This week we revisit the beautiful story of Ruth. Last week we talked about Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law and her sacrificial love, grit and determination that not only brought a happy ending, but gave her a hope and a future that was not hers to assume. Remember, Ruth was from Moab, a neighbouring people who traced their descent to Abraham’s nephew Lot. They were a people under a curse and as a result were often opposing Israel and God’s blessing to them. It was to Moab that Naomi and her husband Elimelek had moved during a famine in Israel – unable to farm their ancestral land – they went elsewhere looking for their fortune, but only found grief and devastation.
It was in bitterness and devastation that Naomi returns to Bethlehem and tells all her relatives that she has changed her name to Mara – because her life is bitter…because God has caused her so much pain. The story follows the poorest of the poor in Israel – with no means of support and no way to reclaim her family’s land, Naomi is destitute – but where there is a God, there is a way!
Ruth’s loyalty and love leads her out to glean from the fields…which was a principle that God gave to his people to provide for the support of people like Naomi. Land owners would allow the impoverished to follow the workers and gather up what was left and, by some coincidence, Ruth just happens to glean from Boaz’s field. Clearly we see that it was not a coincidence – but a God incidence, God intervening and answering the cries for help from Naomi and Ruth. Ruth’s loyalty in the story is matched by the kindness and generosity of Boaz who on inquiring of who she is, is impressed by her commitment to Naomi and goes out of his way to ensure that they are catered for.
The next part of the story would make all match makers smile! Naomi, realising who their benefactor is, devises a bold plan that might secure their future and encourages Ruth to sneak out and sleep by Boaz’s feet while he is protecting his harvest and see if he offers to cover her during the night – which is symbolic for covering over her financial distress; her lack of position and reputation; and taking her as his wife. Boaz agrees and in the process exemplifies of what we call a ‘kinsman redeemer’. A kinsman redeemer is a rich male relative who rescues and delivers their family from financial hardship and purchases their freedom.
Boaz was such a relative of Naomi’s family, but there was someone closer who rejected the offer of buying back the land and restoring Naomi’s line, because it came with conditions….a marriage to Ruth. But what his relative saw as a problem, Boaz saw as an opportunity. Just as in Ruth 3:9 we see the poignant picture of the needy supplicant, unable to rescue herself, requesting of the help of kinsman-redeemer and make her his wife, Jesus is our kinsman redeemer who pays the ransom, removes the curse and makes us His own beloved bride; and blesses us for all generations. He paid the price in full and gave a future and a hope. He is the true kinsman-redeemer of all who call on Him in faith.