My parents divorced just months after I was born. In fact, I didn’t meet my father until I was about 10. While I spent a few random weekends with him in my childhood, those visits were sporadic and brief, and we rarely talked between visits.
Although I knew stuff about him, I really didn’t know him. Although he is still living, I actually haven’t talked to him in years. The relationship is distant and impersonal.
Do I wish it were different? Of course.
But I wonder if some of us are like that with God.
We may have a lot of theological knowledge, which is great. But to be honest, although we know a lot about Jesus, we might not really know Jesus. We may know about the Holy Spirit, but not be walking with the Spirit. We may actually pray to God as… Father… but like me and my father, God remains distant and impersonal.
Having information about someone isn’t enough to know them. We need a personal encounter. This is how we really get to know someone more than just about someone.
This distinction — knowing about vs encountering — made ALL the difference in the world for Ruth and Naomi.
Naomi knew about Boaz. But it is not until Ruth personally encounters him that things begin to move upward on the J-curve.
In the first part of the chapter, the author of the story calls Boaz, a gibbor hayil, “a great man of excellence, honor, and worth.”
In the second half, Naomi calls him a kinsman-redeemer. In Hebrew, the word for kinsman-redeemer is goel. A goel was a male member of a family clan who had the ability to rescue another member of the family who was in desperate need.
The title of today’s message is “Knowing the GREAT Goel”
But the great goel is not Boaz; he is Jesus.
In Ruth 2:14-23, I want to help you encounter and know this Jesus as your Great Goel by showing you three things about a goel in ancient Israel that will apply to our knowing Jesus.