The Goal of the Goel
“And now is not Boaz our kinsman . . . ?” Ruth 3:2
None of us are immune from trouble. It does not matter what type of distress, regardless of how extreme, gets ahold of a person’s life, not one of them can separate a person from their relationship with God. God says, “I will be with them in trouble.” Nothing, no matter how horrific, monstrous, or disastrous can wedge in between us and the love of God. God remains loyal to us throughout our life. The foundation of the Christian faith is the unconditional, unmerited, fathomless love of God. This is the covenant loyalty of God.
The storyline of Ruth introduces the faithfulness of God through the example of Boaz as the “goel.” The goel is the protector – a kinsman whose duty it was to act as a redeemer in situations of family need. The goel acts out of deep covenant loyalty. The goel’s concern is to redeem both land and people.
The goal of the goel is to redeem the whole person, spirit, body and soul. There is never any thought of liberating only part of one’s life. Rather the goel’s goal is always to reclaim, reinstate and restore one’s whole life. We need to beware of thinking that there is only part of our life that’s relevant to God, which is the only part of life that can be altered. On the contrary, our psychological selves, our physical selves, our spiritual selves are the concern of our Redeemer.
Holding a unified view of redeeming all of life helps us to avoid the disastrous thinking which keeps God at a safe distance by restricting Him to only a corner of our concerns.
Naomi exclaims, “Bless be the Lord,” in delight upon hearing that Boaz is the generous farmer who had taken Ruth under his care. Naomi, filled with hope, speaks, “He is our relative, our goel.” The example of Boaz expands our view of redemption. Now from standing on this side of the cross, we can rejoice in God’s provision in Christ.
Christ as our goel, like Boaz for Ruth, is related to us. He holds the promise of protection where others have failed. He has pledged His solidarity. He is able and willing to redeem us and voluntarily takes on the costliness of redeeming our whole life.
Has Christ become your goel?