Note: The following is a teaching outline on Ruth 2:20, in which Boaz is described as a goël – a kinsman redeemer – which not only enabled him to become an ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ but also enabled him to serve as a type of Christ as well.
Introduction: The LORD adopts a number of metaphors by which He reveals to us the salvation He has wrought on our behalf. Among these metaphors is the metaphor of redemption, which literally refers to the action taken and the price paid to redeem someone from poverty or slavery. In fact, God later takes up the very term used of Boaz in the second chapter of Ruth in order to describe Himself as our Redeemer. Let’s take a look again at the account in Ruth to see where this term is first used:
NKJ Ruth 2:20 “Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!’ And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation [קָרֹב, lit. a near one] of ours, one of our close relatives [גֹּאֵל, goël, Qal Participle > גָּאַל, gā’al, redeem].”
A person could act as a goël – or redeemer – on behalf of another family member in a number of instances. For example, the New Geneva Study Bible correctly lists at least four ways in which this could be done:
The law of redemption now comes into view. According to this law, the nearest male blood relative had the duty of preserving the family name and property. This duty could entail (a) avenging the death of a family member (Num. 35:19-21); (b) buying back family property that had been sold to pay debts (Lev. 25:25); (c) buying back a relative who had sold himself into slavery to pay debts (Lev. 25:47-49); and (d) marrying the widow of a deceased relative (Deut. 25:5-10).
It is this latter means of acting as a kinsman-redeemer that is in view in the Book of Ruth, where Boaz marries Ruth in order to provide an heir for her deceased husband Mahlon, but this role is combined with Boaz’s redemption of the land that had belonged to Naomi’s husband and brothers as well (4:3-10). Let’s take a few minutes, then, to review one of the key passages that describes the role of such a kinsman-redeemer so that we can get in our minds the proper background for our study of how it foreshadows the salvation we now have in Christ. The passage we will examine focuses particularly on the redemption of a family member from slavery:
NKJ Leviticus 25:25, 47-49 “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative [גֹּאֵל, goël] comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. [And then later in the passage we read…] 47 Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, 48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself.”
Notice that there are at least three conditions that must be in place if one is going to be helped by a goël: 1) The goël must be a kinsman, 2) he must possess the means to pay price of redemption, and 3) he must be willing to do so, for the text says that the kinsman may redeem his brother from slavery, not that he must do it. As we consider the way that God took up the metaphor of the goël and applied it to His own saving action in Christ, these factors will become important in our understanding of what He has done. But first we must see 1) how God described Himself as our Goël, 2) how He promised a Messiah who would be our Goël, and 3) how Jesus became our Goël in fulfillment of God’s promise.
I. God Described Himself as Our Goël
In fact, this is a special theme in the Book of Isaiah, where the term goël is used repeatedly and exclusively in reference to the LORD Himself. For example:
NKJ Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël], the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’”
NKJ Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël], and He who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself….’”
NKJ Isaiah 47:4 “As for our Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël], the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.”
NKJ Isaiah 48:17 “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël], the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.’”
NKJ Isaiah 54:5-6 “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël] is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. 6 For the LORD has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused,’ Says your God.’”
NKJ Isaiah 54:8 “’With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness [חֶסֶד, ḥeseḏ] I will have mercy on you,’ Says the LORD, your Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël].”
This last reference is particularly noteworthy, in that it combines a reference to God as our Goël with His ḥeseḏ (kindness) toward us, and this is similar to the way these concepts are combined in Ruth chapter 2. Recall again Naomi’s words in verse 20:
NKJ Ruth 2:20 “Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness [חֶסֶד, ḥeseḏ] to the living and the dead!’ And Naomi said to her, ‘This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives [גֹּאֵל, goël].’”
Even so God describes His work as our Goël as a manifestation of His everlasting kindness toward us (Isa. 54:8), which led to His promise of salvation through Christ. And this brings us to the second point.
II. God Promised a Messiah Who Would Be Our Goël
The LORD describes how He will redeem His people in a key passage found in Isaiah 52-53. Let’s take a brief look at a a couple portions of this passage:
NKJ Isaiah 52:9-10 “Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed [גָּאַל, gā’al] Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has made bare His holy arm In the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
After this the LORD speaks of a servant who would come in the so-called “servant song” beginning in 52:13 and extending all the way through 53:12. Let’s just read verses 1-6 of chapter 53:
NKJ Isaiah 53:1-6 “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” [Note: Peter applies this text to Jesus our Savior in 1 Pet. 2:24-25.]
We see here that the promised Messiah would be a suffering servant who would die in our place and bear our sins, taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve. He would pay the price to redeem us from slavery to sin. This is why, later on in Isaiah, the LORD specifically refers to the coming Servant or Messiah in the same way He has referred to Himself, as a Goël:
NKJ Isaiah 59:20 “’The Redeemer [גֹּאֵל, goël] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ Says the LORD.”
The Apostle Paul cites this passage with reference to the work of Christ in Romans 11:
NKJ Romans 11:25-27 “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer [ῥύομαι, based on LXX] will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’” [Note: Paul seems to combine his citation of Isa. 59:20-21 with allusions to Ps. 14:7 (“salvation… out of Zion”) and Isa. 27:9 (“taking away… sin”).]
And so we have found not only that the LORD repeatedly referred to Himself as our Goël, but that He also referred to the promised Messiah as our Goël. So let’s turn our attention now to the last point.
III. Jesus Became our Goël in Fulfillment of God’s Promise
Remember that earlier we saw that there are at least three conditions that must be in place if one is going to be helped by a goël: 1) the goël must be a kinsman, 2) he must possess the means to pay price of redemption, and 3) he must be willing to do so. I would submit to you that all three of these conditions were met by our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
First, Jesus was a kinsman who could serve as our Redeemer. He was one of our brethren. In fact, this was a primary purpose of the incarnation, as the author of Hebrews makes quite clear:
NKJ Hebrews 2:9-11, 14-17 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren …. [Then in verse 14 he stresses that …] 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Second, Jesus possessed the means to serve as our Redeemer. He alone was able to pay the price of redemption. Consider, for example, the words of the Apostle Peter:
NKJ 1 Peter 1:17-19 “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Third, Jesus was willing to act as our Redeemer. He was willing to give His life as the price for our redemption. In fact, Jesus Himself made this perfectly clear when He said:
NKJ John 10:14-18 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Conclusion: I hope that we have gained through this brief study a greater appreciation for how the LORD has acted to save us through His Son Jesus Christ. And I hope we have gained a greater appreciation for how the work of the goël Boaz– the kinsman redeemer – foreshadowed His saving work.