I had the privilege of writing this article for the recently released Evangelism Study Bible done by EvanTell and Kregel. I think it ties in well with this week’s theme.
Many view the story of Ruth and Boaz as a classic love story but it is so much more. Throughout the book they both express love and devotion to others primarily by their actions rather than words or emotion. They expressed genuine concern for the welfare of others, not asking God to intervene on their own behalf but instead focused on meeting the needs of others. Their actions parallel the covenant-loyalty God showed to His people throughout the Old Testament (1:8; 2:20; 3:10).
Further, Boaz’ role as a kinsman-redeemer who stepped in and paid a price to redeem Ruth and Naomi has often been compared to Christ, who redeemed believers through His death and resurrection on our behalf. As Boaz was a redeemer for Ruth so Christ is to us in a greater spiritual and eternal way.
The following chart demonstrates four requirements Boaz met as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer and four requirements that Christ met as our kinsman-redeemer.
|Related to Ruth and Naomi (Lev. 25:48; 25:25; Ruth 3:12–13)
||Related to humanity through the incarnation (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:17)
|Capable of redeeming (Ruth 4:4–6)
||Capable of redeeming (2 Cor. 8:9)
|Voluntary (Ruth 4:6)
||Voluntary (John 10:17–18)
|Paid the price in full (Lev. 25:27; Ruth 4:7–11)
||Paid the price in full (John 19:30; Heb. 10:12)
It is our privilege to tell others of our redeemer, Jesus Christ, inviting them to experience the same redemption and relationship we have with Him by grace through faith.
Our culture often focuses on love as something you get rather than something you give, and it fixates on how love makes you feel.
It’s of course not wrong to receive love from others. But if you take a look at Scripture, the focus tends to be the opposite—demonstrating love for others through self-sacrificial acts.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word most often used to describe this sacrificial love is “hesed love” (often translated as kindness or loyal-love). Read more
Ruth approached Boaz on the threshing floor and made a bold request—“Marry your servant, for you are a guardian of the family interests” (Net Bible translation).
Boaz’ responded by blessing her and calling her a “worthy woman” (3:10–11). The idea here is that Ruth is a woman of strong or noble character.
As a kid, I devoured the stories of Ruth and Esther. We watched the Hanna-Barbera rendition of Esther on VHS ad infinitum, and when we reenacted the story I made my sister play Haman.
These two women are the only ones to have books of the Bible named for them!
At first glance, their stories don’t seem all that similar: one was a Moabite and the other a Jew, one a widow and the other a queen, and one outside in the fields while the other remained behind the walls of a castle. Yet, their stories have two significant details in common.
- Both faced difficult circumstances—Ruth, as both a barren woman and a widow, joined the ranks of the poorest in the community and survived by gleaning the leftover grain left behind by the harvesters. Esther was forced to marry a power hungry lunatic noted in historical records for his temper and her people faced almost certain annihilation at the hands of an enemy.
- Both demonstrated great courage—Ruth showed fortitude and courage in making the best of her situation and in requesting Boaz to take on the role of a kinsman redeemer. Esther risked her life to approach the king and thereby saved the lives of the Jews.
Though other similarities exist, these particular two remind us that hardship is not a respecter of persons and that our response is not limited by our circumstances.
The rest of this week we’ll take a deeper look at Ruth’s story. Stick around!