Kinsman Redeemer

There is great confusion over what is required for Salvation. Many people are under the impression that their church, leader, or organization can convey eternal life to their followers. This is accomplished (they claim), by following the teaching and instructions of their leader. What is not often considered is the fundamental structure of their philosophies, which are lacking a logical basis.

How could any person who is an imperfect being, ever make anyone else perfect?

Man’s basic nature is flawed. We all have a tendency towards sin. It is our nature as human beings to lie, cheat, steal, and conduct ourselves in many ways that harm ourselves and other people. We also have the capacity for good. Given the right circumstances, we can become quite virtuous. The problem is that our goodness is fleeting and seldom observed. Most often, when we are provoked; we react in anger, violence, filthy words, or seek vengeance. These are just a few of our many attributes that reveal our true nature as fallen beings.

In order for any one of us to become new and different people, our basic nature must first change. This has been attempted by man; by many institutions and religions. There is no shortage of organizations that will help a person turn over a new leaf in their life. The problem is that all that these institutions can do is seek to alter our behavior. The real problem with human beings is not our behavior, it is our heart. Unless the heart of a person changes, their actions will not change.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is unique in that it claims to have the power to change a person from the inside-out. This is accomplished by a supernatural work of God, and not by man. When any person receives Jesus as their Savior, He comes to take residence inside the heart of this person. As a result, these individuals become a new creation, the old things pass away and all things become new.[1] Because the heart has changed, the behavior changes. As Jesus begins to live His life through us, we become more and more like Him.

The problem for many people who experience this new spiritual birth, is their surprise when they discover that they will still sin. Although our hearts have been changed and we have the Lord residing within us, we are still living in the same old body that loves to sin. There will always be a battle between our flesh and the Spirit. From the moment that a person begins their new relationship with Jesus, there will be a struggle between our old nature and the new. The difference is that we no longer love to sin as we used to; instead we love to please the Lord. When we sin and we confess our transgressions to the Lord, He quickly forgives us and we go on in our close relationship with Him.

In order for this new Spiritual birth to be possible, it will take more than a twelve step program; we will have to become new creatures. Only the Lord can accomplish such an impossible work. For this, we need a supernatural Savior, one who has the power to change us. This kind of Savior must be perfect and greater than all of our struggles.

If there will be a Savior for mankind, He must be perfect and without sin; otherwise, how could one sinner save another sinner, it would be impossible. This Savior must also be one who is like us; a human being. The Bible makes it clear that only a close relative; a kinsman redeemer, can act as our mediator and bring us to God. This is the subject of this chapter and how God accomplished this great task.

The power that the Messiah has to redeem us is because He is our close relative, a Kinsman Redeemer.

The principle of a “Kinsman Redeemer” is established in the Book of Ruth: Only someone who is our close relative can redeem us.

Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.” And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal. And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.” Ruth 4:1-9

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 1:14 And the Son of God became a man and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (RCR)

Ephesians 1:3-12 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

The Prodigal Son

Many people do not realize that the story of the prodigal son, taught by Jesus in the gospel of Luke, Chapter 15:11-32, most likely came from the illustration of redemption found in the Book of Ruth.

In the story of the prodigal son as told by Jesus; the son stays too long in a foreign land until he is utterly destitute. He returns to the home from where he was born to seek the mercy of his father, who he hopes, will restore him again. In the story of Ruth, Elimelech and his wife Naomi went to the land of Moab and also remained too long. Elimelech and his two sons—Mahlon and Chilion—died in this foreign land, leaving Naomi, Ruth, (Mahlon’s wife) and Orpah (Chilion’s wife), in utter poverty. As a result, they must return home to Bethlehem, the place of Naomi’s birth, to seek redemption and restoration. It is certain that Jesus had the first chapter of the Book of Ruth in mind when He told the story of the prodigal son.

Without the Book of Ruth, we would not be able to fully understand the plan of Salvation which the Messiah has made possible for us. The prophecy of the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem, would not have been possible if the events that are described in the Book of Ruth had not happened. Jesus is descended from Ruth who was a hated Moabite woman. Boaz and Ruth gave birth to Jesse who is the father of David, the King through whom Jesus was born.

Matthew 1:1-17 …Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king…

The name Bethlehem means: House of Bread. Bethlehem is in Judah which means: Praise. Jesus is later referred to as the Bread of Life and The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus came to be our Kinsman Redeemer, which is established here in the Book of Ruth.

Boaz, who is a near relative of Elimelech, marries Ruth in order to redeem the land that would be lost, since her husband has died and left no one to redeem it.

Ruth 4:1-9 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it…’ ”

The Story:

As the first chapter of Ruth begins, Elimelech has left Bethlehem and traveled to Moab with his wife Naomi and their two sons. Tragedy occurs when the sons of Elimelech and Naomi take Moabite wives. Naomi’s husband Elimelech dies, followed by the death of both of her sons, Mahlon and Chilion. This leaves Naomi and her sons’ wives as widows; destitute and in danger of losing their family’s land.

Naomi decides to return to her family’s home in Bethlehem where she hopes to find help and the redemption of her land.

According to Hebrew law, the inheritance of land passed from father to son, not to the wife or daughters. The land could only be saved or redeemed if a close relative, such as the brother of Elimelech, would marry Naomi.

Knowing that the two wives of Naomi’s deceased sons were hated Moabites’s in Israel, they would not be able to find husbands if they returned to their ancestral home in Bethlehem. No Jew would ever marry either of these women, thereby insuring that they would lose the inheritance of land, passed down from Elimelech to his sons.

With this in mind, Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to remain in Moab and return to the home of their family. As Naomi says her farewell to both women, Ruth clings to her:

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you live, I will live; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, nothing but death will separate us.” Ruth 1:16-17

In this brief statement by Ruth, we see the ideal model for true repentance.

“Wherever you go, I will go”
“I am convinced in this decision. I am not wavering or doubting. I am going with you.”

“Wherever you live, I will live”
Ruth not only wants to go with Naomi, but she is doing so to “live with her.” In other words: “I want to be identified with you. I accept your brokenness and poverty.”

“Your people shall be my people”
“I am forsaking my own people, their lifestyle, their worship of idols.” Though she will be a foreigner and hated as an outcast in Bethlehem, she is willing to go with Naomi.

“Your God shall be my God”
Ruth understood that she was marrying a man who was in poor health. Naomi’s son, Ruth’s husband, was called “Mahlon” which means “unhealthy.” It appears that what drew Ruth into a relationship with Naomi’s son Mahlon was the fact that this family knew the true and living God. Ruth now makes it known that she also wants to know their God as her own.

“Where you die, I will die”
The true meaning of this phrase is lost in the English translation of our Bible. In the term, Where you die, I will die, Ruth is actually saying: “The hope of Israel is the resurrection from the dead” (this is where I want to die). In essence, Ruth is affirming that she believes in a future resurrection by the God of Israel. The Jews living in Israel during this time did not have the same understanding of heaven that we have today.[2] The people of the Old Testament did not believe that they would go to heaven immediately after their death. It was commonly understood that a person who died would be resurrected by God at the end of the age, to live in a new city located in the land of Israel. This is the reason that Joseph was so insistent that when he died, his bones would be carried back to Israel and buried there (Genesis 50:25). Joseph hoped to be resurrected from his grave in Israel, not from a foreign land.

…by faith…Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:10

“Where you are buried, I will be buried”
Ruth is not only willing to die where Naomi dies and have the same hope of resurrection that she has, she also wants to be buried in Israel where she will have the hope of Resurrection.

“Nothing but death will separate us”
Finally, Ruth makes it clear that this is not a temporary decision in which she might changer her mind later. Her decision is for Time and Eternity: Nothing but death will separate me from the decision I am making today to go with you.

Boaz is told of the plight of Ruth and her need for a Kinsman Redeemer to save the land, by marrying Ruth.

Ruth 4:9 Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal. And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.”

The woman whom Boaz married is this incredible woman called “Ruth” who has a very precious heart after God. Though she is a Moabitess, and hated by the people of Israel, she is listed later in Jesus’ Genealogy as the grandmother of Jesse; David’s father. The example of Ruth’s humility and sincerity in seeking God as her Savior is a model of true salvation for every generation to come.

Many people today have an incorrect view of what God requires for admission into heaven. The generally accepted principle today is that God will grant eternal life to all those who are basically “good people.” The Bible teaches that since all people are sinners, there is no one who is good enough.

Psalms 14:3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Paul confirmed this principle in the New Testament, as He defines for the Christian church; what God requires for salvation:

Romans 3:10,12 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;…12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

By human standards, if a person does more good than evil, he is considered a good person. By God’s standard, in order to be seen as truly good, a person must be morally perfect and without a single sin during the entire course of his lifetime.

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect…

Others hold that if a person keeps most of the Ten Commandments, God will view him as good enough for heaven. James, the brother of Jesus, makes it clear that in order to be seen as righteous by God, in seeking to keep the ten commandments, a person must keep them all perfectly from the day of his birth to the day of his death. If a person has broken one of the Ten Commandments, he is guilty of breaking the entire law of God.

James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

The standard of God for admission into heaven is perfection. If a person breaks only the 9th commandment—to bear false witness, a lie; he is guilty of breaking the entire law of God, which requires perfection.

The Bible teaches that the Blood of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins makes us perfect before God and ready for heaven.

1 John 1:7 … the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…

Many people believe incorrectly that because there are thousands of churches and religious groups that all claim to be the way to heaven, God must surely allow for many ways to heaven.

Jesus said that He was the only way to heaven. In fact, all of the Bible declares that there is only one way into the presence of God; by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. When we examine the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, the only way that a person could enter into the presence of God, was by “one door,” and through a sinless sacrifice. Jesus claimed that He was that door. See “A Tabernacle, A Sanctuary,” for a complete description of the Tabernacle and the one entrance.

John 10:9 (Jesus speaking) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…

In this prophecy from the book of Ruth, we see that the Messiah must be a close relative of ours (Kinsman). In order for Jesus to be a close relative, He had to become one of us; a human being. The one who would be qualified as our redeemer had to meet certain requirements; one of which, is revealed by this prophecy of the Kinsman Redeemer. The entire subject of this book is to demonstrate the requirements of God for the Messiah and to show how Jesus fulfilled all of these requirements—by the testimony of the New Testament. The following are just a few of the basic requirements that our Kinsman Redeemer must possess, in order to redeem us according to the law of God.

He will be God
The Messiah will be the Great “I AM” of the Old Testament.

He will be Perfect, without sin
The Messiah will be the Passover Lamb, “without spot or blemish.”

He will be first over all creation
The Messiah shall be the “firstborn” and inherit all the rights and privileges of that rank.

He will be perfect in Holiness
The Character of the Messiah will be “power according to the Spirit of Holiness.”

He will be killed and resurrected
The Messiah will be killed and Resurrected.

He will be one of us—a man
The Messiah will be God, living in the body of a man.

We should understand that salvation for all human beings must come by way of a perfect human being; not a method, church, or organization. Since all human beings are themselves violators of God’s law, all men are disqualified from making such a sacrifice.

There has only been one man who has lived a perfect life and is, therefore, qualified to be the Savior of all men. The record of Jesus’ life, reveals that He was perfect and without sin. Since Jesus is God, dwelling within the body of a man, He can offer His life as a man for the sins of all other men (our Kinsman). Since He is God, His life has infinite value which is sufficient to pay for the great number of sins for all people, for all time.

These facts in evidence, we see that only Jesus has met the requirements set forth in this prophecy of a near relative who is required to redeem us. There is only one man who has met all of these requirements; which are many and difficult.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name (other than Jesus), under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.


[1] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2Corinthians 5:17
[2] When Jesus revealed to the Disciples in the upper room that He was going to Heaven to prepare a place for them, this was a brand new concept for these men.