Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.” “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.” (Ruth 2:19-20 New Living Translation)
The Bible version known as The Message translates vs. 20 as, “God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!” Does God walk out on us? Does difficulty indicate that God has turned against us? Often when we are going through a famine in our lives, that’s exactly how we feel. “God doesn’t love me. God is against me. God is unfair and unkind.” Even though we may try to fight such feelings, they still try to creep into our thinking. Yet the Bible teaches us that even at times when we can’t see or feel God, He is still there and He is still in control. God doesn’t walk out on His children. He loves us, in bad times as well as good!
The providential hand of God led Ruth to glean in a field that belonged to a man by the name of Boaz. According to the Law of Moses, being in poverty, Ruth had the right to glean in any field that was being harvested. Yet God did not allow her to enter into just ‘any’ field. He guided her to ‘the’ field of a certain man by the name of Boaz. God guided her to the field of her Kinsman Redeemer.
Often times in the Old Testament we find situations where individuals had to sell their property in order to survive. To protect such people, God established a system whereby they or someone from their family could later regain their property. Every 50th year was known as the Year of Jubilee. During the Year of Jubilee, property that had been sold for such purposes had to be returned to the original owner or family. In addition to this, anytime before the Year of Jubilee, the land could also be ‘redeemed’ by a close relative of the impoverished person. The relative redeeming the land was known as a “Goel” or “Kinsman Redeemer.” The Hebrews word ‘goel’ in the verb form means to redeem. In the noun form it means the ‘one’ who redeems, or the ‘Redeemer. That is what Naomi meant when she said, “That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”
Ruth’s father-in-law Elimelech was from Bethlehem. Apparently before he left Bethlehem to travel to the land of Moab, he had sold his property in order to try to pay his debts. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, she knew of such property, but she had no way to redeem it. According the Law of Moses, three things were necessary in order for someone to qualify to be a Kinsman Redeemer.
- (1) They must be a blood relative.
- (2) They must be financially able to pay the full redemption price.
- (3) They had to be willing. To be a Kinsman Redeemer was not mandatory. It was choice of the individual.
Naomi was greatly encouraged by the things Ruth had told her. Boaz was a near relative, perhaps even a brother-in-law or nephew. But even more, Boaz was willing to show kindness to Ruth. Boaz was extending grace to the widow of his relative.
Tomorrow we will continue in our story, but in closing today, let me leave you with these words of encouragement.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19 New Living Translation)
Jesus Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer. Scripture teaches us that He willingly came to this earth and with the ransom of His own life; paid the price that was necessary to release us from the penalty and the power of sin. Elimelech tried to run from his famine; Naomi rebelled. But Ruth chose to rest. “Rather than bemoaning her burdens, Ruth chose to go out and seek for blessing. Rather than starving at the table of self-pity, Ruth chose to glean in the fields of grace.”