Ruth 4:7 – 8 “(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, ‘Buy it yourself.’ And he removed his sandal.”
I have recently stumbled upon a darling little blog that focuses on shoes. Having a bit of a shoe fetish myself, I have laughed myself silly over this gal’s descriptions of various shoes! In it, she recently referred to a men’s sandal as a “mandal”, and according to her, they should be illegal! But, in ancient Israel, apparently mandals were the norm.
In early biblical times, the removal of one’s shoes symbolized the giving up of one’s power. When Moses approached the burning bush, he removed his shoes. This was an outward symbol of his humility toward God. When a man failed to live up to his responsibility under the law, he would have one or both shoes taken from him, in a display of public humiliation.
Here, this unknown, unnamed kinsman removed his shoe. On the surface, it was a public display of the transfer of his power and rights to the land over to Boaz. He did it willingly, in a public declaration. He was saying, “I cannot redeem this land or this widow, but I recognize that you can. Here you go, Boaz, take it with my blessing. You go ahead and do what I cannot.”
Remember, this nameless kinsman represents God’s laws. God’s laws had the right to redeem us – they were our nearest kinsman, so to speak. Yet, God’s laws, which were intended to keep us holy, have lost their power. Oh, they are still good laws – everything from God is good. But try as we may, we will never be able to live up to them perfectly. So, the law has willingly taken second fiddle to another kinsman – One who is both willing and able to redeem us.
Now, what would have happened if Boaz had not been willing to redeem Ruth? Under Jewish law, this other guy would have had to do it. And if he refused, then Ruth and Naomi would have been out of luck. But Boaz set Ruth free from that other kinsman. And guess what? Jesus Christ has set us free from the law. If not for Christ, the law would be our only hope for salvation. And guess what else? The law would have failed us, and we would have been left without hope.
Many people have asked, throughout the ages, “Why did Jesus have to die? What does His death have to do with me?” Well, friends, Jesus had to die, because the penalty for sin is death. We couldn’t pay that for ourselves, because we would have just stayed dead, or eternally separated from God, in hell. Anyone who perfectly obeyed God’s laws wouldn’t have to pay that price, but the only One who ever perfectly obeyed God’s laws was Jesus. He didn’t have to pay the death-price for Himself. But He paid it for us.
Now, we can go to heaven. It is a free gift – paid in full by our kinsman-redeemer, Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our salvation because He is in love with us! And all He asks in return is that we recognize what He did, and love Him back. We must simply say, “Yeah, you’re right, God. Without Jesus, I would have been left hopeless. Thank You for sending Jesus to pay the price that I could never pay for myself.”
Romans 8:3 “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering . . .”
Dear Father, Thank You for loving me enough to pay the ultimate price for me. I love You, and want to live for You.