When God distributed land to each of the 12 tribes of Israel it was His intent that an allotment become a permanent inheritance for each tribe. Thus, He made provision for the redemption of the land and for the care of widows within a family. This is played out for us in the Book of Ruth. Naomi lost not only her husband, Elimelech, but also both of her sons. Out of love and concern for Naomi, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, decided to stay with her. She declared, "Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)
The women returned to Bethlehem during the barley harvest, and Ruth went to glean in a field owned by Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. Naomi realized that Boaz could be a kinsman-redeemer for them. This means that he would be responsible to protect the interests of the family and would pay the price for their deliverance and freedom. He would take care of Naomi and Ruth and any offspring that might result from his marriage to Ruth. Ruth was instructed to lay at the feet of Boaz after he finished winnowing the barley on the threshing floor and to request that he provide a covering for her.
Boaz was ready to become Ruth's kinsman-redeemer but knew that there was a man who was a closer relative to Elimelech's family who could serve as the redeemer. Boaz and 10 witnesses gathered at the City gate to bring to the attention of this man that Naomi was going to sell the land that belonged to Elimelech. He could purchase the land, but Ruth would come along with it. His responsibility would be to marry her and have children with her so that the name of the dead man would be maintained with his property. (Ruth 4:3-6) At hearing this, the man refused to become the kinsman-redeemer because he said, "I would jeopardize my own inheritance." (Ruth 4:6 - NAS) He passed his right of redemption on to Boaz who became the kinsman-redeemer of Elimelech's family. Boaz gladly took on a Gentile wife and redeemed the property, preserving the family name. He is a picture of our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
We know that Jesus is the Son of God. He was sent to earth for a specific mission--to redeem mankind from sin and the curse of the law, so that "we receive full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:5) Jesus came to restore our inheritance and fellowship with God. As our elder brother in the family line, He was not only qualified but also able and willing to redeem us.
The willingness of Jesus to be our kinsman-redeemer was demonstrated when He, the Son of God, took on a new name, "Son of Man," our name. He calls Himself this multiple times in the Gospels. He came to redeem both Jew and Gentile; we are "The Bride of Christ" for Him. "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them (us) brothers." (Hebrews 2:11) Jesus became our Kinsman-Redeemer, gladly taking on our name, the Son of Man, taking us as His bride, and restoring to us everlasting life. The women of Bethlehem said to Naomi: "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer...He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age..." (Ruth 4:14-15) Should we not also give abundant praise to our Kinsman-Redeemer and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has redeemed us and taken us on as His Bride?
Joan E. Mathias