An Immigrant’s Courage – Gospel in Life

An Immigrant’s Courage

Tim Keller |  October 19, 1997

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  • Hope
  • Redemption
Ruth 4:13-17
RS 83-07


It takes tremendous courage to leave the land you’ve always lived in and permanently move to another land. People don’t usually do it unless they expect a better life. In the book of Ruth, we have the story of two immigrant women—Naomi and Ruth—who forge an amazing interracial sisterhood. But these women immigrate expecting to have not a better, but a worse life.
Naomi’s an old widow without hope, because in that society, she’s bereft of everything that could give her meaning. So Ruth goes with her to Israel, despite knowing that because she’s a Moabite, she’ll be hated. And yet, at the end of chapter 4, there’s joy. Why? Naomi has been redeemed.
If you look carefully, there’s an ambiguity in the text that points us to the secret of the story and the secret of our lives. To see this, let’s look at three redeemers in this story: 1) a formal redeemer, 2) a surprise, hidden redeemer, and then 3) a real redeemer.

Ruth 4:13–17

The story of Ruth and Naomi tells about two women from different races who become like sisters. They’re both immigrants, and they go through some really tough times. But when they get back to Israel, even though they don’t have anything and feel pretty hopeless, they find help from three unlikely sources. Their story shows us that it takes a lot of courage to try and make a better life, and that hope can come from places we never expected.

1. The official helper

In the story, there’s this idea of a “kinsman-redeemer,” and there’s a man named Boaz who steps up to be that for Ruth. This is really significant because Ruth is an outsider, but Boaz shows her a lot of kindness. The Jewish laws about land and second chances are really important here, and Ruth bravely asks Boaz to help her out, which he does. The interesting part is that the book is named after Ruth, not Boaz, which hints there’s more to the story.

2. The secret helper

Ruth herself is an important part of the story. She leaves behind her own country to help Naomi, which shows us that having a personal relationship with God is really important. The story shows how Ruth’s friendship and kindness help her overcome the challenges she faces. It’s a reminder that the journey many immigrants and Christians take is deeply personal, and that close relationships can make a big difference when we’re working towards something better.

3. The ultimate helper

The idea of a kinsman-redeemer isn’t just about Boaz. It’s actually pointing to the ultimate Redeemer, Jesus Christ. When we talk about following Christianity, it’s not about trying to be like Ruth or Boaz. It’s about understanding that Jesus loves us, accepts us, and takes care of us. If we put our trust in God and give our lives to Him, we’ll find that He has plans for us that are bigger than anything we could ever imagine.



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