Ruth: Love & Redemption

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 10: Tuesday

All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.
Ruth 2:11a–12

Tuesday’s Bible reading is the book of Ruth. In contrast to other events during the times of the Judges of Israel, these four brief chapters are not about wars or nations, but about family and the lives of ordinary people. The regard and kindness shown throughout the book paint a tender picture of what people can and should be to one another in adversity: Ruth’s work as she cares for Naomi and Naomi’s wisdom as she works to provide for Ruth show us their tender and mutual love; Boaz is that rare combination of a man who has not only wealth, but integrity and generosity—he doesn’t dismiss Ruth as someone who is negligent because she is poor; he recognizes her true worth, and watches out for her and Naomi even before their marriage.

As Boaz becomes the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth, the book of Ruth also teaches us about the kinsman-redeemer who acts of behalf of his family:

“The twenty occurrences of the verb ‘to redeem’ (Heb. gā’al) in so short a book is a reminder that the word was in common use in Israel. It belonged to the realm of family law: each member of the family had obligations to protect the other, and none should be lonely or destitute. The near relative who bought back family property (Lv.25:25), or secured the freedom of an enslaved brother (Lv. 25:47–55), or avenged a murder (Nu. 35; Dt. 19:6) was known as the gō’ēl. The book of Ruth extends his duties to providing an heir for a relative who has died childless. The law of levirate marriage, outlined in Dt. 25:5–10, envisaged several brothers and their families sharing one home. If one brother died without having a son, the next brother was to take the widow and provide an heir for his brother. In the case of Ruth, who had no brothers-in-law, a more distant relative was expected to marry her….The special contribution of this book to the subject is to make clear that the gō’ēl alone possessed the right to redeem, and yet was under no obligation to do so. The willing, generous response of Boaz was, in a very small way, a foreshadowing of the great Gō’ēl, who was to descend from him.”1

Ruth was descended from Moab, a man born of the incestuous sin of Lot and his oldest daughter, but God, in His mercy and love, brought her into Israel to become one of His people. Ruth and Boaz become the parents of Obed, who was the grandfather of King David, from whose line Jesus was born to be our Kinsman-Redeemer:

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Hebrews 2:14–15

Ruth’s story is beautiful at so many levels: the love shown between Ruth, Naomi and Boaz; the hope found in the providential care of God as He delivers Ruth and Naomi from their poverty and heals Naomi’s heart; and finally, the inclusion of Ruth in the line of David. She is one of four women mentioned by name in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, two Gentiles and two Jews, who each, in some way, had a life marked by sexual sin; Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba and Ruth teach us about our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ:

“You’ve got two harlots, one born out of incest, and an adulteress, and they’re the only four ladies mentioned in the entire genealogy of Jesus Christ. Now what do you think the message is? God is a God of what? Grace. Are you glad about that? I’m glad about that. Grace….Coming through a nation whose history was a degenerated history, coming from two sinful men, and born to one sinful lady was the King of all Kings. Let it be known to Israel and anybody who listens, Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners, did you get that? He’s the friend of sinners. And He Himself said it, I have not come to call the righteous but (what?) sinners to repentance.”2

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Ruth, Naomi and Obed: Simeon Solomon, Public Domain.
1J. G. Baldwin, Ruth,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 278.
2John MacArthur, Grace to You: The Gracious King.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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