Why Believers In Jesus Get Adopted As Relatives
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
The book of Ruth is one of the happiest stories in the entire Bible, except for the four gospels, of course. It has tremendous parallels with the salvation of Christ and his love for his Bride, the church. It also illustrates that those who are born again in the Lord of the water and the Spirit (see John’s gospel chapter 3) literally become the relatives of Christ. We believers become married into – ‘adopted’ also applies here – the family of God. To begin with, Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, had two sons, and they were from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ Jesus. Elimelech died during a famine, leaving Naomi a widow. So she, along with her two sons, Mahlon and Killion, went to the land of Moab. This is where the borders of modern-day Jordan, Egypt and Israel come together near the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, but it was then a part of the Kingdom of Judah (see 1st and 2nd Kings in the Old Testament). Mahlon and Killian each had wives, Ruth and Orpah. According to the book of Ruth, after about ten years both Mahlon and Killian also died, leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah as widows who quickly fell on hard times. In spite of Naomi’s insistence that Ruth and Orpah return to their homeland to the north, Ruth maintains her allegiance to Naomi and travels back to Judah with her. Ruth was therefore considered to be, according to Ruth 1:4, a “Moabite” woman, a non-Jew, who had married into a Jewish household. Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi, a Jewish woman, can be compared to the Gentile nations’ faithfulness to Christ by their worship of their Jewish leader and Savior.
This is described in Ruth 1:15-16; “‘Look’, said Naomi, ‘your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her’. But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God’”. This can be compared to Jeremiah 24:7, “They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart”, and Acts 15:14, “…God at first showed His concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for Himself”. 2 Cor. 6:16-18 also comments on this topic. “…For we are the temple of the Living God. As God has said, ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate’, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters’, says the Lord Almighty.”
So, Orpah returns to her homeland, but Ruth stays with Naomi. Next, Ruth and Naomi meet Boaz, who allows the starving women to follow after his workers who are harvesting his fields so they can pick up all the leftovers. Ruth and Naomi find favor with Boaz in Ruth 2, 10-12; “At this she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, ‘Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me – a foreigner?’ Boaz replied, ‘I have been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband – how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’ “Boaz speaking of Ruth leaving her mom, dad, and homeland reminds me of Jesus in Mark 3, 32-34. “A crowd was sitting around Him, and they told Him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ “Who are my mother and my brothers?”, He asked. Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!”
What Boaz did for Ruth, and Christ did for the people, was prophesied in Deuteronomy 10:18 and 24:17-18, taking up the cause of “the fatherless, the widow, and the alien”. Then, in Ruth 2:14, the Bible says, “At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar’”. Here we see a Jew offering a gentile some bread dipped in vinegar. Contrast this to Matthew 27:48, where a gentile Roman soldier gives Christ Jesus, our Jewish Lord and Savior, a sponge dipped in vinegar to drink as He is hanging on the cross at Golgotha. What a terrible payback! Later, in Ruth 2:19-20, Boaz’s true identity is revealed; “…Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz’, she said. ‘The Lord bless him!’, Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead…that man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers’”. Then, in chapter 3, Ruth goes to sleep at Boaz’s feet in verses 7-9. When Boaz discovers her during the night, he demands to know who she is. Verses 9-13 read as follows: “’ Who are you’?, he asked. ‘I am your servant Ruth’, she said. ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer’. ‘The Lord bless you, my daughter’, he replied. ‘This kindness is greater than that which you showed me earlier. You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsman know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good. Let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning’.”
Boaz calling Ruth “a woman of noble character” and offering to lead her, a Gentile, to a Jewish kinsman-redeemer is without a doubt comparable to Paul leading the Gentiles to Christ, their Jewish savior, as he said while preaching in Antioch to the Jews in Acts 18:26, “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent”. But this is exclaimed more directly by Paul in Acts 18:4-6. “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’”. The word ‘Greeks’ is a synonym for Gentiles in this passage. Paul also wrote of Gentiles seeking Jewish redeemers both in Gal. 4:4-7 (“but when the time has fully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has also made you an heir”), and in Ephesians 1:7 (“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”).
Finally, in Ruth chapter 4, we have our happy ending! Boaz marries Ruth! In the same manner as Christ takes pride in His bride, the church, Boaz announces his pride in Ruth in chapter 4, verses 9 and 10; “Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, ‘Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses’”. In the same way, once we were without redemption, unbelieving and steeped in sin. Our names would disappear with our deaths just like all the ones before. But Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has redeemed us by claiming us as his own through his death and resurrection. The parallels between Boaz, a Jew, claiming Ruth, a Gentile, as part of his family and Christ claiming the Gentile nations as a part of his Bride, are unmistakable. Peter wrote on this subject in 1st Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. Revelation 21:3 also speaks of this, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’”.
Christ Jesus is truly our kinsman-redeemer. Ruth had faith enough to call Boaz her kinsman-redeemer, and she was rewarded by becoming part of his family. By claiming Christ as our kinsman-redeemer by our own faith, we affirm that we are a part of the family of God. The apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans 8:15-17, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs with God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” I sure am glad that we can claim Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer. I am elated at God’s mercy, that He has called everyone who is a true believer his sons and daughters. It is truly wonderful and astonishing that we, the Bride of Christ, can truthfully claim to be the adopted relatives of Jesus Christ. So for all those unfortunate people – and I was one myself – who come from broken-up homes for whatever reason, and particularly for those who started out in life as orphans or stuck in foster-care like I was, all of you now has a new family you can truly call your own – the family of God.