Before we conclude our study of Ruth, let’s review what the role of the kinsman redeemer was and its purpose. The kinsman redeemer was part of the Law of Moses given to Israel by God. The law was given to make provision for the poor and widows. There are actually two laws at work here- the law of kinsman redeemer and the Levirate Law. Levir in Hebrew referred to the husband’s brother or next closest kin.
The law of kinsman redeemer provided for the redemption of a relative who due to their financial situation were forced to sell their property and/or sold themselves into slavery as an indentured servant to work off their debt. His nearest kinsman could buy back the land and return it to their kinsman and also pay their debt and free their kinsman from slavery. The word redeem means to set one free by paying a price.
In the case of the Levirate law, if a male family member died without an heir , the brother or nearest kin was to marry the widow and give his name to the first born son to pass on the name of the deceased. Four things were need in order to enact these laws:
- Must be near of kin.
- Must be able to redeem.
- Must be willing to redeem.
- Redemption is completed when the price is paid in full.
These laws were given to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. One can read about them in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 25. When obeyed, these laws made sure the dead man’s family name did not die with him and that his property was not sold outside his family.
Jehovah was Israel’s Redeemer. Exodus 6 tells us: “ I am the LORD- I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments.”
In the process of salvation, Jesus becomes our elder brother. “ Both the one who makes men holy, and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers”. (Hebrews 2:11)
The Lord Jesus is our nearest kinsman, our elder brother. He has the power to redeem you and me. Jesus is willing to redeem you and me. Jesus paid the redemption price in full. We have been set free if we accept His payment. In many ways we can view God the Father as our Redeemer as He paid the price for our redemption also. How does He do this? “ For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him , should not perish but have everlasting life.” ( John 3: 16) The Purchase Price God gave- His Only Begotten Son. For you see, we were in need of spiritual redemption. We were in bondage to sin, and Satan was our slave master. We were unable to set ourselves free. There are a lot of counselors and 12 Step Programs out there to help people who are in bondage to everything from alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, and all types of addictions. But those that are successful know the key is realizing you are powerless over your addiction and need a higher power to set you free. You need a kinsman redeemer, who meets the qualifications. Here is what we know: “ If the Son sets you free- you are free indeed!” From our point of view, salvation is free to ‘whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord.” ( Acts 2:21) But from God’s point of view , redemption is very costly. It required the life of His Only Begotten Son. Like the song says- ‘ He paid much too high a price for me!”
Now let us return to the last chapter of Ruth and as always with God the best is yet to come. You may have come to the end of this year and it has been a year of heartache, trials and tribulation. But in the story of our lives when you are a Christian, a born-again believer, God writes the last chapter. This story began with about as much sadness as one can imagine- Naomi’s husband and her two sons have died; she is left with two Moabite daughters-in-law in a foreign country, Moab. So our story begins with three funerals and here in the last chapter we will see how it ends.
Not everyone could perform the duties of a kinsman redeemer. He had to be a near kinsman redeemer. Boaz had to overcome this obstacle, as there was one was closer kin than Boaz. The meeting takes place at the town gate, for this is where such legal transactions took place, it was their ‘city hall.’
The key theme of this last chapter is redemption. In fact this is the key theme of the Bible. Boaz knew there was another of closer kin who could fulfill the role of kinsman redeemer. But remember the kinsman redeemer must not only be nearest kin, he had to also be able to redeem and willing to redeem.
The other kinsman was willing to buy the land until he learned it included marriage to Ruth. He was not willing to marry Ruth, stating marrying Ruth could possibly endanger his estate. Boaz was now the closest kin, able to redeem and willing to pay the full price of redemption. What Boaz did for Ruth, Jesus did for you and me. Ruth has gone from being lonely to being deeply loved. She has gone from toiling in the fields gleaning the leftovers to be married to the owner of the field. She has gone from poverty to wealth. She has gone from worry to assurance, from despair to hope. This is a picture of what happened to us when we were redeemed. Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Don’t you love stories with happy endings? Of course we do. As I often say- ‘ a setback is a set up for a come back.’ I love to tell the story of my redemption, don’t you?
This story started with three funerals in Moab. A bitter, empty widow and her one daughter-in-law, Ruth who will not abandon her. It ends with a wedding, a baby for Ruth and Boaz, a grandson for Naomi and a godly wife for Boaz. What a come back!
Listen to what the women of Bethlehem say to Naomi when her grandson, Obed is born. “ Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he become famous through out Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter –in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.!” Naomi who lost her two sons, is now a grandmother, a ‘ foster mother’ to Obed. The women claim Ruth is better than seven sons.
Our kinsman redeemer is the Lord Jesus. What appeared to be a setback of unimaginable horror, His death on the cross, was a set up for a comeback of unimaginable magnificence. And He is coming back- may He come soon!
Listen to our Kinsman Redeemer’s promise to us , especially when times are difficult and our hearts are heavy. “ Let not your hearts be troubled.”( Listen next to the antidote , the Rx for a troubled heart.) “ You believe in God , believe also in Me.” (Trust is the Rx for a troubled heart.) “ In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” ( I like that our kinsman redeemer looked at the faces of this broken hearted disciples and looked also at you and me in those dark nights of despair- and assures us-‘ if it were not so – I would have told you. Don’t you love the assurance of that statement?!) “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself. “ ( These statements of truth tell us the following: heaven is a prepared place for prepared souls- are you prepared? Also- here is the assurance He is coming back to get us, so where He is we will be also. It is just like I said- a setback is a set up for come back- and He is coming back!) In the meanwhile- we can rest assured even when the way He is going to get us out of the circumstances in our life that cause us worry and grief are not always the ways we would have it- He will find a way. In fact, He can make a way, when there is no way. For He is ‘ the way, the truth and the life.’
Naomi’s life is renewed in the birth of her grandson. Obed, whose name means’ servant, is such a joy to her at this time in her life. She could not have imagined when she left Moab and returned to Bethlehem, she would ever experience such joy again. She is young again in some ways, I can see here laughing, and down on her knees playing games with her grandson. Holding his little hand in hers as she walks about Bethlehem, with a spring in her step and her heart full of life. What a blessing this grandchild was to her, as well as a son dearly loved by Ruth and Boaz.
We should also note there is no better way to get a new lease on life, than to start investing yourself in the younger generation. Many of us would admit- we got old too soon and smart too late. But it is better late than never. And it is always never too late to do the right thing.
Obed’s son would be Jesse the father of David, the most famous king of Israel and the one through whom the Messiah would be born.
When this story began, Naomi had suffered the death of her husband and her only two sons. She was bitter and understandably so; she was empty of the things in her life she cherished- her husband and two sons. She had a grudge against God. She had no hope. She was in despair.
How can a person get a grip on hope- when everything is so dark and hopeless? As I said before- hope is oxygen to the soul. We cannot last long without it- hope deferred makes one heartsick.
Our disappointments reveal what our hope is in. Where is your hope? Is it in your spouse, family, job, business, possessions, finances, health? What is the object of your hope? Because your hope is only as secure as the object of your hope.
What or who do you depend upon to keep you going when times are tough and nights are dark and seem to last forever? Have you ever said to another person- I don’t know what I would do without you. But you realize no one lives forever. Jobs and careers end. Health will diminish with age. Finances are fragile and can go away quickly.
All of us humans depend on something or someone to make us feel significant and secure. Some depend on themselves. Believing in their abilities.
What do you do when what or whoever you have depended on cannot come through and fails you? What then?
All of a sudden the instability of everything around us makes us anxious.
Who or what do you turn to then?
“ Because of the Lords’ great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your FAITHFULNESS. ( Lamentations 3:22,23)
God is faithful to all His promises. He is loving toward all He has made. He upholds those who fall and lifts us up.
God comes through 100% of the time. You can depend on Him. He will never let you down. He may not do it the way you wanted Him to do it or at the time you wanted Him to do it. But I am persuaded He will complete that which He has begun.
This amazing attribute of God’s character and personality is one of the most precious. It is His Faithfulness. His faithfulness is what can give us hope.
So beginning with the first Sunday in 2015, we will study this attribute and keep in mind, God said, “I do not change!”