Summary: What Boaz did for Ruth is a vivid illustration of what Jesus Christ did for you and me on the cross. We, the near kinsman, cannot save ourselves, so we take off our shoe and give it to Christ.
Our kinsman redeemer
Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Ruth 4:7-8
In Ruth 4, we are presented with an interesting custom from the days of the Old Testament. If a man’s brother died childless, it was the responsibility of a near kinsman… a brother or another close relative… to redeem the wife. That is, to purchase the land that her husband would have enjoyed and to become her husband and carry on the line of that man.
Boaz was a near kinsman and wanted to redeem Ruth. He loved Ruth… and he wanted to take her as his bride. But according to Jewish law, there was a nearer kinsman, someone who was closer to Ruth, so Boaz had to deal with this nearer kinsman. He had to make sure that this man signed off in order that he could marry Ruth.
This is part of the scene we see in the verses above. When a redeemer was unwilling to redeem or to transact business, it was the custom of the man to take off his sandal and give it to the man who would redeem; and the man who would redeem would slip on that sandal as a sign of his willingness to stand in that man’s shoes and to redeem and purchase what was rightfully his.
What Boaz did for Ruth is a vivid illustration of what Jesus Christ did for you and me on the cross. We, the near kinsman, cannot save ourselves, so we take off our shoe and give it to Christ. Praise God for the salvation we have as believers: Jesus standing in our shoes and us standing in His!