The Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (KJV).
This section of Scripture begins to compare what the Lord Jesus did in contrast to what the Levitical priests had to do repetitively. When Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven and now sits on the right hand of God. In other words, He completely fulfilled the Levitical Law, and by this one event His work is effective forever. While the Old Testament sacrifices did not remove sins, His death and resurrection did. Now Jesus waits for the time when He will return to finish the Great Tribulation exercising the complete victory over His enemies in the earth. This will be the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1:
1Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool (KJV) .
The final sacrifice of Himself totally fulfilled all that God had ordained for the complete remission of sins. Jesus fulfills the promises of the New Covenant, which no longer required any animal sacrifices, and the Jewish believers, who are the intended audience of this book, can dispense with them without any loss of salvation. First, we must remember the original reasons for the Mosaic Law. It was to demonstrate God’s standard of righteousness, make us aware of sin, make us aware of our desire to sin more, and finally to act as a schoolmaster so we would be aware of our sinful state.
The Old Testament contains important information for us to know in order to truly understand how Christ completely fulfilled the Law. He is the Goelfor all believers on earth, from the time of Adam and Eve right through into the future when the Great Tribulation begins. What is the Goel? Goelis the Hebrew word for “redeemer”. The verb form means “to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman” (Strong’s Concordance, number 1350). Note the word “kinsman”, it modifies the word “redeemer” t mean one in which there is a “blood relationship”, or one who is tied to the redeemer role in the closest possible way.
Based on Old Testament Law, the Goelas a noun is the one who acts in the role of the kinsman redeemer, and there are three instances where Jesus Christ qualifies as the Goel, and these instances are described in the Mosaic.
AS THE GOEL HE IS OUR AVENGER OF BLOOD.
Within the Mosaic penal code was the principle of personal retribution for murder. It is different than vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God. Vengeance is killing someone because you hate him or her, or because they have harmed you in some way. That is not what God allows. In a narrow sense, the only thing He allowed was the concept that if somebody killed a family member, the nearest kinsman, like is a brother, could be the avenger of blood and was justified in killing the manslayer in retaliation for their taking the life of one of the immediate family – particularly another brother. For example, under the Mosaic Law if a male Hebrew had a brother who was killed by another person, the living brother had the legal right to avenge the death by killing the manslayer, but only if it was first degree or premeditated murder.
The Mosaic Law did provide for legal retaliation. Later the Romans called it “Lex Talionis” and it is the legal principle upon which retaliation was justified. Even our legal system has it today, but the individual does not go off and kill somebody. They present the case to our court system that has a systematic way of dealing with the issue. As a believer you could forgive the person, but the manslayer is still responsible for what they did. The Mosaic Law gave the following directions for the kinsman redeemer acting as the avenger of blood:
The willful murderer was to be put to death, without permission or compensation, by the nearest kin of the deceased. In this narrow sense the blood avenger was limited to only killing the manslayer if the crime was first degree, or premeditated murder (Deuteronomy 19:11-13).
The law of retaliation was not to go beyond the immediate offender (2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4). In other words, there were a lot of things the avenger of blood could not do. For example, he could not go out and kill the manslayer’s family, or he could not steal all the manslayer’s money. If the individual committed second degree murder, or manslaughter, then he could flee from the blood avenger and take refuge in one of the Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19:2-9). The interesting aspect of this is that he could stay there without harm and be protected until the High Priest died. But, if he left the city of Refuge before the High Priest died, then he was subject to being killed by the blood avenger if the avenger was still nearby looking for him. When the High Priest died, then the blood avenger lost his legal right to kill the manslayer for murdering his kinsman.
There are important parallels to Jesus as our High Priest, and as our Goel, the avenger of blood. He died so that we can be redeemed from the spiritual (and sometimes physical) death that results from our sins. All sin leads to death, which of us is not guilty of sin? (For an extensive discussion of why we are saved from death because of our sins by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus our Redeemer see Romans chapter 8.) Remember, Satan brought sin and death into this world. Satan committed premeditated, first-degree murder by taking both the spiritual and physical life of Adam and Eve, and of every human being born since his crime in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve would have lived forever if they had not been tempted to sin by Satan. Because Jesus the Son was born as a human baby (which makes Him our brother), He is our kinsman and the avenger of blood for all who believe. He will completely destroy Satan who is the “manslayer “of the human race. When Jesus died, if you believe that he died and rose from the deal he is your Savior, you are released from the death penalty of sin, just like the one who was able to flee to a City of Refuge and then able to go free after the death of the High Priest. So, Jesus Christ fulfills the role of the High Priest and the blood avenger.
HE IS OUR GOEL IN THE LAW OF LEVIRATE MARRIAGE
Moses gave clear instructions for the Law of Levirate Marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). The idea was to carry on the family line of the individual that died within the Nation Israel. Essentially, the Law of the Levirate marriage was this: If a married brother dies with no male offspring, it would be his closest surviving brother’s obligation to marry the deceased’s widow. It was against the Law for her to go out and marry a stranger. The firstborn son of the union between the widow and her brother-in-law took the surname of the deceased, thus continuing the deceased’s name in the family register so that it might not perish out of the nation of Israel. This action labeled the surviving brother as the “kinsman redeemer”, the first instance of two in which this title is used.
(The second use of “kinsman redeemer” is in regards to redeeming property of a near relative which will be covered in the next section.)
If a brother did not wish to take his diseased brother’s wife as his own, she had the right to legally cite him for rejecting the marriage before the city elders who were the decision makers in civil matters. This required the woman and the brother-in-law to go to the center of the city square where the city elders were to be found, and the brother-in-law would remove his sandal to indicate he would not “walk in that way”, and which signified that he gave up all claim to the deceased brother’s estate. If he were to marry her, he got the brother’s estate. If he did not carry out the law, she could spit in his face. Spitting in someone’s face was an act of humiliation and it still is today.
We see this Levirate law in action in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis chapter 38. In summary this is what happened: Onan was one of Judah’s sons. Onan dies without any children and Tamar, his wife, comes to her father-in-law Judah and says, “I need a husband.” Judah had one more son who was a youth, and Judah says, “I’ll give you him when he’s old enough.” And she says, “OK, I’ll wait”, but Judah never gave her that son. So, what the Lord did was to bring Tamar to Judah some years later, dressed as a prostitute and enticed him into a sexual relationship. Before she would have intercourse with him, he said, “What do you want for payment?” She said, “Why don’t you give me your signet ring and your staff in the meantime, until you come back and give me what I am owed.” Judah agrees to do that, they have intercourse, and Judah returns to his home. But when he sends his friend to find her with the agreed payment, she is not there. Three months later, she is pregnant and the word goes out that Tamar has been having intercourse outside of marriage and she’s now pregnant. Judah is the man of retribution and demands “Who is she to do this? Under the law she needs to be stoned to death.” So, Tamar is brought before him but he does not recognize her as the harlot he had intercourse several months prior. He asks her “How could you do this?” She holds up his jewelry and staff and said she was pregnant “by this man.” Obviously, Judah is not willing to let the situation go any farther, and realizes he was the one who had committed the wrong against her by not following through on his promise to have her married to Onan’s brother. Tamar had twin boys, one of whom was Perez. It was through Perez that the family line was kept flowing through the generations leading to the birth of the Lord Jesus. This subterfuge and dishonesty could have been avoided if Judah honored the law of Levirate marriage. But Judah did not honor the Law, and the Lord intervened to keep the family line alive that would produce our Lord. The Law of Levirate Marriage and how relates to Christ as our redeemer is also explained in the book of Ruth, which is covered in the next section in more detail.
HE IS OUR GOEL AS THE KINSMAN REDEEMER
The Goelwas also called the kinsman redeemer in the case of redeeming property. To redeem means to “buy back”, “to take from”, and “to make right.” Land is very important to the Jews, and the Promised Land is extremely important. The property given to the Jews that encompassed the Promised Land was to be their permanent possession because it is God’s permanent possession:
23“The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you [Israel] are but aliens and sojourners with Me (KJV).”
Within the nation of Israel, provision was made for a poor person to sell their property, or himself into slavery for seven years to satisfy a debt instead of paying the lender money. However, they always had the ability to buy the property or themselves back if they came into enough money to pay the original debt. Even within the tribes, if the property was moving from one tribe to another, the original owner never lost it. They held a permanent deed to the property and in essence when they “sold” the property they were getting what we call a “lease-hold” arrangement whereby they were giving up the land for some temporary money. One could sell their property, and ideally if the nearest of kin had the willingness and the ability to buy it back, the nearest of kin could buy it back for them:
25“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (KJV)”
It is the Goel, the same person that can perform the Levirate marriage and take somebody out of slavery who can redeem the family land. In this case, the kinsman redeemer was essentially a rich benefactor. If a family member was forced into slavery, his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in to redeem the family member’s homestead which would allow the family to continue to live there.
The Law gave specific instructions for the Goelto redeem property of a relative to determine the cost paid by the redeemer (Leviticus 25:23-28; 48-55). The redeemer did not pay more than the original price, and the number of years that the property had been in the possession of other person was taken off the redeeming price to determine the value of the property. In the case of family members selling themselves into slavery to pay off a debt, the price was affected by the remaining years left of the original seven years of indenture. Usury or interest was not to be charged amongst the Jews at all. At the end of seven 7-year cycles (7×7=49 years), the fiftieth year is called the Jubilee Year, and all land went back to the original tribe that owned it, no matter who owed what now.
We see the concept of the kinsman-redeemer or Goelacted out in the book of Ruth. Elimelech was a Jewish man who sold his land and moved his wife Naomi, and their two sons to Moab to live since there was an extreme famine in the land of Israel. In Moab both of his sons married a gentile woman, and one of them was named Ruth. Jewish men were not to marry out of the faith but this story has a purpose. In time, Elimelech, and both his sons died. Naomi and her daughter’s-in-laws had lost their husbands, and now they were all widows. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families in Moab, however Ruth wants to stay with her because she loves Naomi and does not want to leave her. Ruth tells Naomi:
16“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.17“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me (KJV).”
Naomi had become bitter over her situation and decides to return to Israel since the famine had abated, and Ruth goes with her. They travel back to the Bethlehem, the hometown of Naomi and her husband. Ruth meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband while gleaning grain in his field. She tells Naomi of the kindness Boaz had shown her. Naomi realizes a union with Boaz is a way for Ruth to have a family and be happy. She also knows of the kinsman redeemer directions in the Mosaic Law. So, she instructed Ruth in what to do, and how to set in motion the kinsman redeemer responsibility to activate the Goel’sresponsibility to redeem her dead husband’s land and marry Ruth. Ruth does as Naomi instructed, and Boaz is receptive to the idea but realizes there is another man who is closer in kinship than Boaz to Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz approaches this relative about redeeming the land for Naomi. The relative agreed to buy the land back until he found out that Ruth, a gentile woman he would also have to marry, came with the package. In Israel, that was forbidden – the Jews did not marry Gentiles. If they did, there was going to be a lot of problems for them socially. They were going to be outcasts unless that person converted. It still would be a tough marriage because the Jews would always view them as being an “outsider” even if they converted. The nearer kinsman backs out because he felt this redemption was going to harm his inheritance and agrees to let Boaz assume the kinsman redeemer role for the family of Elimelech. Boaz now becomes the nearest of kin and he has the privilege of redeeming Naomi’s land and Ruth with it. So, he marries Ruth and he takes the land.
In summary, Boaz was nearest of kin to Naomi’s deceased husband (Ruth 2:1). He was able to redeem by paying the price of redemption (Ruth 2:1), and he was willing to redeem the land (Ruth 4:4). Boaz was to become the kinsman redeemer, or the Goel. It is a beautiful love story too, but the central thread through this is showing us the role of the kinsman redeemer. Boaz, whose name is on one of the pillars of the Temple, became foundational in the family line that would bring the Lord Jesus Christ’s body into the world. That is what makes this story so beautiful. This story is a picture of the Christ and His Church.
What did Christ do? The Church is the Gentile Bride of Christ. He brought the Gentiles into the Church. Christ is a Jew. The Jews and the Gentiles are one in the Church. Christ is our Goel, our Kinsman Redeemer. That is one of the reasons why He fulfilled the Law.
Daniel E Woodhead