The Book of Ruth, An in Depth Study of the Church and Christ! Chapter 1
(Ver 1.1) I like the book of Ruth a lot. It is a very unique book of the Bible and a story full of types and shadows of the Messiah. The Bible is full of complex hidden information and this book contains some of the keys to information found in other places of the Bible. While the early church started with only Jewish believers and the disciples of Christ, today the church is widely considered to be a Gentile majority. There certainly exists Jewish Messianic believers and they are very valuable in the church, but yet they are a clear minority. These Jewish believers are called the “Remnant” in the book of Romans. What makes the book of Ruth unique, is the fact that the book is primarily the story of a Gentile woman. The life of a woman outside of the covenant of God’s Old Testament family. Why would God put a story of a Gentile in the Jewish O.T. Bible? Why is this significant? What information does it convey and reveal to us? Is the book of Ruth a prophetic statement on events to come? I will be going through this book of the Bible chapter by chapter and then wrap it up with a study of the typologies and symbolism given to us in the book of Ruth. In the entire Bible the name of Ruth only occurs 13 times in 13 total verses. There are 12 times in the book of Ruth and once in the book of Matthew. So other than the Book of Ruth itself, there is no direct references to Ruth, except in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew. God must have a special reason for naming this woman in the genealogy of Jesus our Savior. You see in the Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew only 6 women are directly mentioned and only four by actual name. One woman in the genealogy of Jesus is a symbolic spiritual reference. These women are 1.) Tamar 2). Rahab, 3). Ruth 4). the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) 5). Babylon and 6). Mary the mother of Jesus. That is some very unique company, and a very honorable mention, isn’t it? What does Ruth have in common with these other women that God included them all in the genealogy of Jesus? I mean what a mixture of women they are, one is a deceiver Tamar who plays like she is a prostitute, 2) Rahab a woman who actually was a prostitute, 4) Bathsheba a woman who committed adultery with King David. Babylon is called the Great Whore in Revelation. Why mention any women and not all the women? Why pick what seems like some of the worst possible women to include in the Genealogy of Jesus? Both Ruth and Mary seem like saints compared to the others. You should really ask these kinds of questions, if you want to know the truth. God does nothing by accident or chance in the Bible. Every word, every name, every mention has a purpose and is designed to conceal or reveal information. Obviously these women are all mothers, so they have that in common. If it were possible and you could check the mitochondrial DNA of Jesus you would also see that Jesus’ DNA had signatures of each of the women encoded within His DNA. It also appears on the surface that all of the women mentioned in the Genealogy of Jesus are also widows. While it does not say that directly about Rahab, we can assume it. It does call Tamar a widow, Ruth is a widow, Bathsheba became a widow. Mary also became a widow. These are interesting little points to keep in the back of your mind. Perhaps we will get into more of the similarities between the women later, but for now let’s concentrate on just Ruth.
Let’s start by listing some of the characters found in the book of Ruth. There is of course Ruth, but she is not mentioned at first. What we discover is the underlying story is about a family from Bethlehem, the same city of the birth of Jesus. We can already begin to see some implied meanings based upon the city of David being the originating place of residence. The story starts with the mention of a famine being in the land around Bethlehem. The book of Ruth mentions that this family of four is forced to move in order to look for food. The head of the family is a man named “Elimelech” and his wife is called “Naomi”, and they have two sons, one is called “Mahlon” and the other is called “Chilion”. The Elimelech family is a family who has descended from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. The book of Ruth starts by telling us that the story occurs during the time of the judges. This would have been after the children of Israel had taken the promised land and before the appointment of Saul as their first King. This would have occurred somewhere around 450 years after Jacob had his 12 sons. We do know that Israel was in captivity in Egypt for approximately 400 years and they wandered in the wilderness for another 40 years. So somewhere after that we can see that there came a famine in the land of Israel.
Elimelech decides to up and move his family to the land of Moab, because they have heard reports of there being food there. Now Moab is a region where the descendants of one of Lot’s sons lived, also named Moab. If you recall the story of Lot, Abraham asks God to spare him from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and God did. However, as they were leaving the cities, the wife of Lot looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. Now that only leaves Lot with his two daughters. So the story of Lot is that his two daughters get their father drunk so that he could have children or sons through them and their father’s name and family could continue. Not a very good story is it? It seems like the more you dig into the book of Ruth the more strange things you discover. What you must realize is that if there was no incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters there would be no story of Ruth. So while I do not say incest is good, God can cause good to come from anything that man does, no matter how wrong. So Ruth is a descendant of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters.
The book of Ruth does not actually say how long they lived in Moab, but it implies that it was at least a little while, at the least many years. We do see in Ruth 1:4 that after Elimilech died and the sons married that there was a span of 10 years mentioned. We are not told how long it was before this or after this period of time is spoken of. So Elimilech moves his family to Moab. After a time there Elimilech dies and we do not know why. After this his two son’s find themselves wives to marry from the women in Moab. One wife is Ruth and the other wife is named Orpah and not Oprah! It then declares that after another passage of time, the sons also both die without having any children or heirs for the family. All of this so far is the just the first 5 verses of the book of Ruth and it covers several years of information.
Let’s put into perspective the family of Elimilech and the given time frame of these events. We know that Israel had departed from Egypt, being led by Moses and during this time period in the wilderness God gave Moses the Law. God is establishing a covenant relationship with the natural nation of Israel. God gives Moses the first 5 books of the Bible often times called the “Torah”. We also know that during this time period of Ruth that it was during the time of the Judges. So there were judges who ruled the people of Israel with the help of God’s prophets. Judges represent a legal system that is based upon laws. If anyone did wrong, they would face the judges. Moses had been given patterns of the temple of God, the ark of the covenant, the inclusion of the Levitical priests and the origination of animal blood sacrifices. So what do you think would happens if the covenant people of God would move away from all of this and go and live with a group of people who were not in covenant with God? Could this be the reason they died? I really do not know, but I can make logical assumptions based upon what happened, that it was at least related.
We know from reading the rest of the Book of Ruth that Naomi was familiar with the law of Moses. So they did not move away in ignorance, they moved away knowing what they were doing. However, since Elimilech was a descendant of Judah and not Levi, there were probably no more sacrifices being made for them. Unless of course they traveled back to Jerusalem to the temple and there is no reference to this happening. So Naomi, Ruth and Orpha are in a quandary. A predicament of tremendous proportions. Without any men left in the family they are doomed to a life of poverty and homelessness or either a life of prostitution. Naomi of course is older and is in the worst situation. Naomi tells her two “daughter-in-laws” to leave and go back to their families, thinking they have the best chance of finding new husbands with them. Her daughter-in-law Orpah does that and returns to her family and to her previous gods. However, Ruth demonstrates a different resolve, a different spirit of confidence. Even after Naomi told her that she is too old to have any more sons for Ruth to marry, Ruth tells Naomi, “Where you go, I go, Where You Live I will Live, Your People will be my People, Your God will be My God”. That if you do not realize it, is very strong covenant words for a lady who was not previously in covenant with the Almighty God. Then Ruth makes this statement:
Rth 1:17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
I made mention earlier that the book of Ruth contains clues to other events in the Bible and this is just one of them. The mention of death as a separating force is the only natural force that is capable of breaking a human covenant relationship. When a man marries a woman, in many ceremonies that I have attended, there is a clause in the vows that says something like “till death do you part”. In this statement, the participants are vowing to remain committed to the marriage covenant until one of them dies. Death is the only legal separation allowed from the law of marriage. Once you have sex with someone of the opposite sex you are legally married in the eyes of God and you are not separated legally until one of you dies. Because, Ruth’s husband had died, she was free from the law of marriage and is now able to legally marry another man. She could have chosen to go back to her family and find another man, but she chose to trust the God of her mother-in-law “Naomi” and the results of her faith was tremendously greater than she could have imagined. Ruth was also married to the older firstborn son of Elimilech, meaning she has a significant advantage over the other daughter-in-law. For Orpah to gain the same benefits as Ruth, would not have been possible according to the law, but we will get into that more later.
Let me briefly talk you through the law of marriage. The law of marriage is given to us first in the book of Genesis, chapter 2. God creates woman, a wife for the man Adam. God makes the woman’s body from parts of the man’s body. Adam saw Eve and said “She is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. In other words Eve was the body of Adam in a different form. God then declares “that for this reason, shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh”. That is the law of marriage covenants, between a husband and a wife. Ruth was joined to her husband and the covenant of God, becoming one flesh with him. Ruth was technically under the law by marriage. However, since her husband died she was freed from the law.
Because Naomi had heard that God had visited the people of Israel and that there was again bread in the city of Bethlehem, they return back to Naomi’s former home city. Upon arriving, the people still remember her and are excited to see her, but she is really down and depressed that she left full and came back empty with nothing and very little hope. Naomi changes here name to “Mara” and tells people to call her that because it means “I’m bitter”. It is funny how people will accuse God of doing something that was of their own making. I never read anywhere that God told them to leave Bethlehem, so just because the circumstances didn’t look like they should stay, that did not mean they were suppose to leave. Did you understand what I just said?
So this is some of the basics found in chapter 1 of Ruth. Naomi and Ruth have returned to Bethlehem and it is in the time of the beginning of the Barley Harvest. So we know that Naomi had returned in or around the time of Passover, which can occur somewhere near March or April. In my next blog, I’ll talk more about the other primary character of Ruth that I have not introduced you to yet. This character is named Boaz and he is called the “kinsman redeemer” and we will discuss why this is also.
If you would like to continue reading this series you can continue with “Part 2” where we talk about chapter two, the introduction to the Redeemer.
Posted on June 5, 2010, in Bible Study, Ruth and tagged Bible, Bride, Christianity, Church, Covenants, God, Interpretation, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Ruth, Symbolism, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.