Boaz and the Nearer Kinsman
The Book of Ruth is a wonderful story, and a valuable treasure. It is a jewel set in the Old Testament for us to find, to marvel at, and to look into. It is a foretelling; a prophesy of what God is going to do many generations later. The purchase and marriage of God’s people by and to Jesus Christ himself. It tells us in the book the setting was in the time of the judges, and as we find out, just a few generations before David. The place is the city where David was from, and also Christ our Savior was born, Bethlehem-Judah.
The story of Ruth is one of the stories in the bible where and names have meanings integral to the story. Elimelech means God is my King. Naomi means pleasant. Ruth’s sister-in-law Orpah means stiff-necked, but Ruth means a friend. Boaz is described as a mighty man of wealth. Boaz means strength, or in him is strength. Jesus Christ our savior is a mighty man of wealth. He is strong; almighty in fact. The name of the nearer Kinsman is not given and we don’t need it. Boaz takes a bride in need of a kinsman and fulfills all that a husband can do to the completeness of it. Blessed be God who blesses her with the very best husband possible. The fairest of ten thousand. She receives of God, completeness of love, riches, honor, and strength and security.
When we look at the story of Ruth we see the goodness and righteousness of the law, and the legality of God’s salvation. It is important to recognize that all things concerning the purchase and marriage of Ruth were done legally. Boaz made sure of that. This is very much about who has the power to redeem. Throughout the book we see the goodness of the law being demonstrated. God provided a way in the law of Moses for the poor to eat that when a farmer harvested his crop, he was not to, “glean the field”, which means that once the pickers harvest the crop, not to go back over it a second time and get every bit of the crop, but rather the law instructs the Jews to leave that portion for the poor. Ruth did that role to glean what was left of her master’s crop. It appears in our story that there was a whole working system that provided for the poor. Also, when a woman’s husband died, God ordained that she be married by, and provided for by the dead man’s brother or nearest kinsman.
The story tells us that it just so happened to Ruth that she came to find work in the field of Boaz. He spoke kindly and graciously to her and she fell humbly on the ground in response. He had a very special interest in her, and care for her. He told his reapers to leave handfuls of purpose for her. When Naomi heard it was in the fields of Boaz Ruth found work, she praised God and told Ruth that Boaz was a near kinsman. She instructs Ruth to humbly submit herself to him and ask him to do the part of the kinsman for her. That is to marry Ruth and purchase all that was her dead husband’s. He tells her he is willing and able to do that, but one thing. Boaz tells her, while it is true, I am a near kinsman, there is a nearer kinsman who has the first right to redeem. Boaz praises Ruth and says that everyone knows that she is a virtuous woman. The virtuous woman is a type of wisdom, talked about in the 31st chapter of the book of proverbs, and more importantly the virtuous woman is always a type of the people of God and the church universal when used in the bible.
I have long suspected that the Nearer Kinsman represents the Mosaic law. There are only two possible ways of redemption, salvation, and righteousness put forth by God. The works of the law, and the free grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Even common sense would seem to point to the kind of thing I’ve heard many people say. “I just hope I’ve done good enough”, as though, if your good deeds outweighed your bad deeds, God would judge you good enough, and let you into heaven. One problem; that’s not what the bible says about following the rules of the law. It says that you must fulfill the whole law in order to be judged righteous by it, to a jot and to a tittle. That would take a Superman of righteousness and piety. That would take a holy, and impeccable man that was beyond reproach.
When Boaz goes to the gate to do go through the legal process of redemption, he tells the Nearer Kinsman to turn aside. He took ten men of the elders of the city to sit and witness and judge the business. He advertises the land and all that was Elimelech’s as available for redemption, to which the Nearer Kinsman says “I will redeem it”. Then Boaz tells him, on the day that you buy it, you must buy it from Ruth the Moabites to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the Kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar my own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
Out of the mouth of the Nearer Kinsman we hear the verdict. “I cannot redeem it”. The law can do a lot of things, but it is not possible for the law to redeem even one of the God’s children. It is impossible. The law wouldn’t be the law if it did that. That’s not what the law does, or was ever possible for it to do.
Boaz announces to the elders and to all the people, “Ruth the Moabitess 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.” The law does not redeem, but praise be to God, that our Boaz, Jesus Christ the Mighty, has the right, the wealth, the power, and the ability. He is our Redeemer, and he does redeem.
Brother Roger Gartman