“Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”” Ruth 4:5-6 ESV
Every once in a while, “common sense” fails us. Especially when common sense contradicts God’s command. Case in point: the kinsman-redeemer who passed on his first option to take Ruth for his wife. Under the terms of Levirate marriage, he was the nearest redeemer, and it was therefore his obligation under the law to redeem Naomi (see Deut. 25:5-10).
However, common sense said that marrying Ruth could cause economic hardship for him. He would have to buy the field, only to see the field eventually become the property of an heir of Ruth’s first husband Elimelech. So he passes, not wanting to impair his own inheritance. And in a time of history where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), it’s not a huge surprise that obeying God’s law took a backseat to self-interest.
But in one of the richest ironies of the Old Testament, this nameless man (Boaz just calls him “my friend” in 4:1); who is so concerned with preserving his inheritance and keeping his family name and property intact, misses the opportunity to become the great grandfather of King David. The man who doesn’t want to impair his inheritance could have been named in the genealogy of Jesus (see Matthew 1:8).
Now, take a minute to ponder this stunning truth:
Boaz is NAOMI’S kinsman-redeemer, NOT Ruth’s! The Levirate marriage obligation was toward Jews, not Gentiles. This is why the women of Bethlehem say to Naomi,
“Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!”
Ruth 4:14 ESV
Salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22). But by God’s sovereignty and steadfast love, we Gentiles are grafted in (Romans 11:11-31) and become beneficiaries of the redemption! Ruth’s story is the story of every one of us whom God has chosen.
The wonder of salvation is when Christ goes from being “a” redeemer (see Ruth 3:9) to being your redeemer. Salvation is not about someone “accepting Jesus.” Rather—gloriously, stunningly, and wondrously—Jesus has accepted us.
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