In our office devotions recently, we looked at Ruth 4. It’s the chapter where our hero, Boaz, ‘redeems’ Ruth and Naomi, buying back the land they had effectively pawned, and taking the foreign widow as his wife.
If you know the story, though, you’ll remember the other kinsman-redeemer, the closer relative who had a prior claim to the land and the bride and, presumably, the primary responsibility to ensure Naomi was provided for. And when Boaz brought the matter to his attention, he was initially keen to buy the land to help Naomi out. But look at what he said when Boaz mentioned that along with the land, he would also be gaining a wife, who he was to provide with sons to maintain her first husband’s family line:
“I cannot redeem [this land-plus-bride package] because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” (Ruth 4:6)
In the ESV the excuse is, “lest I impair my inheritance”.
He was afraid that taking on his kinsman’s wife would have negative repercussions for his own property, his standing, his name in the community. So he shirked his duty and let soft-hearted Boaz step up.
Look at the blessing the elders and everyone standing around watching gave to Boaz – the one who wasn’t concerned for his own estate or inheritance:
“May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” (vv11-12)
That’s quite the blessing! Standing, fame, fatherhood of a nation! And interesting that Tamar gets a mention, too – she too had lost her husband, and had been wronged by those who should have taken her in and provided children to take her husband’s name, but had eventually received justice (through her own courageous cleverness), and had given birth to the line of which Boaz was descended (see Gen 38).
And indeed, this blessing was abundantly fulfilled, in that Boaz became the great-grandfather of Israel’s great king, David, and ultimately an human ancestor of our even greater King, Jesus!
Boaz’ fame, justice and godliness are well known, and his inheritance is secured for ever. And the other chap? We don’t even know his name.
Living God’s way is often costly. He calls us to set aside things that are important to us – our fame, our security, our hopes and dreams for the future. But stories like this show us that when we lay aside the tiny grains of dust we’re so keen to cling onto, God can do mighty things.
My first book, If Only, launches one month today! It seeks to address three of the big questions many of us start to ask when God seems to be withholding something we’re longing for. Is he really good? Could he be enough for me without this good thing? And is he worth trusting with my everything?
Boaz’s story affirms, loud and clear, that God’s way is definitely worth being obedient to. I wish I’d thought of the story in time to include in that chapter! But it has also been challenging me as I’ve pondered it. What things am I clinging onto, unwilling to entrust to his hands?
One that is a persistent little bubble is Amazon.
Back in 2016 I wrote about how I had been trying to avoid using Amazon, and mostly I’m able to find an alternative (or live without whatever I can’t find elsewhere), but with my book, I have hit up against another dilemma. The received wisdom is that authors should encourage people to buy (especially to pre-order) their books from Amazon, and to review them on there. Interest, sales and reviews all trigger those all-important algorithms and tell them that your book is Important and Popular, so they ought to promote it and give it a good rating. This of course leads to more sales, and more interest, so a better rating and more sales and…you get the picture.
I want you to get the best deal on my book, and I want to sell lots of copies, obviously, but I have decided not to include Amazon links to it in my posts. I’ve edited the pinned post and the ‘Writer‘ page to remove the links I had previously put there, and have left only those to my publisher, the Good Book Company (it is also already on sale through Eden and St Andrew’s bookshops in the UK, and doubtless from other sites in the rest of the world. Plus you can order it from your local bookshop). You’re perfectly capable of finding it on whatever website you choose, but I am going to choose not to worry about my sales figures or my ranking, but to put justice first, and trust God to handle the results.
Back when I first started blogging I was challenged not to follow the received wisdom that says you must post every day in order to build an audience – a tribe – who will follow you, share your posts and give you success. I decided, as an act of faith, not to follow that ‘wisdom’, but to follow an older Law that said I should have a day of rest every week. I chose not to chase my own ‘estate’ – not to strive to build the biggest following I could (and then be enslaved to keeping that following on board, and growing!), but to trust God to do with my little blog whatever he chose.
That was ten years ago, and look at where he’s brought me so far! I think it was a good decision. So I’m going to trust that this will be too.
And if you want to find out what I do say in answer to the question ‘Is God worth it?’, you can pre-order the book here:
PS Have you signed up to my Book News mailing list yet? I’ll be sending out invitations to my online book launch party through that very soon. Sign up here to make sure you don’t miss out.