Two weeks ago, we spent our Sunday morning gathering in the book of the Judges. It describes a time in the nation of Israel of great darkness, disobedience, destruction, and dystopia. It was a time, states the last sentence in the story, when “there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). It was very disturbing.
This past Sunday we, we stayed right there, “In the days when the judges ruled…” (Ruth 1:1). We made our way through the remarkable story of Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, and God. The simple story of an ordinary Israelite family facing tragic loss, and God using an immigrant to bring about unexpected hope, both in the present, and forevermore. It is this small but bright light in a very dark time.
The story and example of Ruth and Naomi provided some really great points of application for our lives, and we had the time to move through a few of those. The power of friendship and the radical nature of discipleship (I got that structure and ideas there from some great work on Ruth by Tim Keller), as well as the very ordinary nature of our lives providing a theater for the omnipotence of God.
One of the areas we didn’t get to spend much time on is the nature of a kinsman-redeemer, how Boaz fulfilled that role, and that in doing so he was a type of the Messiah, the Christ, as our Redeemer. In this way, this story is a beautiful reminder that God is always doing more than we know or realize in the small spaces of our stories to accomplish his plans and purposes for the world.
One of the books I am consulting throughout The Whole Story series is A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised. In his essay on Ruth as part of this volume, John J. Yeo writes:
…the kinsman-redeemer serves as a messianic type for the following reasons:
(1) he must be a blood relative (even as the incarnate Christ became a blood relative to humankind via the virgin birth);
(2) he must have the means to redeem the forfeited inheritance (even as Christ alone had the merit to redeem sinners);
(3) he must be a willing redeemer (even as Christ willingly laid down his life for sinners); and
(4) he must be willing to marry the wife of a deceased kinsman (which typifies the marriage relationship between Christ and his church).
This is just one of the beautiful aspects of the unified story of the whole Bible that always points to Jesus. Over and over and over again we see in the old covenant story of God’s dealing with his people these types of the One who is to come. In this way, the richness and depth of the new covenant story of God’s dealing with his people and the world through Jesus is intensified. Right up to today. For us.
Which is what Ian Duguid points to in his commentary on this story:
[God] is the Redeemer behind the human redeemer, [Boaz], in Ruth and Naomi’s story. This is also what [Yahweh] has done for each of us. He is the Redeemer behind each of our own personal salvation stories. He sought each of us while we were utterly lost. Not only did he make us feel valuable; in Christ, God actually made us valuable. It is not just Ruth’s story that turned out to be part of a much bigger narrative than she ever imagined. Your story and my story are also woven into the bigger tapestry of what God is doing in Jesus Christ.
For further study on the book of Ruth, I suggest you continue exploring by means of the following resources:
- Review last week’s sermon on Ruth.
- Click here to find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this remarkable story of a very ordinary family that brought unexpected, eternal hope to the world.
Finally, be sure to dive into the story of Samuel in preparation for this coming Sunday, which is also the first day of Holy Week. As always, please feel free to email me with questions about or ideas for The Whole Story.
Looking forward to our Gathering on Sunday morning,
Pastor Matthew will be preaching on the book of Mark this coming Sunday, January 20. Here are some tips for your Bible reading that you received in last week’s Weekly Bible Reading email.
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