April 2, 2007


For three weeks we've been studying the book of Ruth in this little column. And in each of the three main characters, we have noticed a foreshadowing or reminder of the coming Savior. But we have yet to notice the primary way this little short story points forward to Jesus.

In the Old Testament, God made careful provisions for how a widow was to be cared for—particularly one who had no male children. Since women in ancient times were very hard-pressed to earn a living, this was a stroke of pure mercy from the LORD. The plan went like this: When a man died, leaving behind a wife (and no sons to care for her and continue the family name) his closest male relative (usually, but not always, a brother) was obligated to take the widow as his wife, care for her, and raise a family with her to keep his brother’s name alive. This closest male relative was called the “kinsman redeemer” (“closest relative” in the NASB).

This is what Ruth chapter 4 is all about. Ruth was childless and had been widowed. She had now way to provide for herself (thus she is in the fields picking up stray kernels of grain in chapter 3). She also had no son to keep her husband’s family name alive. But she had come back to her husband’s home town. Surely there would be a kinsman redeemer in Bethlehem who could take her in and raise up children in her husband’s name. And guess who that closest relative happened to be? Boaz—the man who had already showed her such kindness in his fields! God moves in a mysterious way!

Boaz was the kinsman redeemer! Boaz was the one man who had the authority and ability to redeem Ruth from her distresses. And in this sense, he is an amazing reminder for us of Jesus, our Redeemer. Sin has left us as destitute spiritual widows. We cannot rescue ourselves. We have no lasting inheritance. And Jesus Christ is the only one with authority and ability to pay the necessary price to redeem us from our spiritual widowhood! And He has done it! On the cross he paid the redemption price; He betrothed us to Himself; and He is, in heaven, preparing a wedding feast and a house for His beloved bride!

So Boaz is another tiny Old Testament arrow pointing us forward to Jesus! He redeemed Ruth. And through Ruth, he redeemed her mother-in-law, Naomi. But in a much greater sense, Jesus has redeemed His bride! So let it be said of Christ as it was of Boaz:

Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel (Ruth 4.14)!

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