The "nearest kinsman" or
"kinsman redeemer" is a Goel. The word means
to redeem, receive or buy back.
Provision was made in the
Law of Moses for the poor person who was forced to
sell part of his property or himself into slavery.
His nearest of kin could step in and "buy back" what
his relative was forced to sell (Leviticus 25:48f).
The kinsman redeemer was a rich benefactor, or
person who frees the debtor by paying the ransom
price. "If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so
poor he has to sell part of his property, then his
nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his
relative has sold" (Leviticus 25:25; cf. Ruth 4:4,
The nearest of kin had
the responsibility of redeeming his kinsman's lost
opportunities. If a person was forced into slavery,
his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt
threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in
to redeem his homestead and let the family live. If
a family member died without an heir the kinsman
gave his name by marrying the widow and rearing a
son to hand down his name (Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis
38:8; Ruth 3-4). When death came at the hands of
another man the redeemer acted as the avenger of
blood and pursued the killer (Numbers 35:12-34;
was used of things consecrated to God (Leviticus
27:13–31), of God as redeeming man (Exodus 6:6;
Isaiah 43:1; 44:22; 48:20; 49:7), and those redeemed
by God (Isaiah 35:9; 51:10; Job 19:25). The right of
redemption and the office belonged to the nearest
kinsman, or "near of kin, near relative" (Leviticus
25:25; Ruth 3:12; 4:1, 6, 8, etc.). Yahweh is the
great Kinsman of His people. When their liberty was
lost in Egypt, He rescued them from bondage. "I am
the LORD . . . I will redeem you with a stretched
out arm, and with great judgments" (Exodus 6:6).
The ancient patriarch Job
complained that no one came to redeem him! His faith
is seen reaching out and proclaiming that Yahweh
will provide His Goel! "As for me, I know
that my redeemer (kinsman) lives, and at the last He
will take His stand on the earth" (Job 19:25). Job's
hope looked to the coming Messiah. He affirmed his
faith that his redeemer will come to the earth.
One of the most beautiful
passages where the word Goel is found is in
the life of Naomi in the book of Ruth. The book of
Ruth is a story about Naomi's Goel. Naomi was
the poorest person in Israel, but her kinsman was
the richest man in Israel. Because of the death of
her husband and two sons, she and her
daughter-in-laws lost all income and their
homestead. Naomi was living in a foreign land and
sensed the loss of her homeland and relatives. She
became bitter. The secret of all her daughter-in-law
Ruth had was in union with Boaz. The nearer kinsman
had the first right to the property and Boaz came
next after him. If Ruth’s closer relative would not
redeem or purchase it, Boaz was prepared to do so.
The man who was nearest of kin agreed to redeem the
piece of land until he found out there was a young
widow involved. He graciously backed out! That left
Boaz as the rightful nearest of kin who had the
privilege of redeeming her land and her with it. The
Moabitess and the Jew became one. Boaz was nearest
of kin to her deceased husband (Ruth 2:1). He was
able to redeem by paying the price of redemption
(2:1), and he was willing to redeem the land (4:4).
That is what makes this epic so beautiful.
Four things were
required in order for a kinsman to redeem:
He must be near of
kin. (Leviticus 25:48; 25:25 Ruth 3:12–13)
He must be able to
redeem (Ruth 4:4–6). He must be free of any calamity
or need of redemption himself.
He must be willing
to redeem (Ruth 4:6ff)
completed when the price was completely paid
(Leviticus 25:27; Ruth 4:7-11).
Jesus Christ is my
Jesus is my nearest
kinsman through the incarnation.
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was
through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in
the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for
sin, He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). He
was like us in every way except that He never
experienced sin. "Therefore, He had to be made like
His brethren in all things, so that He might become
a merciful and faithful high priest in things
pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins
of the people" (Hebrews 2:17). In order to identify
Himself with us He "emptied Himself, taking the form
of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of
men" (Philippians 2:7). "For we do not have a high
priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but One who has been tempted in all things as we
are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). "Jesus you are
my kinsman redeemer. You had the right to redeem
me." Thank God, He has the right to redeem all that
I have lost.
Jesus has the power
to redeem me. "For you know the
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was
rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you
through His poverty might become rich" (2
Corinthians 8:9). He assumed our debt and paid it
with His life. Cf. Hebrews 1:2–3).
Jesus is willing to
redeem me. Jesus Christ "gave
Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,
and to purify for Himself a people for His own
possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14; cf.
1 John 1:7; 2:2; Hebrews 10:12; 4:16; 2:17). Jesus
said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be
served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom
for many" (Mark 10:45). Jesus is referring to His
voluntary, sacrificial, vicarious, and obedient
payment to effect the release of slaves or captives
from bondage. "For this reason the Father loves Me,
because I lay down My life so that I may take it
again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay
it down on My own initiative. I have authority to
lay it down, and I have authority to take it up
again. This commandment I received from My Father"
Jesus has paid the
price in full and I have received my redemption.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The
invitation is still open. Jesus is the sinner's
nearest kinsman. It is our responsibility to lie at
the feel of our Goel, and say, "Cover me with
your blood and grace" (cf. Ruth 3:9). "For this
reason I also suffer these things, but I am not
ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am
convinced that He is able to guard what I have
entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).
"I have believed," is in the perfect tense in the
Greek text. Paul is saying, "I have believed and my
faith is a firmly settled conviction." God is
keeping guard over him. "Persuaded" is also in
perfect tense, therefore Paul had come to a settled
persuasion regarding the matter and was fixed in a
permanent position. You could not move him. There
are some things of which I am absolutely sure.
Our redemption is
precious. Our salvation has
been purchased at a great and personal cost because
the Lord Jesus gave Himself for our sins in order to
deliver us from them. Our forgiveness is based on
the ransom price of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the
forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the
riches of His grace which He lavished on us"
(Ephesians 1:7). The redemption work of Jesus Christ
delivers believers from the slavery to sin. The
means of redemption is the substitutionary death of
Christ as a sacrifice for our sin. It is "through
His blood" which is the ransom payment (cf. Eph.
2:13; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Only the death of Christ
completely satisfied God’s justice (Rom. 3:24-25).
Go back to ancient Israel
in the time of the Judges. Can't you see Naomi
holding her grandson in her arms? Her neighbors
said, "A son has been born to Naomi!" They named him
Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David
(4:17), of the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ
(Matthew 1:5). God had redeemed her.
The words of Naomi's
friends are a fitting reminder of God's grace in our
lives. "Blessed is the LORD who has not left you
without a redeemer (or closest relative) today, and
may his name become famous in Israel" (Ruth 4:14).
25:25 Ruth 1-4 Our Kinsman Redeemer
Christ in the Old Testament