Finding Jesus in the Book of Ruth

Overview of the Book of Ruth

In Finding Jesus in the Book of Judges, we discussed how Judges gives an account of the nation of Israel’s actions between Joshua’s death and the selection of their first king, Saul. During this time, thirteen Judges were chosen by the LORD to protect and deliver the Israelites. Ruth takes place during this period of the judges.

A famine in Israel drove Naomi and her family from Israel to Moab, a foreign land. Naomi’s husband and sons died in Moab, leaving Naomi alone in with her son’s daughters. Hearing that the famine in Israel is over, Naomi decides to return. Naomi urged Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, to stay behind in Moab, but Ruth replied,

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Ruth 1:16-17
Naomi Entreating Ruth and Orpah By William Blake – Scanned by H. Churchyard

Naomi returned to Israel bringing Ruth. Things were not easy for them. So they could eat, Ruth collected the leftover crops of Boaz, her late husband’s relative. One day, Boaz saw Ruth in the field and asked about her. He offered Ruth his protection (Ruth 2:8-9) because he was impressed with her character (Ruth 2:11-12). When Naomi heard about Boaz, she recognized him as a relative and eligible to redeem Naomi’s family as a kinsman-redeemer.

In the Old Testament, a kinsman-redeemer had a legal responsibility to a relative who had fallen on hard times. He was obligated to do the following: buy back the relatives mortgaged property (Leviticus 25:25-34),  buy the relative out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48-52), or preserve the family line and inheritance by marrying the widow (Ruth 4:3-5) (Ruth 4:9-10).

Boaz agreed to act as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, buy back the family land and marry Ruth (Ruth 4:1-12). Through God’s plan for Ruth, the line of David, and ultimately Jesus, would continue. Ruth and Boaz had a son, who became the father of Jesse and David’s grandfather (Ruth 4:17). 

Not only was Boaz in the genealogy of Jesus, but also his life foreshadowed the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Boaz was a type of Christ.

Boaz, as a Type of Christ

There are many similarities between Boaz and Jesus. First, they both are protectors. Boaz protected Ruth without being asked. He told her:

“See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

Ruth 2:9

Likewise, Christ is our protector. When he was praying to the Father, he said:

“During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.”

John 14:12

Boaz and Jesus both qualified as kinsman-redeemers. They were close relatives of those they redeemed: Boaz, through Ruth’s husband, and Jesus, through His mother, Mary. Boaz redeemed Ruth, and Jesus redeemed humanity.

They were both willing to take on their role as kinsman-redeemers. Even though Boaz was not the closest relative to Ruth, he was a close relative and ready to take on the responsibility. He told Ruth,

“Landscape with Ruth and Boaz” (detail), Joseph Anton Koch, 1823

“Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.” (Ruth 3:11)

Jesus was also willing. Before Jesus’ death, he prayed to the Father:

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42)

Both Boaz and Jesus purchased valuables through forfeited inheritances. Naomi lost her son’s inheritance when she sold her family’s land to survive. Boaz purchased that forfeited inheritance back and made Ruth his bride (Ruth 4:3). Similarly, Jesus purchased His bride, the Church, through a forfeited inheritance lost when Adam believed Satan instead of God.

Lastly, both Boaz and Jesus paid a price for their bride. Boaz bought Ruth for a price (Ruth 4:10). Jesus also paid a high price for us, his life (1 Cor 6:20).

Jesus is the better and truer Boaz. Boaz redeemed the land and Ruth. But Jesus redeemed the earth and the entire human race.

Although the big picture may not be immediately apparent to us, God always has a better and bigger plan. From the beginning of Ruth’s story, God was working; He had a plan of rescue for Naomi and Ruth, and ultimately his plan resulted in King David’s lineage coming to fruition.  And, through King David, would come the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.



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