Wednesday, January 19, 2022

          In Ruth’s story, we meet a man named Boaz who would become her husband.  His name meant “quickness.”  He introduced us to an intriguing role known as a “kinsman-redeemer.”  We likely do not use that expression much in daily conversations.  And this role does not factor much into twenty-first century life.  But in the days of Ruth and Boaz it was a big deal.  This position or role of kinsman-redeemer is found in the section of Mosaic Law in Leviticus 25.  Suppose a man in Israel died but did not have a son at the time of his death.  In that situation, the deceased man’s brother was commanded by Mosaic law to take his brother’s widow as wife, redeem the dead man’s land and provide a son who could carry on the deceased father's name into future generations. This is Boaz's situation as Naomi noted in Ruth 2:20, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”

          In Ruth’s story, it was this same responsibility that Ruth had in mind when she made a request of Boaz to carry out or fulfill this specific role for her benefit. Boaz was happy to do this for Ruth but he made it clear that he was not the nearest kinsman-redeemer to her. (see Ruth 3:12).  There was another man who was rightfully closer to Ruth and her deceased husband.  In progression, this man would have been the right and logical choice.  But Boaz made the promise that he would look into the situation when the next day arrived.  After looking into the matter, Boaz announced that he would be Ruth’s kinsman redeemer taking both the land and Ruth as his wife as the law allowed since the closer relative declined the role.

            We might think that story is rather convoluted and far-removed from the daily things we encounter.  And there is some truth in that statement.  But Boaz’s primary role in Scripture is to foreshadow or symbolize the work that Christ would do for us.  Christ has redeemed a bride for Himself.  And that bride is His Church.  Jesus came to save us from our sins and to redeem us from the consequences of those sins.  After Boaz married Ruth, the line of genealogy that led to Jesus resumed.  Boaz was the father of Obed who was the father of Jesse who was the father of David.  And from David would come Jesus.  Just as Boaz reached out to Ruth to bless and redeem her, Jesus plays the same role for us but on a much grander and greater scale, an eternal scale really.  Boaz fulfilled the Law of Moses perfectly and completely.  Likewise, Jesus kept the Law that we could not keep.  The Lord did this perfectly so that His righteousness was given to us when we had no righteousness of our own to bring before the Father.  As Boaz paid for the right to redeem Ruth, Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross for our sins and to guarantee our salvation.  Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.”  Boaz teaches us that we can easily find glimpses, symbols and images of the work of Christ throughout the pages of the Old Testament.  God was faithfully at work in Israel to bring salvation to the world through the arrival of His Son Jesus who became Kinsman-Redeemer of the world.  Only Jesus could fulfill this role for us.
             Some people see Ruth as a love story.  And to some degree it is.  We see the love that Ruth had for Naomi and the love that Ruth and Boaz came to enjoy and cherish in their new life together.  But in the context of that human love, we find the real love of God for all of us.  A love, as the hymn says, that “wilt not let me go.”  And in that enduring love we are able to rest our weary souls.  We learn from Ruth that love is often measured in sacrifice.  Ruth was willing to sacrifice her future so she could stay by the side of Naomi.  Naomi loved Ruth enough to encourage her to leave and seek a new husband (though Naomi refused).  Boaz was willing to remove any and all obstacles that could have kept him from redeeming Ruth.  And on the cross, Jesus sacrificed His life, body and blood so that we would be able to live and know the joy of forgiveness.  So, Ruth is a love story—a story of love that seeks, sacrifices and sustains.  And this love story remains as relevant today as it was long ago in the land and times of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz.  Have a great Wednesday!  We hope to see you tonight for activities for all ages.

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