Boaz: The Law-Keeping/Debt-Paying Redeemer
Many theologians have acknowledged the typological role that Boaz played in redemptive History. He descended from the tribe of Judah, comes out of Bethlehem to bless his people, grandfather of David, the one to whom the promise of Messiah was given, and was therefore in the genealogical line of the Christ. He owned a field into which he sent His laborers. He receives a Gentile, Ruth, when she came to the fields to glean. He ultimately became the kinsman Redeemer of both Jew and Gentile, buying the lost inheritance of Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 4:4 and 4:8), thus gaining the right to make Ruth his bride. In all these ways Boaz is a type of Christ. Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah, who comes out of Bethlehem to bless His people, He is the Son of David, the Redeemer of God’s elect. He sends His laborers into His fields to work. He treats His own people well. He receives and welcomes Gentiles. He pays our debt, and therefore, gains the right to make us His bride.
But, there is one significant element of the work of Boaz, the typical redeemer, that must be recognized. When Ruth comes and lays at Boaz’s feet (perhaps a picture of the church sitting at the feet of Jesus [see Luke 10:31-42]) Boaz does not immediately receive her. He tells her that there is a relative closer than Himself who has a right to redeemer her. Boaz is acting in accord with the Law of God as revealed in Numbers 27:8-11 and Leviticus 25:25:
˜If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his fatherâ€™s brothers. 11 And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the relative closest to him in his family, and he shall possess it. And it shall be to the children of Israel a statute of judgment, just as the LORD commanded Moses. (Num. 27:8-11)
˜If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. (Lev. 25:25)
In this way, he was acting in accord with the Law of God. He was honoring the demands of the Law and obeying the Lord in his dealings with Ruth. He does not, and–in a very real sense–cannot redeem Ruth and Naomi until he obeyed the legal demands of the Lord. In order for him to be Ruth’s redeemer he must first obey the demands of the law, and then pay the price to redeem her. It is a beautiful picture of the dual nature of the work of Christ. He first fulfills the righteous requirements of the Law of God, then He pays the price in His death on the cross. Our redemption was accomplished in the active and passive obedience of the Savior. He was, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Together, these two aspects of the obedience of Christ form the grounds of our justification. We are forgiven by His death, but we are counted righteous by His perfect life. His sacrifice is accepted because of His sinless conformity to the Law. By His obedience and death Christ has merited righteousness for His people. He is our Redeemer according to the prescriptions of His Father, as typified in the laws of the kinsman redeemer.
Great observation – I hadn’t thought of the law-keeping aspect of Boaz’s life.
Great article! I enjoyed the perspective given throughout reading it! Very well done.
I re-read Ruth as part of my daily Bible reading and decided to google “Boaz as a type of Christ” and came upon this article. It certainly enriches my study to read a post like this and to see how much richer the OT is in light of the NT.
Loved this article! I did a Bible study on Ruth a few years ago and it took me almost a year to get through it, but no one ever tied together the Levitical Law that Boaz was careful to follow so concisely with Jesus’ passive obedience to the Heavenly Father. I am now doing a study on all the prophecies of Christ. This article came up while googling the Ruth 4 prophecy. Thank you for an insightful read.