Contending For The Faith

November 12, 2008

Ruth and the Kinsman-Redeemer

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 8:12 am
Tags: , ,

Like no doubt everyone, I’ve heard many times the familiar story of Ruth, the events concerning Naomi and her family in Moab, and Ruth the daughter-in-law who ends up married to Boaz and a great-grandmother of King David.  It is indeed a great story, and often I’ve heard it preached with emphasis on the love story between Boaz and Ruth, and Boaz’s act of kinsman-redeemer as a picture of Christ’s redeeming us.

John MacArthur’s sermon on Ruth “The Kinsman Redeemer”  is rather straightforward and matter-of-fact as he delves into the background concerning the Moabites, then summarizes the overall book of Ruth.  Throughout he emphasizes the history of the Moabites as a cursed people of God, reminding us that Ruth was of that lineage of Moab.  One interesting, if lesser known, verse he mentions is Jeremiah 48:11 — “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another— she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.”  (NIV)  As MacArthur describes, in the normal process of winemaking, when the wine is poured from jar to jar, the dregs remain at the bottom each time, and so the resulting wine is sweeter, without the bitter part.  The dregs were used to make vinegar.  Moab never went through this sifting process, and God had earlier placed a curse on Moab — in Deuteronomy 23 — that “no Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord.”  Yet Ruth was one of these people.

MacArthur: “How did a cursed Moabite get into the line of Messiah?  Answer:  Because God provided for her a redeemer.  Boaz is a picture of our kinsman redeemer.”

Even this little detail, concerning Ruth’s ancestry, brings more wonder and amazement to the story.  Ruth was not only a Gentile (not of God’s people, the unprivileged) brought in to the fold, she was of a particular cursed nation.  The Old Testament law did allow in some cases for a foreigner to convert and join the Israelite faith, but Moabites especially were marked out as unacceptable.  Yet just as Boaz as a kinsman redeemer for Naomi’s family could redeem and purchase for himself a Moabite bride, so Christ is able to redeem the worst sinner, the very worst even among the Gentiles.

Our God showed through Old Testament examples some amazing ways of saving not merely Gentiles, but the worst of the Gentiles, as an incredible picture of what would later come at the cross of Christ.  He didn’t bring in any of the great and mighty Gentiles, names we still know like Aristotle, Ptolemy, Socrates or Plato.  He brought in a Ruth (a cursed Moabite), a Rahab (a prostitute), and Naaman the Syrian (a leper) to prove his point that He is able and willing to save anybody, even the worst of the Gentiles.


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