Boaz: The Kinsman-Redeemer
Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” Ruth 4:9-10
In the Book of Ruth, Elimelech, Naomi (his wife) and their two sons escaped famine in Bethlehem to live in a foreign country, perhaps leaving their extended family back in Bethlehem to whatever fate.
However, Elimelek died. Then, the two sons died.
Three women remained: Naomi and her son’s foreign-born wives (Ruth and Orpah). However, Orpah went home to her family and that was that. In the end, Naomi and Ruth had nothing and nobody…except for each other. They came back to Bethlehem as broken people. The whole town gossiped; Naomi wanted to change her name to “Bitter”.
In Judaic law, The role of kinsman-redeemer is found in Leviticus 25:25-28, and was put in place to protect families in Israel. Families were supposed to retain the property allotted to them by Joshua. Sometimes people became poor and had to sell their land. The kinsman-redeemer was a close relative who bought the property back for the family in such cases.
Boaz was a wealthy man, and a relative of Naomi. It sounded like a great plan to Naomi that he be the kinsman-redeemer. The problem was that Naomi was wrong. He was a relative…but not the closest one. Apparently the kinsman-redeemer was another man. Boaz told them so, but he also fed and took care of Naomi and Ruth while he sought out this guy, this redeemer by law. Boaz found that man at the gates to the town. He isn’t even named in Ruth, so we don’t know his name.
That man gladly accepted his duty to redeem the land of Ruth. What a deal. Then Boaz told this man, who by law HAD to perform the kinsman-redeemer duties, that this deal came with…Ruth, a broken, busted foreigner widow, not even Jewish or a virgin. Well, that man backed out quick. Whoah whoah wait a second…that’s not my problem. I’m um, sorry, I just can’t…do…this….will you excuse me, I’m getting a phone call!
Nobody would redeem them.
So, Boaz did, and he didn’t have to. He saved Naomi and he married Ruth…for life. He could have had anyone in the village. He proclaimed it by public spectacle as we see above in the opening verse of this devotional, Ruth 4:9-10. Boaz said “Today you are witnesses!”
We remember Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. Matt 1:5-6.
Today, men, you are witnesses at the gates: Jesus Christ is the kinsman-redeemer. He paid the bridal price. He satisfied the debt so that we would not lose an inheritance that we already squandered. We came back to our personal Bethlehems, broken…nobody would have us.
In an amazing turn of events, God says, “Ok. Ok. It’s going to be ok. I’ll pay the price, the full price. It’s paid. It’s ok – don’t worry. I paid it. I’ll pay the price. Yes, the full price….the price you ask?…..It’s…..my son.” The FULL PRICE. Done. Paid. Receipt in hand. It’s his land now and the marriage contract is signed and filed in the Registrar’s office. What are you going to do?
Hey: We should go live on that land. What do you think? Nobody can foreclose it ever again. Don’t you EVER let anyone send you a nasty-gram saying you are in breach and facing foreclosure. Don’t even accept service. Tell the process server to go to hell….literally!
Today’s Training: Read all of Ruth. It’s a quick read – 4 chapters. Put yourself in Boaz’s shoes. Think about the one who ran off when he found out he had to marry Ruth. Do something to inject a little love or kindness in someone’s life where it’s not your “job”.