5 “When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. 6 The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel. 7 But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she is to go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ 8 The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ 9 then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his family name in Israel will be ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.’
In early cultures a great calamity occurred when a man died without a son. His widow faced destitution and possible death. Who would carry on the family name and take care of her? Early cultures responded by requiring a brother or nearest relative to become her kinsman redeemer by marriage; their first son was then designated as the dead man’s son. Mosaic law required it. His role wasn’t limited only to marriage. His was to help the weaker relative, buy back land and even avenge one who was killed. He was to step in and redeem them from a devastating fate. The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz is a picture of this restoration (Ruth 4:5-6).
We, however, do not live in the ancient world. Redemption does not sit easy with us. We don’t feel lost or helpless. Instead, we push forward, following the pressures of culture, peers, self-help books and even religion. We are so busy living life we don’t see our real separation and destitution before a Holy God. The chasm is too wide. We are dead people walking.
No human power exists that can reverse our predicament. We need a reclamation only a kinsman redeemer can supply. To our rescue comes Jesus. Jesus was born into this world purposely as our kinsman and brother (Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 2:11-17). He, the God man possessed all the power of God to pay the required price (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus accepted this responsibility willingly to become our kinsman redeemer (Luke9:51; Mark 10:45). Christ, the sacrificial lamb, brings us to His cross (I Jn. 3:5), where we receive grace, mercy and new life. No one else could do this.
Christ looks at us and says, “I love you; I redeem you; I purchase you by my sacrifice.” Jesus becomes your kinsman redeemer, giving us new life and bringing us into the family of God.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Memorize Romans 5:10. Think about the fact that you were an enemy of God and what that looked like in your life. Then consider what reconciliation by Christ has accomplished for you.
- Can you think of times when you have come to the aid of someone else, a brother, sister or friend? How did you help them and why? Think about why you did it, what it really cost you and how it made you feel. Were you being a kinsman redeemer?
- What are some reasons why we refrain from helping our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you see some needs around you where you can help? If so, how will you proceed?
Pray for the ministry of Living Hope in South Africa as they continue to respond to needs in the wake of a devastating fire in their neighborhood. Pray for strength, wisdom, and flexibility to meet the needs of those in their community as they bring the gospel in many tangible ways.