Boaz: A parable of Jesus

Posted: April 2, 2013 in A to Z Challenge
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In the book of Ruth, we meet two people listed in the genealogy of Jesus, as detailed in the first chapter of Matthew: Ruth and Boaz. Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi, whose husband and sons had died while residing in Moab. This circumstance had forced Naomi to return home to her family in search of support, as the culture of the times held little hope for widows with no sons to care for them. Ruth had been married to one of Naomi’s sons, and in a rare display of loyalty, had left everything she had known and returned to Judah with Naomi.

Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s husband, and he was a wealthy landowner and respected member of the community. As a means of supporting herself and Naomi, Ruth asks for and receives permission to glean the fields belonging to Boaz, as provided by Jewish law. But Boaz, upon learning who this young woman is, and hearing her back story, makes extraordinary provisions for her well-being. When Ruth reports this to Naomi, she identifies Boaz as a relative, and “one of our redeemers.”  A redeemer was a person who had the right and obligation to re-purchase a parcel of land that had been sold away from a clan by its rightful owner. Naomi’s husband had indeed sold his land, and the deadline for repurchase, or redemption was drawing near. Naomi sends Ruth back to Boaz to request that he perform this duty on her behalf, which she does. Boaz tells her that he is blessed by her request, but there is another with a better claim, who must be appealed to first. He goes the next day to present this appeal.

When he learns of the opportunity to acquire the land, this other man is eager, but there is a catch: if he takes the land, he also must take the responsibility of caring for the deceased man’s women, including giving them an heir – passing all the privileges on, and sacrificing his own rights in the process. While the short term gain is inviting, he has no interest in getting a wife and losing his own fortune in the process. He defers the honor to Boaz, who promptly accepts, receiving both the land, which he really did not need or want, and Ruth, which was his entire desire; in a sense, he bought the land to gain the woman. They are married, and the child Ruth bears is Obed: father of Jesse, grandfather of Israel’s great King David.

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus relates a parable which mirrors this story:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

For Boaz, Ruth is the great treasure hidden in the field, and he gives up his inheritance – “all that he has” – to get her. So how does this apply to us? To Jesus, we are the treasure hidden in the field of the world. Our field was sold to Satan when Adam chose sin over obedience to God; but Jesus comes to repurchase the land, by paying the price for our sin with His blood; and in the process, we are redeemed. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and has no need of the earth, but as it says in Rev 5:9-10:

“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer, paying the price to buy us back from sin and death; Boaz serves a type of Jesus, an example to aid in our understanding of the eternal plan of God to save His people. Blessed are we to be covered by the blood of the Lamb!

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  4. Okay, I’m a little confused. I understand how Boaz had to raise up a child to inherit in the place of Mahlon, but I didn’t know he had to sacrifice EVERYTHING in order to do so. Doesn’t he just take another wife and have his own family, too?

    Frankly, this is one of those ideas about the Old Testament I find so strange. It does make sense, but only…sort of… Does that make sense?

    • Nick says:

      I do not understand all the legal problems that exercising the role of redeemer would entail, but look at it this way – apparently it WAS a problem, enough for the other heir to back out. But Boaz was willing to accept it, what ever the cost, because he loved and desired Ruth, not the land. In the same way, we can never know what it cost Jesus to depart from His father’s side and come to this world, to become our kinsman and have the right of redemption…but we know that He loved us enough to do it (Rom 5:8) That is what speaks to me in this story.

      Thanks for the question, I hope I answered it well for you, and thanks for stopping by! I’ll head over and see what you have going on in a bit 🙂

  5. Dana Martin says:

    I love, love, love this. Thank you for sharing. I intend to make your blog part of my daily reading during this blog tour and thereafter.

    Nice work.

    Waiter, drink please!

  6. Joe Owens says:

    Thank you for your Christian influence in this challenge. On the first day i presented a post on Absolution. I feel we must strive to share our faith and knowledge in a rapidly changing world. Any platform we can use to get the message out we must try.

  7. sonworshiper says:

    Nice parallel. I remember growing up and always hearing Matt 13:44 like we were supposed to go sell everything, give up anything, to get the field because of the treasure, which is Jesus. You know, the pearl of great price, well of course that must be Christ, and we better work and give it all to gain Him. It was years later that I first heard it turned around the way you describe here, pointing out that we are a treasure to God, a “special possession” He cherishes. Certainly we are to respond with our all, but we respond to His love with abandon because He abandoned everything to reach out to us in love. Followed you, looking forward to more of your posts.