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 NLT)
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 ever walk out on us? Does difficulty indicate that He has turned His back on us? Often, when we are going through a famine, 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, often they try to creep into our thinking. Yet the Bible teaches us that even during 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 the 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 who would become her kinsman redeemer.
During the days of the Old Testament, many Israelites had to sell their property in order to survive. In order to protect such people, God established a system whereby 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 mortgaged, had to be returned to the original owner or family. In addition to this, any time 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.” This 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. Scripture says that he and his family left Bethlehem during a time of famine. Therefore, it is most likely that Elimelech at some point had mortgaged his property. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, she knew of such property, but she had no way to redeem it. She needed someone to act as her kinsman redeemer. According the Law of Moses, three things were necessary in order for someone to qualify for this role: they must be a blood relative, they must be financially able to pay the full redemption price, and 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 told her about meeting Boaz. Not only was this man a near relative, he was also willing to show Ruth his kindness. Boaz was extending grace to the widow of his relative.
Scripture teaches us that Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer. During His first public message, Jesus chose to preach these important words –
“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 NLT)
Christ has come to be our Kinsman Redeemer.