The redeemer had to legally transact redemption before witnesses. This fact is now seen in the legal transaction that took place between Boaz and the other kinsman-redeemer. In ancient history, the law for transferring or redeeming property was finalized by a dramatic symbol: a person removed one sandal and gave it to the other party.
Throughout the Old Testament, to walk, to set foot on land meant that a person was taking possession and ownership of it. Thus, when an owner transferred his property to another person, the owner removed his sandal and gave it to the other party. In the present case, when the other kinsman-redeemer refused to buy Naomi’s property, he removed his sandal. He revoked his right to the property and gave Boaz the right to purchase it.
Just imagine the scene, the excitement and joy that flooded the heart of Boaz, the anticipation of being with Ruth that rushed through his body. But before he could allow his thoughts and emotions to run loose, he had to finalize the transaction. Boaz called upon the witnesses to confirm the transaction of redemption. He turned to the ten elders and to the people standing around witnessing the scene, calling upon them to be witnesses to the legal transaction. He then itemized exactly what he was redeeming. He was redeeming all of Naomi’s property, the property of her husband Elimelech and their two sons, Kilion and Mahlon. He was redeeming Ruth, marrying her in order to carry on, keep alive the family name and family property. Boaz then made a public declaration: the family name and property were not to die out with the deaths of Naomi and Ruth.
The family name and property were not to disappear from the family records nor from the town records. “Today you are witnesses to this transaction of redemption.” In the early history of Israel, the redemption of people or property had to be legally transacted. If a kinsman-redeemer was to rescue or save some person, he had to obey the law, legally finalize the transaction.
So it was with Christ. When He purchased our redemption upon the cross, it was a legal transaction. Christ fulfilled the law perfectly by hanging upon the cross, by securing our redemption. The death of Jesus Christ upon the cross was a legal transaction between God and man, the very way God chose to redeem us, to rescue and save us from sin and death. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
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