Tag Archives: Boaz

Christ as the Kinsman-Redeemer in the Book of Ruth

15 Sep

Read Ruth 1-4.

The Bible has a bit of everything in it. There is history, biography, poetry, prose, apocalyptic, and even romance. The book of Ruth is a romance novella which plays an important part in redemptive history. God could have just thrown a couple together in an arranged marriage and the family line of Christ would have continued on. Yet he chose to give us a glimpse into the character of a young Gentile woman, in order to give hope to those of us outside of the nation of Israel.

Boaz was a wealthy businessman in Bethlehem; he was powerful and important in society. He was older than Ruth by at least twenty years. He is impressed by Ruth as she works in the field, hearing a good report of her by his foreman. He has heard of her actions in following Naomi to a strange country. He may have thought of his ancestor, Rahab, who was also a stranger in Israel.
Although he is impressed by her and may even be attracted to her, he doesn’t pursue her as, undoubtedly, he feels their age difference is too great. If it were not for Naomi’s meddling and Ruth’s willingness to do as Naomi instructed her, Boaz may never have made a move. When Ruth approaches him the night on the threshing floor and basically proposes to him, he is very humble, not even acknowledging that he is quite an eligible bachelor. Instead, he commends her for not running after the young men. He guards her reputation the night on the threshing floor by sending her away while it is still dark, lest someone assume something happened between them, and then he gives her grain to take with her in case someone was to inquire where she was at that hour.

The Scarlet Thread in this story is Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer. The idea of the Kinsman-Redeemer is that a near relative can redeem, or buy back the property of a relative who had been forced to sell their land for some reason, and now they cannot buy it back themselves because they are impoverished . These laws were in place to ensure that family members are looked after and the land stays in the family. See Deut. 25:5-10 and Mark 12:18-25

The two main requirements of a Kinsman-Redeemer are that he must be 1) qualified to redeem, (a close relative who could afford to buy the land) and 2) willing/able to redeem (not already married). It was voluntary. There was a way out, although it was frowned upon. (See Deut. 25:7-10) He was spit upon and lost his sandal. It was scandalous/he was sandal-less!
Boaz is a wonderful example of a Kinsman-Redeemer who is both qualified and willing. He has a nature that is unselfish and nurturing. He comes to the rescue. He shows great kindness to Ruth. He protects her and provides for her.

He remembers there is another relative who was closer than he who could end up married to Ruth instead of him, was qualified to be a kinsman-redeemer. This is the conflict, or complicating factor you see in all great romances. How will they overcome it? Will our hero and heroine find true love? Thankfully, he was unwilling. He was too selfish. He didn’t mind inheriting Elimelech’s property, he just hadn’t counted on a wife in the deal. As well, their first son would not bear his name. He would also share the inheritance. It was all too much trouble. Boaz tells Ruth he’ll approach the other relative, so she doesn’t have to humble herself by proposing to someone else. He also indirectly promises to care for Naomi as well.
This transaction, done at the “city gates” where all business was transacted before witnesses, was done properly, so there would be no question as to the legitimacy of Boaz’s claim to Ruth and the inheritance of Elimelech. Although it sounds like Ruth is ‘purchased’ in a business transaction, you see from the interaction between them, that Ruth and Boaz do really love each other.

When he first met Ruth one of the things he said to her was, “The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Ruth 2:12 When she approaches him about marriage, she uses his own words and images back to him to show how he can help her practically and bless her and be the answer to her prayer. “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” Ruth 3:9

This reminds us of the idea of Eve being made from Adam’s rib. Matthew Henry has a great quote that’s nice for weddings.

“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam;
not made out of his head, to rule over him;
nor out of his feet, to be trampled upon by him;
but out of his side to be equal with him;
under his arm to be protected,
and near his heart, to be beloved.”

To draw out the Scarlet Thread in this narrative, we see Christ as our Kinsman-Redeemer. He is like Boaz because he “owns the field” and marries one who was formerly a stranger and foreigner who puts her trust in Him and becomes His bride. Christ is even better than Boaz as a Kinsman-Redeemer. We are destitute spiritually, with no way to get out of debt and no way to provide for our eternal well-being. Christ steps up. He is our kinsman, one who is like us, who is our friend, who sticks closer than a brother. He is qualified. He is able to redeem.

He sees our situation and is moved with compassion. Compassion has the idea of suffering together. But he did more than that. He doesn’t merely feel a sad situation and feel pity for us. He does something about it. This is AGAPE love; love in action.

He set aside His royal robes and willingly condescended to become one of us. Then He lived a perfect life that we could not, died a sacrificial death to pay a debt He did not owe and we could never repay. Having accomplished our Redemption, our ‘purchase’, He ratified it by rising from the dead. He has purchased His people. Like Boaz’s official transaction at the gates of the city, so Christ purchased His bride publicly when He died on the cross. “This thing was not done in a corner.” Acts 26:26 By purchasing us and bringing us into His family, He saved us from destruction.

We are no longer destitute. We are heirs, co-heirs with Christ, and He owns all things. He is our Bridegroom. He has purchased His Bride, “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Pet. 1:18,19

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isaiah 54:4,5
This story is another example of a situation where we wonder if people are going to mess up the plan of God, like Judah could have by going to Canaan and marrying a Canaanite woman, or like Elimelech and Naomi could have by moving to Moab for an extended length of time and having their sons marry Moabite women. Yet, in both cases God overruled the situation and brought them back to Israel, both times with foreign women.
The characters in this story take turns blessing each other. For a short book, there’s a whole lot of blessing going on, nine in fact.
First Naomi blesses Ruth following the death of her husband and sons, “And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’” Ruth 1:8,9
Boaz and his reapers exchange blessings with each other. “Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The LORD be with you!’ And they answered him, ‘The LORD bless you!’” Ruth 2:4
Naomi blesses Boaz. “And her mother-in-law said to her, ‘Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you.’ So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, ‘The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.’ Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!’ And Naomi said to her, ‘This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.’” Ruth 2:10-20
Then Boaz blesses Ruth in response to her self-sacrificing care of her mother-in-law, “And Boaz answered and said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.’” Ruth 2:11,12
Boaz blesses Ruth after her ‘proposal.’ “Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.’” Ruth 3:10
Then the leadership of Bethlehem bless them on their marriage. “And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.’” Ruth 4:11-12
Then finally, the women of the town bless the LORD on behalf of Naomi on the birth of Obed. They also bless Obed. “Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.’” Ruth 4:14-15

Prayer-“Thank you for seeing me in my distress and rising up to do something to relieve it. Thank you for being qualified to save by being rich so that you could redeem me, and yet becoming poor, so you could be like me, and a human, so you could be related to me. Thank you for being able to  save and willing to save. Thank you for your tender care and loving kindness.” Amen.

Questions-How do you feel about the poor? Do you have poor relatives who need help? Did you ever feel stigmatized because of a relative? How did you deal with it? Have you ever felt like an outsider?

Response-Sometimes we can be kinder to strangers than we are to our own relatives. I know that to be the case with me. Pray that God would show you a way to minister to the needs of a near relative. Show them love in a tangible way because you are willing and able and because you care about them as family members.

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