The Story:  Week 9 “The Faith of a Foreign Woman”

March 12, 2016

The Story:  Week 9 “The Faith of a Foreign Woman”


Opening Observations about the Story of Ruth.

        1. Ruth’s story takes place during the time of the Judges.
        2. The story takes place primarily in Bethlehem of Judah.
        3. In the story God again uses a famine to accomplish his purpose.
        4. The famine in Judah drives Elimelech and his family to Moab.
        5. Elimelech’s sons, Mahlon and Lilion, marry Moabite women, Orpah and     Ruth.
        6. Elimelech and his sons die, leaving the three women as widows.
        7. Naomi returns to Bethlehem but urges her daughters-in-law to stay in their     own country of Moab.
        8. Ruth, the foreigner, will not stay in Moab
        9. Naomi wants to be called Mara (“bitter”) because of life’s hardships.
        10. As a poor widow, Ruth, the foreigner, gleans in the fields of Boaz.
        11. Boaz respects Ruth’s character, courage and faith and favors her.
        12. Ruth risked being rejected as a Moabite (the nation that oppressed God’s people for 18 years).
        13. Ruth hears “You’re accepted” from Boaz.


The story of Ruth is great and includes a lot of great teaching points.  The fact that Ruth chose to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign land and take up all of her nations beliefs and traditions is sort of reverse from what was happening to Israel who were going after the gods of other nations. 


There is the point that this foreign woman not only comes into Israel, but marries into Israel and bears the son who will become the grandfather of King David!  That’s pretty wild!  That points to the truth that God does reveal himself not just to those who are physically born into the nation of Israel but those who seek him with their heart.


We could talk about the marriage ritual that was written in Deut. 25 when husbands died and another was to take their place.


But the part of this story that hooks me is the concept of the kinsman-redeemer.  The Hebrew for kinsman-redeemer is go-el.  During our Hebrew class in seminary we would sometimes have pop quizzes and our professor would allow us, if we were panicked and didn’t no an answer to call “go-el” and ask another student to answer the question for us.  That person became the redeemer of our grade on that day.  We all knew who we could call on to rescue us, and they usually did.  I don’t recall that I was often asked to be one of those “go-el’s” as much as I loved the Hebrew language.   The “go-el” is the role Boaz plays and it is a taste of what we have in Christ who is our kinsman redeemer. And it is what comes next in the story of Ruth.  


Look at Ruth 3:1-4. Naomi is the orchestrator but I have a feeling she knows Boaz well and can predict how he will respond.  Because of the law, she knows that the best match for Ruth is a relative.  By the grace of God, Boaz understands his responsibility and sees the opportunity.  Between you and me, I think they have a thing for each other!


Boaz knows what he has to do.  He understands the ritual he must go through in order to make Ruth his wife and he wastes no time.  But not only will he be gaining a wife are redeeming her, he will also be redeeming Naomi, a broken woman who has no future and no hope.  In the culture they live in, there is nothing she can do to redeem herself, she is dependent on this relative, this kinsman of her husband to make things right.  It is the next morning that he goes to the city gates and legally takes action to get what he wants and Naomi needs. Ruth 4:1-12.


Great story!!  In it there is redemption, grace and mercy, love, acquired property!  What more could you want?  


Let’s look at the role and purpose of the kinsman-redeemer.

Kinsman-redeemer defined    

The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. . . . . designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–25, 25:47–55).

There were two men who qualified as kinsman for Ruth.  But only Boaz was willing to perform what was required - to assume the property of Elimelek which included Naomi and Ruth.  He would also need to produce a son with Ruth in order to carry on Elimelek’s blood line (at least in name).


What qualifies one to be a kinsman-redeemer?  First one of course, must be related by blood.  But also, there must be a willingness. This is something that Boaz had that the other kinsman did not.  His desire to preserve the life he had superseded his desire to do for Elimielek’s widow what was necessary.


Boaz was ready.  If you read between the lines, he perhaps loved Ruth.  And we can suggest that this was an act of love.  It was an act of respect for a dead relative and the family he left behind.  It was the honorable thing to do.


Without Boaz being the acting as kinsman-redeemer, these two women would have no hope and no future.  No funds.  No food. No shelter.  He saved their lives.  Naomi knew the need and had a willing partner in Ruth to seek out and secure what was needed.  Ruth took a risk in going to Boaz that night on the threshing floor. He could have rejected her, sent her away.  But he did not.  He made a choice to redeem her.


We all need a kinsman-redeemer

Yahweh is Israel’s Redeemer, the one who promises to defend and vindicate them. He is both Father and Deliverer (Exodus 20:2). There are numerous Old Testament appeals to God as rescuer of the weak and needy (Psalm 82:4; Daniel 6:27; Jeremiah 20:13) and preserver of the sheep of Israel (Ezekiel 34:10–12, 22).


In the New Testament, Christ is often regarded as an example of a kinsman-redeemer because, as our brother (Hebrews 2:11), He also redeems us because of our great need, one that only He can satisfy. Listen to Hebrews 2:10-17.  Do you see the kinsman-redeemer there?


Concl.  In order to be saved from hopelessness, from sin, from separation from the God who loves us, and from death, we need a kinsman-redeemer.


Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed.  Obed became the father of Jesse.  Jesse became the father of David - the king and the one through whom God promised salvation/redemption would come.  The Messiah would come from this lineage that began when Boaz the kinsman-redeemer did what he was called to do.


You and I are saved, have reconciliation with God, because Jesus Christ, in obedience to the Father, chose to be our ‘go-el’, our kinsman redeemer.  What are we to do with that?  Ruth and Naomi went on to flourish.  God desires that each of us flourish as a result of our redemption.  What is that looking like in your life these days?  How do you live out your gratitude to the kinsman-redeemer of your life - Jesus Christ?  How might God be inviting you to live this week as a result of what you’ve heard here today?


Let’s take a moment of silence to listen to what God might be calling you to.