Ruth: The Kinsman Redeemer


Then Naomi her mother- in- law said to her, My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do. 5 And she replied, All that you say I will do. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother- in- law had commanded her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, Who are you? And she answered, I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer. ESV
The Bible is a book about the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is the theme of the Bible, and the Book of books, being a masterpiece of literature, presents him in various ways. Some books provide prophesies of his coming, like Isaiah and Micah. The Four Gospels tell us what he did when he came. The New Testament letters explain what Christ accomplished in his death on the cross and resurrection and ascension. Many books in the Old Testament Scriptures present him through what are called “types and shadows” (cf. Heb 10:1). For example, the tabernacle and sacrificial system of the law covenant are pictures of Christ and what he would accomplish.
One of the types or shadows of Christ is that of the kinsman redeemer. In the law or old covenant God gave the Promised Land to the tribes of Israel as their inheritance. But since people live in a world cursed because of human sin, sometimes people in Israel would lose their inheritance through debt, death or other troubles of life. However, God had set Israel free from bondage in Egypt and wanted them to live free from bondage. For this reason, he set up the plan of a kinsman redeemer, who would set his relatives and their land free again. The kinsman redeemer had various duties in the clan:

  • He was responsible for the repurchase of property once owned by clan members but sold from economic necessity (Lev 25:25-30; cf. Jer 32:1-15).
  • If financially able, he also redeemed relatives whose poverty had forced them to sell themselves into slavery (Lev 25:47-55).
  • He had the duty to avenge the killing of a relative by tracking down and executing the killer (Num 35:12, 19-27; Deut 19:6, 12: Josh 20:2-3, 5, 9).
  • He received the money paid to the clan as restitution committed against a deceased clan member (Num 5:8).

The story of Ruth now turns upon this concept of the kinsman redeemer—the one who could set Ruth and Naomi free and restore their family in Israel. Without a kinsman-redeemer, Ruth and Naomi would slide into debt and slavery, and they needed an heir who could possess the land that God had given to the family of Elimelech. Boaz is a close relative and so able to be the kinsman redeemer. But will he do it? He had a number of legal loopholes to allow him to escape this function. To mention one, Ruth was a Moabitess, not an Israelite, and the law said nothing about redeeming a Moabitess. Yet we want to see more than this. Since the Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to see how Boaz serves as a type or shadow of Christ. To do this, we need to know more about this idea of a kinsman redeemer. Naomi wants Ruth to “find rest” (3:1; cf. 1:9) in marriage, perhaps to Boaz. We all need to “find rest” in union to Christ the redeemer.
I.          The idea of a redeemer develops from God’s plan to set a people free from bondage for him.
A.        God choose to make himself known to Israel as the Lord who redeems (Ex 6:6-8).

1.         God saw their terrible condition—cruel bondage in Egypt.

2.         God determined to do everything necessary to secure their release—outstretched arm and great acts of judgment.

3.         God chose to make them his people—the basic promises of the covenant.

4.         God promised them an inheritance—the land as their possession.

Comment: Christ did all this for us in a better way. He saw us in bondage to sin, died on the cross to secure our forgiveness, made a new covenant with us, and will give us a new heaven and earth.
B.        God continued to reveal himself as Redeemer throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

1.         The teaching of the psalmists: Who is the God we worship? Ps 19:14; 69:18; 72:12-14; 77:14-15; 103:1-4; 106:10; 107:2-3

2.         The teaching of Isaiah: What great purpose is God pursuing? Is 41:11-14; 43:14; 44:6-8, 24-26; 47:4; 48:17; 49:25-26; 54:5-8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:16

3.         The teaching of Jeremiah: Where can we find hope when everything around us is crumbling? Jer 50:33-34

Next Step: When you know God as Redeemer, you can think of God this way:

  • As the God who stands by the oppressed
  • As the God who calls captives to freedom in his covenant family
  • As the God who actually sets people free and gives hope

II.        Redemption is costly.
A.        The meaning of redemption

1.         To redeem is to set free by the payment of a price. The redeemer must give something to secure the release of someone. As we have said, Ruth and Naomi were in a precarious financial position, since they were widows. Ruth’s hard work of gleaning had eased their crisis temporarily, but how can they be securely free? They need a redeemer.

2.         To gain freedom, a price must be paid. God built this idea into his law. Consider two examples.

a.         Since God delivered Israel through the means of the plague on Egypt’s firstborn, God required Israel to redeem all its firstborn males, whether sons or animals (Ex 13:1-2, 11-16; cf. Num 3:40-51).

b.         God required his people to protect human life. This included keeping dangerous animals, like bulls, from harming people. If a person’s bull gored a man or a woman to death (what we might call involuntary manslaughter), the bull had to be destroyed, but the owner could redeem his life by paying whatever was demanded (Ex 21:28-32).

3.         Boaz will have to pay to redeem Ruth and Naomi, when he functions as their kinsman redeemer.

B.        God redeemed his people by the payment of a ransom price.

1.         In the shadows of the old covenant, God gave Egypt and other nearby nations in exchange for Israel’s freedom (Is 43:3-4).

2.         In the reality of the new covenant, God gave the precious blood of Christ to redeem us from an empty way of life (1 Pt 1:18-21).

Next Step: Don’t live for evil human desires; live for the will of God (1 Pt 4:1-5).
III.       Redemption provides a hope for the future.
A.        At this point of the story of Ruth, we have reached the turning point.

1.         When Naomi sees how much she has gleaned and in whose field she gleaned, she regains hope (cf. 2:20). She returns to worship, because she thinks of redemption!

2.         This also sets Naomi to thinking about remarriage for her daughter-in-law. Picture her making scones one day, as she thinks about her new career as a matchmaker. “Let’s see… Ruth is an eligible young woman, and Boaz is one of our kinsman redeemers. Now if I can get the two of them together in a more promising romantic situation than when Ruth is sweaty and dirty from gleaning, Mr. Boaz might notice Ruth, and if we do this right, he might want to do more than give her some roasted grain. Hmm, what can I do to help this along?”

B.        In a far greater way, God planned to give us hope and a future in Christ.

1.         We were hopelessly in debt because of sin (Rm 6:23), separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in God’s nation and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12), and destined for wrath (Jn 3:36).

2.         But God decided to send his Son as a kinsman redeemer, putting him in the human family (Heb 2:10-11), to redeem us through Christ’s blood, so that we might have our sins forgiven (Eph 1:7), and receive the free gift of eternal life (Rm 6:23).

Next Step: Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Redeemer?
~ Dave
Pastor Dave Frampton
When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

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