By Henry Mahan
A young minister was told by an elder of a Welsh chapel that he had preached a very poor sermon because Christ was not in his sermon. The young man replied, 'Christ was not in the text.' The wise old man said, 'Christ is in every text. In every text of scripture there is a road which leads to Jesus Christ and him crucified. Your business is to find that road and get on it.'
All that most people know about the book of Ruth is what Ruth said to Naomi in Ruth 1:16-17, and they usually come away from that with high thoughts of Ruth and no thoughts of Christ. The real key to the book of Ruth is in the term kinsman redeemer found in Ruth 2:20, Ruth 3:9 & 12, and Ruth 4:14.
The 'kinsman' is the one who has the right to redeem (Lev. 25:25).
A man called Elimelech, of Bethlehem-Judah, because of a famine in the land, sold all that he had and with his wife and two sons left the land of Israel and moved to pagan Moab. Elimelech died in Moab; and his two sons married Moabite women, lived with them ten years, and then they both died. Naomi, now a very poor widow, determined to return to Judah and told her two daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their people and their gods. Orpah kissed Naomi and departed, but Ruth clave unto her and Uttered those blessed words found in Ruth 1:16-17.
1. Here is a picture of ruin by the fall (Ruth 1:19-21).
When Naomi, now old, poor, and weary, came to Bethlehem, the people gathered about her and exclaimed, 'Is, this Naomi?' Is this the same Naomi who left Bethlehem a few years ago rich and prosperous with her family about her? She replied, 'Don't call me Naomi (sweet and pleasant); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.' She went out full and came back empty, rich and came back poor, sweet and came back bitter.
We look at Adam after the fall, when he sinned, sold out, and left the presence of God for his own way, and we say, 'Is this Adam? Are these poor, dying, corrupted creatures sons of Adam, created in the image of God?' (Rom. 5:12; Rom. 3:10- 19.) The king is now a beggar, the prince is now a pauper, and the-blessed are now cursed.
2. Here is the unmerited, unsought love of Christ for sinners (Ruth 2:1-5, 16).
Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem in the beginning of the barley harvest season. It was the custom to allow poor people and those without support to follow the reapers in the field and pick up what they had left. Ruth went out to glean in the fields; and by God's providence she gleaned in the field of Boaz, Naomi's near kinsman (2:1). Boaz took notice of Ruth, had compassion on her, instructed her to glean in his field, and told the reapers to let fall some 'handfuls of purpose' (2:16) for her.
This world belongs to the Lord Jesus. It is his by design, by decree, and by death (Col. 1:16-17; John 3:35; Rom. 14:9; John 17:2). We live and glean in his field. The Lord Jesus in grace and love has taken notice of some of Adam's race. He knew us though we knew him not: He loved us though we did not love him; and by his handfuls of purpose, we have lived and prospered to this day. God takes care of his own even in their days of unbelief.
3. Here is the kinsman redeemer (Ruth 2:18-20).
Ruth returned home with a generous supply of grain. Naomi took note of the abundance and asked Ruth where she gleaned and who was so generous with her. When Naomi heard that Ruth's benefactor was Boaz, she exclaimed, 'Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness.' Boaz is one who has the right to redeem, one kinsman-redeemer. If one has sold his inheritance and has a near kinsman, who is able and willing to stand for him and buy back all that he lost, it shall be done (Lev. 25:25).
Christ Jesus, by God's covenant of mercy and divine grace, is our kinsman; for he became a man, numbered with the transgressors, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh (John 1:14: Gal. 4:4-5). He willingly took upon himself to redeem all that we lost in Adam, and he is able to do so because, though a man, he is the strong and mighty God (Heb. 7:25; 2 Tim. 1:12; Jude 24-25). By his perfect obedience he has given us righteousness before the law; and by his death he has satisfied divine justice, enabling God to be both just and justifier of all who believe (Rom.3:25-26).
4. Humility, acceptance, and redemption.
Read in Ruth 3:1-7 how Ruth humbled herself at the feet of Boaz, seeking his mercy, as we lie at the feet of Christ, for he owes us nothing. Read in Ruth 3:10-11 how Boaz accepted her whom he already loved, even as we are accepted in the Beloved upon evidence of humility and faith. Read how Boaz married Ruth and all of his wealth and name became hers, even as we are married to Christ and are joint-heirs with him because we are his and wear his name. The pagan girl became the wife of Boaz, the great-grandmother of King David, and stood in the lineage of Christ--all of grace!