Doctrine of Redemption; Ruth 2:20-23
The doctrine of redemption is crucial for understanding some things that are going on in Ruth because some of the events in the book of Ruth are designed to be a visual aid or a picture for us to help us to understand the doctrine of redemption and the importance of the hypostatic union. This is evidenced by the fact that one of the key words in Ruth relates to the role of Boaz who is Ruth's kinsman [goel]. The goel is a picture of Jesus Christ who is our kinsman, and because He is our kinsman in terms of the fact that He is true humanity He is able to pay the ransom/redemption price for our sins. The backdrop is a doctrinal backdrop for what we will transpire in the next two chapters.
2) The Old Testament picture of redemption is the Exodus. The exodus involved the payment of a price, the purchase of the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The key ideas that we see there, once again, are the payment of a price, the concept of deliverance and freedom as well as protection. Exodus 6:6, "Wherefore say to the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments." There is an ascending order of intensification there: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, and I will redeem you. The parallelism there emphasizes the fact that redemption involves bringing them out and deliverance. A second verse that is important is Exodus 15:13, "In your lovingkindness you have led the people whom you hast redeemed: you have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation." It is God taking the people to Mount Sinai where He was going to deliver the law. But notice that Moses says, "It is in your lovingkindness." That word for lovingkindness is crucial for understanding this concept of redemption. It is the Hebrew word chesed. In Ruth it is often translated "kindness," but it is more than either one of those words can convey. It has the ideas of mercy, faithfulness, loyalty, steadfastness, and a good translation almost anywhere would be "steadfast, loyal love." It is a word that characterizes more than anything else in one word, God's integrity. It is a broad word that encompasses many ideas and is rich with meaning. This is the ground of God's redemptive activity. Justice and righteousness are intimately connected with divine love. God can do nothing else than provide a redemption solution for people. He is not going to automatically save them but He is going to give them the option for redemption. And that is based on who he is. He can do nothing less than deal with His creatures in undeserved and unmerited favor. Another verse that emphasizes this is Deuteronomy 7:8 "But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, has the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Here both words ga'al and padah are used to relate to the Exodus event. Deuteronomy 9:26, "I prayed therefore to the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy
not your people, even your inheritance, which you have redeemed [padah] through your greatness, which you have brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand." Deuteronomy 13:5, "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, and redeemed [pahah] you out of the house of slavery…" Again and again redemption is grounded back to what happened back at the exodus event. Deuteronomy 15:15, "And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed [padah] you: therefore I command you this day." Notice the order there. First the reminder that they were a slave in Egypt; secondly, God purchased them; third, that means that God has the right to command you. There is a proper way of life now that you have been purchased. This is the same line of logic that Paul uses in Romans chapter six: we have been bought with a price, therefore we are not our own, we are God's. Deuteronomy 21:8, "Be merciful, O LORD, to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and lay not innocent blood to your people of Israel's charge. And the blood-guiltiness shall be forgiven them." In that passage there is a relationship of forgiveness to redemption. Then in Deuteronomy 24:18, "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed [padah] you from there: therefore I command you to do this thing." So God purchased Israel from slavery in Egypt. How did He do that? Exodus 12, following the plague of the firstborn in chapter eleven where the firstborn would die unless certain procedures were followed. Then in chapter 12 God gives the redemption solution to Israel. He had warned the Israelites that in order to get the Egyptians to release the Jews from slavery He was going to take the life of every firstborn in Egypt. There is going to be a solution. How are they going to avoid this calamity of losing the firstborn in every house? The instruction are recorded, beginning in verse 3 of chapter twelve. It begins with taking an unblemished lamb. This is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist said, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." So they take the lamb and examine it to make sure that it is indeed unblemished. That relates to the fact that we are witnesses to the Lord Jesus Christ's life prior to the cross, that He was sinless. Then the whole congregation was to kill it at twilight, so there would be the sacrifice of the lamb. This is the purchase price. Then the specific instructions of verse seven: "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it." So they were to take the blood and apply it specifically to each individual house. Notice again the emphasis was on the family, not just individuals. They would go to the door and would smear blood at the top and on each side. The basic shape that comes across here is that of a cross. Incidentally, they would take the carcass of the lamb and roast it on a spit that involved a vertical and a horizontal piece, so it, too, was on a cross. This all foreshadows the death on the cross of the lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. So this is the redemption price that is paid, and when the angel of death came along he would pass over the house and see the blood on the door post, and pass over and not bring death to that house, the death of the firstborn. So they were delivered from death by the blood of the unblemished lamb. Exodus 12:29ff, "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." That is, no one except those Jews who had applied the blood to the doorposts. The result of this is then summarized in verse 51, "And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies." This is the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt when God brought them forth, and that is how redemption was accomplished in the Old Testament.
3) There are four characteristics of the redeemer that are applied to Jesus Christ. As we see in Ruth, Boaz is the goel, and there are four characteristics of the goel redeemer that are applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. a) the redeemer is a relative. The kinsman must be related genetically, must be a family member, Leviticus 25:48ff. It is not necessarily a brother, it can be an extended family member; b) the redeemer must be willing to redeem. It is a voluntary action. It is an obligation but it is not mandatory; c) the redeemer must be able to redeem. He must have the financial resources to pay the redemption price. And that applies to the Lord Jesus Christ because He was the only one who was able to pay the redemption price for us, because He was impeccable. He was without sin and that qualified Him to go to the cross to pay the penalty in our place—Ruth 2:1; Jeremiah 50:34; Leviticus 25:27; d) the redeemer himself must be free from the calamity from which he must free the object of redemption. He cannot be in the same indebtedness, he has to come from outside. That was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ in that He was impeccable, not being a sinner, and He did not have to pay the penalty for His own sins.
4) In the Old Testament Yahweh is pictured as the goel par excellence. This is seen in a number of passages. Isaiah 41:14, "14 Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will help you, said the LORD, and your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel." Whenever we see Israel referred to as Jacob, God is emphasizing their human failures, their disobedience. Here the idea of redeemer of goel emphasizes that protection aspect, that is, "the one who protects you is the Holy One of Israel." It is undeserved: "you worm," emphasizing their lack of qualification, their disobedience. Nevertheless God is the one who will protect them, He is the one who is going to fulfill that kinsman-redeemer aspect. This applied not only to the exodus event but also to their deliverance from Babylon—Isaiah 43:14; 48:17; 59:19, 20. Even in divine discipline God will protect them.
5) Promises with regard to the Lord who is our redeemer If we keep in mind that the Lord our redeemer emphasizes Yahweh our protector, then these are great promises and principles that we can remind ourselves of in times of adversity and calamity. Remember that the idea that goes along with redemption is the idea of protection. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and He is also the one who protects us in times of crisis.
Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my rock, and my redeemer." Here the emphasis is on the post-salvation sanctification of the believer. It is emphasis on the Word of God being the priority in his life and dominating the thinking. The metaphor of the rock is one used again and again in the Old Testament to emphasize God's strength and power to protect us in times of crisis.
Psalm 72:14, "He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight." Again, this is based on the concept of His role as redeemer.
Psalm 77:15, "You have with your arm redeemed your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah." Redemption is related to the power of God. Because He is so powerful He can protect us in any circumstance.
Psalm 78:35, "And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer." One again, the relationship between God as our rock and our redeemer.
Psalm 103:4, "Who redeems [protects or purchases] your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion." There again we see the relationship between redemption and lovingkindness.
6) Redemption describes salvation from the viewpoint of a ransom paid on the cross for our salvation. Three key words for salvation are redemption, propitiation, and justification. This relates historically to a doctrinal debate over the extent of the atonement. The two views are limited atonement and unlimited atonement. Limited atonement is a doctrine that is espoused by five-point Calvinism. Limited atonement states that Christ died only for the elect. Unlimited atonement is the idea that Christ died for all. However, historically there are two different ways in which unlimited atonement has been expressed. This happened historically during the 1600s when the Calvinists defeated the Arminians. They were right to reject Arminianism but their solution was not correct. Later in the century there was a French theologian who came up with a view called hypothetical atonement. This is in its classic form what people will refer to as four-point [it rejects limited atonement] Calvinism. His view was that Christ died as a substitute, and it is often expressed as "sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect." This is a crucial concept to understand. In hypothetical atonement the penalty is paid and it is sufficient to cover anybody, but it is only applied when they believe. This was a sort of a potential. Classic four-point Calvinism has a problem because the atonement is only potential. Ultimately what that means is, if you reject it then He didn't die for you. So how does that differ from limited atonement? It makes the concept of substitution bankrupt. It destroys and makes it a meaningless concept because substitution means He either paid the bill or He didn't. The problem here is that the definition "sufficient for all and efficient only for the elect" is a definition of unlimited atonement that will be found with a number of people as their definition of unlimited atonement. However, there are very strong hyper-Calvinists who define limited atonement as being sufficient for all and efficient only for the elect. Why is it that people who are arguing for opposite viewpoints can have the same definition? Because that if the substitution isn't real then when you die you are still paying the penalty for your sins, so ultimately it is just a subtle form that just knocks the edges off limited atonement. We believe that Christ died for all. He paid the penalty for every single person and every single sin in human history. So that on the cross all sin is paid for and is no longer an issue. The issue is that an unbeliever still has minus righteousness, he still has a sin nature, and from his area of strength he produces good deeds, works. These good deeds are all that he has when he comes to the great white throne judgment. His sins are paid for and God is sitting on the great white throne, and He opens up the books of works and He looks at all the works that this person has performed. He adds them all up and says, "Okay, you did a great job and when I add it all up you come to here. However my standard is way up here at absolute perfection. Even though you did a great job and better than most, by a relative standard you are not good enough, you lack the perfect righteousness I require. Because you lack perfect righteousness your destiny is the lake of fire." The believer comes along and he is standing there, and at salvation the perfect righteousness of Christ was imputed to that believer. So the believer is saved because the penalty for sin was paid for and he also possesses the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. The unbeliever has his sins paid for but he doesn't possess the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, so he cannot get into heaven. That is how the problem of limited atonement is addressed. 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2.
7) Redemption portrays the human race as slaves born into a slave market of sin, and they must be redeemed.
8) Redemption describes the purchase of the sin-slave's freedom.
9) The payment price is the blood of Christ. This is stated in 1 Peter 1:18, 19, "Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." The lamb unblemished connects it back to the exodus. You cannot understand redemption in the New Testament if you don't understand the events of Exodus chapter twelve. The term "blood of Christ" here does not refer to the literal blood, it is a metaphor for death, violent death.
10) The term goel emphasizes the necessity of the hypostatic union. That is, that the redeemer had to be a kinsman-redeemer.
11) The goel redeemer had to therefore be genetically related to the human race. First of all, He is the son of David, according to the Davidic covenant—2 Samuel 7:8-16; Psalm 89:20-37. Over 3000 years ago God made David a promise that he would have a son who would reign forever. So Jesus Christ has to be a physical descendant of David. Second, the goel redeemer had to be genetically related to the human race in order to be our high priest. As a function of a high priest He had represent us, so He had to be true humanity in order to represent us before God as our high priest. Third, He had to be genetically related to the human race in order to be our savior. In order to die as our substitute He, too, had to be true humanity in order to be judged in our place. As God He could not die for our sins, only as a human being could He die for other human beings.
12) The goel emphasizes the doctrine of mediator in the hypostatic union. He alone is our mediator. This is expressed in two key verses: Hebrews 9:14,15, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Notice, the concept of payment emphasizes payment and deliverance for the purpose of living the Christian life serving the Lord; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
13) The hypostatic union by definition is the union of two natures in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was fully God and fully man. These natures are inseparably united without loss of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union being personal and eternal. Jesus Christ is both undiminished deity and true humanity united in one person forever.
14) There are eight results of redemption. a) We are delivered from the curse of the law, Galatians 3:13; 4:4-6; b) We have forgiveness of all sin. It is one thing to have Christ die on the cross for our sins and the penalty paid, but forgiveness isn't applied until we have faith-alone in Christ alone. Isaiah 44:22; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15; c) Redemption is the basis for our justification, Romans 3:24; d) Redemption is the basis for our sanctification. Because we have been set free we have been set free to serve God, Ephesians 5:25-27; e) Redemption is the basis for the eternal inheritance of believers, Hebrews 9:15; f) Redemption is the basis for the victory of Jesus Christ in the angelic conflict. When He paid the price for our sins that was the ultimate victory in the angelic conflict. At that point Satan is defeated, Colossians 2:14, 15; Hebrew 2:14, 15; g) Redemption of the soul in salvation results in redemption of the body in resurrection, Ephesians 1:14; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 4:30; h) Redemption views salvation from the standpoint of the complete payment for our sins and gives us the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life.