  Literally it’s “may a name be called/given” or “may people call you a name”, unlike pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂.
Further, this is prophetic in that the Messiah would be born from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and would most certainly fulfill the promise to Abraham and onward through Boaz, David and even the Messiah of having many descendants (cf. Galatians 3:7-9).

–          Like house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah
Perez was born as a result of a deceptive and semi-incestuous relationship between Judah and his daughter inlaw Tamar (Gen 38). Yet, the point is increased offspring.
Further, there is the similarity of Tamar & Judah with how the Moabites resulted in deception and immorality (Gen 19:30-38) and yet still received blessing of offspring from the Lord – so how much greater will the offspring be from the result of two godly “worthy” and upright character individuals of Boaz & Ruth? Perhaps again a prophetic hint leading to the Savior and to the character of the Saviorrighteous yet a friend of sinners!

ð     The people of God are called to believe in miracles… have faith in God on behalf of others to intercede for their salvation; intercede for help and healings…

  • cf. Mark 2 where Jesus heals cripple who was lowered down by 4 friends when Jesus “their faith” (Mark 2:5)

ð     How are you seeking to be blessed? How are you seeking to have a great name and build prosperity?
Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor
rather than silver and gold.”

Only one name is worthy of worship
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Only God is the blesser of good
James 1:17 “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”

APPLY/THINK

pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ or Jesus?


[1] See The IVP Bible Background Commentary, pp.280 for further information.

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