Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 17 2019 - Ruth 3 – The threshing floor

Now it's Naomi's turn to look after Ruth by seeking to find her a husband. Naomi has her eyes set on Boaz since he is a relative of her late husband, Elimelek. Boaz is able to act as kinsman-redeemer (or guardian-redeemer), one able to rescue a relative from a situation of difficulty.

For the Israelites, the land did not belong to them to be sold and bought at will, it belonged to the Lord and had been given to them as a trust (see Leviticus 25:23-24). Land had been apportioned to the various tribes and families within Israel and each portion of land had to be passed on within the family. In this way all Israel shared in the inheritance which God gave his people.

But what if a man died without children? In that case an unmarried man who was a close relative would need to marry the widow and seek to raise up a child who would be considered as son and heir to the previous husband who died. This practice, which seems so strange to us, was referred to as the role of a kinsman-redeemer. This is the background to the question with which the Sadducees sought to trick Jesus (see Matthew 22:23-28). Naomi believes that Boaz could do this for Ruth, marrying her and raising up a son who would inherit their family properties.

Naomi knows that Boaz will be sleeping that night at the threshing floor for he will need to guard his harvested grain (see Judges 6:11). She tells Ruth to go there at dead of night and lie at his feet – a symbol of seeking his protection.

Boaz wakes with a start, perhaps thinking someone has come to steal his grain but finding instead that Ruth is lying at his feet and wanting him to be her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz is moved; it would seem that he is quite taken with this young girl whose godly character is evident. He would be glad to become her husband and guardian, but there is one obstacle; there is a closer kinsman who has prior rights on the inheritance. Boaz will need to negotiate for Ruth. What will happen next in this drama being played out in ancient Bethlehem?

Boaz sends Ruth off in the morning with her shawl full of grain and the promise that he will do all he can to help her. Naomi is delighted with Ruth's news and the abundance of grain she brings home from Boaz. Naomi adds her assurance to that of Boaz that "the man will not rest until the matter is settled today."

Christ has become our kinsman-redeemer. He took upon himself our humanity that he might identify himself with us and take us to be his own. He has loved us, redeemed us at great cost, cast his protection over us and has heaped his riches upon us. He is the one through whom we have gained the inheritance which God has promised his people – not a field or two of land and a lap full of grain, but "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade", an inheritance of glory.

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own son,
Precious lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy one,

Thank you O my Father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your Spirit,
'til the work on earth is done.

Father God, we thank you for Jesus our kinsman-redeemer who has covered us with the garment of his righteousness. May we always sit at his feet, learn from him and follow him. May we, like Naomi, point others to the one who can be their redeemer also.

Peter Misselbrook