“Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel.” Ruth 4:7
There were in the old days in Israel rituals that were abbreviations of more lengthy or complicated procedures.
One example is the ritual sited in our focus text. If a man were to sell a piece of property to another the full process would be to have both the buyer and the seller, together with witnesses, pace off the boundary of the property to be sold so that it’s dimensions would be known and agreed upon by all parties involved. However, in the event that the piece of property was already known by the buyer, the seller, and the witnesses they would forego the hike through the fields and instead ceremonially exchange sandals in front of the witnesses.
I know some of you are wondering, “Did they keep the other guys sandal?” No. The sandal exchange was just a ceremony. The only thing actually exchanged was the property. In the case of Boaz there was no money exchanged but the ceremony before witnesses did affirm that the right to redeem the property had been give to Boaz.
There are times, though, when the full extent of something has never been measured before so know one knows the length, or breadth, or depth of the dimensions of what is being purchased.
When it came to our salvation, no one had ever died to purchase the salvation of a condemned world of people before. A ceremony, symbolizing the measuring of the boundaries was not enough, our Savior had to walk to whole path; from being born as a baby, through a life of humility and service for others, to a criminals death on the cross, to raising from the grave on the third day.
Because he’s already measured the boundary we don’t have to walk it ourselves. We’re permitted an abbreviated ceremony to demonstrate that we’ve exchanged our life of sin and rebellion for a new life of righteous and loyalty to him. The apostle Paul likens our baptism by being buried in and then raising up from the water to our participating with Christ in his death and resurrection.
I’m so thankful that Jesus has already paced of the boundary. He’s shown His love for us by walking a route that we could never traverse. And because he has we can exchange our sinfulness for his righteousness.
Thank you, Jesus.