“Then he said to the close relative, ‘Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ” Ruth 4:3-4
Boaz loves Ruth. He wants to redeem her and marry her and make her his own. But he has a problem. There’s a closer relative and according to the law and the customs of the Jewish people it’s the closet relatives that have the first right to redeem.
Some of you may be saying to yourself right now, “But he loves her and she loves him; doesn’t that trump any other claim anyone might have had?”
The short answer is, no. Love usually had very little to do with the decision of who married who in Bible times. The practical matters of property ownership, having descendants, and inheritance were, under the law, the primary concerns. In this case there were two of these claims in play. One was in regards to property and the other was in regards to producing descendants. Because, as a widow, without living male descendants, the property belonged to Naomi, her family had the first claim at redeeming it if she sold it to cover debt or living expenses. But there was also a requirement for a relative of Mahlon, Ruth’s husband and Naomi and Elimelech’s son, to marry Ruth and redeem her by producing an heir for Mahlon by her.
The relative on Naomi’s side was the closer relative so his claim was the strongest. His claim must either be satisfied our given up if Boaz is to marry Ruth.
When it comes to our salvation from sin there was a conflicting claim to Christ’s that was stronger than his.
Whenever I’ve said this in the past I’ve watched the people I’m talking to and more often than not I can see them nodding their heads and quieting saying, “the devil.”
Friends, let me make something very clear. According to everything I’ve read in scripture, Satan does not now, and has never had, any legitimate claim on us. Through deception he recruited us as his allies, and by further deception he’s sought to exert complete control over us but it’s all lies and usurpation.
Because of sin, it’s death that has the strongest claim on us. And it’s death that threatens to forever separate us from Jesus.
Jesus by conquering sin and then dying and raising from the grave now possesses the keys to death and the grave. He now has the right to both forgive and grant life to all who will repent of their sins and their alliance with Satan and give themselves to an abiding relationship with him.