The last chapter closed with Ruth and Naomi having only Boaz’s word of promise that he would bring about redemption for them. Would he keep his word?
Early in the morning, Boaz arose and went to the city gate of Bethlehem. He summoned ten elders to sit down with him, as well as the kinsman that he had spoken to Ruth about. The alcoves of the city gate were like the courthouse of the day, where the elders would publicly meet and make decisions. But the conversation which ensued on this particular morning required some explanation. “Naomi,” Boaz stated, “sold the land which belonged to her husband, because of impoverishment which was induced by the long famine. It now falls to the next of kin to redeem this land.” The kinsman had first rights in this case, and he responded by declaring that he was indeed ready to redeem it. But then Boaz told him that in order to seal the deal, he must also marry the widow Ruth and raise up offspring to preserve the name of Elimelech’s family. Upon hearing this, the kinsman backed out of the bargain, and so the right of redemption devolved upon Boaz!
In this conversation between Boaz and the other kinsman, we see a spiritual picture of the Law and the Gospel – of justice and mercy. The other kinsman represents the Law and justice of God. He declared that he could not take Ruth into his family because she was a foreigner to the land of Israel. He could not accept an outsider into his household and still preserve the purity of his own family line. This represents how the justice of God cannot show mercy to a guilty sinner and reward them by bringing them into a relationship with the Lord. But in Boaz, we behold a beautiful representation of Jesus! Boaz met the other kinsman in the city gate, which was the public place where justice was administrated; and when the other man declared his inability to help, Boaz declared openly that he himself would redeem Ruth! This shows us a picture of how Jesus publicly and mercifully undertook to redeem us poor guilty outcasts when the Law manifested its inability to save us from our sins.
Boaz declared that he was ready to fulfill the entire obligation of a kinsman to Ruth, but there was a ceremony that had to be done first. The other kinsman had to give Boaz his shoe, as a token that he was passing up his right to be the kinsman-redeemer. And with the sanction of the elders and the applause of the bystanders, the transfer was made! Boaz spoke publicly and explained what he was doing, and he solemnly called on his fellow-citizens who were then present to witness the contract. “You’ve seen what I’ve done,” he said; “and you are witnesses that Ruth is no longer an outsider, but is going to be my bride!” She was now fully redeemed and brought into the life of God’s Covenant-family. And the people responded that they were indeed witnesses, and they bestowed their congratulations and good wishes upon the kinsman-redeemer. A beautiful thing had just happened in Israel! It’s like the light of God’s favor had broken through the cloud of darkness that surrounded the story up until now.
Not only was Ruth brought inside God’s Covenant-family, but she was also destined to be a founding matron in Israel! The marriage took place, and Ruth gave birth to a son. The local women told Naomi that the Lord was to be blessed indeed, for He had not left her destitute without a kinsman (that is, a redeemer) – referring to Obed, who would be the support of her old age. Naomi thought she had gone out full and came home empty, but that wasn’t true! She came back full of God’s love – clinging to her in the person of Ruth!
Ruth’s son became the ancestor of King David – and also of One Who was infinitely greater than he! The time came when the little town of Bethlehem displayed even greater wonders than those which are recorded in the history of Ruth – when the outcast baby of another humble woman drew even wise men from the East to His feet, with treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And truly, His name shall endure forever, and all nations shall call Him blessed!
This brief but beautiful Book closes with an abridged genealogical table of the descendants of Judah’s son Pharez down to David – through Boaz and Ruth. It may be regarded as a family record; and it is repeated in the First Book of Chronicles in a more extended form, as well as in Matthew’s genealogy of our Savior. And in Matthew’s version of the genealogy, we learn that Boaz’s own mother was Rahab of Jericho! Certainly Boaz must have grown up hearing stories of a heathen woman being incorporated into God’s family, so it’s no wonder that he perceived right away that the Lord was doing the same thing with Ruth.
Is the Book of Ruth just a little story to enjoy? No! This Book holds out hope! In God’s perfect Providence, there is hope. We find ourselves needing a righteous Redeemer, for we cannot redeem ourselves. But the Lord Jesus, Who descended from Ruth, is the perfect goel – the perfect Kinsman-Redeemer – Who brings about perfect redemption for us! He is faithful to His promise – just like Boaz was. He paid the blood-price to redeem us! Let us pray for grace to cling to Him, then; for He is our only hope!
Lord, we confess that by our sins, we had forfeited our spiritual. We were outcasts by nature, and we had no status among Your spiritual people. But Jesus, in the Covenant of grace, undertook to redeem the inheritance and engage us to Himself as His beloved Bride! We thank Him for being our only perfect goel – our only Kinsman-Redeemer, Who ransomed us at the cost of His own blood! Amen.
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