Summary: Boaz was a picture of our great Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
I’ll never forget it. My brother and I went to the same private school. I was in 2nd grade and he was in the 6th. After school everyday, a teacher walked us out to a place on the asphalt that was drawn off by a yellow painted box. About 30 students would wait for their parents in that box. Well, my dad has always been a stickler for being early and never just on time for anything so we knew something might be wrong when we didn’t see the family car in the parking lot immediately after school. After 15 minutes there were still about 5 students left. We were really worried after 30 minutes of waiting. Now I couldn’t read a clock very well, so I have to rely on my brother for this last bit of memory but 45 minutes after school, we finally saw the dad’s maverick driving up. When we got into the car, dad told excitedly, “Boys, I made a new high school on Q-bert!” Here we were afraid that we had been abandoned and dad was finishing a game of Q-bert.
Have you ever felt forgotten like that?
I know of a woman who felt forgotten. Her name is Naomi. She had a husband named Elimelech and two boys named Mahlon and Kilion. The nation was in unrest. She lived during the time of the judges. A phrase characterized the nation of Israel during this time, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Doesn’t the last part of that phrase fit today? Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, aren’t they? There are no absolutes. You can’t tell me what to do because I make my own rules.
In the midst of this chaos, a family decides they are going to move. They’re moving because God has been judging Israel with a famine. It was taking place because of a lack of rain and the amount of raiders who were stealing the remaining food. God has given his people a promised land but this family decides to leave. They go to the land of Moab.
Mahlon and Kilion find themselves women they want to marry. The youngest, Kilion, marries Orpah, while Mahlon marries Ruth. Both are nice girls but, neither is able to have children. Being barren is a curse in a culture that requires children. To make matters worse, within a few months of each other, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion all die. The culture is patriarchal, so without a man, these ladies are going to struggle to live.
Although the ladies have grown close through the tragedy of losing their husbands, Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem because the famine is over. She encourages her daughter-in-laws to go back to their father and mother. Orpah decides she will go, but Ruth pledges herself to Naomi.
When Naomi returns, the ladies of Bethlehem can’t believe what they see. Naomi has changed so much. She asks them not to call her Naomi, which means pleasant, but Mara, which means bitter, because the Almighty has made her life bitter.
Ruth tries to help Naomi pick up the pieces of her life. She decides she is going to get a job picking up grain after the grain harvesters. While she’s out working in the fields, the owner of the field, named Boaz, began asking about her.
Naomi and Ruth needed a kinsman-redeemer. Let me explain the main job of the kinsman redeemer. Since in Jewish culture, families tried to keep land in the family, if a close relative had to sell their land or themselves to pay debt, another close relative would be expected to pay or redeem the debt. Everyone did not qualify as a redeemer. One had to be a kinsman or close relative.
HOW BOAZ FULFILLED THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER ROLE
J. Vernon McGee in his book on Ruth and Esther talks of five requirements of the kinsman-redeemer.
1. The redeemer must be a near kinsman. Boaz realized he was not the nearest of kin. After Ruth asked him to redeem Naomi and herself, Boaz promised to have her redeemed the next day.
When he found the closer redeemer at the city gate, Boaz offered him the land as the right of the redeemer. The man gladly accepted the offer until Boaz included Ruth. The man was afraid his family would lose some of its inheritance, so he offered Boaz the chance to redeem the land and the woman. Boaz quickly made the decision legal with the help of the city leaders at the gate. Boaz cleared the one hurdle that kept him from becoming the near kinsman.
2. The redeemer must perform in willingness his work of redemption. I know that Naomi and Ruth were willing and excited for someone to redeem them from their sorry situation. They needed a kinsman redeemer to bail them out. But Boaz had to be willing. After the nearer kinsman decided he didn’t want the land and Ruth, he offered all of it to Boaz.