Sunday we wrap up our brief sermon series based on the Story of Ruth. Never having preached through this book before, it has been an enjoyable and challenging experience. Last summer for my Hebrew language classes we translated the first two chapters or Ruth, thus we did extensive word studies, grammatical and syntactical analysis, as well as exploration to the different themes of the story. Since then I've been eager to preach through the book, and I've not been disappointed.
One of the main themes of the story focuses on the relationship between the LORD and Naomi: the story of Ruth is about the LORD providing for Naomi through Boaz and Ruth. I know that some preachers and commentaries focus on the role of the kinsman-redeemer, but I don't think that it merits the primary focus. There are parallels to Boaz and Jesus as kinsman-redeemers, but just because of that connection, it doesn't make the concept of kinsman-redeemer the primary issue of the story of Ruth. That said, the story beautifully illustrates what a righteous kinsman-redeemer is to be like.
In short, a kinsman-redeemer is a Hebrew male who has the privilege or opportunity to rescue/help a near relative that is in distress, danger or in need of vindication due to some injustice. This could include paying off the debts of a near relative to prevent their land from leaving their family inheritance, or purchasing the land itself to keep it within the family name. The kinsman could also be called upon to care for a widow and produce a son through her to preserve the family name and inheritance. If a family member was killed, a kinsman-redeemer could be called upon to track down the killer and bring him to justice.
Naomi was delighted when she discoverd that Ruth had befriended Boaz, for he was a kinsman-redeemer. The question was whether or not he was the closest one, and if he would be willing and able to redeem the property. Naomi began planning out a way for Boaz to purchase the property that belonged to her dead husband Elimelech; along with that purchase would be Ruth as widow of the deceased son Mahlon who was to inherit the land. Thus Naomi would have Boaz as a redeemer, as a son-in-law, and possible father of a grandson for whom she would receive as her own son to carry on the family name of Elimelech.
Boaz was willing and able to redeem the property, he was willing and able to wed Ruth and produce a son through her; and Ruth and Boaz were willing to give their son Obed to Naomi to care for him as her own, to renew her life now and sustain her in her old age. Jesus is willing to redeem our lives now, and he is willing to renew our life now, and sustain us in our life now. Just as the LORD provided for Naomi through the righteous deeds of Ruth and Boaz, so the LORD provides for us through the righteousness of Jesus and all those who follow His Way.
If you need the LORD to provide for you, consider the righteousness of your own Way, as well as that of those who surround you. By placing yourself in a community of righteous men and women, you help yourself become more righteous, which makes you more willing and able to receive the help the LORD is ready to give you. Commit to righteousness, which is the Way of Jesus. You need it, and others need the goodness that comes from what God can provide through your righteousness.