Restorer of Life.

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David. – Ruth 4:13-22 ESV

The book of Ruth ends on an extremely happy note. Chapter one opened up with three funerals, but chapter four closes with a wedding and the birth of a son. And it is interesting to note that Naomi adopted the son as her own, which stands in stark contrast to her comment to daughter-in-laws back in chapter one: “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands!” (Ruth 1:11 NLT). Naomi’s misery had been turned into joy. Her pessimism about the future had been transformed into a renewed hope made possible by the birth of a grandson. But this would not be just any grandson. His name was Obed and he would be the progenitor of David, the greatest king Israel would ever have. And as the genealogical record in Matthew 1 discloses, David would be the father of Solomon and from his line would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The genealogy of Jesus ends with these words:

…and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. – Matthew 1:16 ESV

From the unlikely union of Boaz, a Jew, and Ruth, a Moabite, God would bring into the world the ultimate redeemer, the restorer of life. The birth of Obed brought life and joy to Naomi in her old age. He helped alleviate her despair and restored her confidence in God.

But the marriage of Boaz and Ruth is not the only unlikely union that made possible the coming of the Messiah. In the short genealogy that closes the book of Ruth, there are several names mentioned that would have been highly familiar to the original Jewish audience. The first is Perez. He was the illegitimate son born to Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. The story is a sad and somewhat sordid one. Judah had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah, all born to him by a Canaanite woman. Er, the firstborn, married a woman named Tamar. But Er was wicked and God put him to death, so Judah commanded Onan, the second-born to take Tamar as his wife in order to preserve the name of Er. Onan, in disobedience, would repeatedly refuse to inseminate Tamar, leaving her without a child, so God took his life as well. The third son, Shelah, was too young to marry, so Judah insisted that Tamar remain a widow until Shelah came of age. But in time, Tamar became impatient and, disguising herself as a prostitute, enticed Judah to have sex with her. The result of this illicit union was Perez.

Another key union was that of the parents of Boaz himself. The genealogical record found in Matthew 1 reads: “Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5 ESV). Rahab was the prostitute who harbored the two spies who had been sent by Joshua to scope out the city of Jericho before the Israelites attempted to take it. She was a God-follower and hid the spies, helping them to escape in exchange for her life and those of her family members when the Israelites attacked the city. Eventually, Rahab married Salmon, one of the two spies, and she gave birth to Boaz, the husband of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite. Rahab was a Canaanite. Tamar deceived and seduced her father-in-law to have sex with her. The family tree of Jesus was far from perfect. It contained more than a few bad apples. And yet, God, in His providence, was able to produce from this less-than-ideal lineage a Savior, the restorer of life. Even David was the youngest son of Jesse and the least likely to receive the blessing and anointing of Samuel, the prophet, as the future king of Israel. And yet, God chose David over all the others. God chose to work through Tamar, even in spite of her immorality. He chose to use Rahab, regardless of her profession. He chose to utilize Ruth, even though she was from Moab. God’s ways are not our ways.  His methods may appear maddening to us, but He always knows what He is doing.

The story of Ruth is the story of God as He operates within the everyday lives of normal, yet flawed men and women like you and me. Ruth, while presented as a loving, compassionate and selfless individual, was far from perfect. She was a foreigner, a Moabite and an enemy of Israel. But God still used her. Boaz, while a good and godly man, would marry a Moabite, breaking the Mosaic law to do so, but was used by God to bring about the eventual kinsman-redeemer of all mankind. Naomi, the finger-pointing, blame-casting main character of the opening chapter would eventually become the primary caregiver for her own grandson, graciously given to her by God. What is fascinating when considering God’s plan of redemption for sinful mankind is that He could have simply sent Jesus to earth in the form of a man, and not required Him to be born into a flawed human lineage. But there was a method to God’s seeming madness.

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. – Hebrews 2:17 NLT

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15 NLT

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. – Hebrews 5:2 NLT

Jesus was born as a man. He took on human flesh and lived among sinful men and women, yet never sinned Himself. He did what no other human being had ever been able to do: live sinslessly and righteously, in complete obedience to His Father, which made Him the perfect, spotless sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He became the restorer of life, the redeemer of the lost, the sinless Savior of the world.