Blessings of a Kinsman Redeemer

 

Now, it came about in the days when the judges governed that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem [House of Bread] in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons [about 50 miles west, to the east of the Dead Sea]. The name of the man was Elimelech [My God is king], and the name of his wife, Naomi [pleasantness, delight]; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon [man of sickness] and Chilion [coming to an end], Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now, they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah [drip, cloud, hind, fawn], and the name of the other Ruth [a friend]. And they lived there about ten years [natural order]. Then, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.          Ruth 1:1-5

The Book of Ruth is a story that centers on three people: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.  Naomi & Elimelech left Bethlehem because of famine for Moab, where their sons married Moabite (Gentile) women. Once Naomi had lost her husband and two sons, she was left in a foreign land with two Moabite daughters-in-law who knew very little of her Jewish faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. The two Moabites initially told Naomi they would return to Bethlehem with her, but one (Orpah) chose to stay in her homeland. Ruth, however, was not discouraged as she states in Ruth 1:16-17: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus, may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” She was totally committed to following Naomi. It is that kind of commitment God desires to be His people. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 says, For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God. Ruth was turning away from her own ideas about god/gods to the living and true God. 

Faith Establishes the Law 

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith [ek – out of, faith is the instrument of justification] and the uncircumcised through faith [dia tees – by means of, faith is the agency of justification] is one. Do we then nullify [katargeoe – render inactive, ineffective] the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish [histemi – to cause to stand] the Law.      Romans 3:29-31

Paul considers that the approach a Gentile is required to take in becoming a believer in Jesus is not the same as that of an established Jew. Ruth was following Naomi, believing that Naomi’s faith in her God would lead Ruth to her God. 

Ek expresses the instrument of justification; dia, the means through which it may be had. The Jew was already in a position for justification through the Law leading to Christ. He had only to accept it as of faith, and not of works of law (Romans 3:20). The Gentile must attain to it through faith, his faith in the gospel now revealed to him.

The role faith plays in the Jew coming to know Jesus as Messiah is unique to his own Jewish faith and, therefore, completely different from the Gentile coming to a saving faith in Jesus. For the Jew, faith is the agency of justification, the tool that qualifies him as a Jew and his understanding of who God is in light of his convictions. His faith centers on the question of the identity of the Messiah. Alternatively, the Gentile has no faith before coming to recognize Jesus as God and savior. Faith is something that is established out of nothing. The Jew’s faith is an alteration of what existed beforehand with the new requirement that Jesus is the Messiah. 

Real Faith Produces Obedience

Paul declares that the Law of Moses is fulfilled by faith, real faith in the One who fulfilled the Law on the believers’ behalf (Matthew 5:17). Justification by faith leads a believer to obey the Law. The sinner sees his moral failures. He recognizes that the laws of God are given not to keep him in line but rather to find a higher quality of life. He gives his heart to God and yields himself to obey His Law. All the sentiments that arise from the conviction of sin, that flow from gratitude for mercies, that spring from love to God, all his views of the sacredness of the Law prompt him to yield obedience to it. The fact that Christ endured such suffering to show the evil of violating the Law is one of the strongest motives prompting obedience.

Barnhouse Expositions of Bible Doctrine gives further insights into the implications for the Gentile: 

Therefore, we stand in the most urgent need. Unless some way can be found to bring us in, we are doomed to be outside with the unclean and forever. The problem to us is one that tops all others. We do not come with brazen face knocking at the wall of partition and asking that we be admitted of right. We stand in the place of penitence, far off from God. We are like Ruth, the Moabitess, halfway between the Gentile world of the curse and the altar of Israel. We look back into our own heritage and proclaim its bankruptcy. It has nothing that can satisfy our hearts, and we realize that it was a man-made substitute. We know that it is not true in physics that nature abhors a vacuum, but we know that spiritually, a vacuum is intolerable. Because our fathers did not have the truth, they took the counterfeit. We are, indeed, the children of the uncircumcision. If God is a national God, then I am lost and going to spend eternity in Hell. Therefore, it is of great importance to me to establish the fact that God is universal. 

Vessels of Mercy

The Apostle Paul understood the distinction between the believing Jew (child of the promise) and the Gentile Christian like no other before him or since. Yet, in the passage below, he proclaims that the Lord's patience [makrothumia - longsuffering] against vessels of wrath, unbelievers, is to display the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, believers in Christ both Jew and Gentile, those He called beforehand for glory. His conclusion is that the roadway to deep fellowship with the God of the universe will always be accompanied with a certain amount of suffering. The heartache felt by Naomi after losing her husband and two sons was an avenue of suffering that brought her to Boaz (the Kinsman Redeemer), who would make sense of her life through the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy:

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among GentilesRomans 9:22-24 

Upon her return to Bethlehem, Naomi was greatly discouraged by her time in Moab, even asking everyone to call her Mara (bitter) instead of Naomi (pleasantness). “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Verse 21). It is a picture of the Jewish mindset upon facing tragedy. Paul understood this perspective, having been a Pharisee before he wrote Romans. There was always a purpose for the suffering that His people would experience.

Redeemed From Every Lawless Deed

“Moreover, I have acquired [qanah - to purchase, to acquire, to buy back or redeem] Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.”        Ruth 4:10-12

Boaz, as the Kinsman Redeemer, provided Ruth, the Gentile, as well as Naomi, the Jew access to permanent salvation strictly on the basis of his relationship to each. When he pursued and ultimately acquired Ruth the Moabitess, to be my wife, he was redeeming a Gentile from her devastating circumstances to provide her an inheritance and a new life. Titus 2:14 tells us that Jesus fulfilled the promise of the Kinsman Redeemer: who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. The inheritance of the new covenant believer is Christ, who possesses each for good deeds. Deuteronomy 32:9 “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.”

Restorer of Life 

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. “Also, I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” says the Lord your God.         Amos 9:11-15 

God will reestablish David's booth over both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. A booth or awning was made by setting up a simple frame and spreading branches over it. Its primary purpose was to shelter those under it. David's dynasty, which had been a protective canopy over all the people of Israel, had fallen with the schism of the twelve tribes into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. This booth had been broken in two. But God promised to unite the two kingdoms once again under Davidic rule. He will restore the sheltering booth, repair its broken places, as it used to be. God will carry out His good promise to David that He would raise up a Descendant after him and establish His rule forever. These prophesies of the coming Kingdom Age will result in the total restoration of life in Israel.

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”        Ruth 4:14-15

Our Kinsman Redeemer has not left anyone behind, Jew or Gentile, so that each may experience the greatness of this new life in Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David, from the line of Boaz and Ruth.  

An inspiring story is told about a woman who witnessed her entire family being taken away to the death camps during the Holocaust and who was the only one to survive. She made her way to America, where she married and looked forward to starting a family. Yet, twelve years passed, and the woman remained childless. One day, her doctor said to her, “I’m telling you this for your own good: Give up! You will never have a child. It’s time to move on.”

The woman left the doctor’s office understandably depressed. She boarded a bus, but when her stop came, she didn’t get off. She spent the whole day on that bus in a state of despair until the driver informed her that the day was done, and she had to get off. He said, “Listen, lady, I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re not going to solve it by staying on this bus.”

The woman got off the bus and prayed quietly, “God, You were with me all along. You saved my life countless times. You brought me here. You let me start my life over, and so it is in Your hands. I have no right to give up. The bus driver is absolutely right — You didn’t save my life for me to live on the Madison Avenue bus. I won’t stop serving You no matter what and I also won’t give up.” One year later, she had a baby. By the time the woman passed away at a ripe old age, she was the grandmother and great-grandmother to many children.

 

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