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The Resolute Daughter and the Redeeming Kinsman
By Danny Saavedra
“But Ruth clung . . .” – Ruth 1:14 (NLT)
The story of Ruth begins on a tragic note. A family of four migrate from Israel to Moab. In Moab, Naomi’s husband dies, leaving her a widow. Then both of her sons get married—one to Ruth—and they soon die as well, leaving a family of three widows.
Naomi tells her newly widowed daughters-in-law to move on with their lives. She gave them an “out” from the obligation of caring for her. One daughter-in-law leaves, but Ruth clings to Naomi.
What stands out about Ruth’s decision to stay was that she had no idea how her future would be affected by choosing to do the right thing. Would her chances of getting remarried have increased if she’d left Naomi? Possibly. But Ruth didn’t take that angle. Something inside of her bound her to Naomi. She, a pagan Moabite, exclaims, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16 NLT).
You see, Ruth came in contact with the Lord. So, when we read that she clung to Naomi, the One she was really clinging to was God! This is the second time we see God touching the heart of a “pagan” and calling her into His plan of salvation. Both times, these women responded in faith and trusted in God. And both times, God saved them for it. The Lord saw that Ruth was faithful in the present, so He showed Himself faithful in the redemption story He was about to write into her life.
He did this through what the Old Testament calls a kinsman redeemer. What’s that? Well, it’s a male relative who, in keeping with the law, had the opportunity and responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in great need.
The kinsman redeemer is seen in the Old Testament delivering or rescuing, redeeming a person or property, or avenging a wrong. This idea is most clearly illustrated in the story of Ruth.
In Ruth 2:1, we read about an influential man from Bethlehem named Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi who owned the field Ruth would collect leftover crops from. Boaz took notice of Ruth and asked others about her. When he heard her story, how she selflessly stayed with her mother-in-law, she gained his respect and soon, his affection.
Not long after, Ruth, as was custom for a widow, asks Boaz to marry her. And even though he wasn’t the nearest relative, Boaz’s love for Ruth caused him to seek the right to marry her, and soon after, he did!
What a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness and redemption! Christian scholar Donald A. Leggett once wrote, “In the actions of Boaz, we see foreshadowed the saving work of Jesus Christ, his later descendant. As Boaz had the right of redemption and yet clearly was under no obligation to intervene on Ruth’s behalf, so it is with Christ.”
There’s no doubt that Ruth and Boaz’s saga is one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible—in human history even. But it’s nothing compared to the story of Christmas—God’s love story! You see, our sin separated us from God, and He could have left it that way. After all, it’s what we deserve! But “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9 NLT). Today, join us in celebrating our great love story and honoring Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer!