Ruth – The Kinsman Redeemer
Key Verse – 4:10
Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
Ruth is the first book in our English Old Testament which appears in a different place in the Hebrew Scriptures. There it is included towards the close of the Old Testament among The Writings or Hagiographa. In our English Scripture it is placed in it’s historical context after Judges and before the Books of Samuel.
The author of Ruth is anonymous. It certainly appears to have been written at the time when David was famous, perhaps even King, as his ancestry is referred to in Chapter 4.
This is the first of two Biblical books to be named after a woman, the second being Esther. Ruth is also one of three women who are named in genealogy of Jesus Christ; the other two being Rahab and Bathsheba. Her husband, Boaz, was actually the son of Rahab, whose family alone were spared the annihilation of Jericho.
The Purpose of the Book
The characters are factual, not fictional as some allege, because the purpose of the book is to trace the lineage of David. It relates the departure of a Jewish family from Bethlehem to Moab in a time of famine. This is certainly characteristic of the Judges period in that everyone was doing as they pleased without regard for the law. The search for prosperity in Moab ended with tragedy as the sons of the family married Moabitesses, which was forbidden. This spiritual disaster led to grief as all the men in the family unit died one by one leaving Naomi on her own with two Moabitess daughters-in-law. Without hesitation she returned to Bethlehem and Ruth the Moabitess out of devotion for her heartbroken mother-in-law remained by her side. As a consequence of providence Ruth, in Bethlehem, meets Boaz a kinsman of Elimilech’s. Under the Law of Moses, Boaz had an entitlement to redeem Elimilech’s name by marrying a widow within in the family. This he did and so Ruth the Moabitess was integrated into Jewish society in the Bethlehem district becoming the grandmother of David and as part of the ancestry of the Messiah.
Ruth carries serious warnings concerning the dangers of backsliding. Elimilech took his family into Moab, a heathen idolatrous society. As Elimilech and his family suffered so backsliding will bring us nothing but pain. He went in search of prosperity but instead Naomi returned to Bethlehem empty with a desire to change her name from that which meant pleasant to Mara meaning bitter. Yet as Naomi returned God gave her Ruth and restoration with a family of grandchildren she thought she would never see. There is restoration through God’s grace for the backslider.
There are also lessons relating to the moral excellencies of loyalty and devotion. Leaving her home behind Ruth gave her life to this elderly relative. God her commitment giving her more in return than she ever thought possible. Ruth 1:16-17 is paralleled in the New Testament by Romans 12:10-15; church life needs to be a true fellowship not merely a society which listens to sermons!
Ruth is a type of the Gentile peoples in this New Testament age. Without any natural right to the covenant promises she was brought into the Hebrew nation and given the privileges of citizenship. As with the Gentile church today she was the wild olive tree which was grafted into the natural branches and made to enjoy the “root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). As with Rahab, Naaman and the people of Nineveh she represents the gathering of God’s elect from across the peoples of the world.
Boaz, however, is one the purest Old Testament types of Jesus Christ. As a near kinsman to Elimilech he had a right to marry the widow and raise up a family for the one who had died (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). The word translated “kinsman” in Ruth is the Hebrew goel, which means redeemer or ransom (Isaiah 51:10, Job 19:25). Herein we observe the work of Christ. We were dead in sin but Christ became our “kinsman” in being made flesh for us (Hebrews 2:14-15). He contested with the law of God who staked a claim over us, as the nearer kinsman in Ruth 4 did. Yet He redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). He redeemed the family in which so much death had occurred by marrying Ruth and thereby bringing new life. Christ our redeemer, makes the church His bride and new blessed life in the result (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Outline of Ruth
Ch. 1 The Requirement for a Kinsman Redeemer
v1-2 Dearth in Bethlehem
v3-5 Death in Moab
v6-18 Desire for Bethlehem
v19-22 Departure from Moab
Ch. 2 The Revelation of the Kinsman Redeemer
v1 Presentation to the Reader
v2-3 Providence in the Fields
v4 Piety among the Workers
v5-7 Particulars of Ruth
v8-17 Protection for Ruth
v18-23 Purpose for Ruth
Ch. 3 The Request to the Kinsman Redeemer
v1-5 Consultation with Naomi
v6-11 Consideration for Boaz
v12-18 Condition from Boaz
Ch. 4 The Response from the Kinsman Redeemer
v1-8 Challenge from Boaz
v9-16 Comfort from Boaz
v17-22 Children from Boaz