THE ROMANCE OF REDEMPTION: little known truths about the love of God. This post will help us understand the love of God & its role in our lives better. It will use the stories about two men from Bethlehem & their relationships with their unusual wives, one in 1312 B.C. and another over 13 centuries later. The two stories are connected by the most important mark of a true Christian—genuine active hesed which is shown by the kinsman redeemers of both stories. This hesed is announced by Christ & recorded at John 13:34-35.
HOW LIFE UNFOLDS!…BETHLEHEM, c. 1312 B.C. A tired dirty middle aged woman comes into town along w/ a young foreigner, and she is recognized as Naomi, the wife of Elimelech, a man who was from a prestigious local family. It seems she’d had the troubles of Job—she had left Bethlehem 10 yrs. earlier w/ her man & 2 sons. They’d moved about 50 miles away on the other side of the sea to a foreign country because of the crop failures in their area. After moving, her man died. Her two sons, even though they found foreign wives, gave her no grandchildren; and then they too died. Looking at all her heartaches, she concluded God didn’t like her….many people going through similar difficulties have concluded the same. Like the prodigal son she returns to her hometown destitute where they had once owned land. God has drawn her back (A), but she is unable to see God in her life. Naomi’s story is recorded in the Bible book entitled Ruth, who was her daughter in law, the dau.-in-law who selflessly & voluntarily came along to help her. If the basic story line is used it could be a great movie & set anywhere in the world. And what we learn from her story is that even though it can’t be seen, God’s hand is mysteriously at work in this big mess, just as He is at work in our messy lives. Plus there are many other significant things to learn from the story. For instance, that all the small details of our life are sacred whether it is harvesting wheat or washing dishes (cf. 1 COR 10:31). The account reminds us that God has used simple humble women in mighty ways for the kingdom & that couples can partner together for Him.
RUTH. Ruth is an incredible person, although like so many incredible people, she blended in as a “nobody of note” until you really knew her. She was beautiful both inside & out (B) She did not make her decisions from fear, but from faith. She was a hard worker with a servant attitude of selflessly serving others. She remains a role model of true love & loyalty. Her name means both “beauty” & “friendship”. She paid no attention to racial or religious differences & loved her mtr.-in-law with genuine Christlike love, which in the story is the Hebrew term “hesed”. Ruth & Boaz both are examples of “hesed”…but unfortunately, this profound Heb. word does not translate into English. We must use a series of terms to capture its meaning: hesed is a deep type of giving, compassionate agape love that is motivated by loyalty & selflessness which inspires one to do something for the good of someone else. Ruth displays hesed to Naomi; and Boaz, who is Naomi’s relative, takes note of this.
BOAZ. The first time Boaz bumps into Ruth is when he goes to inspect his employees harvesting a barley field & he spots Ruth, obviously a widow gleaning. When he asks his foreman about her, the foreman stutters some incomprehensible Hebrew as a way of a lame excuse (C) because a careful extrapolation from what Boaz later tells Ruth shows that when he arrived she was getting ready to leave the field after being rudely sexually taunted by the male field workers. Boaz gives her special gleaning privileges & protection. Amazed & grateful for the generosity from the owner of the field, Ruth drops to her knees, puts her forehead on the ground, & asks, “Why have I found such favor?” Later, Boaz also provides her food & water, & says that he hopes YHWH will bless her faith & her acts of hesed. Naomi, taking note of all this help, says a special blessing on Boaz (D) and instructs Ruth to go to the foot of Boaz’s bed when he falls asleep. Ruth follows instructions. When Boaz wakes up, she speaks from her heart and asks him to be her & Naomi’s Kinsman Redeemer (E), which Boaz does, after giving another relative, who is closer, the chance. In this case, Boaz has many legal loopholes that he can use to ignore Ruth’s request, he only does it out of hesed & by applying the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law to the situation.
KINSMAN REDEEMER. The concept of Kinsman Redeemer is found in LEV 25:25-55. If a relative due to debts sells himself into slavery a kinsman was obliged to buy their freedom by the Law of God. A concept that went along with it was that a kinsman could marry the widow & raise up a child for a childless relative so that the inheritance associated with the dead relative would continue. (F) In this case, Boaz, as Kinsman Redeemer buys the property Naomi’s husband had owned, & he takes Ruth, a gentile, as his wife to provide Naomi with a child. That child (Obed) then becomes a forbearer of the House of David …King David is born in Bethlehem (G)… & the most prominent person of that House: Yahshua (aka Christ Jesus). Boaz was the perfect type of Christ, and his wife Ruth, a perfect type of the Gentile bride of Christ who was grafted into Israel by grace & mercy. Christ is foremost our Kinsman Redeemer, and the entire reason why God had to both pay the price of redemption, yet be a kinsman (a man), is tied up with this Kinsman Redeemer concept. Lots of kinship terms appear in the book of Ruth, and it is our best example of how the practice of Kinsman Redeemer worked. Without the book of Ruth our understanding of what Christ did would be weak. Without understanding how Christ was our kinsman redeemer, one does not fully understand the story of what Christ did for us.
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. 13 Centuries after Boaz was Ruth & Naomi’s kinsman redeemer in Bethlehem, according to a 750 B.C. prophecy (H), another kinsman redeemer (this time for all mankind) is born in Bethlehem. What was his mission??? According to Christ his mission was “to make God known”. No one has seen God, but Yahshua (Christ) made God known to mankind. (I) Throughout his ministry, Christ explains 3 times why he is here: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish his work”(J) “The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing bear me witness that the Father has sent me.”(K) And in his final hours, Yahshua prays, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (L) This prayer refers to “the work”, and he speaks in this prayer as if he has accomplished his mission.(M) The whole work of Christ is summed up by these 3 similar statements. Knowledge of God is essential for eternal life. Christ states, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” Numerous verses show Christ continually doing the work that the Father has given him to do. Christ’s works are evidence that God is active through Yahshua. He states that he has glorified God on earth. The Hebrew of the OT wrote “kabod YHWH” (presence of YHWH) which is translated into the Greek Septuagint as “glory of God”. The Glory of God is the saving presence of God. At John 12:43, when it says “they loved the praise of men rather than the glory of God”, the “glory of God” is referring to the saving presence of God. Christ says, “I have made your name know to them…so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them [i.e. Christ’s comforting Spirit…the Holy Spirit].”(N) God’s hesed in shown by Christ and now Christ prays it would be in his disciples!
CHRIST’S FINAL WILL AS HE FACES DEATH: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(O) So the mark of a true Christian is not a cross, a bumper sticker with a fish, minister attire, or an index finger pointing to heaven, it is the hesed love that our kinsman redeemer showed towards us. The new part of this command was “AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”. There had been plenty of commands to love one’s neighbor as oneself in the OT. (P) The kind of extraordinary love Christ showed us did not include arrogance, jealousy, bickering & fear. When you see these things, you know you are not seeing the mark of a true Christian. Christ’s desire for his disciples is restated at 1 JN 2:11, “…he who hates his brother is in darkness…” and 1 JN 3:15 “He who does not love his brother abides in death.” IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, GOD ABIDES IN US.
In summary. This second Kinsman Redeemer did not have to redeem us—it was done by hesed love. Redemption was not a business transaction, but an act of love like what Boaz & Ruth both did. The Word states, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.”(Q)
(A) Cf. PRV 16:9 (B) Inward beauty is repeatedly displayed in her virtuous acts. Outward beauty-Ruth 3:10b (C) Ruth 2:7 (D) Ruth 2:20 (E) Ruth 3:9 (F) DT 25:5-10 (G) 1 SAM 16 (H) Micah 5:2 (I) JN 1:18, cf. JN 20:30-31 (J) JN 4:34 (K) JN 5:36 (L) JN 17:4 (M) JN 17:4-5 (N) JN 17:24, 26 (O) JN 13:34-35. (P) for example: EX 20:12-17, LEV 19:18, 33-34, DT 5:6-21, 22:1-4 (Q) 1 JN 4:9-10