To Raise Up the Name of the Dead
July 3rd, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
TO RAISE UP THE NAME OF THE DEAD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-3-60 8:15 a.m.
Now, if you will turn with me to the fourth chapter of the Book of Ruth; this is the last sermon that will be delivered on the Book of Ruth; Ruth chapter 4. Last Sunday morning we were in the third chapter of the Book of Ruth, and we left off at the fifteenth verse of the third chapter of the Book of Ruth, Ruth 3:15. And the story there, as we pick it up; in the third chapter, Naomi says, "Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?" [Ruth 3:1]. And we learned last Sunday morning what Naomi had in mind. According to the law of the levirate marriage, the family of Elimelech – all the male members being dead – according to the law of the levirate marriage, the next of kin was asked to take the widow and raise up seed in the name of the dead and to redeem the inheritance of one who had lost his allotment in Israel.
Now, for some reason, and I suggested to you last Sunday morning, that I thought there were two reasons why Boaz might have hesitated to offer himself as the redeemer to the family of Elimelech. One, of course, was that there was a nearer kinsman. Second, I think Boaz was much older than Ruth the Moabitess. And he hesitated for those two reasons. So, Naomi, who is a godly woman and who loves Ruth in return for the great wonderful devotion and commitment of Ruth to her, Naomi suggests to Ruth how she might do, to lay herself, in faith and in trust upon the heart and in the love of her kinsman-redeemer.
So, according to the instructions of Naomi, Ruth goes at night and lays herself at the feet of Boaz [Ruth 3:7]. Now, Boaz, of course, could have spurned her; could have spit upon her, could have rebuffed her, could have rebuked her, just as the Lord could us. It isn’t because the Lord needs us that He is gracious toward us, nor is it because the Lord could not do without us that He sets His love upon us. It is altogether a gesture of mercy and of grace that God condescends to look upon such creatures as we. So, Ruth lays herself at the feet of Boaz and just commits herself to his loving grace, and what he does is in the love and the mercy of Boaz, just as what God does with us is according to His own merciful, gracious heart. He could send us all into perdition, and we deserve it. He could damn us all, and we deserve it. He could cut us off from our inheritance in glory, and we deserve it.
We’re all lost sinners – all of us. We have forfeited our inheritance and our right. What God does with us is according to His mercy. No man can walk up to God and say, "Look at me how worthy I am. Or, give me my just deserts. I’ll buy, I’ll purchase my way into heaven." Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight [Isaiah 64:6]. And the kindness of God toward us is out of His merciful and loving heart.
So the response of Boaz, if he responds, is in himself, it’s in his soul. It’s out of the regard he has for this poor Moabitess, disfranchised girl named Ruth. Now, what does he do? Immediately, immediately, when she comes in her need and in her poverty and in her widowhood, immediately, he responds magnificently, gloriously. Just like God will respond to you when you come to Him in your need and in your poverty; He will respond with all of the love and favor of heaven. And he [Boaz] does here. So he said when the morning came – [Ruth 3] verse 15, "Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and gave it to her." And she took it home to Naomi.
Now, we quit there last Sunday morning. Why did he measure six, six? Seven is the complete number. Seven is the perfect number. Six is always the incomplete number, always. In the Holy Scriptures, the number 6, 666, or 60, all of those numbers, without variation, are incomplete numbers, they are all symbolic. And seven is the complete number. Why does he measure just six, and not seven? The reason is this: he was going to give her the seventh on the morrow. What is the seventh? He was going to give her himself on the morrow. And without him, nothing is perfect. And without him, nothing is complete. But having Him, we have all things and the world and heaven beside.
What is Boaz going to give Ruth who trusts in him? Is he going to give her some corn to take back to Naomi? Is he going to drop for her handfuls of purpose? Is he going to leave a sheaf behind for her to glean? Is he perhaps going to give her a field or a cottage? No, he’s going to give her the seventh measure tomorrow, the next day: himself. And with him, all things are full and complete.
It is so with us. What is our hope in God, and what do we expect from the Lord? Well, we expect a mansion. That’s right. Then we expect to walk on golden streets. That’s correct. And we expect to look upon the beauties of the celestial city, to walk through the pearly gates, and to observe the walls of jasper, and to live by the river of the water of life, and to pluck from the fruit of the tree of life. All of those things we expect, and that’s our hope. But, if that were all – just six measures of gold or six measures of pearl and jasper, it still would be vacant and empty. Our completion and our perfection lie in the gift of Himself.
You know, I one time heard of a neophyte – a novice, a young minister who was just beginning. And he went out to comfort a dear, old saint who all his life had been a soldier of Jesus, and now his last great triumph had begun. He was just this side of the beautiful city. And as he lingered, this novice of a young preacher sought to comfort him. So he read for him from the fourteenth of John: "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions." And the young fellow stopped. And the old soldier of the cross said, "Oh, my young brother, read on. Not that. Read on." So the young fellow opened his Bible again and read on: "If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" [John 14:1-3]. And the old soldier of Jesus said, "Young man, that’s it. That’s it. What these old eyes are a-looking for is not for a mansion, or a golden street, or a pearly gate. What these old eyes are a-looking for is the vision of my Savior, His blessed and holy face. That’s it."
Not something, but Somebody. Not six measures of barley, but the seventh: Himself. And the gift of [Himself] makes all things precious, and beautiful, and happy, and complete. I read where a poor, outcast girl who had given herself to vile sin and now was outcast like a banana that’s been eaten and you throw the peeling away, like a grain and the husk is thrown away, like a fruit and the shell or the outside is thrown away; the world is so much like that with a girl. As long as she is pretty and attractive, they receive her. Then, when they’ve taken away her attractiveness and her beauty, they cast her upon the heap. So, this girl found herself in the great city of New York – diseased, and now sick, and poor, and hungry, and living in filth and dirt and squalor. And a good Christian woman heard of her and went to see her and saw her in the disheveled room; in the dirt and in the disease and in the illness. And this wonderful, Christian, sainted mother in Israel ministered to the girl. She made up her bed, she tidied the room, she brought her food, she bought her medicine, she took care of her. And then as the days passed, upon a time when she had tidied the room, and made up the bed, and brought some food, and bought some medicine, and had ministered to her, this time when the dear, sainted woman left, she stooped over and kissed the girl on her brow and quietly went away. Later, when the girl recovered and stood up in the congregation to testify of the saving grace of Jesus, she said, "When this sainted mother came and tidied the room, and made up the bed, and brought me food, and bought me medicine, I appreciated it, but it touched me not." But, she testified, "When she stooped over and kissed me, it broke my heart." Not the flinging of a coin, not the giving of a gift, but the offering of yourself.
That’s why I’ve always said the great instrument of recovery for the poor and the lost and the forsaken is not some civic drive, altruistical though it may be. Nor is it some civic program, as gracious and as affluent as we might be able to make it; but what wins people and what changes lives is the gift of ourselves; offering our hands, offering our hearts, offering our best for them, and that’s why a church working in a neighborhood of poverty and disease can lift it up, doing what money can’t do, accomplishing what things can never accomplish. That’s the love of God in Christ Jesus, and that’s the love to other people through us.
So, the seventh measure: he gives himself. And this is the way that he did it. Now, chapter 4:
Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
And Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
And he said unto this kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:
And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it; but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said – the kinsman said, the closer kinsman said – I will redeem it.
Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
And the kinsman – the nearer kinsman – said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance; redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was his testimony in Israel.
Therefore, that nearer kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s, and all that was Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place; ye are witnesses this day.
And all the people that were in the gate, and the ten elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife; and when he went into her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman – without a redeemer – that his name may be famous in Israel.
And how famous it is, even Jesus our Lord –
And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age:
And how true that is of Jesus –
for thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him
– Jesus our Lord.
And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed; And he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
– The father of Jesus.
Then Boaz went up to the gate, and sat him down in the gate [Ruth 4:1]. That is he went to the courthouse, he went to the judiciary, he went to the place where all legal things were settled. And this is a matter of legality; an inheritance has been forfeited, and one has died, and the whole name is about to be blotted out. And he went up to the judiciary, he went up to the gate, he went up to the courthouse. He went up to the place where these legal matters are settled. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." And those ten men represent the law, and there the law sits. The inheritance of the house of Elimelech has been lost, and the name of Elimelech is about to be blotted out; and it carried with it this poor Moabitess girl. She is homeless. The name of every male in the family has been lost through death, and she herself is cursed to the tenth generation.
And the law sits there and points it out. So Boaz speaks, and he says to the nearest of kin, "Ho, there!" Now he’s not named here, but he’s described here as barefoot, when he took off his shoe as a sign that he was not able to redeem and as he would be described in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy where this law is set forth: he belonged to him of the house that had his shoe loosed, barefoot. So, he says to Barefoot, "Ho!" And Barefoot stops. And Boaz says to Barefoot, in the presence of the ten elders, representing the law, "Here is an inheritance that has been lost, and here is a family name that has been blotted out, and here is a poor, Gentile girl, cursed to the tenth generation. Redeem them, redeem them.
And Barefoot says, "I cannot redeem them. The law says I cannot help them. This girl is cursed to the tenth generation. I cannot save them. You save them, Boaz. It is yours by right of redemption. You redeem them" [Ruth 4:6]. All the law can do is point it out. All the law can do is judge. All the law can do is say, "Pick up stones and stone her." All the law can say is that he has wasted his substance in riotous living; he is a prodigal and is condemned. All the law can do is to judge us for what we are, sinners, lost, defiled in our inheritance, forfeited and taken away.
But grace is bound by no law. Love is constrained by no law! Where a perfect love is there is not any law. And Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, Boaz says, "I will take her. I will redeem her. I will buy back the lost inheritance. I will bring into the family of God this poor Gentile girl, cursed to the tenth generation." And what law couldn’t do, grace did do. And the kinsman-redeemer buys back the inheritance, and buys back the name of the dead, and takes to heart and to wife this poor Gentile girl, cursed and separated from God [Ruth 4:10].
Now, does that have any meaning for us? Why, just for me to tell the story, just for me to say it, immediately brings to our hearts the whole Christian race and provision of God for us. Now, in the few moments that remain, just to spell it out for us: first, God has no message for those who think themselves rich and with need of nothing. As He said to the church at Laodicea, "You say that you are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing; and you know not that you are poor and blind and naked" [Revelation 3:17]. When a man says, I don’t need God, and I’m increased in myself, and I have all of the ableness for all of the issues of life and death and eternity I will ever face, God has no message for him. But if somebody is poor and if somebody is in need and if somebody’s weak, God’s strength can be made perfect in our weakness [2 Corinthians 12:9]. God can bare His right arm to redeem us. And God can bestow upon us the true riches as He said to Laodicea: "I counsel thee to buy gold of Me, tried in the fire" [Revelation 4:18]. So, the first thing: there is no redemption for one who thinks himself above the need of God. But for the poor and the needy and the lost, there is a Kinsman-Redeemer.
There is a goel for you. Now, He must be this One who redeems us and saves us, He must be first near of kin. That’s the first thing. By this word that I read last week in Leviticus 25:48-, it is spelled out there. He must be near of kin, He must belong to us, He must be in our family.
You know, that’s the most interesting word, and I’ve been trying to speak on it for days and still haven’t encompassed it. The nineteenth Psalm, the beautiful nineteenth Psalm, closes with that incomparable fourteenth verse, which is a prayer, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Kinsman" [Psalm 19:14].
Now, you have it translated "Redeemer." It’s the same word. Translate it either way you want. Anywhere you see that word "redeemer," you can translate it kinsman. "O Lord, my strength and my Kinsman." He must, then – our Redeemer – He must then first be our Kinsman. "Forasmuch," says the author of Hebrews in the second chapter and the fourteenth and following verses:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same;
– He became flesh and blood, our Kinsman –
that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death,
And deliver them who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him
– our flesh, our nature –
the seed of Abraham – flesh and blood.
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made liken unto His brethren – our kinsman, like unto us – that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Wherein He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them also that are tempted.
He had to be a kinsman. He was made, as Paul says, "under the law, made, born of a woman" [Galatians 4:4], just like you were born of a woman. He first had to be our kinsman. Second, He had to be able to redeem us. Oh, if a man had hours to speak of that; He had to be able. May I point out to you one passage here in the forty-ninth Psalm to show you how He has to be able, above what a man is able, or the king is able, or the richest is able. Listen to the Psalm:
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him;
(For the redemption of their souls is precious, and it ceaseth forever;)
That he should still live forever, and not see corruption.
For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.
Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not; he is like the beast that perish.
This their way is their folly; yet there posterity approve their sayings.
Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for He shall receive me.
He must be able to redeem. What is a man going to do to redeem us, however mighty, and great, and wealthy, and able he might be, because he’s going to fall into the dust of death just as we are? But, God shall redeem us. So He not only had to be of flesh, He had to be God! "Come," said Hosea, "and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight" [Hosea 6:1-2]. And again in Hosea 13:14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O Death, I will be thy plagues; O Grave, I will be thy destruction." Where did you ever hear that? In the incomparable and glorious fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, Paul finally reaches his peroration and his climax, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God" [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]. Our Redeemer has to be not only a kinsman, He has to be able – He has to be God Himself, God Himself. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my ableness and my Kinsman, my strength and my Redeemer" [Psalm 19:14]. He has to be our Kinsman, and He has to be able.
Then this last word, and just a sentence, then I’m through: and He has to be willing. Boaz could have refused, and Jesus could have refused. But: "Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God" [Hebrews 10:7]. And before the foundations of the earth were laid, there in heaven in the courts of glory, our Savior volunteered to be our Redeemer, to take upon Him our flesh and become our Kinsman, and in the might of His power and in the glory of His perfection, to buy back our inheritance, to give it to us – all that we have forfeited in sin and to Satan, to buy it back for us. And not only that, but to redeem our souls from death: the property and the person, the land that God someday shall give us – and our own glorious, perfected lives without stain, without blemish, all given to us, in the redemption of the grace and love of Jesus.
That’s the reason and I don’t have time for these things, that’s the reason I had you read this Ephesian letter. H has given us the earnest of His Spirit. He has given us the Holy Spirit, which is "the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" [Ephesians 1:13-14], all of it, all of it, our body redeemed, our inheritance redeemed, our souls redeemed, all of it someday given back to us.
What a message! What a gospel! And what an invitation! While we sing this appeal, somebody you give his heart in trust to Jesus; somebody you put his life in the fellowship of the church; while we sing this song, would you come and stand by me? If you’re in the balcony, come down one of these stairways and to the front. If you’re on the lower floor, into the isle and here to the front, "Pastor, I give you my hand; I give my heart to Jesus." Or, "Here is a family of us, we are coming into the fellowship of this church." Would you do so? Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
TO RAISE UP THE NAME OF THE DEAD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Ruth 3:15 "measured six measures of barley."
A. Six, the incomplete, imperfect number why not seven the complete number?
B. Boaz was going to give Ruth the seventh the next day, namely, himself.
C. Picture of Jesus and His bride
A. Elimelech’s name blotted out
B. Boaz redeems the name of Elimelech by taking in Ruth
C. The law can point out, can demand, but can never save
D. Ruth is a trophy of Boaz’s grace
A. Must be a kinsman, Goel
B. Must be able to redeem
C. Must pay the full amount to redeem