Ruth 4:13

"The Denouement of Ruth: Two Become One Become Three"

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. (Ruth 4:13).

Whenever we read a story or hear a story, if the story is of any quality at all, we automatically sense a bit of anxiety. The skillful storyteller knows how to utilize that sense of discomfort in the mind of the hearer. The storyteller weaves together strands of conflict until all the strands come together in a big tangled knot.

It happens in very simple stories, like the Three Little Pigs. You sense anxiety as you think, "What will happen when the wolf comes to the first house?"

And again, thereís a sense of anxiety when he comes to the second house - "What will happen the wolf stands outside the brick house?"

It happens not only in simple stories, but in complicated stories. Charles Dickensí book, Great Expectations. You wonder what will happen to Pip - will he uncover the identity of his benefactor and how will that impact his fortune?

Perhaps youíve read the Book of Ruth many times, and yet, as weíve studied anew, you have felt a bit of anxiety and have asked yourself, "What will become of Ruth?" "What is going to happen to Naomi?" Perhaps there is a little bit of distress as we wait for this tangled mess, these two widows without any resources, without any recourse, with nowhere to turn, in this strange land, and now coming back to their own land. They are ridiculed as they come (the women pointing at them, "Is this really Naomi, the pleasant one? She doesnít look very pleasant.")

We have wondered who will take up for them; will things work out between Boaz and Ruth? Thereís a name, a literary term, for this part of the story in which the anxiety subsides and conflict, like a bundle of nerves, is now resolved. Denouement. If it sounds like a big fancy French word, itís because it is one.

The word, denouement, literally means, "the untying." And as the writer has woven together all these strands into a knot of conflict, now in the denouement this knot is unraveled and straightened out. It answers the question, "Whatever happened to Naomi and Ruth and their predicament?"

For the next few weeks we will turn our attention to this sense of relief to know that now God has worked out all of these conflicts and all of these hopes are now realized - the knot comes untangled. Itís my favorite part of the Book.

Itís the favorite part for all of us - we want to know from the first words of the story, "Whatís going to happen in the end?" We have this longing for this unraveling, or denouement.

Last week we came to the climax of the Book - the court case. Boaz had settled with the other redeemer that he is entitled to Ruth. He then makes the declaration, "I will marry Ruth and I will redeem Naomi." And all of the people at the gate cried out, "Witnesses" attesting to this legal declaration.

Then the chorus of elders pipes in and they pronounce the blessing, "And may Ruth bring forth many faithful children in your house." As soon as that blessing is pronounced, the next verse says, "So Boaz took Ruth for his wife and he went into her and the Lord enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son."

The first part of the untying in this verse is nine months long. It incorporates their courtship, marriage, conception of the child, and the birth. The verse begins with a wedding, "She became his wife." The kinsman redeemer not only admired her from afar - remember the first day - we were there - when he came into the field and looked down and said, "Who is that?" He took notice of her. But he was not content to just take notice of her. He pursued her, he laid hold of her and was not content until it could be written, "He took her as his wife." He entered into covenant (bonds) with her. And that covenant bond enables that most intimate expression of love between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. The two become one. They become one relationally and they become one flesh. They become physically and sexually united.

Notice the beautiful little phrase that comes next, and the beautiful truth that it illustrates for us: "He went into her and the Lord enabled her to conceive."

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. (Ruth 4:13).

We began our study high-lighting some of the primary features of the Book of Ruth. We noted especially how the providence of God is seen so clearly in this Book. We promised that in this Book the invisible would become visible - that the unseen hand, which governs all of human history would become seen. This is one place that divine providence shows itself to be at work.

In this act of human pleasure, sexual intercourse, in the intimacy and joy that God has designed for the marriage bed, though it is an act of human will, we learn from this verse that God is very much at work in that act, and by it he brings into being a new life.

This is not a miracle as when we found the child implanted in the womb of the virgin. A miracle is an act of God, which is independent of any other agency. This is not a miracle in the sense that there is another agency here. There is the union of a man and a woman.

But we see God not only at work in miracles; God is at work in ordinary ways in providence. This child does not come into being simply from the union of a man and a woman. He comes into being by the union of a man and a woman by God enabling her to conceive. It shows God work in the very normal and natural things of life.

In our everyday conversation we will speak of things that happen naturally, or something that takes place in nature. But I hope by that we never mean that anything happens independent of God, Himself. This is one verse of hundreds of verses in the Bible that makes clear that nothing happens independent of God.

We find that articulated here for us in this beautiful picture, "He went into her - God enabled her to conceive."

And now the childless widow is childless no more. And she gave birth to a son. The two become one and the one becomes three; husband, wife, and child. She gave birth to a son.

Does that ring a bell with you? So many times that phrase occurs in the pages of Holy Scripture to signify a momentous shift in events. "And Adam had relations with his wife again and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth and he becomes the first of the godly line."

From the Book of Judges: "Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson and the child grew up and the Lord blessed him."

Another, "And it came about in due time after Hannah had conceived that she gave birth to a son and she named him Samuel saying, ĎBecause I have asked him of the Lord.í"

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went into her and lay with her and "she gave birth to a son and he named Solomon. Now the Lord loved him."

In all the pages of Holy Writ the most famous occurs of that little phrase, "And she gave birth to a son, her first born, and she wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn."

Weíve been drawing parallels between Ruthís redeemer, Boaz, and our Redeemer, who, by the way, is Ruthís true Redeemer. Boaz redeemed her body, but our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed Ruth in body and soul.

In this first stage of the denouement we have such a rich picture of this parallel. Our Redeemer, our God, the God of the Old Testament Jews, the Covenant Lord, Yahweh, has married Himself to His people, the Church. The Old Testament is rich with that imagery, perhaps certain verses come to mind. In the prophets, especially in Isaiah and Hosea - the bride is the Church and Yahweh is the Groom.

You know, perhaps, that our Puritan fathers and mothers, as they thought about Solomonís love song, saw not only a reference to, and a description of, erotic human love, which it certainly is, but they also saw a metaphor of Christís love for the Church. Therefore, to us, the Church, belongs that verse where we can say with the Church, "I am my belovedís and His desire is for me [the Church]."

With that word, "beloved," so important to the Book of the Song of Solomon, the New Testament picks up on that same imagery and employs the word "beloved" with great force. Jesus is called from heaven "My Beloved", "...this is "My BelovedÖ".

The Church quite frequently is referred to as "Beloved." In the New American Standard Bible, the word "beloved" occurs 67 times in the New Testament alone. In Ephesians 5 the wife is called to submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ, the husband is called to love his wife and lay down his life for her even as Christ laid down His life for the Bride.

This stretches out this marriage metaphor and applies it to Christís spiritual union with the Church. God has infinitely determined, just like Boaz, not only to admire His bride from afar but to ride in and have her for Himself, to redeem her, to take her, to have union with her, and to bring about from this covenant union, the blessed fruit of such a union.

The marriage metaphor can be applied to the individual Christian as we think about the stages of the spiritual life in Christís work on the cross. Redemption takes place as Christ pays the price for our freedom and our adoption. In time, the Spirit comes and regenerates us - giving us new life. When the Spirit gives us new life its tantamount to God laying hold of us - taking us for Himself and marrying us.

In the pouring out of the Spirit on every one of His children He has union, as the hymn says, "mystic sweet communion" with us and we are welcomed into the most intimate kind of relationship.

Do you know that the word, "know" is a Biblical euphemism for the sexual act? It says, "The Lord knows His people," that is, enters into the most intimate kind of relationship with them.

In the work of sanctification we find the same kind of cooperation that we found in the Book of Ruth where there was a sexual act, humanly speaking, but it was the divine imperative that caused the child to be conceived. So, in sanctification we, on the human side, are striving and choosing and yet, all the while, God is at work in us enabling us to produce spiritual fruit.

In one sense, spiritual growth is a human activity. But, in the ultimate sense spiritual growth is because the Lord enables us to conceive - He is the cause of spiritual fruit. Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing."

If the marriage metaphor can be applied to the individual Christian it more so applies to the whole Church, corporately. Itís not so much that "I am the Bride" but that "We [corporately] are the Bride of the Lamb."

So, it stands to reason that at no time in the Christianís everyday experience is the love relationship with God more real, more felt, more tangible, more manifest, more sensible, than in that time when the Bride gathers together to meet with Groom.

When the Bride assembles the Groom is present and that is why it is particularly fitting for us to celebrate His presence and to receive His presence by enjoying the marriage supper.

In the Last Supper Jesus looks forward to the great Marriage Supper. As he holds up the cup and drinks it, he says, "Until that day when I drink it new with you in My kingdom."

I take that to be a reference not only to the time of the resurrection where He would again eat and drink with them, but to that great day when He would eat and drink eternally with them around the table in Heaven.

To the disciples He says, "I will grant to you that you may eat and drink with Me at My table in My kingdom."

So, today at the Lordís Table we gather corporately as the Bride to have intimate fellowship with the Groom. He gives Himself to our faith as we feed on Him. We have a foretaste of that eternal feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb.

With all this in mind we ought to come now to the Table and dress ourselves with repentance, with gladness, and with a will to receive Christ as He is offered to us in the Table and the Gospel. And we ought to come yielding to the Lord and trusting in Him, giving ourselves to Him and receiving from Him.

This is a glad day for the Christian. Are you glad? This is the gladdest of all days. Let us hasten as a Bride to meet Him, eagerly and gladly greet Him.

How ought the Christian live in the world today? Three words come to mind immediately; submissively, dependently, and lovingly.

We ought to come submissively. As a husband would expect submission from his wife so the Church ought to be in submission to her Groom. This leads us to repentance, because donít you know, and donít I know, how often weíve not been submissive in the last week? So we ought to come to the Table submissively, with repentance.

We need to come dependently, looking to our Provider as a wife might look to her husband as her provider, to receive from Him. We ought to come to the Table looking to receive from Christ right now - not simply going through the mental exercise as we come.

We ought to come not only submissively and dependently, but lovingly. The Book of Zephaniah says, "He exalts over you with songs and shouts of joy." So, let the Church say, "I am my Belovedís and His desire is for me." And since He so desires me, since He has first loved me, than I ought also to love Him.

I am weak in love for Christ in that I frequently do not depend on Christ, and that I quite often am found not submitting to Him. So, I want to come to the Table now, trusting Him, repenting toward Him, that He might inflame faith in me and that I might live obediently, dependently, and lovingly on Him.

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