Death and Emptiness to Life and Fullness

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

Death and Emptiness to Life and Fullness
The fourth chapter of Ruth comprises three different sections. Together they bring the story of Ruth full circle from Ruth 1 where Naomi, through a set of circumstances, found herself barren and empty because death had stripped her of the males in her family. Only two daughters-in-law remained. Now in this great concluding chapter, the story which started in desolation ends with a blessing. Such are the stories of God’s amazing grace.

Ruth had made a request of Boaz. She had asked him to be her kinsman-redeemer. He promised that the next morning he would consider her request and make a decision for her. So in the morning, he meets with another kinsman, who has the levirate right to marry Ruth, along with the elders of the city in order to make good his word to Ruth.

In the opening section, (Ruth 4.1-12), Boaz meets with the kinsman who is nearer in line than he is along with the legal assembly and secures the right to buy Elimelech’s field and marry Ruth and care for Naomi. The request of Ruth (Ruth 3.12-13) involved the matter of the prior right of the nearer redeemer in the matter of marrying Ruth. Boaz gathers the legal assembly in the town. This assembly’s task was to sit in judgment in criminal cases and exercise judgment in civil cases in the transfer of rights. In a society that was not literate, the legal translations were orally recorded and preserved for posterity. This occurred in case a subsequent dispute in the civil matter arose. The negotiations took place and Boaz received a blessing, which was that through this family Boaz may flourish and gain renown in Bethlehem. Thus, the right to redeem Ruth and bring life and fullness, which would replace death and emptiness, was set in motion.

The second section, (Ruth 4.13-17) shows the women of the town in joyous celebration over the child born to Boaz and Ruth as the one who restored life and fullness to Ruth and Naomi. In this short section, the emptiness of Naomi fully found complete restoration. Boaz and Ruth are married and God allows Ruth to conceive and bear a child. She was barren for ten years in Moab, but God gave instant fertility. It is a grand conclusion of one woman who, in a land where life depended on men, gave up her right to find a husband and committed herself to an older woman. Ruth was restored all that she had given up plus more. The child also was a redeemer for Naomi. He restores her life and becomes her support and stay in her old age. Death and emptiness have finally given way to life and fullness. One can see an echo of the reverse of the Garden story here. The name of the child carries great meaning in the setting of this story: Obed means guardian or provider.

In the final section, (Ruth 4.18-22), the family line of David is recounted. Ruth was a loving, committed daughter-in-law to Naomi as she left national and religious origins. Naomi’s risky plot on the threshing floor demonstrated Naomi’s care and concern for Ruth. Boaz’s faithfulness to his family responsibilities went beyond the claims of self-interest. The birth of the child to Ruth and Boaz demonstrates God’s protection and graciousness. These events brought a home and a husband to Ruth. They also brought life and fullness to Naomi. But, in addition to all this, the faithfulness of all the parties concerned brought a great blessing on the nation Israel, because Obed was the grandfather of David.

It is difficult in our Western world to gain the full impact of being left destitute and being restored by a grandson.

It is difficult in our Western world to gain the full impact of being left destitute and being restored by a grandson. We should not forget that the character of God’s restoring power is seen in this story. Feeling the pangs of death, is your gage on empty? God will bring restoration to you through his son, Jesus. Be patient and let him restore. This story demonstrates the Bible’s main theme of salvation history of which we are direct benefactors.


  • Think about the times you needed God to bring restoration to your emptiness. Make a list and recite them often.

Living into the Story

  • Find an area of your life that needs God’s redemptive power to invade. Ask him to bring redemption to you just like he did to Ruth and Naomi. Be patient!

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)