by: Matt Levett
I wonder what that First Christmas looked like for Boaz?! “Boaz?” I hear you cry. “He’s not in the Christmas story” Angels - ü. Shepherds – ü. Mary & Joseph – ü. But Boaz?! Who’s Boaz anyway?
Hold on … Every Christmas in every service across the land we read the Christmas story. And every time there is read a list of people. A genealogy. A family tree. It shows Jesus born of the line of King David. But stuck in the middle of that genealogy is a man called Boaz.
Kinsman – Redeemer.
I’ve got two brothers. One a twin (Ben) and my elder brother (Jon). Jon tells a story of when we were all much younger – picture the scene, 3 Levett boys all at primary school?! Jon apparently was backed into the corner of the playground by the 4 older bullies of the school and was basically being given a real beating. Jon says he managed to look up and caught my eye across the other side of the playground. He was hoping for a bit of brotherly help. Seemingly I looked at him then ran off in the other direction. Jon said he felt so alone at that moment. Alone, betrayed and abandoned.
Then he says he heard a shout, more a roar actually, and the older boys stopped their beating and turned round to see Matt, Ben and about 20 of their friends tearing across the playground – sticks held high, battle cries resounding! I hadn’t actually abandoned him I’d gone for help and this was war. Now, I don’t actually remember the reason I was doing it but I remember that feeling of charging across the playground to help my brother. It was glorious. It was a revolution. And I was only 8! We started a fight that is legendary in the annals of Chestnut Lane Primary School history. People still talk of the day that the dinner ladies ran inside the school rather than break up the pitched battle between the Levett boys and the school bullies. It still brings a tear to my eye as I tell the story some 30 years on. (Rumour has it that there is still a blood stain on the inside of the swimming pool gate post from that day but I’ve never been back to check)
I think it was the only day of my school life that I wasn’t apprehensive about going home to tell my mum I’d ripped the knees of my trousers (again!) I was proud. The blood and the bruises and the torn clothes were a badge of honour. Standing outside the head teacher’s office that day was a joy and a privilege. Nothing Mrs. Leahy could say or do to us would matter.
And in fact I think it was the only time that we weren’t told off by my mum and dad for fighting. She said well done for looking out for your brother. And although the bullies didn’t miraculously change overnight there was a renewed sense of fun on the playground.
Kinsmen – Redeemer
If you delve beneath the surface you can often see pictures, or shadows or vague foretellings of Jesus throughout the whole of the OT. Commentators call this a ‘Christ type’. And many of our favourite OT characters are Christ types to their peers. Characters which hint at a fulfilment, a Messiah to come.
In the Biblical book of Ruth, Ruth characterizes Boaz as a “near kinsman.” The Hebrew term is goel, and it signifies a relative with “the right to redeem” Boaz thus was a “kinsman-redeemer.” But actually there was a closer male relative to Ruth than Boaz - He should have been kinsman-redeemer for Ruth. We don’t know his name but it is clear by chapter 4:1 that he had abdicated his responsibilities. Why? Probably because it was that if he later had a son by Ruth and that son was his only surviving heir then all his land and property would transfer to Elimilech’s family. Whatever the reason he ducked out of his responsibility. Leaving Boaz to become kinsman and redeemer. Being a kinsman-Redeemer for Boaz involved sacrifice and misunderstanding from his contemporaries.
Now just because I stuck up for my brother, in no way am I announcing myself to be a kinsman-redeemer … but I’d like to be. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a Christ type … but one day I’d like to be.
The Apostle Paul once said ..” Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ“ (1 Cor 11:1) and “Join with others as they follow my example brothers..” (Phil 3:17) that’s incredible.
It sounds almost arrogant. But that is a mark of a man who knows he’s living as Christ intends. I’d love to be able to say that sort of statement with the confidence that people could.
Kinsman literally means family member. Country man. ‘Of my kin’
Redeemer is a word from the slave markets of ancient Israel. To redeem was to buy a slave and then grant them freedom.
Kinsman – Redeemer is of course shown to us completely in Jesus. Our family member / brother who steps up and takes responsibility and buys us back and grants us freedom from sin.
But Kinsman – Redeemer is also shadowed in a small way by people such as Boaz. So could you be a kinsman redeemer to those around you? A ‘Christ type’ for those who may never come to the Church. Who may never pick up a Bible, who may never hear a sermon or who may never listen to a worship song? Who may not know the true meaning of Christmas?