Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kinsman Redeemer

I had not ever heard the term "kinsman redeemer" until a few years ago. The term sounded comforting. If I remember correctly, I first heard the term shortly after Keith's death. I was looking for comfort anywhere I could find it.

I found myself drawn to the book of Ruth. At first, I identified so much with Naomi. Her husband died and she was left with 2 children (sons). I saw myself in those few verses. I was stuck though, because I was looking for more about Naomi. More about how she dealt with grief and raising her children. I found nothing in the book of Ruth about Naomi and her grief or parenting through her grief. (Theologians, I'm just speaking from my heart here. A huge measure of grace please.) So, I closed up Ruth and went back to reading the Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels or whatever verses caught my attention.

Sometime later, I was drawn back to the story of Naomi and Ruth. My focus was different this time though. Naomi lost her husband AND her sons! I realized I was beginning to see Naomi through the eyes of Keith's mom. What heartache! I haven't endured the loss of a child yet. Suddenly, I felt like I didn't identify with Naomi as much as I thought I least not from that aspect. I did find that I definitely could identify with how she felt toward God. Naomi was extremely sad. She felt that God had turned against her.  
Ruth 1:13 "would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!"

I could relate to how Naomi is feeling in this verse. There have been times when I felt that God had turned his hand against me. Granted, I don't allow myself to fall into that trap anymore. I recognize now that it is Satan using my doubts, fears, and grief to try to take my eyes off of God.

Something still nagged at me about identifying with Naomi. I couldn't figure it out at that time. I just knew that I felt somewhat unsettled about identifying myself with Naomi and her bitterness. Her bitterness was so deep, upon her return to Bethlehem in Judah, she changed her name to Mara.
Ruth 1:20-21  20“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara,because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Once I read this part of Naomi's story, it became very clear to me that the Almighty had not made my life bitter. He made my life better! I did not become empty or afflicted. Yes, life has been hard. Harder than hard sometimes, but I'm not bitter. I have joy in each and every day. Sometimes that joy is more difficult to find than others, but IT IS THERE! My joy is not in earthly things. My joy is in the Lord and ALL that HE HAS DONE.

So, I spent some more time in the book of Ruth at that point. I found myself reading about how Naomi and Ruth had bonded. I read about Ruth gleaning behind the harvesters in the fields of Boaz so that she and Naomi could eat. I learned about the kindness and protection Boaz offered Ruth. A kindness and protection not always shown to foreigners.

This is when I learned about a kinsman redeemer. A kinsman redeemer is defined as someone who is bound by Levitical Law to redeem a relative from serious difficulty. Boaz was a relative to Naomi's late husband Elimelek. As soon as Boaz was told about Ruth and that she was taking care of Naomi, he knew that it was his responsibility to help them.

I continued to read about Ruth and Naomi. After a time, Naomi knew that it was time for Ruth to be remarried. Naomi instructed Ruth to go to Boaz for guidance. Ruth did as Naomi bid. Boaz promised Ruth that he would see to it that she was taken care of. If the closer relative (kinsmen redeemer) couldn't take Ruth on as a wife, Boaz would do it himself.

I will admit that when I got to this part of the story, I wondered what Boaz was thinking. How could he do that? He seemed like such a nice man! Why turn Ruth over to someone she doesn't know? Hasn't she already been through enough just in the loss of her husband? She left her homeland and her family to take care of her mother-in-law! That just doesn't seem fair!

Once I realized that my thoughts were coming from living in today's world, the actions Boaz took made more sense to me. Naomi knew that the only chance Ruth had to become remarried was for a kinsman redeemer to step in. Since Boaz had already been acting as kinsman redeemer to both of them, he seemed to be the best person to go to for guidance. Keep in mind friends, women could not marry on their own. A male relative had to oversee the match. Women were property. Women could not own land. Everything had to be in the male's name. If there wasn't a male heir to the family line and property, the family name would be lost.

The story continues as Boaz meets with the other kinsman redeemer. This guy, once he realizes that he will be required to take on Ruth as a wife and it could endanger his own estate, decides against the transaction of the property of Elimelek, Mahlon, and Kilion (Naomi's husband and sons). Boaz keeps his promise to Ruth and completes the purchase of all the property of Naomi's husband and sons.

Ruth 4:3-10  3Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. 4I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line."
“I will redeem it,” he said. 
5Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
7(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)
8So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
9Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

The Lord then blessed the union of Boaz and Ruth with the birth of a son. This son, became Naomi's kinsman redeemer. He was named Obed. This baby grew up to become the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David.

My Redeemer came from the house of David. Jesus. Only God can work things out in the way that through the death, bitterness, grief, sadness, and  hardships endured by Naomi and Ruth, THE ONLY TRUE KINSMAN REDEEMER would be born.

Ruth is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It fills me with hope. It also reminds me that I AM REDEEMED!

I've been dating off and on for a little over a year now. I don't like dating. It's tough. I am constantly reminded of what I had with Keith, and that it's gone. I have learned some things though. The book of Ruth helped me make sense of some things too.

I don't need a Boaz to come into my life and fix everything. I'm not broken, and I don't need fixing. I don't want or need a kinsman redeemer. What I do want is someone to share my life with. I want a help-meet. I want the companionship of a man who loves me and loves my kids. If that man isn't in God's plan for me, it's okay. I'll manage. I KNOW that God has got a plan for me, just as he had that plan for Ruth so long ago.

All of this is a result of a recent date with a very nice man who decided he wasn't my Boaz. The thing is, I never asked or expected him to be anyone other than himself.

In HIS Grip,

**All Scripture is taken from YouVersion and is from the NIV translation.**

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