I Will Redeem You
Synopsis: In this sermon, we look at the Book of Ruth as a whole, and offer a fourth reason for why it is in the Bible. What is the fourth reason? What does it have to do with Jesus? And how did it tie in with our monthly Communion Service? Find out in this final message in the series entitled “I Will Redeem You.”
Why is the Book of Ruth in the Bible? Last week I offered three answers to that question:
First is to demonstrate the truth that God loves to restore broken lives. The book traces the story of Naomi and how God used perspiration, providence and ultimately people to restore her to a place of security and contentment.
A second reason I believe the book is in the Bible is to show that it is possible to be people of integrity and righteousness in a broken society. Even in the time of the Judges when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes, there were people like Boaz and Naomi and Ruth who were trusting in the God of Israel and following his laws in Israel.
The third reason that this book is in the Bible is to trace the story of redemption and to portray that God is sovereignly at work in history to provide a Savior and a salvation for his people. The book ends with a genealogy. It is a genealogy of King David, which of course makes it a portion of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.
I promised you one more reason and I am glad to see that so many of you have come back this week to find out what that fourth reason is. To explain this fourth reason, I need to sketch in some additional interpretive and theological background. In last week’s message, we explored some background as it relates to the Biblical concept of redemption.
The foundational meaning of the word “redeem” is to rescue someone from permanent poverty, from great danger, or from slavery, usually through some kind of payment. There are actually two primary words for “redeem” used in the Hebrew Old Testament. The one used exclusively in the Book of Ruth is GOEL. This particular word takes the basic concept of deliverance and adds to the emphasis that the redeemer is a kinsman or near relative. That is why the New International Version has chosen to translate the word “kinsman redeemer”.
We have seen the concept of the kinsman redeemer played out in Boaz’ role in the story as he redeems the land and also redeems Ruth by taking her as his wife.
If we trace the use of this term in the Old Testament, we find that in the earlier part of the Old Testament, it is primarily used in this sense of human activity; redeeming or rescuing relatives from poverty or slavery. The Book of Ruth is by far the clearest example we have of this kind of redemption in action.
But then, as the Old Testament moves forward, God begins to pick up this concept of the kinsman redeemer and to use it as a beautiful word-picture of his actions on behalf of his people.
The prophet Isaiah is particularly fond of this imagery. When he prophesies about Judah’s captivity in Babylon, he immediately begins to prophesy about their return. Remember that to redeem someone meant to rescue them from poverty, danger and bondage. The nation of Judah would find herself devastated by all three. Is there any hope? Who will rescue them? Have they been abandoned? Who will redeem them? To proclaim this message of home, Isaiah reaches back into the legal literature of the Jews and pulls out this word “GOEL”. He uses it 23 times in his writings.
Let’s just look at a sampling of his uses:
The first is in Isaiah 41:14: Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 43:1 reads: But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Let’s look at Isaiah 44:22-23:
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. 23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.
One last look from Isaiah 63:16: For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.
All of these verses use the root word GOEL. Repeatedly God, through Isaiah, announces to his people. “I have not abandoned you. I will be your Kinsman Redeemer. I will rescue you from poverty, danger and bondage.”
The story of Ruth is a wonderful human story that sets the stage and points to a wonderful Old Testament truth. Just as Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi from poverty and even potential slavery, God has promised to redeem his people from their poverty and bondage.
But as wonderful as that truth is, the story is not yet finished. When we come into the New Testament, we find that God has done something even more remarkable to redeem his people. This brings us to the fourth reason that the Book of Ruth is in the Bible.
Boaz is a picture of the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer: Jesus, the Messiah.
Jesus is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer. He is the fulfillment. Boaz is the picture, a type of Christ. A type is a kind of Old Testament prophecy. Types are objects, people or events which were planted in the Old Testament to give a foretaste and a foreshadowing of a New Testament truth. For example, in the Old Testament, God fed the people with manna, bread which came down from heaven. In the New Testament, Jesus announced that he was the Bread of Life who had come down from heaven.
In the desert, when the people were bitten by poisonous snakes, Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and held it up. Anyone who looked at the bronze serpent was healed. John 3 uses this as a type, when it says:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
These are just two examples of Old Testament types, foreshadowing New Testament events or truths. The Book of Ruth and the story of Boaz and Ruth and Naomi is another one. Boaz is a type of Christ. He is a picture of the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Let’s color this picture in a little more fully. In the Old Testament practice of the kinsman redeemer laws, three things were necessary for someone to be a kinsman redeemer.
First, he must be a near relative. He had to be a kinsman to be a kinsman redeemer. This is clearly spelled out in the story of Ruth, isn’t it? When Boaz is first introduce into the story by the narrator in Ruth 2:1, the first thing we are told about him is that he was a “relative of Elimelech’s”. This fact is essential to the entire story. He was a near relative, which qualified him for the role of kinsman redeemer.
Jesus is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer, but to play that role, he had to become a near relative. John 1 starts by introducing Jesus as the Word who was with God and who was God. And then in verse 14, we are told this amazing truth: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He became one of us.
Hebrews 2:14-17 develops this same truth:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Did you see that? He “had to be made like his brothers in every respect.” He became one of us. He became our “kinsman” in order to be our Kinsman Redeemer.
Second, to be a kinsman redeemer, he must have the means to pay the redemption price. In the Biblical concept of redemption, there is always a price which must be paid. Only one who has the resources is able to play the role of redeemer. In the story of Ruth, once again when Boaz is first introduced, we are told that he was a “worthy man” which actually means a man of substance or wealth. He has the resources to pay the price of redemption.
Once again we turn to the book of Hebrews for the fulfillment. In Hebrews 7:26-27 we read:
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
He was able to pay our redemption price because he had no sins of his own to atone for. He was holy, innocent and unstained. As the perfect One, he was able to offer up himself once for all as the price of redemption for the sins of the world. No one else was qualified. Only he had the resources of a sinless and perfect life to pay the redemption price for us.
There was one final qualification or necessity if one were to play the role of kinsman redeemer. He must have the desire to pay the price and become the kinsman redeemer.
This is where the story becomes intricate and revealing in Ruth 4. There was another relative who apparently had enough resources to pay the price. But he was unwilling to pay it. He had no love for Ruth and no desire to make her his wife. In contrast, Boaz stepped forward and said, “I am willing. I will redeem, not only the field, but the widow. I will take Ruth under my wings, under my protection. I will make her my wife.”
Jesus is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer. He not only became our relative, our kinsman. He not only had the resources to pay the redemption price. He had the willingness and the desire to pay the price. As Jesus told his disciples in John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. The apostle John finished that thought in 1 John 3:16 when he stated: By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…
Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer. He qualified on all three counts. He became our Kinsman through the incarnation. He had the resources because of his perfect, sinless life. And he had the willingness because of his love for us. He is the perfect and ultimate Kinsman Redeemer.
I trust now, because of the story of Boaz and Ruth and Naomi, we have a new appreciation for the Biblical truth of our redemption which Paul summarizes so well in Ephesians 1:7- 10:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
I wonder if Jesus Christ is your Kinsman Redeemer. I know he’s qualified. Scripture tells us that. I know he’s willing. That is clear from Scripture as well. But have you come to him to ask him to redeem you? Remember the story of Ruth. She first had to ask. She came and placed herself at Boaz’ feet and humbly said: I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.
When you think about it, that is a wonderful sinner’s prayer. Just put your own name in there and pray this to Jesus the Christ, our own Boaz, our own ultimate Kinsman Redeemer.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
- Read Ruth 4 again, and discuss the background and use of the “kinsman redeemer” laws in this passage. (Use Leviticus 25:23-28 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10 if you need to review from last week.)
- How does the background of these laws give new meaning to Isaiah’s use of the same terminology to describe God’s actions and identity in the following passages? (Isaiah 41:14, Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 44:22-23, Isaiah 63:16)
- Is the concept of a “type” new to you? Pastor Cam defines a type as a kind of Old Testament prophecy: “Types are objects, people or events recorded in the Old Testament and divinely intended to give a foretaste or foreshadowing of a New Testament truth.” Give some examples of types in the Old Testament and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament.
- The fourth reason Pastor Cam gives for why the Book of Ruth is in the Bible is because Boaz is a type (picture) of the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ. What three things did Jesus have to have/do to become our Kinsman Redeemer?
- How does reading the story in this light give new light/color/appreciation for the Biblical term “redemption”?
- Read Ephesians 1:7-10 together and spend time in prayer, worshiping and praising Jesus for being our Redeemer.