Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were in need of help. They could not pass down the land their husbands owned from generation to generation. They could not continue the family name, either. The only provision that the law gave them was to find a redeemer. The redeemer needed to be a family member who was willing to buy the land to at least keep it in the extended family. Boaz was a family member who was close enough that he could be just such a redeemer.
One day Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi said to her, "My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do." (Ruth 3:1-4 NIV)
Continuing the family name, however, would require more than just paying Naomi for some land. It would require marrying Naomi (or Ruth) and sleeping with her in hopes that she would bear a male child. That male child would not take the redeemer’s name. Instead, he would take his late father’s name. He would also, then, inherit his father’s land. Naomi was too old to hope for such a child to be born. So, she sent her younger daughter-in-law, Ruth, instead.
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned--and there was a woman lying at his feet! "Who are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family." "The LORD bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. (Ruth 3:7-10 NIV)
Boaz was apparently not a young man anymore. Clearly he didn’t consider himself a “catch.” This is why he was surprised Ruth was willing to approach him to be their guardian-redeemer. This was an act of humility, faithfulness, and trust on Ruth’s part. Ruth and Naomi both knew that they needed a kinsman-redeemer. And, they had found one.
And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning." (Ruth 3:11-13 NIV)
The next day Boaz approached the other potential redeemer as he had promised. When the other potential redeemer thought it was just a business-land deal, he was willing to buy the land. When it included a wife, siring a son on behalf of another man, and giving up the land to that potential heir; the other potential redeemer backed out. Boaz won the right to be their kinsman-redeemer. He married Ruth. They did have a son. And, Naomi’s family name continued. She needed a redeemer. She saw a redeemer. She was redeemed.
How about you? Do you see the need to be redeemed from the shackles of sin? Do you need someone to pay the price to redeem you? Do you see how God sent a potential redeemer for all of us in Jesus? Is Jesus your redeemer?