Sometimes there are Biblical concepts that we could skip over. They wouldn’t lessen our faith if we didn’t know about them. They wouldn’t change anything about our belief system, but they would grow our faith if we learned about them. Today, we’re going to do just that with this question –
What is a kinsmen redeemer?
Why do I care?
I know Old Testament scholars probably have their mouths hanging open reading this (as if they read my blog 😉 ). More important to me though, is that I think we get intimidated and embarrassed by our lack of Bible knowledge and it hinders us from turning the pages. Let’s not get trumped up by that. The message of Scripture is always redemption, be assured. So we study. We dig deeper.
Today, we will hustle over to the book of Ruth and find out just what this kinsman-redeemer business is all about.
Synopsis: Ruth is Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Her faithfulness is of great esteem in the Scriptures and in our churches. She leaves everything behind, including her own culture’s gods, in love and solidarity for her mother-in-law. That alone is worth noting. She could have stayed in the familiar, the comfortable, but she followed Naomi into the uncertain, into poverty, into the unknown and in doing so embraced an unknown God. This is surely a work of the Holy Spirit writing Ruth’s testimony for us on the page. However, without a husband, these two women were broke. Not America broke, but third world country broke. They had nothing. They could own nothing. They were at the mercy of family to lift them up from the dust, literally to redeem them.
Jewish Old Testament law afforded for just this – redemption from poverty and destitution by the family of God. Glance at Leviticus 25:23-25, 47-48.
“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.
25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.”
“If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him…”
This is just a snippet of the Old Testament law, we won’t think too hard on it, instead we’ll jump into Ruth and Naomi’s story a couple of chapters in. Please read all of Ruth 2.
Below I will highlight Ruth 2:19-22 –
And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”
Ruth and Naomi were broke, remember. They gleaned from the fields for their food. Boaz’s first kindness was to let Ruth walk behind the workers in his fields and pick up the fallen grain to eat. Boaz offered hope from starvation here. In verse 20, Naomi recognizes this as the Lord working through Boaz, showing His great faithfulness. Look at her quote again…
“…the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!”
Not forsaken. That was something Naomi and Ruth needed to see. Hungry, grieving, alone – God gives us hope. The Lord is always holding us in His hands.
Boaz’s second kindness is reported by Ruth in verse 21. You can imagine the protection a young woman would need in the middle of a field alone. God works through Boaz, protecting His children through an actual people. When have you seen this in your own life? When has God used people or a specific person to protect and care for you, whether parents or siblings, family, friends, church family, or stranger?
Enter Boaz’s third kindness. He is Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. He has the duty, according to the Levitical law, of buying her life back from the forsakenness of widowhood, of lifting her out of the dust. But he also chooses to give her something more – honor.
This is how Christ comes to us. He is charged by the Father with the duty of redeeming the brothers and sisters. God made us. He calls us Children. He is our Father and because of this connection, He also became our Savior.
Jesus gave up His honor, for a time, to bestow it upon us, humbling Himself to walk our fields, to glean for souls on this soil, because He is our brother, our Kinsman-Redeemer.
Naomi proclaims with boldness the Lord’s faithfulness once again at the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, in Ruth 4:13-17 –
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and theLord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Oh sweet beautiful redemption! He has not left you. You may be looking backwards at all Christ has done and rejoicing alongside Ruth and Naomi. You may be in the thick of it and all you can do is raise your hands to the heavens and ask for restoration, for nourishment, for a reminder of life anew. Where ever you are, know this…
He sent a Redeemer, through the line of David, at just the right time.
He is restoring and working and nourishing you.
He redeems situations and relationships and people at just the right time.
Entrust it to Him, sisters, your blessed and beautiful Kinsman-Redeemer.
When has God used people or a specific person to protect and care for you?
You are redeemed. What relationships or situations are you asking God to redeem currently? Maybe it’s just a cruddy day, maybe it’s a job, a family situation, a prodigal child, your health. He is in it, girls. He is working!
*For more on kinsman-redeemer, check out the book Ruth: More Than A Love Story by Elizabeth Ahlman