RUTH: The True Near-Kinsman

In the book of Ruth, Boaz was a near-kinsman or close relative to the family of Elimelech. Although there was one who was more closely related than he, Boaz was given the opportunity to buy back the land of Elimelech and raise up an heir for him (through his marriage to Ruth). Boaz gladly played the role of redeemer in this wonderful story of love. I would like to suggest, however, that Boaz as a near-kinsman is an Old Testament shadow or type of the true near-kinsman, Jesus the Christ.

The Hebrew term goel, rendered as close relative or near-kinsman in the book of Ruth, is used approximately one hundred times in the Old Testament. About 20% of these usages are found in the book of Ruth. The word goel has been translated in a variety of ways. Note the following examples: “relative” (Num. 5:8), “redeem” (Psa. 119:154), “redeemer” (Job 19:25), “ransomed” (Isa. 35:8-10), “purchases” (Lev. 25:33), “claim it” (Job 3:5), and “avenger of blood” (Num. 35:19-27).

The usual emphasis in the word goel is on redemption as being the privilege or duty of the near-kinsman or close relative.

In our study today, we will look at the near-kinsman’s duty in three ways and note how Jesus has fulfilled every part of this position, making Him the true near-kinsman (in the spiritual sense). It is recommended that you open your Bible and read the passages listed below to more fully appreciate the points being made.

1. FORFEITED LAND
If an Israelite had to sell any of his land, his near-kinsman was to buy it back (i.e., redeem it), if possible, in order to keep the land in the family (Lev. 25:23-25).

In the spiritual sense, all men have lost their first estate. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23; cf. Gen. 3:22-24). Christ is the Redeemer of our lost estate (Titus 2:14; cf. Rev. 22:1-5).

2. FORFEITED LIBERTY
If an Israelite sold himself into slavery to a foreigner, a near-kinsman was to buy him back, if possible (Lev. 25:47-55).

In the spiritual sense, we have all sold ourselves into sin (cf. Rom. 6:16-18). Christ is the Redeemer of slaves to sin (I Pet. 1:18,19; cf. Hos. 13:14). His blood has the power to free us!

3. FORFEITED LIFE
When a person was slain in Israel, the pursuit and execution of the slayer was the duty of the near-kinsman (Num. 35).

In the spiritual sense, we have all been slain by Satan with sin (Eph. 2:4,5). Christ is the avenger of blood (cf. Col. 2:11-15; Rev. 20:10).

Jesus Christ is the true near-kinsman of mankind! He is the Redeemer of our lost estate. He is the Redeemer of slaves to sin. He is the Avenger of Blood. Or, more accurately, He is all of these things to those who will allow Him to take them under His “wing” (cf. Ruth 2:12; 3:9). Jesus described in Matthew 12:49,50 what it means to be closely related to Him and what it requires – “He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.'” Is Jesus a close relative of yours? Is He your near-kinsman or redeemer?

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