Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do. (Ruth 3:4)
The book of Ruth makes for an immensely rewarding study, because it contains so much within a story of loyalty, love and a lasting legacy that leads, ultimately to a fulfillment in Christ. Ruth is one of a few women mentioned by Matthew in the lineage of Christ, which is very significant considering that she was, in fact, not an Israelite. She was a moabitess, married to a Jew, and therefore ‘grafted in’ by grace. This is one of the central themes of the book, and is prophetic in its representation of Christ in the person of Boaz and Ruth as a type of the gentiles and, ultimately, the church.
Within the wealth of truth, the book of Ruth illustrates very clearly the concept of ‘Kinsman Redeemer,’ a provision written into the Old Testament Law which adds a wonderful dimension to the truth of Christ as redeemer. Very briefly, the law of the kinsman redeemer stipulated that he was obligated to: redeem the land (e.g. if a family member was forced by poverty or death to sell it); redeem the enslaved (e.g. if a family member was forced to sell themselves into slavery); provide the name or family line (e.g. if a family member died without heir, he was to take the widow as wife and produce and heir to continue the dead man’s name); to avenge death (e.g. to enforce justice according to the law and not through revenge); to be a trustee (e.g. to protect widows and orphans).
It is significant that God Himself describes Himself as fulfilling all of these obligations in one way or another throughout Scripture. But it is in Christ that they are perfected. Jesus took upon Himself the full obligation of kinsman redeemer and, in so doing, brought in the ‘moabites’ or the gentiles. He extended the grace of God to all nations, so that they might become sons of God. Galations 4:4-5 tells us this: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
I believe that this is one of the most significant messages of the book of Ruth. To understand it fully, we should keep in mind that it is by the law that all men are judged, Jew and gentile alike. The Old Testament Law represents all the requirements for living righteously before God and are therefore the ‘measuring rod’ of God’s judgement. The same principles apply to all mankind. This makes the grace of God in grafting in the gentiles a gift of enormous value because, while they may not have been given the Law, they nevertheless would be subject to judgement.
Today’s verse provides a beautifully simple picture of the ‘how’ of the kinsman redeemer relationship. First, it requires humility. We are to lay ourselves down at the feet of Christ. This implies submission and a recognition of His total lordship – His right and power over us – and an attitude of worship. Second, we are then simply to wait, and He will tell us what to do. Our part is to come and surrender ourselves. From that point on, Christ will fulfill His obligation and tell us the way forward. Thirdly, it is important to note, as mentioned by Boaz later on in the story, that His agreement was related to the fact that Ruth was virtuous. This relates to our attitude rather than to the incorrect idea that we should be ‘made virtuous’ before we come to Christ. It entails a genuine attitude of the heart, a spirit of repentance and reliance on Jesus.
What is significant is that, in the story of Ruth and Boaz, we see the kinsman redeemer relationship in action. It is Christ who does the redeeming. On the cross, He dealt with all the ramifications involved in acquiring and manifesting a full and total redemption – physical, emotional and spiritual – for us. He would not have said ‘It is finished’ on the cross if this were not the case – the word ‘finished’ essentially meaning ‘paid in full.’ The moment that we are covered by His blood – the ‘mantle of the kinsman redeemer’ or the covering of his protection – we are fully and totally redeemed. We become, in that moment, both the bride and the heirs.
The book of Ruth provides us with a beautiful picture of the grace of God, and the completeness of His redemption. It speaks not only of the Old Testament law, but stands prophetically as a picture of the future, not only of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the law but of eternity to come. Two things stand out: the simple trust and faith in Ruth that the kinsman redeemer would do his part, and the willingness of Boaz to act as the kinsman redeemer.
These two things encapsulate our relationship with Christ. He has already proved Himself willing to the point of death. Are we willing to lay down at His feet in total surrender and faith in His willingness and His ability to transform our lives according to His purposes?