Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Redemption
Today’s Scripture: Ruth 4:13-15 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Last week we looked at the story of Ruth, a woman who stepped out of her homeland and left her own family to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her personal sacrifice really made a difference. But that’s not the end of the story. Ruth meets a man named Boaz. He is a wealthy land owner. He is a relative of Naomi’s husband who died. He is about to fall in love.
I would challenge you to study the incredible concept of redemption in the Old Testament – something we don’t have the time or space to do here. But in short, redemption is the “buying back” of what had been lost. The social and cultural system of the Old Testament honored family names, heritage, and ownership. If a man died without having a son, a relative of the man was to marry the widow and produce an heir that would carry on the family name and ownership of property. The relative was called the kinsman-redeemer. Without a son to carry on the family name, the name would be lost, and all rights of ownership would be lost. The kinsman-redeemer was the rescuer of what would be lost.
Boaz was second in line to redeem Naomi’s family name and property. After following the proper protocols, he jumped to the front of the line when the relative in front of him declined the opportunity. This required him to make a financial sacrifice to purchase the land. It also required him to marry a foreign woman whom he barely (or barley, if you read the story carefully) knew. But what a difference his sacrifices would make for all of us. His willingness to become the redeemer of another person’s name and heritage brought joy to all those in the land. Naomi’s position in society was secured. She would not be left homeless and nameless. The other women praised the Lord because of Boaz. Ruth would fulfill her calling to bear a son and carry on the heritage of Naomi’s family line. You and I would be blessed by all of this because the son born to Boaz would be the grandfather of King David, whose family heritage would culminate in the birth of our Redeemer Jesus Christ.
I would challenge you to reflect on the story of Ruth and the need we all have for a Redeemer to buy back the lives we had lost to sin. But I also challenge you to think of the way Ruth and Boaz stepped out of their own little worlds and made sacrifices for others. I have a friend like that. He is always stepping out of his world to enter the world of others and help people. He is always ready to go anywhere and do anything that will supply a need. His name is George, and today, he needs our help. Last night a fire destroyed George and Janice’s home. They will need our help. They will need clothing. They will need help with the inventory of all their possessions for the insurance company. They will need help cleaning and sorting through all the stuff that’s left. They will need food. They may even need a place to stay for a while as they make decisions about rebuilding. It’s our turn to step out of our worlds and make sacrifices for them, the same way they have done for so many others. We get to be kinsmen-redeemers of sorts, because we are relatives in the body of Christ.
For those of you who get these devotionals and aren’t part of our church, please pray for George and Janice Hepfler. Then look around – there are people where you live that need help. For all of us, there are people everywhere who need a Redeemer. They will only see Him if you show Him to them by stepping out of your world and into theirs. Every one of us has been given the opportunity and the provision to participate in the process of redemption. Somewhere around you is a person who is lost and needs to be bought back. The sacrifices you make to meet their needs will be the way they see the Redeemer. It’s time we realize we are their kinsmen, and they need us.