Thursday, November 3, 2016
Ruth's story - no coincidences
What's that all about?
Does it have relevance for us today?
Let's examine this concept and see how it applied in our story, and then how it applies to us, today.
The nearest kinsman, or "kinsman redeemer," is a "goel" in Hebrew. That word means to buy back, to redeem, or to receive.
Here's where it all began: in the Law of Moses, provision was made for the poor person who was forced to make ends meet in drastic ways....sometimes by the sale of property, or sometimes by actually selling him/herself into slavery. That person's nearest kin could step in and buy back what his poor relative was forced to sell. (You can read all about it in the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, where it covers the year of Jubilee, crops, houses, and people, and explains the role and responsibilities of the kinsman.) The kinsman redeemer was a wealthy and compassionate benefactor; a person who would free the debtor by paying the "ransom" price, either for the property, or for the person.
I guess the simplest way to look at the concept is that the kinsman had the responsibility to redeem, or restore, his relative's lost opportunities.
For instance, if a person was forced into slavery, the redeemer would purchase his freedom. Secondly, when financial stresses overwhelmed a person, the kinsman would step in and purchase the family farm, so that the family could live. Also, if a family member died without an heir, the kinsman gave his name by marrying the widow and rearing a son (that one is in Deuteronomy 25). Lastly, when death came at the hands of another man, the kinsman acted as an avenger, and pursued the killer (you can see that in Numbers 35, and in Deuteronomy 19).
So, a kinsman redeemer had to meet four requirements: he had to be near of kin; he had to be able to redeem; he had to be willing to redeem; and his work of redemption was complete when the price was completely paid.
Here's the part that gets interesting, and it figures significantly in our story: if the nearest relative refused to do the job, then the next closest kin could take on the role of kinsman redeemer. And it all hinges on one thing, when it comes to the widow . . . the widow has to ask. Keep those in mind as we go on, ok?
Now, Naomi already knew all of that we just learned, and it figured into her matchmaking plans. She instructed Ruth to wash, dress, and put on a dab of perfume, and go to the threshing floor that evening. So, when Boaz falls asleep, Ruth moves the covers off his feet and lies down right there. Ole Boaz tries to turn over in the middle of the night, and discovers the woman lying at his feet! "Who are you?" he asks, and Ruth tells him, saying, "Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer." (The word for covering is the same word that is used later when Boaz says, "May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge...")
Ruth "popped the question," didn't she? (Grin)
Boaz gently tells her that she should leave it in his hands; he will handle it. He gives her some grain to take home for Naomi and herself, and has her leave before anyone sees her -- ever the gentleman, he wants her good reputation preserved, I believe.
The very next day, at the town gate, Boaz sits down to conduct some business. Remember that the gate of the city was very much like a courthouse, where cases were heard and legal matters discussed. The relative that was closest in kinship to Naomi and Ruth passed by, and Boaz asks him to sit down and talk. He also assembles some witnesses, so if they reach an agreement, it can be legal. When the other kinsman is made aware of the situation, he's happy to say he'll take over the land that should remain in the family -- until Boaz tells him that there's a widow to marry, too! Then he bails out. That leaves Boaz to fulfill the duties -- the witnesses nod, and off he goes to tell Ruth.
Our story ends with Naomi cradling her grandson, well-cared for by the kinsman redeemer. Ruth is married to Boaz, and their names (and their son's name) will appear for all the ages in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Boaz, the man of integrity, has a family and prospers.
Now, how about today?
We all need a redeemer, no? The Bible says that we all need someone to rescue us from our sins. Oh, don't fall for Satan's lie, and think that He can't forgive you for what you've done! God forgave Ruth, a Moabite, and He offers all of us a fresh start, just like He gave to her. Ruth and Orpah had options. They both had the opportunity to turn their backs on the worship of Baal and follow the true God. Ruth saw how real Naomi's faith was, and wanted it for herself. God was pleased, for her commitment was real, too; it wasn't a half-hearted commitment. And He is still looking for people today, who will say, "Your God will be my God."
Ruth needed to ask for her redemption, and we do, too. We must open our heart's door, and ask Him in. He'll never come in, unasked. Are we ready to curl up at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to save us?
People love the book of Ruth, because it is a love story. It also is a story of the relationship of God and His people. He is longing to have a relationship with us, but we need to make the proposal. Remember in the Old Testament, a redeemer must be related by blood, and be able to redeem, and then be willing. Jesus took on the "form of man;" He took on flesh and blood so that He could relate to us, and He is able to redeem because He paid the price for our sins. And in spite of our sins, He is more than willing to redeem us!
The very end of the book of Ruth is a genealogy. Kind of like a photo album, right? We might be the first of our family to follow Jesus, or we may be following a long line of believers. Whichever the case, we will carry on a spiritual heritage that began so many years ago.
Have you received the Redeemer? If you have, praise Him for your salvation! If not, please check out our page with explanations on how to be saved, and join the family photo album of believers!
There are no coincidences in this life -- there is God's providence. Perhaps He guided you to this page. If you are not saved, won't you pray to receive Him today?