The book of Ruth opens with desperation and tragedy. During a time of extreme famine we read as family moves to a foreign land seeking refuge. Tragedy strikes and 3 women lose their husbands. There, in that land far from home, the widows find themselves without protection or provision.
Naomi turns to her grieving daughters-in-law and sends them back to their families. She can’t provide for them, there is no hope staying with her. Naomi says they must leave. But Ruth refuses.
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”Ruth 1:16-17
So together Naomi and Ruth go back… to Bethlehem. A change of venue didn’t change their circumstance; it wouldn’t bring their husbands back to life. But in the homecoming, Naomi and Ruth had one hope: the kinsman redeemer.
“By definition, a kinsman-redeemer was someone who redeemed what was lost. This could be the other persons’ property, their freedom, or even their name. The kinsman might also be called upon to exact revenge on someone who may have killed their relative. In short, the kinsman was a rescuer and restorer. This was not a passive obligation, nor was it something that should be entered into lightly. As you will see shortly there were some obligations necessary for the person who would be the kinsman-redeemer.”crosswalk.com
To be a Kinsman redeemer there were four requirements that had to be met.
1. You had to be kin.
2. You had to be willing.
3. You had to be able to redeem.
4. You had to pay the price in full.
In a time of desperation, both Naomi and Ruth were not abandoned without hope. God’s laws provided the way to protect them in their great need, vindicate their losses, and provide for their future. In fulfilling this privilege/responsibility the kinsman redeemer had to choose the well-being of someone else above their own. In Ruth and Naomi’s case, the one with the first duty was not willing, but Boaz stood true.
Boaz stepped up in the role of kinsman redeemer to protect and provide for Ruth and Naomi.
The parallels between Ruth/Naomi and us are uncanny. We too are destitute and without hope. There is no way for us to work our way out of our condition. We need a redeemer.
When Boaz stepped up to take care of Ruth and Naomi, he provided them a home and protected their future. He also gave Naomi an heir. That child, Obed later became the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David. Obed, Ruth and Boaz are listed in Jesus’ family lineage!
Jesus is our kinsman redeemer.
1. Jesus Became Like Us
2. Jesus Was Willing to Do It
3. Jesus Was Able to Redeem
4. Jesus Paid the Complete Price for Our Sin
Ruth is a powerful story of protection and redemption in the willing, sacrificial act of the kinsman redeemer. And it sets the stage for understanding the redemptive work of Christ for us. I am in awe of Jesus, who was willing to pay it all to redeem us!