“Then Boaz said to the leaders and to all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.” Ruth 4:9 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]
Words require context to be understood. Many words have different meanings according to their context. Redemption is one of those words. Various words are used to define the meaning of redemption—to buy back or repurchase; to free from, release, or extricate; atone, reform, or restore.
How a word is used is what gives it meaning within its context—other words it’s associated with, when it’s spoken and by who, and how it’s expressed.
The word large can describe the size of a shirt, a generalized amount, such as, a large segment of the population, and even the idea of excess or extravagance—they were living large on borrowed money.
When a word can be defined in different ways and with various words, context is very important. And context isn’t just about words. Historical time or time sequence and culture with its various customs also help shape our understanding of a word. This is especially true in the Scriptures.
The mercy and grace of God
The concept of redemption by a kinsman-redeemer requires insight into ancient history and culture, along with the Jewish Law of Moses. This concept is spoken of in two places in the Old Testament—Lev 25:23-28 and Deut 25:5-10—and is related to the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-13).
The Year of Jubilee was a sacred or holy year where no work was to be done in the fields and took place every 50 years. In that year, all property reverted back to the original family owners. It’s a picture of God’s mercy and grace.
Mercy and grace are the basis for all of God’s redemptive work.
In the case of the kinsman-redeemer (go-el in Hebrew), the property is restored to the original family line and the widow of the deceased husband is taken in as a wife.
The family legacy is restored and the widow is restored. She is included in the family’s legacy and returned to the status of marriage—no longer alone or dependent on others.
Consider how this works for Ruth the Moabite, a Gentile (non-Jew). Though she is not Jewish, she is included as if she were because of Boaz’s commitment to marry her. Unlike her sister-in-law Orpah, she trusted in the God of Israel, which brought great blessing to her life.
God’s redemption brings restoration
The commitment and role of a kinsman-redeemer is important and significant. Boaz makes sure it is witnessed so it complies with the Law of Moses and the customs of that time [see NIV text below].
The witnesses at the city gate included elders from the community. They acknowledge the commitment of Boaz and pronounce a blessing on Ruth, Boaz, and their offspring. As will be seen in the last segment of the story of Ruth, their blessing reaches beyond the morning of this transaction.
Although it may seem from the words used in the text that Ruth is “bought” with the property, this is not the case. Redemption isn’t a mere legal transaction or purchase or repurchase—it is a process of restoration.
Restoration is always the intent of the Lord in redemption.
This is why Jesus is the great Kinsman-Redeemer. He repurchased all humanity back from our indebtedness and judgment because of sin. He did this with His atoning sacrifice on the cross.
Why? To restore those who trust in God back into fellowship in the family of God, even as Ruth trusted in the God of Israel. We see this illustrated in the three parables of Luke 15, especially the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32).
Redemption and restoration is what King David—a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14)—knew after he repented from his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (Psalm 51:12). David expressed this with assurance in Psalm 23—He restores my soul (Ps 23:3).
What about you?
Have you experienced God’s redemption and restoration?
Mercy and grace are the basis for all of God’s redemptive work. Restoration is always the intent of the Lord in redemption.
When you find yourself struggling in your faith, remember to reach out to God in prayer and ask Him to restore you by His mercy and grace.
Devo Scripture Text
Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.
I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!”
Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.
May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” (Ruth 4:9-12 NIV 84)