The Book of Ruth: Boaz the Hero
Part one of this series primarily focuses on Naomi an Israelite who is a stranger in a foreign and pagan land, during the time of the Judges, when there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. She lost everything while there and represents a sort of prodigal whose family left their homeland to search for sustenance elsewhere, during a difficult time as many of us have done. She images for us what happens when there is no King Jesus in our hearts and in turn we live by the dictates of our own feelings, wills, and intellect.
they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
— Jeremiah 18:12
The Lord's reply is this...
My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water
— Jeremiah 2:13
Part two of this series focuses on Ruth a Moabitess, Naomi's daughter-in-law and images for us faithfulness, loyalty, and humility as she is determined to remain with Naomi and Naomi's God in-spite of the fact that there appears to be nothing in it for her.
wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God
— Ruth 1:15
She not only expresses this in word put exhibits this loyalty in action by returning with Naomi to Naomi's homeland where she was most likely despised considering the animosity between Israel and Moab at that time. She loyally cared for and provided for her mother-in-law without much prospect nor provision for her own future.
Ruth who came from paganism images for us the deserved loyalty we ought to have towards our relationship with the Lord Himself and contrasts Naomi's family who came from a people who knew God yet sought for provision elsewhere.
Part three will center around a man named Boaz the "Kinsman-Redeemer" The hero of this story who depicts our strong, willing, and able Kinsman-Redeemer, who rescued and redeemed us when it appeared that all was lost and gone and we were without hope in this world as were both Ruth and Naomi.
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works
— Titus 2:13-14
Rest in His Lordship
The third chapter of Ruth opens with Naomi's revelation of Boaz being a near and known relative and her consideration that their situation could possibly be redeemed because of this.
Prior to this revelation Ruth and Naomi were destined to live in poverty the remainder of their days.
"There was almost nothing worse than being a widow in the ancient world"
— Life Application commentary
They were both widows with no means of support. In Biblical times women were not independent beings. If they were not under the support and care of a male family member than a life of poverty was inevitable. As appalling as this might seem to us in these times it does give us a great illustration of dependence as it concerns ourselves and God. As human beings, we are not independent creatures and when we are not under the care and support of the most powerful and provisionary God of the universe our lives are spiritually destitute and poverty-stricken Without Him. He is our willing strong and able Kinsman-Redeemer, The Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, we are without hope in this world
you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers (like Ruth the Moabitess) from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world
— Ephesians 2:12
Naomi describes this newly discovered prospect in terms of finding "rest" for Ruth via a relationship with Boaz just as our rest is found via a relationship with Jesus.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God
— Hebrews 4:9
This particular Hebrew word for "rest" is used six times in the Old Testament Hebrew and is closely related to Noah's name recalling that Noah was a man who "walked with God" (Genesis 6:9). When we walk with God as in being in covenant relationship and fellowship with Him through His One and only Son Jesus Christ there is a resting place for our souls.
Another occurrence of this word is found in I Chronicles chapter six. It concerns the ark of the covenant finding a "resting" place among God's people. The setting occurs during the reign of King David, Israel's second king after the time of the Judges, representing our spiritual life. Saul, the first king of Israel, is a picture of our flesh. During the time of the judges when the story of Ruth takes place "when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes". The Ark of the covenant representing the presence of God was being dragged all over the place including pagan shrines. Could it be said that when our walk is in submission to God as our King and not our flesh, He finds a resting place in us?
Christ in you is a right royal word! Christ swaying His scepter from the center of your being, over every power and faculty, desire and resolve, bringing every thought into captivity to Himself—oh, this is glory begun and the sure pledge of Heaven!
— Charles Spurgeon
We will see in the remainder of this story how "relative", relevant, and necessary a covenant relationship with our kinsman-redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ is the redemption, restoration, and rest in our own lives, who redeemed us with His own blood.
we have redemption through his blood
— Ephesians 1:7
The Concept of Redemption
The concept of redemption is largely an unfamiliar one in modern culture. So to understand a bit better Naomi's excitement about this prospect a little background information about the principle and purpose of redemption may be helpful. Hopefully, it will inspire a bit of revelation and excitement on our part as we see how this plays out in our own personal application of this lesson. As we shall study this redemption was a phenomenally expensive and necessary transaction that was made on our behalf to restore the possibility once again of an eternal relationship with God.
Gesenius defines the Hebrew word for "redeem" (gaal) as meaning "to buy back". This can be in reference to a person, possession or property. This particular word for redemption is used ten times in the tiny four-chapter book of Ruth, which makes this word highly significant in relevant to this story.
We became slaves and hostages to sin through Adam until someone who was able and willing paid the ransom to buy us back. We will look a bit later about the requirements of a redeemer.
“You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.”
— Isaiah 52:3
The Cost of Redemption
The redemption or ransom price was more than money could buy. It cost God the most precious thing He had namely His one and only Son. The wages of sin was death (Romans 6:23) and the ransom price was life in exchange. Beings we were all dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1) there was nothing in us or this world that could pay that price.
you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot
— I Peter 1:18-19
The costliness of His free gift of redemption is measured by the largeness of the sacrifice that was made. What a costly sacrifice for a holy and just God to suffer and die for the man that He made who committed treasonous adultery, against Him.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
— Romans 5:7-8
Ruth came with no dowry ( a gift from the brides family to the groom) there was nothing in it for Boaz Matthew Henry explains so eloquently how this mirrors our Lord Jesus:
"Our Lord Jesus is our Goel, our Redeemer, our everlasting Redeemer. He looked, like Boaz, with compassion on the deplorable state of fallen mankind. At vast expense he redeemed the heavenly inheritance for us, which by sin was mortgaged, and forfeited into the hands of divine justice, and which we should never have been able to redeem"
A Donkey is Redeemed With a Lamb
As always God is so faithful to image this for us in His word by using what He has created to communicate these concepts and He does so with a peculiar verse in the book of Exodus concerning a donkey and a lamb.
But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem
— Exodus 13:13
At first glance, this verse is seemingly random. It is recorded in reference to the Lord's instructions to Moses about how to observe the Passover, which centered around a sacrificial lamb and is an image of the innocent being that had to be slain to save us.
If we back up to Exodus 13:2, the Lord tells Moses that the firstborn of both man and beast are His. Recall that the blood of the lamb spared their firstborn from the angel of death that fell on all who did not cover their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. This illustrates for us how the death of Jesus the Lamb of God was the prerequisite and substitute for our redemption and deliverance from the bondage of sin and self. It exhibited the Israelites in bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt and their miraculous deliverance from that.
Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us
— I Corinthians 5:7
The donkey as we will see will depict for us the contrast of what was being redeemed. Charles Spurgeon's sermon number 3458 "Redeeming the Unclean" details some interesting insights into the concept of the lamb redeeming the donkey. He writes:
"The donkey, useful everywhere...was counted as unclean. How, then, could it be dedicated to God? ...an exchange was made. A lamb was offered instead...As the donkey, being unclean, was not acceptable to God, even so, unrenewed man, being unclean, is also unacceptable before the Most High...man, according to the Jewish ceremonial Law, is an unclean creature...by the law he is put down as a sinner, as being on a level with the unclean beasts...man has become through sin, like the donkey...God could not receive the donkey because it was unclean, but it still belonged to God. God's claim extended over all first-born, clean or unclean and that claim must be maintained...still, God's claim upon the sinner for a perfectly holy life has not ceased...everybody knows that inability to pay does not exonerate the man from his duty to pay. So with God...But here is the lamb that must be killed in its place, and he is the more valuable of the two...the lamb shall die and the donkey shall live...All of us put together, and millions upon millions of our human race could never equal in value the precious Lord Jesus!..the lamb was offered - the donkey was spared. The unclean animal lived - the clean creature died! There was a change of places. So does Christ change places with the sinner!...He condescended to become a Man and take upon Himself the sins of His people, and to be punished for their guilt..."
The donkey symbolizes sinful man, unregenerate man, unsaved, or unredeemed. Donkeys are well noted for their stubbornness that is attributed to their keen sense of self-preservation.
those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.They are presumptuous, self-willed
— II Peter 2:10
Why the breaking of the donkey's neck if it was not redeemed? Kip Jentoft a retired pastor offers the explanation that it had to be killed in such a way that blood was not shed. Sinful man must be redeemed by the shed blood of the lamb.
Another revelation concerning the breaking of the neck is this . . . The neck often in scripture symbolizes obstinacy, being resistant, and bent on one's own way as we see with Orpah's name meaning and actions in part one of this story. By not valuing the offered redemption the animal is rendered dead and useless and the symbol of its, and our stubbornness, must be broken which results ultimately in death.
The Donkey and the Cross
How truly stunning is all of God's creation that so eloquently reflects and confirms the truth of the Gospel as is with the donkey? Many species of the donkey have a visible cross on their back. Some are more visible than others depending on the colors and textures of their coats as if to proclaim the cross is what we deserved. It was the penalty required. It was a sign of the price that had to be paid for our redemption. How fascinating is it that during Christ's triumphal entry just prior to Passover and his death on the cross that the lamb of God comes riding on a donkey visualizing the lamb of God who would take our place on that cross. The donkey is not a random feature of the story but a declaration of the Gospel itself.
The donkey is also known as a beast of burden representing for us the burdensomeness of our sinful state. It was on that cross that the gravity and weightiness of our sin were borne.
He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many
— Isaiah 53:12
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree
— I Peter 2:24
The Kinsman-Redeemer and Sacrifice
The Kinsman Redeemer was a God established provision that was set forth to ensure that a man's name, following the line of the firstborn, would not perish from the tribe. This included the territory he owned as well as his possessions. When a man died the next oldest brother was to marry his wife and raise up a son who would continue the family line and possession of the land in his name and redeem his inheritance. This is a picture of how God's original intention was for our eternal fellowship with Him. Adam (firstborn) died because he traded his life for sin. Jesus willingly took on the responsibility of the next in line brother becoming the second Adam to assume our redemption God provided for our restoration by Jesus the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer.
“The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
— I Corinthians 15:45
This right apparently was right of the dead man's wife who would and could make claim to her husband's name. If the brothers were gone it would continue to pass to the nearest of kin. If the Kinsman-Redeemer was unwilling to fulfill his duty the woman was entitled to remove his sandal and spit in his face publicly. (Deut. 25:8-9)
It is remarkable to view, how often in the scriptures, various women's tenacity and sometimes desperation to carry on their husband's name and raise up children for them. Sarah, Hannah, Rachael, Tamar, just to name a few. What if it was our life mission and goal and desperation to carry on the name of the Lord Jesus and raise up children (disciples) for Him.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
— Matthew 28:19
Sacrifice, once again, was a key feature in this responsibility in that it involved the forfeiture of the redeemer's own inheritance. In the same way, Christ gave up His heavenly life with the father to become one of us. (Philippians 2:6-8)
The Great Exchange
A.B. Simpson writes in reference to this...
"Christ gave up a place of dignity and position in heaven, where He was known as God and God alone...His whole inheritance is merged in ours. He laid down His rights and honors and took up our wrongs and reproaches, our liabilities and disabilities, and henceforth He has nothing but His people...The redeemer not only sacrificed his own inheritance but he bought back the forfeited inheritance of the dead husband. Likewise, our Kinsman redeemer has brought back for us all that we lost in Adam and has added to it infinitely more - all the fullness of His grace, all the riches of His glory..."
— A.B. Simpson "The Christ in the Bible" commentary.
...though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich
— II Corinthians 8:9
Responsibility of the Kinsman—Redeemer
Israelite families were given a portion of the land God had secured through a promise and covenant with Abraham.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance
— Ephesians 1:11
Similarly, the territory of our lives technically belongs to Him.
The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine
— Leviticus 23
He owns us. We are not our own and we never were nor will we ever be. We will always belong to someone either to God or we will be a slave to sin. God makes it clear in this analogy that He provided a way for our slavery to sin to be absolved.
A Kinsman Redeemer had three responsibilities that Christ fulfilled for us.
- To rescue or buy back a family member from slavery
...you were bought at a price
— I Corinthians 6:20
- To raise up a family and homestead in a dead relatives name.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named
— Ephesians 3:14-15
- to execute vengeance for the murder of a close relative.
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord
— Romans 12:19
A Kinsman-Redeemer was also known as an avenger. Christ also avenged us of our enemies in the spirit realm.
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them
— Colossians 2:15
A Kinsman-Redeemer was considered the family protector and guardian which Jesus who does the same.
the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one
— II Thessalonians 3:3
Requirements of a Kinsman-Redeemer
There were three requirements of "goel" (redeemer)
- He had to be a blood relative
the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us
— John 1:14
He (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men
— Philippians 2:7
It was necessary for Jesus to become our blood relative in order to assume the role of our Kinsman-Redeemer
what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
— Romans 8:3
- He also had to have the ability in terms of resources.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us
— Ephesians 3:20
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen
— Romans 11:26
- Finally, a Kinsman-Redeemer had to be willing to do so.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will"
— John 10:11,18
"He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?"
— Charles Spurgeon "The Lamb of God in Scripture"
This concludes this portion of the study of the concept of redemption as shown in Boaz in this story, as well as that of the role and responsibility of the Kinsman-Redeemer. Part 4 will examine our practical response as is displayed by Naomi's instructions to Ruth in how to approach a relationship with the Lord Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer.
"He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?"
— Charles Spurgeon "The Lamb of God in Scripture"
Selah ~ Wonderful Merciful Savior
© 2013 Tamarajo