This series is designed to lead up to the messages you'll hear at "In Christ, Of Christ," the Women's Ministry's 2013 retreat. This 7-week series features writers from Fairmount and beyond--please join us each week.
By Renae Carter
Is there someone in your family who is the fixer? The peacemaker? The one who tries to keep everything running smoothly? Chances are, you have one. And chances are, this person tries hard, but doesn’t always succeed.
I want to tell you about the family fixer of ancient Israel, the kinsman-redeemer, or goel in Hebrew. This was a man who played several functions in Israelite society. One of them was restorer. In fact, the word goel comes from a verb associated with rescue and liberation. The job of the goel was to restore a family member to status that had been lost. Sometimes this meant repurchasing land; sometimes, it referred to buying a relative out of debt slavery.
The kinsman-redeemer figures prominently in one of my favorite Bible stories, the story of Naomi. Here’s the micro-version: Driven by famine to Moab, the Israelite Naomi loses her husband and two sons. She returns to Bethlehem during the barley harvest, bitter and empty and blaming God. Her daughter-in-law Ruth comes with her, and Ruth marries Boaz, a kinsman-redeemer of the family of Naomi’s husband. Boaz repurchases some land that had belonged to Naomi’s husband, and he marries Ruth. They have a baby named Obed, and Naomi lives happily ever after. For our purposes, note that Obed is also a kinsman-redeemer in this story, for this grandson is the one who carries on the name of Naomi’s husband’s family and restores the family to its ancestral land for generations. Not only does he function as a goel legally, he is one practically too, for this baby is the one who restores Naomi’s life and nourishes her in her old age (Ruth 4: 15). Through the goel, there is restoration of property, restoration of status in society, and preservation of a family line.
But if we look closely at this story, we see that, in Naomi’s case, the goel is more than just a restorer. In fact, through Boaz and Obed, Naomi receives back her land and her hope, and she is also, stunningly, placed in the Israelite line of royalty. This mother of two childless sons ends up with a grandson who becomes the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David, the greatest Israelite king. And, many years later, Jesus himself comes from this lineage. Her story is so transformational that it has a place in the Bible, and we are reading it thousands of years after it occurred. Talk about being elevated! Wow! These are things that never would have happened if Naomi’s own sons had lived. Her redemption didn’t just make her whole, it made her MORE than whole.
So what does any of this have to do with Jesus, the one who revolutionized life for women? Just like God provided a goel, or redeemer, for Naomi, he has provided one for me: Jesus. Jesus is my kinsman redeemer. Through Jesus, I have forgiveness of sin. But this doesn’t just mean that I am spared the punishment of my sins. Jesus actually made the craziest of all cosmic trades – my sin for His righteousness, my self-made cesspool for a place in His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 1:13). I am not just restored to the place where I was before I sinned. I am radically changed. The old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Talk about being elevated! Through Jesus I have an entirely new nature! Re-creation—that is what I get.
For sin, forgiveness.
For disease, healing.
For a life in the pit, redemption, love, and compassion.
The satisfaction of my deepest desires with things that are actually good for me.
The renewal of my youth.
This short but huge list of benefits (from Psalm 103: 2-5) and so much more is mine because of Jesus. I barely understand this, but I know it’s wonderful, and extravagant, and beyond anything I could ever deserve or even imagine.
Did Jesus revolutionize life for women? Absolutely, he did for Naomi and me and every woman who has ever sinned and wanted to be saved. Are you in need of a revolution? Try Jesus. You won’t be disappointed.
Renae Carter is a member of Fairmount Christian Church and attorney. She has written a number of devotionals and has taught Bible Studies at the church.