Today’s reading: Ruth 1-4.
All things work together for good, for those who love the LORD (Romans 8). We usually think about the principle of that key verse applying to our personal circumstances. Today I want you to consider how God worked all things together for good through the history of the Jewish people, even through the life of a widowed Moabite woman named Ruth.
Ruth returned to the area around Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi, after all the men in the family died. She pledged to follow Naomi’s God all her days, and her faithfulness caught the eye of Boaz, one of Naomi’s close relatives. Boaz took care of Ruth as she gleaned in the fields. Romance bloomed between the two, and Boaz committed to marry her. One obstacle stood in the way: another closer relative held the right and responsibility of kinsman-redeemer.
The kinsman-redeemer rescued family members from calamity. If a woman’s husband died, the brother married her in order to save her from destitution. The sons of this new marriage would carry on the name of the dead brother. If poverty caused loss of property, the kinsman-redeemer stepped in to buy back the lost land for the family.
In the case of Naomi and Ruth, whoever acted as the kinsman-redeemer needed to do two things: buy back a piece of land that Naomi’s husband sold before moving away, and marry Ruth. Boaz presented this opportunity to the closer relative. He wanted the land, but backed away when he learned it would mean marrying Ruth. He gave up his obligation (because he feared it would lessen his children’s’ inheritance) but Boaz gladly fulfilled it. In time Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, whose grandson, David, became king of Israel.
God used the law of the kinsman-redeemer to accomplish several things:
- He rescued Naomi from her bitterness by providing someone to care for her and to carry on her husband’s name. She also received a grandchild to love and adore.
- He rescued Ruth and provided her a loving husband and child.
- He continued the family line that produced King David and eventually Jesus Christ.
- He gave a wonderful example, and more than that laid down the legal foundation, of how Jesus would one day redeem those who believed in him. Pastor Chuck Smith explains it well:
Even as Boaz was the kinsman redeemer, fulfilled the law, redeemed the property in order to get the bride, so Jesus Christ is our kinsman redeemer. He became a man in order that He might be next of kin to man, in order that He could redeem man. It was necessary for Him in order to be the kinsman redeemer, the goel, to become a man. That was an essential. That is why the incarnation, so that as a man He could be a kinsman redeemer to redeem man, because the earth had been sold by Adam to Satan.
We read in Matthew 13, “The kingdom is like unto a man going through a field, discovering a treasure, who for the joy thereof immediately goes out and sells all that he had in order that he might buy the field, and obtain the treasure.” Boaz bought the field so that he could obtain the treasure of Ruth. Jesus paid the ultimate price to buy back this sinful world so that he could obtain the treasure of his redeemed church.
Image by gnuckx on Flickr, CC by 2.0