Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Our Kinsman-Redeemer!"

Day #62

Scripture Reading:  Ruth 1 - 4 ...

"Kinsman-Redeemer" ... words that we don't use in common speech today, but words that meant the world to Naomi, a widow from Israel whose husband and two sons had died.  The story goes like this:  Naomi and her husband and two sons had moved from Bethlehem, in Judah, to Moab, because of a severe famine.  While in Moab, Naomi's husband, Elimelech, and their two sons, died.  Their two sons had married, but were as yet without children.  Now they, too, died and left their wives (Moabite women) as widows.  We don't know how they died, but the end result was that Naomi was left without a husband or sons, and that was not a good situation for a woman to be in during those days - the days of the Judges.

As we look deeper into the story of Ruth, one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, imagine how insignificant these women must have felt in the whole scheme of God’s plan for mankind and for the world He created.  Who noticed their plight, and even more to the point, who cared?!  Do you ever feel as though your life has no importance in a world that is moving so rapidly that you can scarcely keep up with yourself?  As you think about God’s plan from the beginning, do you imagine that you are a significant part of God’s plan, or are you like so many who believe things happen by chance and it is simply “luck” that things happen as they do (either “good” luck or “bad” luck)?  In the true story of Ruth we discover the amazing providence of God as He works in the life of one who as yet did not even know Him!

The laws of Israel stated that a man's property remained in the family.  Even if it was sold to someone else, every fifty years it went back to his rightful heir.  This was called the Year of Jubilee.  When the famine in Judah was over, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and told her two daughters-in-law to return to their families, but Ruth loved Naomi and firmly stated her intention to go with Naomi.  Her famous quote is "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God" (1:16).  Most certainly, God was at work in Ruth long before she understood His providence.  So Naomi and Ruth traveled to Bethlehem in Judah.

Once there, they had no resources, so Naomi told Ruth to go and glean some grain from the harvest fields.  In those days the harvesters left some grain for the poor to come and gather.  In fact, God had commanded them to do so.  By God's providence, Ruth entered the field of a man named Boaz.  When she came home and told Naomi where she had been and how kind Boaz had been to her during the day, Naomi rejoiced because Boaz was a close relative and was "eligible," according to the law, to be a "kinsman-redeemer."  Only the closest relative to her husband could "redeem" or claim the property that had belonged to him.  At this point Naomi was thinking only of an earthly inheritance, but God was thinking of much more!

When Naomi sent Ruth to speak privately to Boaz at night, Boaz was honored and excited at the same time.  He explained to Ruth that there was one relative who was closer, so he needed to get permission from him to "redeem" what had belonged to Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, and claim it as his own.  Once he had done that, he exercised his right to claim Elimelech's property and to claim Ruth as his wife.  Naomi was overjoyed and praised the Lord for His kindness to her.  In time, Boaz and Ruth got married and soon had a baby and named him, Obed.  Obed later became the grandfather of King David ... through whose line JESUS would come!!

What an amazing story of redemption ... taking something that had been sold or lost and "buying it back," making it useful once again!  But there is more to this story than might initially meet the eye.  The story of Ruth and Boaz is a story of God's grace.  It is a picture of God calling the Gentiles to believe in the Savior, to be part of the family line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  And even more, Boaz himself is a picture of Jesus, OUR “kinsman-redeemer!”

When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden they brought God's wrath and judgment upon themselves and ALL who would come after them - the entire human race.  The Bible says that all sinned "in Adam" (Romans 5:12).  Adam was our first representative and when he sinned spiritual death was passed on to all who would come after him.  We have all been “sold” into slavery to sin.  We all deserve God's wrath.  "The wages of sin is DEATH" (Romans 6:23).  WE need a Kinsman-Redeemer, but God's law required a close relative - a "kinsman," to be the redeemer.  Only another human being could take our place and redeem that which had been lost because of death - our own spiritual death.  But no human being could stand before the judgment seat of God!

Enter Jesus, true God and true man.  Here is our second representative!  Only He could undo what Adam had done.  He was the only one who qualified to be our Kinsman-Redeemer. He was a true man, and yet, conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was a perfect man - the only perfect man since Adam.  And because He was true God, He was able to bear the wrath of God on the cross to make the perfect payment for US ... to redeem us as His very own.  "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect" (I Peter 1:18-19).

God's grace now reaches to you and me through Jesus, the Christ, the descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the descendant of Judah and David!  God's justice is satisfied, His law is fulfilled, His mercy is given and His grace draws all who believe into His perfect presence.  The Church, those who belong to Christ by faith, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, becomes the BRIDE of Christ!  Praise God for His marvelous love and grace through Jesus Christ today and experience an even greater joy than Naomi did at the restoration of her standing through Ruth and her new grandchild.  Rejoice in the LORD, our God!!

"Heavenly Father, in Your Word You have revealed Your wisdom and grace over and over and over.  We thank You for this clear demonstration of Your grace in bringing Ruth into the family line of Jesus, and including US through faith in Him.  Amazed at Your grace, all that we can say is, 'Hallelujah!'  In Jesus' name, Amen" 

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