Redemption and Reward

My dad taught me how to play Crazy Eights when I was a kid (think early double digits, not child prodigy). I learned later that the version I know, which my dad learned when he was out in California, is vastly different than the version North Carolinians know and play.

Anyway, I’m actually pretty good at it. I could even beat my dad about half the time. I can’t beat my brother at a lot of things, but I beat him pretty consistently at Crazy Eights. And at the risk of him reading this post and using this information to somehow remove me from my Crazy Eights throne, I’ll tell you my secret.

My secret is that I play crazy. I keep the game twisting and turning as often as my hand will allow me. For example, let’s say we’ve been playing spades and a competitor lays down a three of spades. Let’s also say I have a seven of spades in my hand and a three of hearts. I’ll play the three and change the suit. (Note: this may also depend on whether I have any special spade cards that could skip the next person or make the person draw cards. It also depends on whether someone’s getting ready to run out of cards.)

Relatively seldom does this affect me negatively. I can usually manage to keep manipulating the game in my favor. There’s a lot of other variables – I could play into my competitor’s hand or have to draw several cards, both of which have happened plenty of times – but it mostly helps me control the game by making it seem like I have very little control.

I like to think it was a mentality similar to this that Boaz had when he met with Ruth’s kinsman redeemer at the beginning of chapter four.

The two met at the town gates amongst the town leaders. Boaz mentions the land of Elimelech’s that Naomi is selling first and asks if the man is interested in buying it.

Of course he would be, and Boaz knew that. Who would turn down land when it could earn them money? Not a very helpful card in Boaz’s hand. Boaz was an honest man, so he would’ve played this awful card even if he didn’t have to. However, he did have to since he had to be completely transparent in front of the town leaders. He had to be rid of all his cards at the end of the game and wouldn’t want to get caught cheating.

Boaz played his bad cards first so that when he played his best card, the game would be over.

“Then Boaz told him, ‘Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family'” (Ruth 4:5, NLT).

This is so brilliant and coy of Boaz because all he’s doing is stating facts, but he’s doing it in a way that will deter the potential redeemer. First, he includes the fact that Ruth is a Moabite. Boaz isn’t holding this against her nor is he using it against her. But the fact remains that we don’t know how the other relative felt about foreigners, and we don’t know if Boaz knows either. It’s possible he includes this detail simply in the spirit of honesty, but it’s also possible that he included it to make the man not want to marry Ruth so that Boaz could.

The second reason is one that I had never realized until Sunday. Boaz gives the scenario of Ruth having kids with this man, kids who would inherit Elimelech’s land, taking land from this guy’s other kids. In doing this, Boaz plays on the man’s desire for the land. However, this scenario seems unlikely as Ruth was barren. She’d been married for ten years and not had a single child. Now, this guy didn’t know this, otherwise he would’ve called Boaz’s bluff. He would’ve countered his card and could’ve married Ruth and won.

But he didn’t know. “Then I can’t redeem it,’ the family redeemer replied, ‘because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it'” (Ruth 4:6, NLT).

Boaz married Ruth and redeems the land. The story could end there, and we could talk about how blessed Ruth was. She went from being a foreign widow gathering grain to the wife of the man who owns the land. She endured.

God didn’t want Ruth’s story to end there, though. Ruth had a child, Obed, who was David’s grandfather and part of Jesus’ lineage. God redeemed Ruth and through her was a path to our own redemption.

We do not earn our redemption with God. It does not come to us in degrees and levels. It’s something God offers to all of us, and all we have to do is tell Him we want it. Because through redemption, we receive God’s grace, mercy, peace, joy, and hope. We are benefitted by Him, but He is our grand reward.

By Carrie Prevette

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