Tag Archives: Rahab

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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Christ as the Scarlet Cord of Rahab

11 Sep

Read Joshua 2:1-24 and Joshua 6:15-25

The Bible is an honest book, stating things as they are. It says Rahab was a harlot, a woman who sold her body for money. Some people try to downplay this by saying she was just an inn-keeper. However, in those days, only men were innkeepers. In written bills of that time, the cost of the bed is listed as a girl, whose services would have been included. Rahab may have been in such a place. It was therefore natural for the spies to lodge there as it would have been the only place to stay in a small place like Jericho.

Somehow, the king of Jericho heard there were Jewish scouts in the city and called for their immediate capture. They were probably not dressed like people in Jericho, so they would have stood out.  Meanwhile, Rahab had become aware of the true identity of her guests, and had hidden them on her roof under stacks of flax. Her house would have been built on the double city wall, so it would have been higher than any other, preventing it from prying eyes. The spies were safe.

Rahab misled the king’s messengers. Then, while they were searching the countryside, she talked with the spies. She told them she knew that God had given them the land. Her people had heard about the miracle God had done for them, in parting the Red Sea, and this was forty years after the fact! She said the men of Jericho had lost courage to face the Israelites because of their God.

She was a wise woman who acted in light of proper information. She used discretion in talking about them and shrewdness in hiding them. She was hoping that in light of what she had done for them, they would do something for her. “Since I have saved your lives, will you in turn save mine and that of my relatives?” She makes them swear by God because she knew then they would keep their promises.

She was sure that when the people of Israel attacked, her people didn’t have the slightest chance against them. She had heard what they had done to the kings, Og and Bashan.She asked for a sign that they would save her when their armies returned to take the city. They told her to put a scarlet cord on her window and no one who was inside with her would be harmed.

Some commentators think this scarlet cord represented her occupation. It was her ‘red light’ in the window, and therefore would not arouse suspicion. That may or may not be true; but it represented an agreement between the two parties. As soon as they left, she bound the cord. She took it seriously and didn’t want there to be any mistake.

I’m sure as the Israelites marched around the city, she checked and rechecked that it was still there and clearly visible, for her life would soon depend upon its being seen. Her faith was so strong that she was able to convince her relatives to come and stay with her. Every one of them was spared. Compare that to Lot, whose sons-in-law mocked him when he warned of coming judgment.But notice that although her family members’ lives were spared, they did not believe in the God of the Israelites, like Rahab did. “…she lives in Israel to this day.”

Faith is a fixed and profound trust in God and the Word. Rahab had this kind of faith. Therefore, God took her tarnished portrait, cleansed it and hung it next to Sarah in the gallery of the heroes of faith (Heb. 11:1, 30, 31). These two women are the only two females in a long list of men. Rahab, like Sarah, a heroine of the faith? Yes, for God is no respecter of persons. There are no impossible cases with Him. He justifies the ungodly.

This was only the beginning. She lived in Israel,gave up her former way of life, married an Israelite named Salmon, and became the father of Boaz, the husband of Ruth. Rahab becomes the great-grandmother of King David.

Scripture doesn’t tell us the names of the two spies sent to Jericho, but the romantic in me likes to think one of them was Salmon, who eventually became her husband. I believe he was impressed with her faith in a God she had only learned about from afar. It was the original two spies who were the ones who personally retrieved Rahab and her family from Jericho.

It seems Joshua didn’t need the report of the spies in order to know to attack the city. So why were they sent? Because a sovereign God was searching out a particular woman to be saved.

The reason Rahab was protected? Because she protected the spies. Her whole family was saved physically, but only Rahab chose to continue to live among the Israelites.Only she had true faith. But notice they needed to be inside the house to be protected. Likewise, merely knowing that Christ is our shelter from judgment does us no good on its own. We must be in Christ. And like Rahab, we must hurry to secure our eternal safety.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” Rom. 8:1

The scarlet cord is a symbol that’s often used when speaking of how Christ is hidden in the Old Testament, woven into the familiar stories, hinted at in symbols and types and shadows. The whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments together, speaks of Christ. From the first promise of a coming Messiah in Gen. 3:16 to the Passover Lamb and the Manna from heaven, and the rock smitten to provide water for the people of Israel, to the bronze serpent on the pole, to the sign of Jonah in the depths for three days; He is there, until he appears in the New Testament in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  He is the Scarlet Cord that saves those who believe what He says. We must be ‘in Christ’ to be safe from judgment.

Prayer– “Father, thank You for this word picture of a scarlet cord, which reminds us of Your covenant with us, to save us from Judgment if we are in Christ. Thank you for searching us out in love, and for Your faithfulness and mercy toward us.”

Question– How do you think Rahab would have been accepted in Israel? How comfortable are you in dealing with people who have been saved from a sordid or scandalous past? Do you only associate with people who are ‘like you’?

Response– Research a group like International Justice Mission or Carey Outreach Ministries. Prayerfully consider how you can help (prayer/financial support) of the aftercare of women rescued from human trafficking for sexual purposes. These organizations provide counselling and teach life and job skills. The women are also redeemed (bought back) from their abductors/pimps.

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