One of the best stories in the bible is about love. A love that knows no culture and surpasses even the hardest of times. This love transcends even between generations. This love, as we all know, was shown in the life of Jesus Christ as he redeemed not just the people of Israel but the entire world from sin and shame.
But let me tell you about another love story that depicts the same love that was shown in Israel’s time. It’s found in the old testament to a Book named after a Moabite Woman. Yes folks, out of the many books in the bible, this is I guess the only book named after a non-Jew. I’m talking about the Book of Ruth. Her love story is not just another love story, it shares life lessons as well especially in a lot of other situations aside from “puppy love”.
I am fascinated by the Jewish culture and one of the things that I’ve learned during my college years with InterVarsity is studying the Book of Ruth, the importance of Ruth and her experience in Israel’s history and it’s application for the New Testament and for all of us as well.
Now, I don’t want to be preachy but I would like to share 4 important lessons I’ve learned through the book of Ruth (and of the movie!) that greatly influenced my walk with the Lord through the years.
1. Family love transcends culture, ethnic origin,generation and even bloodline –
Ruth was a Moabite woman, the daughter-in-law of Naomi,a widow who has lost everything. In reality and by the law of the land (in Moab), Ruth no longer has responsibility to the house of Mahlon, her husband after his death. It is customary for a widow to return to her original home but Ruth decided to go with Naomi. I don’t know someone in my locality who has such love for mother-in-law as Ruth does. Such expression of daughterly love is shown in the very words of Ruth in the bible –
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
2. Favor and grace will always be available to those whose intentions are good –
Ruth was not an Israelite and gleaning the field will be twice as hard to provide for her and Naomi. Boaz, who is a relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband has asked Ruth to stay in his field to glean and should not try to go out to another field. This was a big favor for both of them especially that as history tells us, Moab was an enemy of Israel.
The foreman replied, “She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
3. The important role of Kinsmanship is at sacrifice and obedience –
The law of Israel strongly adhere’s to God’s command and Boaz was man enough to accept it. He did not do anything that will disgrace his family’s name or Ruth’s when she came to Boaz for one night seeking redemption as customary to the people of Israel. Redeeming a person will not only require buying the land of the relative but also marrying the widowed daughter-in-law of the first son on Naomi.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.”
“The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.”
He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her. Then he [b] went back to town.
Boaz followed everything as of what the Law required of him and God’s favor was upon him. He not only redeemed the house of Elimelech but also found true love in the arms of a Moabite woman. The role of Boaz as the Kinsman Redeemer for Naomi and Ruth paved the way for the generation of King David to sprout, the mightiest and famous king of Israel to the very descendant of Joseph of Nazareth, the earthly father of Jesus.
Ruth was no longer just a Moabite but the great grandmother of David, of which the lineage of our Savior was born on. Surely, God’s grace far outweighs our own perceptions most of the time.
Jesus also portrayed the role of the Kinsman Redeemer, being the first son of God the father and only heir, He has purchased through his blood the redemption of Adam’s first fruit. He was able to not just pay the penalty of our sins but has redeemed and bought us back to become rightful heirs of God’s untimely promises.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. – John 1: 10- 12
4. We are also Kinsman Redeemers –
Our Kinsman Redeemer has given us a second chance in life. He gave us life eternal and the opportunity to live life to the fullest under His care as a shepherd and as a Father and Redeemer.
And like Boaz, we have a duty to our family, our friends and loved ones. We have the duty to show them the redeeming power of Christ Jesus our Lord. You and I have been given a chance to be part of the greatest move of God in all history and that is to take part in the harvest and open doors for all mankind.
May we always find this truth a compelling force to always share and show God’s love to others even when we thought they don’t deserve it. For in the end, being a kinsman redeemer is a role we need to play in this journey we call life.
Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you as well!