The Kinsman Redeemer - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Ruth. When we began our study of the book of Ruth, we suggested to you that we were going to follow in our study a threefold approach. We used three words: analogy, soteriology, and eschatology. We have finished our study of the book of Ruth from the standpoint of analogy–that is, drawing to your attention practical lessons within the book of Ruth which illustrate spiritual truths which are applicable to those of us who are living in this particular day. When we say we are finished, we do not mean to leave the impression that we have exhausted all of the analogies, for that would be claiming more than we have any right to claim, but at least we have presented to you all we feel led of the Lord to present at this particular time.

We are going to begin our second approach to the study of the book of Ruth, which we have referred to as “soteriology.” If you were theologians, you would not need any explanation of the term. If you had any study in systematic theology at all, you would be familiar with this word; but since we are laymen for the most part, even though we don't like to use that term, we remind you that this word “soteriology” comes from the Greek word soteria , which means “salvation,” and logos , which means “study.” We have, then, the study of salvation or the study of redemption. This you should fix in your minds because we will be spending several lessons on this particular subject of how the book of Ruth is related to soteriology. The book of Ruth is unique in that respect, yet many folk do not recognize what it has to contribute to the subject of redemption. You might say that it contributes a phase of truth to the subject of redemption or salvation that no other portion of the Word of God contributes, and yet it is one of the most important portions on the subject of redemption that can be found anywhere in the Bible. I think you will see before we are through that it would be impossible for us to even consider the subject of redemption without considering the contribution which Ruth makes.

The book of Ruth makes the contribution on the basis of a word and a phrase which is used twelve times within the book of Ruth. One of them is “kinsman,” and another is “near kinsman.” Sometimes the words are used interchangeably. The Hebrew word “kinsman,” in the sense that we are thinking about it now, comes from the word gawal .

Ransom Provided By the Kinsman

You may wonder what all of this has to do with redemption, and very simply we can say that this word “kinsman,” is translated by the word “ransom” in Jeremiah, chapter 31, verse 11. Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, and see this verse for yourself. Perhaps even mark it in your Bibles for future reference. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, was speaking to the nation of Israel, how He had worked for them and with them down through the years and how He was still working for them. In verse 10 of chapter 31, you read the words:

Jeremiah 31

10Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

Let me digress long enough to say in relation to that particular verse that that is a prophecy that God will someday gather again to the land of Israel the nation of Israel. If anyone wants any proof that God will do that, this is one of many verses of Scripture that will prove it. The reason for this promised regathering is found in verse 11.

Jeremiah 31

11For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

This is a reference to the Antichrist. We have read the verse primarily that you might see the word “ransomed” there. This word “ransomed” is a translation of the word gawal , indicating what a kinsman is for. A kinsman, in the sense that we are studying in the book of Ruth, is for the purpose of providing a ransom. The word is also translated by the word “redeem,” something like four times in the book of Ruth, chapter 4, verse 4. Boaz was dealing with Mr. So-and-so, the name we have given to the near kinsman who was nearer than Boaz. We gave him tht name because there is no name given to him in the book of Ruth. You will notice in verse 4:

Ruth 4

4And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.

You will notice the word “redeem” mentioned several times over in that one verse. It is the translation of the Hebrew word gawal and lets us know the reason the kinsman was so important in the book of Ruth. Fix this firmly in your minds, please: The book of Ruth illustrates the law of the kinsman-redeemer. That is the particular phase of interest in the book of Ruth that is found in no other book in the Bible–the law of the kinsman-redeemer. The law of the kinsman-redeemer is involved in what we are going to refer to as “the law of redemption.”

The Law of Redemption

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Leviticus, chapter 25, where we might look at this law as it was originally given by God to Moses and through Moses to the people of Israel. This particular law at which we are going to look first is in verse 23. Because a number of regulations are presented here in the book of Leviticus, we will look only at this particular paragraph.

Leviticus 25

23The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
24And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.
25If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
26And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it;
27Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.
28But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.

Now let us glance at this passage of Scripture for a moment, pointing out one or two truths that are not particularly related to the law of redemption but should be of interest to you in the light of Middle East controversy. You will notice in verse 23: “The land shall not be sold for ever.” That is, “The land shall not be sold permanently to anyone.” No one can expect to dwell permanently in the land. No one shall have rights eternally for the land of Palestine. The answer is: “For the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” God said to the nation of Israel, “This land is mine; therefore you cannot say you own it. You are only tenants. If you are obedient,” which is the rent for the land as far as God is concerned, “then you can live in the land; but if you become disobedient, you are not paying your rent. I'll move you out of the land. It is my privilege. It belongs to Me.”

Israel to Return to the Land

Then He said, “Those who occupy the land after you will not occupy it forever. The land is Mine. It is not eternally theirs. When time comes to move them out and move you back, I will do that, and I reserve the right to do it.” It was as though God rented the land to the Arabic nation then said to them, “Really, I am subleasing this land. This land belongs to the Jews, and when the time comes for them to move back in, you will have to move out.”

Beloved, the way prophetic events are shaping up, we should be able to see that it is nearly time for Israel to move back into the land. Consequently, it is time for the Arabs to move out. I am speaking relatively. I do not mean by that that I know that by December 25th, they ought to be out. I don't know that. I am simply saying that the time is fast approaching. Therefore, a Bible-oriented Christian ought not to be taking the side of the Arabs and saying, “The poor Arabs have had this land all of these centuries, and the Jews have no right to it.” Humanly speaking, you can feel just as sorry for an Arab as you can for a Jew. Humanly speaking, you can hate an Arab–not in the sense of hate but in the sense of being unattracted. You can be unattracted to an Arab as you can be unattracted to a Jew. Personal feelings have nothing to do with it. It is what the Word of God declares. The Word of God declares that in the Middle East controversy, the nation of Israel shall occupy the land that God once let her occupy. The time of her claiming the land again is fast approaching. We throw that in as a little something extra because of the strategic times in which we are living and the things that you will be seeing in the newspapers as the times fast approach the end of the age.

The reason we ask you to turn to this passage of Scripture is to notice with you in the paragraph what we call, “the law of redemption.” God gives instructions concerning a man who falls into a difficult time and has to sell his land. This is what happened to Elimelech. In verse 25: “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kind come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.” That is, he shall have the right to redeem it. Elimelech sold the land and Mr. So-and-so had the right to redeem it. He did not care to redeem it, for reasons we will learn as we continue our discussion, and Boaz did redeem it. He did so on the basis of the law of redemption.

You will notice in this paragraph that if there is no one to redeem the land, then in the Year of Jubilee–every forty-nine years there was a Year of Jubilee–all rights to all property reverted to their original owners. The individuals were not reimbursed for their loss, but if someone wanted to buy the land before the Year of Jubilee was up, then he had to pay the going price at that particular time. That was the law of redemption for property. It was on the basis of that law that Boaz redeemed the property of Elimelech.

The Law of Marriage

In this same chapter, you will find the law of redemption which is related to people; and we make a difference between the two because there is a difference, you will recall, in the story in the book of Ruth. Mr. So-and-so was quite willing to take advantage of the law of the redemption of property, but when he heard there was a Leverite law related to marriage, he was not interested in following through. But the two go together. Notice, please, in verse 47:

Leviticus 25

47And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family:
48After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
49Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.

Closely associated with the law of redemption, related to people, is the law of marriage to which I referred a moment ago–the law of Leverite marriage, which is described in Deuteronomy, chapter 25. I think it would be wise if we turned there and noticed what the Word of God has to say. The law of Leverite marriage is the law that Mr. So-and-so in the book of Ruth felt that he could not obligate himself to follow. Boaz was quite willing to follow that law when God laid it down for him. Notice Deuteronomy, chapter 25, verse 5:

Deuteronomy 25

5If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.
6And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
7And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.
8Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
9Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.
10And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

This, we repeat, is the law of Leverite marriage. This was the law that Mr. So-and-so did not want to observe. If you will recall from our study of the book of Ruth up to this particular time, you know that by the time that the ceremony was executed in the gate of the city of Bethlehem, all of this was not fulfilled in detail. There was not the case of Ruth the Moabitess doing this–taking the shoe from off the foot of the man and spitting in his face–but rather it was Boaz who did it, and Boaz just took off the shoe. He did not spit in his face. So the details were not carried out to the smallest part, for whatever reason we know not.

There is one suggestion that comes to mind, and that is related to the reason Ruth did not do the perfunctory things related to this ceremony, the reason Boaz did it instead. We suggested to you that you compare what we find here in Deuteronomy, chapter 25, with what you find in Deuteronomy, chapter 23. As I ask you to turn to that portion, I think we will be prepared to answer a question that has been asked in the course of this study. Notice Deuteronomy, chapter 23, verse 3:

Deuteronomy 23

3An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
4Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
5Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
6Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.

Because the Moabites did not help the Israelites when they came out of Egypt, because King Balak of the Moabites hired Balaam, a backslidden prophet, to curse the nation of Israel, God said that the Moabites should not enter into the congregation of Israel until the tenth generation. It is not our business to judge whether this was good or bad, whether it was fair or unfair. It is simply what God said.

We said that Mahlon and Chilion, who married Ruth and Orpha, violated the law of God when they married. We have been asked the question, “If Mahlon and Chilion violated the law of God, why was it all right for Boaz to marry Ruth?” The answer is found in the law of redemption. Boaz was not only going to become the husband of Ruth, he was going to become the redeemer of Ruth. It is my opinion that is the reason that in the story Boaz carried on all of the activity instead of Ruth carrying it on as would normally would have occurred according to the law of Leverite marriage. After Ruth was redeemed, she was no longer considered a Moabitess any more than you and I after we have been redeemed are considered sinners under God's curse.

The book of Ruth is preserved in the Word of God, I believe, to illustrate the law of the kinsman-redeemer. I think that Boaz carried out the activity. Boaz did not marry in disobedience to the law of God when he married Ruth. He redeemed her, and then he married her. Those of you who are familiar with the Word can already see without a great deal of emphasis upon our part the illustrations which are bound up in this one single act itself of God's redeeming grace.

Requirements of the Kinsman-redeemer

We would like to set before you the five requirements of the kinsman-redeemer which are gleaned from these laws we have noticed with you today. Putting all the information of these laws together, along with the factual information found within the book of Ruth, we find the requirements of the kinsman-redeemer. There are five basic ones, and in addition to those five basic ones, there are two others that are gleaned from the story of the book of Ruth.

We call to your attention the first one. That is that the activity of Boaz was based on love. You can't read the book of Ruth without realizing that as soon as Ruth met Boaz in the field, Boaz fell in love with her immediately. Many women had come to glean in the fields of Boaz through the years, but his attention was directed in a unique and special way to Ruth. He inquired of the men, you will recall, who were in charge of his field, about her so that he might learn more about her. Then he spent a great deal of his own time searching out truths, and in this fashion discovered that he was not only in love with her, but he was kin to her and thus could become her redeemer, based upon love.

The second thing which is not included in the law but is included in the book of Ruth is that Boaz had nothing to do with the bankruptcy of her estate. He had no part in it at all. Elimelech was responsible for the bankruptcy of the estate. Boaz didn't even know there was any kinship there, apparently, when it all occurred. Perhaps he was too young for it; we don't know, but he had no part in the bankruptcy of the estate. I want you to fix that firmly in your minds because we are going to be looking before long at the illustration of the Kinsman-Redeemer of the whole world as Boaz was the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth.

The five requirements which are gleaned from the passage of Scripture which we have been considering today is, first, the man in question must be a near kinsman in the sense that we have already been speaking of. Being a near kinsman, he was a mighty man of wealth, he was a mighty man of valor, and he was a mighty man of law.

You will recall that in the second chapter of Ruth, verse 1, Boaz is introduced to us as a “mighty man of wealth.” We suggested to you that that statement could be translated “mighty man of valor” or “of strength.” The Caldeans insist that it be translated “mighty men of the law.” Be that as it may, whether it is one or all three, it made it possible for him to be an individual who could meet the requirements to redeem Ruth.

We spoke of him a moment ago as being a near kinsman of Ruth. You might wonder exactly what near kinsman he might have been. Some of the greatest commentators that theologians have ever studied under insist that Mr. So-and-so, who is not named in the book of Ruth, was a brother of Elimelech. On that basis, he could have redeemed the property of Elimelech and had first right to it. Boaz was a nephew of both Mr. So-and-so and of Elimelech. Being the near kinsman, he was able to redeem the land.

Willingness and Ability to Redeem

You will notice the fifth thing that we would suggest to you is that not only must he be near kinsman, but he must be willing to redeem. The uncle to which we made reference a moment ago was a near kinsman, nearer than Boaz as a matter of fact. In verse 11 of chapter 3, we find that where Mr. So-and-so was not willing to redeem Ruth, Boaz was willing to redeem Ruth. You will notice in chapter 3 of the book of Ruth the assurance that Boaz spoke to Ruth:

Ruth 3

11And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.

Long before it ever became a legal matter for the elders to decide in the gate of the city, Boaz expressed his willingness to redeem. Over in chapter 4, Mr. So-and-so declined to follow through with the redemption, and Boaz with eagerness willingly redeemed Ruth.

The sixth thing thing that we would have you keep in mind is that not only must there be a willingness to redeem, but there must be an ability to redeem. Boaz was a mighty man of strength; and because he was a mighty man of strength, of wealth, of the law, whichever phrase you care to use, he was in a position to redeem Ruth. It is no good to talk about redemption if the person would say, “I wish I could, but I can't.”

The seventh thing that we would have you keep in mind is that he was free to redeem her. There was nothing that kept him from following through. This wasn't true of Mr. So-and-so. You will recall he was all ready to redeem when he heard about the property; but when he heard about Ruth, he said, “I am not free to follow through. My inheritance will be marred.”

The eighth thing that you would keep in mind about a kinsman-redeemer is that he must have the price. Boaz being a man of wealth would certainly have the price.

The first three things that we brought to your attention that are gleaned from the book of Ruth would be related to the needs of the kinsman-redeemer, and the last five things are gleaned from the law of redemption of both property and person.

Boaz as an Illustration of Christ

I hope you are fixing these things in your mind because we are going to be discussing them as they apply to the Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no point in our talking about Boaz being a suitable kinsman-redeemer if all we were doing were telling you an interesting story. We said when we started out that we were going to approach the story of the book of Ruth from the standpoint of soteriology. Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, is a marvelous illustration of the Lord Jesus Christ. The kinsman-redeemer aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to salvation, essential to redemption. There can be no redemption without it.

Turn, please, to II Corinthians, chapter 5, and notice the words which begin with verse 17:

II Corinthians 5

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

How did this happen? Did it happen because the man in question decided to turn over a new leaf and reform and be different? No. Look at verse 18:

II Corinthians 5

18And all things are of God,…

Oh, I wish that somehow we could get that across to everyone in relation to salvation. All things related to salvation are of God.

II Corinthians 5

18…who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

How did He reconcile us to Himself? Through Jesus Christ who became the Kinsman-Redeemer.

II Corinthians 5

19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

God, in human form, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, became the Kinsman-Redeemer. He did not hold the world responsible for the debt. That's the meaning of the phrase, “imputing their trespass unto them.” Rather He paid the debt. Now He has committed unto me and unto you the ministry of reconciliation.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

I would like for you to notice with me that verse 19 is not complete without those statements. It is wonderful to know that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. That is wonderful to know. I hope you understand its full implication. It is wonderful to know that He didn't leave us to pay the debt. Beloved, the rest of the verse says, “He hath committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.” You will notice what he means by that in the next verse.

II Corinthians 5

20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Rejoice in your reconciliation, but don't stop there. Share that reconciliation, but don't stop there. Share that reconciliation with someone else because God has not only reconciled you, He has committed to you a ministry on the basis of that reconciliation. If you are redeemed, if you have been reconciled to God, you are charged with the ministry. Someone said, “I am not an ordained minister.” This is your ordination service right here. It is the only ordination service that I know anything about in the Scripture when it comes to the right to preach the Gospel. This is it. Every one of you are ministers, and you need to be declaring the ministry of reconciliation. It might be difficult for you to stand behind the pulpit and do it, but remember there are many ways of discharging the responsibility. It is an absolute essential.

In these days of confusion and uncertainty, the foundation of redemption is Christ. Let me say that again because I want you to get it: The foundation of redemption is Christ. I say in these days of confusion you need to know that because there are many movements today that have forgotten that. You need to be reminded of what you read in I Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 11:

I Corinthians 3

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Examine the various ministries that demand your time, your attention, and your money; and no matter how much good they seem to be doing on the surface, have nothing to do with them unless Jesus Christ is the foundation. Remember this, if Satan, who clothed himself as an angel of light, could do so and deceive, even from the pulpit, the children of God, it wouldn't be difficult at all for him to produce an effect that looks good and leads you into believing that a work should be supported because of what it is accomplishing.

Sometimes I hear people say, “I don't always agree with everything they do, but so many people are getting saved.” Are they? What is the foundation? You may disagree with methods. You ought not be to disturbed about methods. Individuals may be able to accomplish the fact that they are doing much better using the method that they are using than if they used your method. Don't be disturbed about that. Don't be deceived by anything other than the main issue, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the foundation. If He isn't, then no matter what else has been done, it is not worthy of your interest and your support.

We are going to examine each one of these requirements to which we have made reference and see how Boaz fulfilled them and in fulfilling them presented a perfect picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. If our study accomplishes the purpose that I believe the Spirit of God intends for it, all of you will have a better appreciation of your salvation. Better still, you will be able to carry out the ministry of reconciliation.

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