And Naomi said to her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead…
You can hardly need to be told how a connection, the very closest, may be traced between the Jewish and the Christian dispensations. The redeemer under the law is most accurately a type of the Redeemer under the gospel. Now, suppose we take in succession three cases in which the goel or redeemer was bidden to interfere — forfeiture of inheritance, loss of liberty, and shedding of blood; and examining each transaction under its legal description, let us strive to show you the fidelity with which it images the redemption wrought out for us by Christ.
I. We begin with THE FORFEITURE OF INHERITANCE. In Leviticus 25 directions are given for the interference of the goel, or redeemer. We fasten, first of all, on the fact that none but a kinsman could fill the office of goel or redeemer. Who does not see, that in laying down and adhering to such a principle as this, the law taught mankind impressively the lesson that He who should arise the Redeemer of the lost world must be bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh? "Forasmuch," says the apostle, "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." And shall we ever hesitate to declare that the comforting thing to the followers of Christ is that the Goel, the Redeemer, is in the strictest sense their kinsman? Christ was like myself in all points, my sinfulness only excepted. Who is the Israelite that has grown poor, and alienated from him the possession of his father, if it be not man, originally the chosen of God, rich in a birthright which gave him a glorious world for his dwelling-place, yes, and immortality for his lifetime, but who afterwards, by yielding to temptation, stripped himself of all his wealth, and made himself the heir to nothing but corruption? And when we have pointed out to you the impoverished Jew, spoiled of the possession of his fathers, unable of himself to do anything towards regaining the inheritance, and then have turned your attention on the kinsman redeemer paying down the ransom, bringing back the land into the family, keeping it in his own hands until the jubilee trumpet sounded, and then restoring it to the original owner — we think we have furnished you with so vivid a sketch of paradise lost through human apostasy and regained by the purchase of the Mediator, and given back on the day that the archangel shall lift his trumpet, and shall blow a blast at which the sheeted dead shall start, that it must on all hands be confessed that the goel of the law was pre-eminently a type of the Redeemer of the gospel.
II. A brief notice will suffice for the second — WHERE THERE HAS BEEN LOSS OF LIBERTY. You will find, by referring to Leviticus 25, from which we have already quoted, that for the discharge of debt, or the procuring of subsistence, an Israelite might sell himself either to an Israelite or to a stranger. If he became the servant of an Israelite, there appears to have been no right of redemption — he must remain in his power till the year of jubilee. But if he became the servant of a stranger, then there was a case for the interposition of the goel in the law; for even after that he is sold he may be redeemed again — one of his brethren may redeem him. If the master were an Israelite, the servant was in no sense alienated from God's people, and the exigence was not such as to warrant the goel's interference; but if the master were a stranger, then the servitude became typical of man's bondage to Satan. It might have been said, in a degree, to have withdrawn the servant from the congregation of Israel; and thus a case made out for the kinsman redeemer. The goel might come forward, and the servant might be freed. You will perceive at once that, in its typical character, this transaction is identical with that already reviewed. Is it not the Scriptural representation of man by nature that he is the servant of sin, led captive by Satan at his will? The Israelite could have sold himself to a stranger; and not one farthing could he advance towards bringing back his freedom. Must he languish, then, for ever in bondage? Must he groan for ever beneath the load of oppression? There advances a Mighty One, who proclaims Himself his Kinsman, a Goel made of a woman, made under the law, and bearing the likeness of sinful flesh; and He pays down in sufferings the price of redemption. He strikes the chain with His Cross, and it is broken into shivers; lie bids the prisoner come forth, and he walks in "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
III. We proceed to the third case of the goel's interference, a case which differs considerably from those already examined. It was the office of the kinsman, the goel, to interfere, not only when there had been forfeiture of inheritance, or loss of liberty, BUT ALSO WHEN THERE HAD BEEN SHEDDING OF BLOOD. If murder had been perpetrated, the prosecution and the execution of the murderer devolved on the nearest of kin to the murdered party. He must pursue the murderer; and if he overtook him before he reached the city of refuge he might take summary vengeance for the death of his relative. But if the goel were not at hand at the time when the crime was committed, it would seem that no stranger had right to arrest or follow the criminal. He betook himself unmolested to the nearest city of refuge, and remained there in safety until the cause was tried before the judges of the land. So that in this case, as well as in the others, the interference depended on the kinsmanship; nothing else could warrant a man in undertaking the office of the goel. And thus that distinguishing feature of a goel, which made him throughout the type of Christ — the feature of kinsmanship to the party requiring interference — stands out as prominently when blood was to be avenged as when land was to be redeemed or liberty regained. But wherein, you will say, in this instance, lies the typical resemblance between the offices of the goel and the offices of Christ? Created deathless and imperishable, was not the human race slain by Satan when he wrought up our first parents to an act prohibited by the words, "In the day that thou cutest thereof thou shalt surely die"? We suppose it to have been with reference to this slaughter of mankind that Christ said of the devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning." It was clearly through the instrumentality of Satan that death, whether of body or of soul, gained footing in this creation; but if done through his instrumentality it may justly be ascribed to his authorship; and we account it most correct, therefore, to describe Satan as the great "man-slayer." He it is that hath shed human blood; and all that vast mowing down of successive generations, which keeps the sepulchres replenished with fresh harvests of death, must be referred to that awful being who was "a murderer from the beginning." And if we can thus find "the man-slayer" in Satan, cannot we find "the avenger of blood" in Christ? Who pursued the murderer? Who, century after century, unwearied and undiverted, opposed Himself in every quarter, by every weapon, to the shedder of blood, till at last, meeting him front to front, in one dread struggle, He took on him a vengeance that drew the wonder of the intelligent universe, and "through death destroyed him that had the power of death"? Who was it that, sorrowing over the wretchedness of a stricken race, "put on righteousness as a breastplate, and clothed Himself with zeal as with a cloak," and then, equipped for the conflict, sprang forth to grapple with the assassin? Who but the Goel? who but the Kinsman Redeemer?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
WEB: Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "Blessed be he of Yahweh, who has not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead." Naomi said to her, "The man is a close relative to us, one of our near kinsmen."