The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado.
We’re making our way through the Old Testament Book of Ruth; 4 chapters, and only 85 verses long, the mighty midget with a meaningful message! It is a powerful little loves story which shows how the Lord can take something totally wiped-out and make it totally far-out. It’s a Book in the Bible that ministers a message of hope to any who feel hopeless, helpless, and hurting. We’ve finished up chapter one, where we were introduced to Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth; two ladies who’ve lost their husbands and have made their way to the city of Bethlehem-Judah, from the city of Moab.
Oftentimes, before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts. If our circumstances change for the better, but we remain the same, then I’m not so sure things are actually “better”. God’s purpose is not to make us comfortable, but to make us conformable, “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Looking more like Jesus is really the ultimate goal for each of God’s kids.
As we talked about last time, Naomi was bitter against God, but Ruth was willing for God to have His way in her life, so God began His gracious work with Ruth. Ruth would end up influencing Naomi, and then God would bring to pass a wonderful work that would eventually bring the Son of God into the world. Ruth and Naomi had no idea that they were an integral part of an eternal plan. That plan was to bring the Messiah – the ‘Anointed One’ – the ‘Deliverer’ – the ‘Light of the World’ – Jesus Christ. Ruth would end up being in Jesus’ family tree. The love story that we’re talking about here, results in Jesus being birthed!
Listen, I find this really, really cool! Ruth’s story begins with the death of her husband, and it ends with Jesus being birthed! This is an amazing truth that still is true today. Sometimes our heartaches and trials can seem to be the end… but if we’ll hold onto God during those seasons of heartbreak, we too, will see Jesus being ‘birthed’ through our lives!
Let’s pick up where we left off last week…in the first verse of chapter 2…
(Ruth 2:1)1There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.
Here we are introduced to Boaz. His name in Hebrew means, “standing in strength”. Remember, he lived during the “days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1)… and those days are described in the last verse of the Book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The days, the country, and the culturewere extremely tough, yet Boaz was a man who truly stood strong and true in days offilth and famine.
This guy was impressive, to say the least. He was ofthe tribe of Judah, and from him would come the greatest king Israel would ever have, King David… and ultimately, the king of Kings, Jesus Christ! Solomon was so impressed with his great, great grandpa, that he named one of the two main pillars of the Temple after him (1 Kings 7:21)… If you think about it, “standing in strength” would be a pretty good name for one of the main pillars in the Temple, right?
So, here you have this strong, impressive man, Boaz… and he is apicture of Jesus.The word ‘relative’ here is the Hebrew word ‘modat’, which literally means, ‘kinsmen’. In other English translations thatisthe word used (KJV, NASB). What’s interesting, is that this word, ‘kinsman’, is found eleven other times throughout the small Book of Ruth, and in each of those eleven times it is not the word ‘modat’ that is used, it is the Hebrew word, “ga-al”. I don’t want to lose you here, but I find this very interesting. Every other time “relative” or “kinsman” is used in this story, it is the word “ga-al”. Maybe you say, “So what? Who cares?” Well… the Hebrew word “ga-al”, which is also translated “kinsman” eleven times in Ruth, has a few other meanings: “relative”, “kinsmen”, and “deliverer”, “avenger”, and “redeemer”.
Again… Boaz is a picture of Jesus. I grew up hearing things like, “Jesus is our Kinsmen-Redeemer”, but to be honest… I never really understood what that meant. To get a grasp on what an awesome thing that is, we must first understand that the word “ga-al” has its roots in chapters 25 of Numbersand Leviticus, where God had outlined a plan to prevent capitalism from getting out of hand. Every fifty years, there was something called the ‘Year of Jubilee’. In this particular year, all properties purchased by corporations or wealthy individuals due to bankruptcy were to go back to the original owner. In the Year of Jubilee, all debts were canceled. It was Father God’s safeguard against the greed which causes such a gap between the rich and the poor.
As gracious as the Year of Jubilee was, however, fifty years is a long time to be without your land – especially if you’re a farmer. So, the Lord made another provision: The closestrelative, or ‘kinsmen’, had the right, at ANY time, to buy back property which had been lost through bankruptcy, poor business practices, or mismanagement. That is why the word ‘ga-al’ is translated both ‘kinsman’ and ‘redeemer’.
So… above and beyond all of that, a redeemer was a relative who could “buy” a personthat had been sold into slavery, usually because of debt. If a person became enslaved because of debt, the redeemer would “purchase” the person to obtain their freedom. As a result, the redeemer would “own” the person, but as a close family member, not as a slave. This entire Book of Ruth is an example of this whole awesome process. Its why, I believe, we have this love story in our Bibles. Boaz acts as a kinsman-redeemer for Ruth. In Ruth 4 (verses 5,13)it says he “bought” her and she became his wife. God has given us this story, as a PERFECT PICTURE of what is happening with you and me today:
Jesus is our ‘Ga-al’. We’re bankrupt. We’re out of it. Like Ruth and Naomi, we have nothing. Sin has come in and separated us from a loving and beautiful God. But there is One who stands in strength. He is our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:13-14(NASB)– “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
I love that! Jesus, our Kinsman-Redeemer, forgives us “all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt…”. Everything I owed… gone! You see, my sin cost something… big time! Romans 6:23declares that “…the wages of sin is death…”. The cost is DEATH!Because I chose a life of rebellion, I was going to have a day of reckoning. But Jesus, stood strong on my behalf. He went to the Cross and died a horrific death… being nailed to it. In so doing, “…He has taken it(my debt)out of the way…”.
When I was a kid we use to sing a song in church based on Isaiah 51:11 (KJV)“Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away”.
“The redeemed of the Lord” in that verse is speaking of the Lord’s people having been brought across the Red Sea, delivered by God miraculously out ofslavery. God calls them “the redeemed”… but His goal wasn’t just to free them from slavery! He wanted an intimate relationshipwith them!
Exodus 6:6–7–“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem youwith an outstretched arm and with great judgments.I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”
God was saying that He would be their Redeemer and take them as His people, as a man takes a woman as his wife, as Boaz did for Ruth. God did not just want to release them from slavery, but He wanted an intimate relationship with His people, like that of a husband and wife. He redeemed them out of love for them and wanted them to be close to Him forever. Often the Scriptures speak of God as the husband/redeemer of Israel:
Isaiah 54:5– “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.”
Jesus, who was our Redeemer from sin, also “purchased us” as His people with His blood that was shed on the cross. As Peter says,
1 Peter 1:18 – 19– “knowing that you were not redeemedwith corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Peter points out that Jesus was the spotless lamb… and it was the Lamb’s blood that paid for our freedom. Just like the lamb’s blood protected the Israelites in Egypt and led to their redemption from slavery. In the same way, Jesus’ blood redeemed us from our debt of sin, and the death we deserve because of it. Through His death, Christ “bought” us as His people, but not justto set us free. Instead, like a husband taking a wife, He redeemed us out of His great love, so that we could have an intimate relationship with Him.
Boaz is about to redeem Ruth and free her from her situation of indebtedness… being poor… being without hope – even as Jesus Christ has redeemed us, the church, and brought us out of our slavery to sin… but also into intimate relationship with Him… as His bride.
As we can see… this is a PERFECT PICTURE.
Boaz,the kinsman-redeemer/ Jesus,ourKinsman-Redeemer.
Today, I’m grateful for this glimpse at Who Jesus is, and what He’s done for me. It’s good to be reminded. I think it’s easy for us to forget… how much gracewe’ve been shown.
Remember the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and the anointing oil? They complained.
Luke 7:47– “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Do you love little, today? How much have you been forgiven?
You and I will NEVER be CONFORMED into Jesus’ image, if we love little.
We will never see Jesus “birthed” in our world… if we don’t see the depth of our sin, and our need for a Kinsman-Redeemer.
We must be those that look at the PERFECT PICTURE…
of Boaz’ love and saving of Ruth,… and see Jesus.
But… I also wonder if you and I could be a picture perfect,PERFECT PICTURE?
Like…we can read this story, look at Boaz, and see Jesus…
But wouldn’t it be cool if people could look at us… and see Jesus?
It starts with understanding we’ve been forgiven… A LOT.
Then falling in love with Jesus.
If the world sees that… then maybe they’ll see Him.
[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]