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The Book of Ruth: Boaz the Hero

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Tamara is a Bible student who loves mining the treasures in God's Word and sharing its teachings and applications with others.


The Backstory

In earlier chapters, Naomi represents a sort of prodigal whose family left their homeland to search for sustenance elsewhere during a difficult time. She illustrates what happens when there is no King Jesus in our hearts, and, in turn, we live by the dictates of our feelings, wills, and intellect, especially when times get tough. Later in history, the prophet Jeremiah confronts God's people with this same issue.

. . . they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”

— Jeremiah 18:12

Naomi's daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabitess, portrays faithfulness, loyalty, and humility by clinging to her mother-in-law and her mother-in-law's God by returning to the house of bread in Israel, even though there appears to be nothing in it for her.

. . . wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

— Ruth 1:15

Ruth expresses this in words and exhibits this loyalty in action by returning with Naomi to Naomi's homeland. Ruth was most likely despised, considering the animosity between Israel and Moab at that time. Ruth loyally cared for and provided for her mother-in-law without much prospect nor provision for her future.

Ruth, who came from paganism, depicts the loyalty we ought to have towards our Lord Himself. She contrasts Naomi's family, who came from a people who knew God yet sought provision elsewhere.

This lesson will center around a man named Boaz, a "Kinsman-Redeemer." He is the hero of this story and depicts our strong, willing, and able Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus, who had rescued and redeemed us when it appeared that all was lost and we were without hope in this world. So it was with both Ruth and Naomi.

. . . our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

— Titus 2:13-14

Rest in His Lordship

The third chapter of Ruth opens with Naomi revealing to Ruth that Boaz, the wealthy landowner whose field she was gleaning, is a near and known relative.

Before this revelation, Ruth and Naomi were destined to live in poverty for the remainder of their days.

"There was almost nothing worse than being a widow in the ancient world."

Life Application commentary

They were both widows with no means of support. In Biblical times women were not independent beings. A life of poverty was inevitable if they were not under the support and care of a male family member. As appalling as this might seem, it does give us a great illustration of dependence, as it concerns ourselves and God. As human beings, we are not independent creatures. When we are not under the care and support of our powerful and provisionary God, our lives are spiritually destitute and poverty-stricken without Him. He is our willing strong, and able Kinsman-Redeemer, The Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, we are without hope in this world.

. . . you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers (like Ruth the Moabitess) from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

— Ephesians 2:12

Andrew McIlree gives the following application to this particular part of Ruth's story.

One by one, like Ruth, we come as Gentile strangers from our ungodliness in a far-off place to meet our Redeemer, the Lord of the Harvest. In the purpose of God she was brought into the kingly line, and so have we; and like the bride in the Song of Songs with her bridegroom, we rejoice in our bridal relationship with the good Shepherd and King of kings.

Naomi describes this newly discovered prospect as finding "rest" for Ruth via a relationship with Boaz, just as our rest is found via a relationship with Jesus.

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

— Hebrews 4:9

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This particular Hebrew word for "rest" is used six times in the Old Testament and is closely related to Noah's name. Noah was a man who "walked with God" (Genesis 6:9). When we walk with God, in covenant relationship and fellowship with Him through His One and only Son Jesus Christ, there is a resting place for our souls.


The Presence of God: Our Resting Place

Another occurrence of the word rest is found in I Chronicles chapter six. It concerns the ark of the covenant finding a "resting" place among God's people.

Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest.

— I Chronicles 6:31

The setting occurs during the reign of King David, Israel's second king, after the time of the Judges, representing our spiritual life. Saul, the first king of Israel, is a picture of our flesh. During Saul's reign, the Ark of the Covenant, representing God's presence, was restlessly dragged all over the place, including pagan shrines. When our walk submits to God as our King and not our flesh, He finds a resting place in us.


Christ Enthroned in Us

Christ enthrones and rests Himself in the heart of His believers. It is His enthronement that gives us rest.

Christ in you is a right royal word! Christ swaying His scepter from the center of your being, over every power and faculty, desire and resolve, bringing every thought into captivity to Himself—oh, this is glory begun and the sure pledge of Heaven!

— Charles Spurgeon

In the remainder of this story, we will see how relative, relevant, and necessary a covenant relationship is with our kinsman-redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the redemption, restoration, and rest in our lives who redeemed us with His blood.

. . . we have redemption through his blood . . .

— Ephesians 1:7

The Concept of Redemption

The concept of redemption is mostly an unfamiliar one in modern culture. Therefore, a little background information about the principle and purpose of redemption may be helpful.

As we shall study, this redemption was a costly and necessary transaction made on our behalf to restore the possibility once again of an eternal relationship with God.

Gesenius defines the Hebrew word for "redeem" (gaal) as meaning "to buy back." This word can refer to a person, possession, or property. This particular word for redemption is used ten times in Ruth's little four-chapter book, which makes this word highly significant.

We became enslaved people and hostages to sin through Adam until someone, who was able and willing, paid the ransom to repurchase us. We will look a bit later at the requirements of a redeemer.

“You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.”

— Isaiah 52:3


The Cost of Redemption

The redemption price for the salvation of our souls was more than money could buy. It cost God the most precious thing: His one and only Son. The wages of sin was death (Romans 6:23), and the ransom price was life in exchange for death. Beings we were all dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), there was nothing in us or this world that could pay that price.

. . . you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

— I Peter 1:18-19

The largeness of the sacrifice measures the costliness of His gift of redemption. Such was a costly sacrifice for a holy and just God to suffer and die for humankind. He paid it all for humanity, who had committed treasonous adultery against Him.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

— Romans 5:7-8

Ruth came with no dowry ( a gift from the bride's family to the groom). There was nothing in it for Boaz. 1800s Bible Commentary writer, Matthew Henry, explains so eloquently how this mirrors our Lord Jesus:

"Our Lord Jesus is our Goel, our Redeemer, our everlasting Redeemer. He looked, like Boaz, with compassion on the deplorable state of fallen mankind. At vast expense he redeemed the heavenly inheritance for us, which by sin was mortgaged, and forfeited into the hands of divine justice, and which we should never have been able to redeem."


A Donkey is Redeemed With a Lamb

God is faithful to illustrate this for us in His word by using what He has created to communicate these concepts. In this case, He does so with a peculiar verse in the book of Exodus.

But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

— Exodus 13:13

At first glance, this verse is seemingly random. The context in which it was written refers to the Lord's instructions to Moses about observing the Passover. The Passover centered around a sacrificial lamb and is an image of the innocent being slain to save us.

If we back up to Exodus 13:2, the Lord tells Moses that the firstborn of both man and beast are His. The lamb's blood spared their firstborn from the angel of death who passed over all of Egypt. This episode illustrates how the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the prerequisite and substitute for our redemption and deliverance from the bondage of sin and self. It exhibited the Israelites in slavery to Pharaoh and Egypt and their miraculous deliverance from that.

Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

— I Corinthians 5:7

As we will see, the donkey will depict what was redeemed for us. Charles Spurgeon's sermon number 3458, "Redeeming the Unclean," details some compelling insights into the concept of the lamb redeeming the donkey.

"The donkey, useful everywhere . . . was counted as unclean. How, then, could it be dedicated to God? . . . an exchange was made. A lamb was offered instead . . . As the donkey, being unclean, was not acceptable to God, even so, unrenewed man, being unclean, is also unacceptable before the Most High . . . man, according to the Jewish ceremonial Law, is an unclean creature . . . by the law he is put down as a sinner, as being on a level with the unclean beasts . . . man has become through sin, like the donkey . . . God could not receive the donkey because it was unclean, but it still belonged to God. God's claim extended over all first-born, clean or unclean and that claim must be maintained . . . still, God's claim upon the sinner for a perfectly holy life has not ceased . . . everybody knows that inability to pay does not exonerate the man from his duty to pay. So with God . . . But here is the lamb that must be killed in its place, and he is the more valuable of the two . . . the lamb shall die and the donkey shall live . . . All of us put together, and millions upon millions of our human race could never equal in value the precious Lord Jesus! . . . the lamb was offered - the donkey was spared. The unclean animal lived - the clean creature died! There was a change of places. So does Christ change places with the sinner! . . . He condescended to become a Man and take upon Himself the sins of His people, and to be punished for their guilt . . . "

The donkey symbolizes sinful man, unregenerate man, unsaved, or unredeemed. A Donkey's stubbornness is attributed to its keen sense of self-preservation.

. . . those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.They are presumptuous, self-willed.

— II Peter 2:10

Why the breaking of the donkey's neck if it was not redeemed? Kip Jentoft, a retired pastor, offers the following explanation. It had to be killed in such a way that blood was not shed. The shed blood of the lamb must redeem sinful man.

The neck often in scripture symbolizes obstinacy, resistance, and bent on one's own way, as we see with Orpah's name, meaning, and actions. By not valuing the offered redemption, the animal is rendered dead and useless, and the neck, the symbol of its and our stubbornness, must be broken, ultimately resulting in death.


The Donkey and the Cross

Amazingly all of God's creation eloquently reflects and confirms the truth of the Gospel as is with the donkey. Many species of donkeys have a visible cross on their back. Some are more visible than others depending on the colors and textures of their coats. It's as if this beast proclaims that the cross is what we deserve. It was the penalty required. It was a sign of the necessary price paid for our redemption.

During Christ's triumphal entry just before Passover and his death on the cross, the Lamb of God came riding on a donkey visualizing the lamb of God who would take our place on that cross.

They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him (Jesus) on them.

— Matthew 21:7

The donkey is not a random feature of the story but a declaration of the Gospel itself.

He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?" — Charles Spurgeon "The Lamb of God in Scripture"

He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?" — Charles Spurgeon "The Lamb of God in Scripture"

The Beast of Burden

The donkey is also known as a beast of burden representing for us the burdensomeness of our sinful state. On that cross, the gravity and weightiness of our sin were borne.

He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many.

— Isaiah 53:12

. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

— I Peter 2:24

The Kinsman Redeemer and Sacrifice

The Kinsman Redeemer was a family member appointed to ensure that a man's name, following the firstborn line, would not perish from the tribe. This principle included the territory he owned as well as his possessions. When a man died, the next oldest brother was to marry his wife and raise up a son who would continue the family line and possess his land in his name, thereby redeeming his inheritance. This practice represents God's original intention for our eternal fellowship with Him. Adam (firstborn) died because he traded his life for sin. Jesus willingly took on the next-in-line brother's responsibility, becoming the second Adam to assume our redemption. God provided for our restoration by Jesus, the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer.

“The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

— I Corinthians 15:45

The redemption of property and children was the right of the dead man's wife, who could reclaim her husband's name through a brother or the husband. If there were no brothers, the right and responsibility would pass to the nearest kin. If the Kinsman-Redeemer was unwilling to fulfill his duty, the woman was entitled publicly humiliate him.

Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’

— Deut. 25:8-9

It is remarkable to view how often, in the Scriptures, various women's tenacity and sometimes desperation to carry on their husbands' names and raise up children for them. Sarah, Hannah, Rachael, and Tamar all offer this same illustration. What if it was our life mission and goal and desperation to carry on the name of the Lord Jesus and raise up children (disciples) for Him?

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

— Matthew 28:19


The Great Exchange

Sacrifice was crucial in this responsibility because it involved the forfeiture of the redeemer's inheritance. Similarly, Christ gave up His heavenly life with the father to become one of us.

Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
something to be possessed by force.
On the contrary, he emptied himself,
in that he took the form of a slave
by becoming like human beings are.

And when he appeared as a human being,
he humbled himself still more
by becoming obedient even to death —
death on a stake as a criminal!

— Philippians 2:6-8

Early 1900s commentary writer, A.B. Simpson, expounds on what Christ gave up to become one of us.

"Christ gave up a place of dignity and position in heaven, where He was known as God and God alone . . . His whole inheritance is merged in ours. He laid down His rights and honors and took up our wrongs and reproaches, our liabilities and disabilities, and henceforth He has nothing but His people . . . The redeemer not only sacrificed his own inheritance but he bought back the forfeited inheritance of the dead husband. Likewise, our Kinsman redeemer has brought back for us all that we lost in Adam and has added to it infinitely more - all the fullness of His grace, all the riches of His glory . . . "

— A.B. Simpson The Christ in the Bible" commentary.

. . . though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

— II Corinthians 8:9


Responsibility of the Kinsman Redeemer

Israelite families were given a portion of the land God had secured through a promise and covenant with Abraham.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.

— Ephesians 1:11

Similarly, the territory of our lives technically belongs to Him.

The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine.

— Leviticus 23

He owns us. We are not our own and never were, nor will we ever be. We will always belong to someone. We will belong to God, or we will be a slave to sin. In this analogy, God clarifies that He provided a way for our slavery to sin to be absolved.

A Kinsman Redeemer had three responsibilities that Christ fulfilled for us.

  • To rescue or buy back a family member from slavery.

. . . you were bought at a price.

— I Corinthians 6:20

  • To raise up a family and homestead in a dead relative's name.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.

— Ephesians 3:14-15

  • To execute vengeance for the murder of a close relative.

“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

— Romans 12:19

A Kinsman-Redeemer was also known as an avenger. Christ also avenged us of our enemies in the spirit realm.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.

— Colossians 2:15

A Kinsman Redeemer was considered the family protector and guardian. Paul establishes in his letter to the Thessalonian church that Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer

. . . the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

— II Thessalonians 3:3

Requirements of a Kinsman-Redeemer

There were three requirements of "goel" (redeemer)

  • He had to be a blood relative.

. . . the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.

— John 1:14

He (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

— Philippians 2:7

Jesus needed to become our blood relative to assume the role of our Kinsman-Redeemer.

. . . what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.

— Romans 8:3

  • He also had to have the ability in terms of resources.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

— Ephesians 3:20

. . . from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.

— Romans 11:26

  • Finally, a Kinsman-Redeemer had to be willing to do so.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep . . . No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will."

— John 10:11,18

For a further look at the book of Ruth, please visit The Book of Ruth: Ruth's Role and Responsibility, where our practical response will be studied as is displayed by Naomi's instructions to Ruth on how to approach a relationship with the Lord Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer.

Selah ~ Wonderful Merciful Savior

© 2013 Tamarajo


Tamarajo (author) on July 20, 2020:

Hello Jeshurun, I'm glad that you captured the essence of this study.

I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

God bless!

Jeshurun from Nellore AP India on July 20, 2020:

Thanks vividly description about our heavenly blood relative our Jesus christ....

Tamarajo (author) on August 17, 2015:

Hi Bob, Interesting observation about the money, Maybe that's why so many of Jesus parables were centered on that very them.

As for the donkey, I had a great Bible Study teacher, who taught me for almost twenty years. She shared much of that insight with me and it was those very kinds of revelations that whet my appetite for all the secrets in God's Word. I have learned that when I don't understand something in His Word its not because it doesn't make sense. It is because I have not yet discovered it's meaning. Its my que there is some buried treasure beneath my confusion.

I can't help but look at the donkey's back every time I see one! and every time I do I can't help but imagine Jesus sitting on its back...right on the crossroads of my stubborn willful self.

Hope all is well Bob and appreciate your visit, insight, and always encouraging commentary.

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on August 17, 2015:

Hi Tam, I loved this picture of Jesus. I learned quite a bit. I always wondered why the donkey would get a broken neck. It seemed to put a money value on life. Pay this and the life is spared but if you don't have the money the life is gone. So much of the old Jewish covenant was based on money. Sin was changed into "dollars and cents" worth of misdeed. A person could go broke by a recurring sin habit. I see the significance now of the broken neck. Thank you Tamarajo for your faithfulness through the years and how you have served the Lord. I have been blessed by it and continue to be. Bob.

Tamarajo (author) on December 16, 2013:

Thank you lambservant. I agree the richness of the symbols of Christ and what He has done for us are so very captivating in this story.

I appreciate your stopping by and comment

Lori Colbo from United States on December 16, 2013:

Nicely done Tamarajo. I love the story of Ruth. So many pictures of Christ. The romance, courtship, and marriage of Ruth and Boaz is a beautiful portrait of Christ and his Bride. Thank you for sharing this devotional.

Tamarajo (author) on December 16, 2013:

Thank you Bill, I wholeheartedly agree that the OT pictures are simply stunning and have given me such deeper understanding of the New Testament. Every part of scripture is about Salvation in Christ. He shows us forward, backward, up and down, inside and out. Not matter where you look there is Jesus showing us again. Every angle is yet another facet of the one solid truth. I can see why we might be without excuse in that not only does He show us in so many ways in His Word but even the world He created declares it so.

Treasures abound!

Thank you for you're always encouraging comments! God Bless!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on December 16, 2013:

Wonderfully done! The OT pictures are so beautiful and reflect the NT so perfectly. Praise God for my kinsman redeemer who stepped in when no other would do. Thanks for another on target hub to build us for the glory of the Lord.

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