Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Kelly Minter’s revised and expanded Ruth study. First released in 2009, this study is now updated with fresh content and new teaching videos from Kelly. Order your copy or view a free sample at lifeway.com/ruth.
One of the most important things we can do while reading the Old Testament is to look for Jesus in the story line. When Jesus approached the disciples after His resurrection on the road to Emmaus, He showed them how their ancient Scriptures had been speaking about Him all along, beginning with Moses and the prophets (Luke 24:27). As we consider three characteristics of a kinsman-redeemer, we won’t be able to help running to our New Testaments, finding Christ as our perfect and all-sufficient Redeemer.
Read Ruth 4:1-6 to refresh your memory:
Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took ten men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the territory of Moab, is selling the portion of the field that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do it. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”
“I want to redeem it,” he answered.
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from Naomi, you will acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”
The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”
Today, we’ll focus on three important characteristics of a kinsman-redeemer. He was required to be:
1. Near of kin;
2. Able to redeem;
3. Willing to redeem.
The nearer kinsman-redeemer was a family relative. He was able to redeem, but he wasn’t willing. And isn’t it this third consideration that often ends up being our downfall? This may be one of the most tragic ways for a Christian to spend her life: in the right place with all the right resources but without a willing heart. One commentator put it this way, “It remains . . . an instructive fact that he who was so anxious for the preservation of his own inheritance, is now not even known by name.”1
Before we move on to some theologically profound points in today’s study, I want to linger on this important aspect of Boaz’s character, his sacrificial willingness. This, after all, is what set him apart from the other relative. Boaz made his decisions based on God’s heart and the needs of others. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find I’ve missed having an eternal impact because I chose only what benefited me.
When I was a child, one of my favorite friends of my parents was Sherry Meddings, a zealous, full-throttle personality who happened to be a Bible teacher. She was also very into fashion and helping you discover what color palette looked best on you. When my closest friend at the time was on her way out the door to high school, Sherry said, “Don’t think I’m too tired to notice you’re in all black; you’re not a ‘winter’ on the palette.” We lost Sherry to cancer when I was a teenager. I have no doubt I’d be at her doorstep this very moment if given the opportunity to laugh with her once again, to grapple with our strong-willed natures in light of God’s merciful kindness.
One of her sayings was, “God can change your heart; you just have to be willing to be made willing.” This always spoke to me when I wasn’t in a state of willingness because if I could just be willing to be made willing, then the Lord would take care of the rest. I can’t read about Boaz’s willingness to sacrificially redeem Ruth and Naomi and Elimelech’s land without thinking of Sherry.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” I used to be afraid of dedicating my life to the Lord, certain He would seize this small window of opportunity to make my life extraordinarily hard or send me down the Amazon in a hammock (wait . . .). But I’m more convinced than ever that the most frightful and sad condition is in not yielding our lives to the Lord. He is our hope, our joy, our peace, our strength, our abundant life. There is no adventure like the willing life.
It’s now time for us to trace the idea of kinsman-redeemer into the New Testament. When I think of Ruth and Naomi, their impoverished positions, and their vulnerability as they most likely waited at home for Boaz to act, I’m reminded of our own powerless state apart from Christ. We were unable to redeem ourselves from the curse of the law, powerless to save ourselves.
We need a Savior who fulfills all three qualities of a kinsman-redeemer.
In our powerless, hopeless, sinful state, we were given a Redeemer, a Redeemer who left heaven and was made like one of us in human flesh because we needed a Savior who was near of kin. But we needed more than someone related to us. We needed someone who is able to redeem us, and only One qualified for the task. Because we were bound by the curse of the law, we needed someone who was perfect and therefore stood outside the law. And so God gave us a Redeemer who was able. We would be hopelessly stranded if our redeemer were near of kin and able but unwilling. And here is where Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills the role of kinsman-redeemer. He was not only close and able, but He was also lovingly willing to redeem.
What does Christ’s willingness to save you mean to you?
We’re excited to announce that the Ruth Bible Study Book includes continual access to all 7 of Kelly’s teaching sessions. You’ll simply redeem the unique access code printed in the back of your Bible study book to access the videos.
And here are some fun wallpapers for your desktop and phone! Click the images below to download!
1. P. Cassell, as quoted by Arthur E. Cundall and Leon Morris, Judges and Ruth: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 7, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 289.