“That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20)
We so often refer to Yeshua as our Messiah, Saviour, and Lord that we forget He is also our Brother:
The Apostle Paul writes to his Jewish brethren: “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy, are of the same family. So Yeshua is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 2:11)
As our Brother, Yeshua fulfilled the ancient role of Kinsman Redeemer, as instructed by God in His Torah (Instructions).
In Hebrew, the term for a redeemer as well as kinsman redeemer is goel – גֹאֵ֖ל, from the verb, gaal, which means to redeem or to be a kinsman redeemer. It can also mean in Scripture to avenge.
What does a kinsman redeemer do and how has Yeshua become that for each of us?
What Does a Kinsman Redeemer Do?
From very early on, God anticipated that there would always be poor and needy people in Israel. So, He made special rules of mercy for such situations.
While any landowners who needed money could sell their land, a person without assets could sell themselves as bond-servants for six years. If they wanted to, they could even become a servant for life.
Another option to get out of poverty was to enact the laws of the kinsman redeemer that are detailed in Leviticus 25.
One role of the nearest kinsman or relative was to buy back or redeem the land sold by a relative in a time of need (Leviticus 25:23–28).
To “buy back” is the definition of redemption.
A kinsman redeemer could even buy back the relative and redeem them out of their contractual agreement as a servant (Leviticus 25:47–49).
A most-significant role of the kinsman redeemer was to provide an heir for a brother who had died, by marrying the wife of his deceased brother and conceiving a child with her (Deuteronomy 25:5–10).
The Apostle James shared how God has a burden in His heart for widows and orphans when he wrote this:
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
The best illustration of the kinsman redeemer in the life of a widow and as a type of Yeshua our Redeemer is found in the Book of Ruth.
The Widow Ruth and Her Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz
Ruth had been married to an Israelite man who died. Her mother-in-law, Naomi was also a widow.
Though a foreigner from a despised and cursed nation, Moab, (Deuteronomy 23:3), Ruth decided to make the God of Israel her God and go with her elderly mother-in-law Naomi to her hometown of Bethlehem.
Boaz, a man of great wealth, took respectful notice of Ruth, and began to use his position to help her.
Bo’az, meaning strength, had been told about Ruth’s personal sacrifice in leaving her homeland and care for her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi. (Ruth 2:11)
He also saw how Ruth diligently worked, even in the scorching heat, as she gathered grain from the field that Boaz set aside for the poor and needy.
Acknowledging her industriousness and kindness, Boaz blessed Ruth with this promise: “I have ordered the young men not to touch you. And when you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.” (Ruth 2:9)
Seeing the favour that Boaz showed Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi remembered that he was actually one of her relatives.
Knowing the Torah and God’s rules of mercy, she advised Ruth to offer Boaz a marriage proposal.
Naomi wasn’t just matchmaking, as some imagine. No, this elderly, broken woman knew that a kinsman redeemer was literally their best hope for a better life as well as for an heir.
Boldly, Ruth obeyed Naomi:
“‘I am your servant Ruth,’ she said to Boaz. ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman redeemer of our family.’” (Ruth 3:9)
Ruth’s request invokes images of a modern tallit, or prayer shawl, that has come to represent the wings of the God of Israel protecting and gathering His children to Himself.
Even God uses this beautiful imagery to describe how He entered into His own covenant with Israel:
“‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of My garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you My solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘and you became Mine.’” (Ezekiel 16:8)
Boaz again blessed Ruth with great favour by replying to his bride-to-be, “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD (YHVH), the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12).
By fulfilling his Biblical obligation under God to marry Ruth and provide her with an heir, Ruth and Boaz became the great-grandparents to King David, and much later, the Son of God Himself — the Messiah.
Boaz gave us a glimpse into the loving care that Yeshua has given us as our own kinsman redeemer.
YHVH, the Kinsman Redeemer of Israel
“I will redeem [gaal] you with an outstretched arm.” (Exodus 6:6)
God’s method of redeeming Israel out of bondage in Egypt involved sacrificing lambs and placing their blood on the doorposts of homes.
This served as a kind of covering that saved the firstborn Israelite sons as the Angel of Death “passed over” their homes (Exodus 12:13,23,27).
Soon after this first Passover, God (YHVH) instituted the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle where the blood of lambs and goats served only as a temporary covering for the sins of Israel — not as redemption.
The sacrifices never fully bought back the people out of the consequences of their sin, which was death, as God tells us through the Prophet Ezekiel.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4; also Romans 6:23)
A time came, however, when God decided to take the final and permanent sacrificial initiative Himself:
“He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. … A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:16, 20)
That Redeemer is our Messiah, our Kinsman, our Brother, Yeshua.
Yeshua, Our Kinsman Redeemer
When Boaz stepped into his role as kinsman redeemer, he said, “Ruth have I purchased to be my wife.” (Ruth 4:10)
Likewise, Yeshua paid the price for us and by doing so, made us heirs in the family of God.
We were poor and destitute in our sin, but Yeshua has made us rich in His Spirit.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Messiah.” (Romans 8:16-17)
When Yeshua celebrated His last Passover dinner with His talmidim (disciples), He raised a cup of wine after the meal.
Throughout Jerusalem that night, the Jewish People raised their cups of wine in remembrance of their redemption from Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb.
Yeshua is now telling His talmidim to raise their cups in remembrance of their redemption from sin through Him.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18)
Yeshua is the only one who has the power to spread His wings over the Gentile nations and His beloved brethren of Israel to redeem them.
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