The marvelous book of Ruth in the Old Testament shows the kinsman redeemer law in action. Based on Leviticus 25, the law simply said that when a husband/father dies, it falls to the nearest male relative to take the wife/mother/children into his household to provide for them. Women and children had no status in those days, and this compassionate law was their only defense in a patriarchal society.
In the third chapter of Ruth, we see Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, preparing Ruth to approach Boaz to become her kinsman redeemer. Naomi has lost her husband and both her sons, and so their situation is precarious, to say the least. Ruth makes her way to Boaz in a very favorable moment:
Ruth 3 (Contemporary English Version)
7 Boaz ate and drank, and he was in a good mood. He went over to lie down by the edge of the grain pile. Then she quietly approached, uncovered his legs, and lay down. 8 During the middle of the night, the man shuddered and turned over—and there was a woman lying at his feet. 9 “Who are you?” he asked.
She replied, “I’m Ruth your servant. Spread out your robe over your servant, because you are a redeemer.”
10 He said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter! You have acted even more faithfully than you did at first. You haven’t gone after rich or poor young men. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I’ll do for you everything you are asking. Indeed, my people—all who are at the gate—know that you are a woman of worth.”
When it was ascertained that Boaz was indeed the next kinsman redeemer available, he married Ruth and took in Naomi as well.
I love this story because the mother-in-law is the hero. Think about that. How many bad mother-in-law jokes have you heard? I have always resented those because I was blessed with an OUTSTANDING mother-in-law. And now that I am a MIL, I really like a story that shows one in a positive light.
Ruth and Boaz had a child whose lineage provided YOU with your kinsman redeemer. Through the generations, and through the house of David, came a child of that line whose name was Jesus. He came to redeem us, and truly is our own kinsman redeemer through our adoption by his Father:
Ephesians 1:5 (New Living Translation)
5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
And thus a resourceful mother-in-law was pivotal in the salvation of the world. (I told you this is a good MIL story!)
So if you ever find yourself doubting your place in the family of God and unsure of your position, remember that YOU are a kinsman to the Redeemer. All of this happened for your salvation! Thanks be to God.