Category Archives: Ruth
(Ver 1.4) This is “Part 5” in a series of essential Bible lessons on “Understanding the Book of Ruth”. We have explored a lot of information, but have conceivably left out a lot of information at the same time. It is almost impossible to fully cover any subject in the Bible, because no one knows everything about the subjects in the Bible, except for God. I am a firm believer that God created this book of the Bible with an infinite number of thoughts and ideas, words and phrases, subjects and topics that are so well connected that it near impossible to discover them all in a human lifetime. I have already given you a significant amount of evidence that the type of Ruth appears to correspond to the spiritual characteristics of the church of Jesus Christ called His bride. We have also seen evidence that Boaz appears to be a type and “the” pattern representative of the spiritual savior and kinsman redeemer named Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There are a lot of Christians who do not understand these hidden types found within the Old Testament patterns. There are even some preachers who teach against these symbols being Christ and the church. I have heard several internet bloggers and teachers that attempt to convince us that the natural nation of Israel represents Ruth as the Bride of Christ. The claim proposes that only natural Israel can represent the woman Ruth who will be married to Jesus. These teachers further claim that since the Bible says the Church is the Body of Christ, they also call the church the husband to Israel. What they do is take one truth found in the New Testament and fail to balance it with other truths correctly. That is a major problem for the source of confusion.
I am saddened how people can be so ignorant and come up with such wild and crazy theological theories. These types of theories have such broad holes of contradictions within them and these can be easily seen if desired. But people do this and Satan enjoys the confusion that is caused in the church. Opinions and theories like these, do not hold water when analyzed correctly using the Bible. If you have not read this series of lessons from the beginning I would suggest that you go back and start with “Part 1“.
First of all, we need to remember that Ruth was a Gentile and that is obviously the first problem with this erroneous interpretation of Israel being the bride of Christ. A gentile by definition is not a natural Jew or a descendant of natural Israel. Ruth was a Moabite and a descendent of Lot, Abraham’s relative, but clearly clearly Ruth did not descend from Abraham. While reading the book of Ruth it is very challenging to see and know everything about what applies and how they apply to each of the given types and shadows. God selected truthful natural events, peoples and places in the Bible to represent future spiritual patterns that have or will occur in the future. However, the natural people, places and events do not always fit exactly and perfectly with what we know at this time. So it becomes difficult for some to understand how they all fit completely together. Much like a shadow being cast on the ground by the bright sunshine, a natural object makes a recognizable pattern on the ground, and so it is with Bible types and shadows also. The spiritual shadows found in the natural things of the Old Testament Bible leaves out most of the details of the coming spiritual reality that is causing the shadow. This is just how Bible types and shadows work by God’ design. Shadows represent broad strokes without a limited direct details. But God is very wise and kind to insert enough clues to teach us how they are representative of the real spiritual realm. I hope we all understand this concept going forward. At the minimum please understand a lot of the details were omitted by God on purpose to both conceal and reveal the truth simultaneously. The fact that we do not know everything, we are blessed and should be thankful to God for our ability to see the parts that were revealed to us.
Let’s start today’s lesson by listing the primary themes and patterns that are found in the book of Ruth. I will list these in no particular order, and give you a brief description of what I believe they mean and then we will look at how to apply them.
Themes Found in the Book of Ruth
|Life and Death||Elimilech and his sons all die after leaving Bethlehem. Death is said to be a separating force from the living. Death is also the beginning of the problem and the answer can only come from someone living.|
|Families||One central theme of the entire book. The story of one family’s struggle with life’s difficult circumstances and how a close relative comes to redeem them.|
|Hunger and Famine||A lack of food that causes people to do things that they would not normally do under better circumstances.|
|Widowhood||God’s legal separation for a marriage covenant between a wife and her husband.|
|The Law||The rules of God based upon the wisdom of God to help man learn their need for a redeemer.|
|Faith and Faithfulness||Faith is believing in something is true even when it looks like it is not true. Faithfulness is remaining loyal to someone or something even though it does not look like the best choice at the time.|
|Humility||The opposite of pride. A humble person always obtains the favor and the grace of God.|
|Wheat Harvests||A crop of intentionally planted seeds.|
|Passover||A specific time of the season for remembrance and the partaking of a covenant meal.|
|Near Kinsman||A relative that is living who is legally qualified to become our redeemer.|
|Love||The central theme of all of the Bible.|
|Grace||That which is given to us freely, even though we do not deserve it. We partake of God’s grace by our faith.|
|Redemption||The act of restoring one’s possessions back into your legal ownership.|
|Marriage||A covenant between a man and a woman. The two shall become one flesh!|
|Children||The reason for redemption. To raise up an heir and a name for the dead.|
In reading through my list of the primary themes found in the book of Ruth, I hope that you can begin to see how they fit into the spiritual picture of Christ and the church.
Now let’s list the primary people and places found in the book of Ruth and see if we can determine who they possibly represent by looking at the definition of their names from the Strong’s concordance.
Definition of the Name
|Elimilech||God of the King|
|Orpah||Mane, back of the neck|
|Boaz||Unknown Root Word of unknown Meaning|
|Bethlehem||House of Bread|
|Moab||The Mother’s Father|
These are most of the primary characters and places revealed to us in the book of Ruth. As you can tell by reviewing the list, we still have a lot to learn. Let’s start near the end of the list first with BethlehemJudah. Places are often times used in the Bible to signify a spiritual state or a realm of existence. BethlehemJudah as it is called in verse 1 of Ruth chapter 1 is like the key place where the descendants of the tribe of Judah lived. When Joseph and Mary were about to have the baby Jesus, they were required by decree to go to Bethlehem, because they were of the lineage and descents of King David who came from the House of Judah. Because of this royal command of a census they were required to travel to their home city to pay their tax. Thus Jesus was born in the exact prophesied location (Micah 5:2), even though his parents did not live there. That was a very tricky thing for God to accomplish. If you recall, the Jews thought Jesus was from Nazareth and thus missed the coming of their Messiah. We can conclude or at least assume that the story of Ruth is related to Jesus, because of this given specific location.
Most of the time, the names of people and places in the Bible have meanings attached to them. Many times these names help to reveal the characteristics and types of the spiritual realm entity that they represent. Often times the meaning of names reveals clues that are definitely important to understanding the meaning of the typology in the story. Judah is a Hebrew word that means several things and has vast implications attached to it. Judah comes from a word that means “to throw with your hands”, it also has implications of reverence and worship as in to “praise”. In other words to “worship” with “extended hands”. Bethlehem as we have already seen means “the house of bread”. We can see that the word “house” means a family of relatives. The term bread means “food for the implied life and strength of men”. Are you seeing anything that sounds familiar? Jesus said He was the bread of life (John 6:48). So we must be talking about the family of God in this story of Ruth. This would mean that Judah represents the people who praise God, who are part of the city and the family of God.
Moab is of course much more difficult to get people to see, because they have really given it no thought or deep study. Moab was the incestuous son of Lot and his daughter. Moab the son of Lot was also a half-brother to his mother. Moab was both the son of Lot and the grandson of Lot and all of this just complicates things. The term Moab means “the mother’s father”. The region of Moab was where Elimilech traveled when he thought there was no food (bread) in Bethlehem. These Moabites were Gentile people who were not in covenant with God and were not the children of Abraham. So we can see that this has an implied meaning of those outside of the family of God. This could be representative of the unsaved world and the all the people in it. Ruth of course was a Moabitish woman and therefore came from the realm of the unsaved to be married in covenant with the Savior and her redeemer. Moab is mentioned more than 100 times in the Bible and most of the time it is not a positive place or reference. Moab is usually a better place to be from than a place to be living in now. We can understand this is a picture of the Bride of Christ. Those who have come out of their Moab and now live in the House of God’s Bread of Life. The type of the church is a very good picture of those who have come out of false gods, to know the true living God. Ruth is a great type of this picture and I believe this is why God put her in this book of the Bible.
The name “Ruth” means “a friend”. Jesus picked up on this in the book of John and revealed to us the connection when speaking to His disciples:
Joh 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Jesus clearly speaking to the future church calls them His friends. Do you think this was an accident or a coincidence that Jesus did this? I definitely do not think so. I believe it is a clue that represents a connection to the book of Ruth and helps to identify the symbolic reference to the bride of the redeemer. We know that Ruth exemplified certain qualities in the Bible that are related to those of the church today. The primary quality that qualifies Ruth as a type of the church is “faith”. Ruth trusted in a God she did not yet know and God came through for her above and beyond her expectations. Next, the quality of “faithfulness”. Faithfulness is related to faith, but yet still different. To be faithful to your spouse is what Ruth was to Naomi and eventually to Boaz. The third quality of Ruth that qualifies her for the type of the church is “humility”. The true church should be humble in their attitudes and come with respect and reverence towards their Savior. Humility is the opposite to pride, and pride was the downfall of Lucifer. By remaining humble before God we are qualified to receive the grace of God.
Boaz has a name that has no direct definition attached using Strong’s definitions. But the BDB (Brown-Driver-Briggs) says it means “fleetness” and the NASEC says it means “quickness”. This appears to indicate a person who is fast in motion, reaction or response. But, I believe the best description of Boaz comes from his personal title descriptions. These seem to help us identify his spiritual position within the story in precision. We saw earlier that Boaz was called the Kinsman Redeemer. That means a near relative who has the legal ability and responsibility to redeem. That is exactly what Jesus is. Jesus left heaven and became a man just like one of us. Because of Jesus’ unselfish acts of kindness and love we have an unmerited opportunity for salvation made available to us.
Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
We can clearly see in the N.T. that it talks of Jesus being the redeemer of the church. He has bought us out of a situation that we could not solve ourselves. This was exactly Ruth’s situation in the O.T. As you recall Ruth was from Moab and we have found that this represents the unsaved natural world.
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The church is said to have been bought with a price and we have become His property from the purchased price of His shed blood. This is exactly the pattern of the transaction that took place in the book of Ruth. Boaz redeemed the property of his dead brother and also bought the woman Ruth to be his wife in the transaction. This is what God did, and it was God’s idea, God’s plan for redemption, and God’s system of salvation. To humans it does not make much sense, but to those who can see , it is a great and wise plan. Boaz is called a near relative, Jesus you could say was our near relative. Because Jesus became a man, like one of us, that qualifies Jesus to be our redeemer. Boaz demonstrated love, kindness, grace and extends favor to his future bride when she is unable to do anything to save herself. This is also a perfect picture of Christ and the Church. By Grace are we Saved through Faith.
The Marriage of Boaz and Ruth the Gentile
While the Bible is very complex, it does present us some clues to the relationship of Jesus and the church. There are specific verses found in the Bible that declare the Gentiles will trust in the coming Messiah. Ruth obviously trusted in Boaz enough to lay by his feet on the threshing floor. Ruth put her confidence in her redeemer and this was a picture of church to Christ.
Isa 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
This verse in Isaiah is referring to Jesus Christ, who is the picture of Boaz. In relationship to Jesus, He is mentioned to be the “Light of the Gentiles”. We can easily see how this fits with the picture of Ruth. So while the name Ruth is not directly mentioned in the Bible, the type of Ruth is mentioned in verses like these that I am giving you. Here is another one that is applicable:
Isa 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
The Root of Jesse is again a reference to Jesus Christ our redeemer. The reference is given to us in this verse that the Ruths of the world will seek after Him. In reading the story of Ruth, you notice that Ruth goes from a poor widow field laborer to a woman married to one of the richest men in the city. Do you think Boaz’s rest was good for Ruth? How does the wealth of Jesus compare to that of Boaz’s money and possessions?
Mat 12:21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Speaking of Jesus, in Matthew, the Gentiles put their confidence in Him. This is the church to their redeemer. Isaiah 11:10 is also quoted in Romans 15:12 and declares that the Gentiles have put their trust in their Boaz. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son….”. We could say it in another way also, that “God so loved Ruth from Moab that he gave His Boaz to redeem us…” and all I did was change the names to the symbolic names found in the Book of Ruth. We can easily see that Boaz was motivated by love when he did what he did for Ruth and Naomi. Because of Ruth’s faith towards God she is now the wife of the savior and redeemer. A marriage in the Bible is a covenant in the eyes of God and a covenant is a marriage. You can see this revelation clearly by examining verses found in Jeremiah31:32 and Malachi 2:14 to name a couple of the obvious verses that you can find and read in the Bible. So far the picture of Ruth as the church and bride fits with other verses in the Bible that state Jesus is the bridegroom (John 3:29, Revelation 21:9).
Elimilech is a very specific Hebrew name that means a very specific thing. The name “Elimilech” means “God of the King”. Right there is where the difficulty begins for most Christians. That is a Hebrew word that has the name of God “Elohiym” joined to the Hebrew word for “King”. This of course has widespread implications written on it everywhere. As you recall from the book of Ruth, Elimilech dies. So who in the Bible is the “God of the King”? David was a popular King in the Bible and the God of David was “Elohiym”. Maybe we should start with who is the real King? Our King is said to be Jesus Christ. Jesus is called the King of kings (Rev 19:16, Rev 17:14). David was told by God that one of his descendants would sit upon the throne forever as eternal King. Jesus also qualifies as a Son of David for this position. So we can fairly easily conclude that Jesus is the King. Who is the God of Jesus? You can begin to see the difficulty starting to get much deeper now and much harder to understand. Jesus was God and there is none beyond or above Him. God is the only true and living God. We can begin to see glimpses into the complexity of God’s manifested and revealed natures and personalities. There is God the Father, God the Son abd God the Holy Ghost and yet these three are all still One God.
So anyway Elimilech must represent God just using the name’s definition. But, how is this possible? It is technically not possible for God to die, however if God does not die for our sins, our sins are not forgiven. Thus we have a paradox and a puzzle presented to us from the Bible. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, yet at the same time he was God in the flesh. So whatever happens to Jesus, happens to God. This is just basic logic using the verses that we have covered. If Satan and the Jews hang Jesus Christ on a cross, they are hanging God himself on the cross. Do you remember what Jesus said in a parable about killing the “heir”? (Luke 20:14) Jesus tells of a field that has been let out to a husbandman and the owner of the field sends servants to collect of the fruit, but the come away empty. Now, finally the owner of the field sends his son, saying they will respect him, but they do not, instead they kill him because he is the heir. By killing the Son of God, they think they have possessed the inheritance. Instead they have sealed their fate.
It is important to note that Elimilech in this story represents God who dies. Through His death a redeemer is now required. The Redeemer is of course also God.
Naomi is called “Pleasant” by the meaning of her name. Since she is married to Elimilech who represent God the Father, then we can conclude very easily that Naomi is an allegorical represention of the people in the natural Nation of Israel and those under the law. Naomi represents the Old Covenant of God. The female wife of the Old Testament God of Abraham. She knows the law and uses the law. In the book of Ruth Naomi is the mother-in-law to Ruth and she tells her what to do based upon her knowledge of the law to get her redeemer. This again is an exact picture of the early church. Do you realize that the only Bible the early church had was the Old Testament? Jesus taught exclusively from the text from these O.T. books. Peter taught from the O.T. in the book of Acts. The New Testament contains a whole bunch of quotes from the Old Testament. What God did was finally reveal the true meaning of the Old Testament to the church. Before, the church came along the O.T. was a giant spiritual puzzle of information that no man could understand. However, the New Testament is written largely from the revelation given to Paul and the other apostles about the things that explain what the O.T. really means. However, it also gives us a pattern that God can still hide more information for us to discover, even today.
Jer 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
As you can clearly see in this scripture in Jeremiah, God says that His Old Covenant was a marriage to the people of natural Israel. God is said to be their husband, they are implied to be the wife. We can therefore conclude that this is a revealed pattern of the New Covenant also. If one covenant was a marriage, the other covenant is also a marriage. One to a natural people, and the other to a spiritual people.
So Naomi was married to Elimilech and Israel was married to Elohim (God). Naomi became a widow after her husband died, and so did Israel. So it still is a little bit difficult to understand, I know. We know that Ruth is faithful to Naomi and this seems to be a perfect picture of the Church’s continued faithfulness to the nation of Israel even today. It seems that the whole world wants to destroy the nation of Israel, except for a few that are controlled by a predominate Christian presence. The hatred towards the nation of Israel is extremely unique among all nations. I do not recall any other nation being so easily maligned and attacked in so many different ways. It is noteworthy to mention that the nation of Israel receives support from the Christians of the world and this is a picture of Ruth. Just as Naomi benefited from Ruth’s marriage to Boaz, Israel benefits from the church’s marriage to Jesus Christ. However, it is still important to note that Boaz was not married to Naomi, only Ruth was in covenant with Boaz and this is how the New Covenant is today also. Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God is in covenant with the Church and not natural Israel. Israel can receive benefits from the church’s relationship, but they are required to be born again and join the same church for salvation as everyone else. The Bible says that Israel is being provoked to “jealousy” (Rom 10:19). What make you jealous? What makes women jealous? Other women make women jealous. Jealousy occurs when someone has something that you do not have. The church now has a better covenant with God, that Israel does not have anymore and this is the point of jealousy.
Rom 9:25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
God prophecies something in Hosea that is very profound and reveals the coming jealousy of Israel. Israel who were God’s people are now said not to be God’s people. Yes or No? Of course that is what it says, whether you like it or not. The nation of natural Israel who was the beloved wife of God, is now not the wife of God. These are physical vs. spiritual truths being presented to us. God is saying that I will make a New Covenant with a people that were not my people and now they will become my New Covenant spiritual people and my new beloved wife. This is the picture of Ruth and Boaz given to us in this story of love and redemption.
Death and Marriage
Now let’s examine a new aspect that the Bible talks about that maybe you have not seen before. If you recall I said earlier that death was a legal separation of marriages. That means when Ruth’s husband died she was now free to marry another man without retribution or the accusation of adultery. This is a Bible principle and a law found in the Bible that I refer to as the “Law of Marriage”. This is what Jesus says about the subject:
Mat 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
These are the words of God himself and they tell you exactly what God thinks about people’s wrong attitudes in the world today. I believe the divorce rate within the church is up to around 50% and that is crazy. So what does this have to do with the story of Ruth, you ask? This is what it has to do with the story of Ruth:
Rom 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
In this chapter of Roman God is discussing marriage covenants and He says that a woman is bound to her husband by the established law of God. If you recall in Genesis 2, when God created woman (Eve), she came from the body of her husband Adam. God then gave us the law of marriage. “A husband shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall be one flesh”. So just because you get a divorce that does not solve the “one flesh” part of God’s arrangements. As you can see in Romans 7:2 the wife is joined to her husband as long as he is alive. But, since Ruth’s husband was dead that changes everything. Let’s keep reading in Romans:
Rom 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
So a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man is called an adulterer. So what does this have to do with Ruth, well you have to just read the next verse in Romans to find that out:
Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
In this chapter of Romans, God is speaking directly to the natural Jews and not the Gentiles. Why is that important? Because the natural Jews were married to God in the Old Covenant and if they now married another man with their first husband being alive, they would be in adultery. This is of course a very tricky thing to think about. God is a spiritual being and it is impossible to kill a spiritual being. That is why God became a natural man. By becoming a natural man, God can experience death. As you can see in Romans 7:4 it says very clearly that because Jesus died, they are now legally free to “marry” another husband. This is a picture of the risen Jesus and the New Covenant. Did you realize that the New Covenant is with the Risen from the dead Jesus and not with the natural Jesus who walked the face of the earth as a natural human male? Did you realize that this is an important fact to know? The risen from the Dead Jesus is an eternal being and now a permanent member of the Godhead. So the difference between Jesus the natural man and the risen Jesus, is that the natural man was born of a woman as a mortal man who could die and the risen Jesus cannot die anymore. The risen Jesus was born of the Spirit and He is the Immortal God Man. There are some big differences between the two. I know that Jesus our savior was God in the flesh, but yet He was not God in His full Omnipotent Powers, or it would have been impossible to kill him. Jesus was a man that was able to be killed and that is not God in His FULL Deity Power. So did God die? If God did not experience death then you will soon have to experience it and you won’t like the end results. We know that “through death he (Jesus) destroyed him that had the power of death (Satan)” (Heb 2:14). So it is important to note that Jesus died physically and through his death he accomplished many positive things for us.
The Coming Wheat Harvest
This story of Ruth is a natural example of a spiritual truth that has occurred and is occurring already in the spiritual realm. We the church are gleaning and gathering in the harvest of God’s spiritual crop of people in the world which is God’s harvest field.
Jas 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
You see in the book of Ruth, the woman works the field to bring in a ripe crop. This is all typological to the story of the Church reaping the harvest of God’s precious fruit that He is still waiting patiently for. There will come a time when the harvest is over and that is a day of grave consequences for many, yet that is the reality of God. Jesus told us in Matthew 9:37 that the “harvest is truly plenteous but the laborers are few”. God is of course not talking about a natural harvest, but a spiritual harvest of people. Jesus taught numerous things about spiritual things, using crops, fields, seeds and laborers. You should go and study all of these and see how they relate to the story of Ruth. I believe you will find them very important to know.
The Heir of the Dead
This was the book of Ruth and while we did not attempt to go into every detail or every type given, I gave you enough details to get you started. I will leave you with this thought. If Ruth does represent the church and Boaz does represent the Risen Jesus Christ. Why did Boaz marry Ruth? To raise up an heir for the dead. Boaz has a son through Ruth, called Obed, God’s servant. Who died? God died, Adam died, Jesus died to name a few obvious choices and candidates. Jesus the eternal God Man now resolves two primary spiritual and natural problems. By Jesus’ death on the cross, God is now free from every previous covenant relationship, whether this was Israel, Adam, Abraham or Satan. By the Risen Jesus establishing a New Covenant that is said to be better, man’s eternal separation from God has also been resolved, if you want to receive it. In the Book of Ruth, Ruth has a child that is the heir of the dead man’s family. If Jesus is the husband and the church is the bride, you have to see that God will have a spiritual child through his new wife. This child has to be the Spirit of God, since the church is a spiritual woman and Jesus said that which is born of spirit is spirit (John 3:6). So we can see that the church must be going to have a child some day that will become the heir to everything that is or was in the spiritual and natural realms and the ownership of both of these realms will revert completely and totally back to God forever. We can see a prophetic view of this woman and this child in Revelation 12. This is the end and the demise of Satan’s future and represents his destiny under the heavenly Judicial system and the law of God. This of course is all new stuff, so I anticipate it will be difficult for you to accept. I would recommend that you not throw it away, just because it is new and different. At least study it and see if it is true. Thanks for studying the Book of Ruth with me. God Bless.
(Ver 1.1) We are now in chapter 4 of the book of Ruth. If you have not been reading this series from the beginning you should go back and start with “Part 1“. As you read chapter 3 of Ruth you should have noticed that Boaz tells Ruth that there is a closer relative than himself and he will have to see if the closer relative is willing to fulfill the law and marry her. You should remember that the law gave a specific order of precedence for the fulfillment of the requirement of the law. The order went from the closest or nearest relative to the most distant relative and always included the oldest male first down to the youngest male. So Boaz was not the first in the line of living relatives to marry Ruth according to the law of Moses. Therefore, Boaz in chapter 4 goes to the city gate and finds the nearer relative to discuss the situation with him. Boaz at this point must already know his intentions because Boaz has gathered the elders of the city to witness the discussion between himself and this closer relative.
Rth 4:3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:
Boaz starts with the good news first. Naomi the widow of our dead brother, is come back and she is selling his property. So far this is a deal for any man that has money to buy it. To own land is a sign of wealth and to own a lot of land is a sign of great wealth. But, that was the good news and not the complete picture so here goes Boaz to explain what else is required.
Rth 4:4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
So Boaz before the witnesses of the elders of the city informs this relative that it is his responsibility and his decision to make. He then informs him that besides them, there are no other relatives that are able to redeem the land of Naomi. This means that they are all either dead or there were just no other living male relatives born in the family.
Rth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
Now Boaz starts in with the potential bad news. I guess it depends upon your point of view, but it is either good or bad based upon how it will affect you personally. Since Boaz was the younger brother in this relationship, it affects him differently than the older brother. Let’s think about this and how it affects each man. Boaz says that by buying the land from Naomi, they must also buy it from Ruth since she was married to the son of their brother. According to the law of Moses, this involves marrying the widow of the dead so that the family name is not removed from the face of the earth. Whatever son that Ruth and the redeemer has, becomes the heir of Elimelech ‘s land. You see it starts to get a little complicated at this point, since the future heir is now the owner of the dead family’s property, the relative that married the widow has no family or heir. I know this is not technically correct, but yet this is the way that these people viewed the situation. You can see that by the reaction of the closer relative to the news of marrying the widow Ruth.
Rth 4:6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
Did you see what the nearer kinsman said? He told Boaz I can’t redeem this land or marry the widow, because it will mess up my inheritance. In other words everything that he is in line for and everything his heirs are in line for will revert to the dead brother’s family and he would end up with nothing, so he thinks. So the nearer kinsman tells Boaz, I won’t redeem it, so you redeem it. This is of course what Boaz wanted to hear happen, yet the process had to be followed in the law and the procedures must be satisfied in the eyes of God and all legal actions satisfied with the elders of the city who were the witnesses.
Rth 4:7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
Rth 4:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
As you can see, the nearer relative’s house is now called “the house of him who has his shoe loosed”. In the eyes of the law, Boaz has satisfied all requirements and responsibilities and is now free to legally marry Ruth. Boaz tells the elders and the people of the city that they are all witnesses to the fact that he has bought the property of Naomi and Ruth.
It might help you to understand what just happened based upon another story found in the Bible. In Genesis chapter 38 there is a story of another family who is directly related to our story. The story of the son of Israel named Judah. He has three sons and the firstborn is named, Er. When Er grows up big enough to marry, Judah gets him a wife named Tamar. Remember Tamar? The Bible says that Er was wicked in the eyes of God and so he died very young. Judah then told Er’s brother to take the dead brother’s wife and have an heir for his dead brother, the firstborn Er. But, the Bible says that Onan knew if he had sex with Tamar and had a child that it would be for his brother and he would not get anything. So Onan basically refused to fulfill his requirements and the Bible says that he was found to be evil in the eyes of the Lord and he also died young. So far not a good story, but yet this is how those in the Bible dealt with these matters. Judah tells the widow Tamar to wait for the third and last son to grow up and she would become his wife and then that son would raise up an heir for the dead firstborn. In the process of time, Tamar waits, but nothing happens. Apparently Judah was not a man of his word. Judah’s wife died and one day he went up to the city to do some business. Tamar hears about this and takes off her widow garments and dresses up like a prostitute, covers her face and waits for Judah to come by. She deceives Judah into having sex with her and she becomes pregnant. Judah did not have the payment for the sex, so he left her his signet ring, a bracelet and his staff as collateral security until the agreed payment could be sent to her.
Tamar was not there for the sex or the payment that was promised to her. She was there because Judah had not fulfilled what he had spoken to her and her dead husband, Judah’s firstborn had no heir to continue the family name. So even though her methods were not very admirable her intentions before God were highly commendable. So Judah eventually sends the payment back for the harlot that he could get back his collateral, but they could not find any prostitutes to pay.
Then time passes and three months later Judah is informed that Tamar has played the harlot and has become pregnant by harlotry. Judah is outraged and tells them to get her and she will be killed for her error. So she appears before Judah and tells him that before you do anything, I am guilty of nothing. Here is the father of my child and she shows him, his signet, bracelet and staff. Judah’s reaction is shock and immediately says she has been more righteous than him, because he had not given her to his younger son to be his wife. Like I said, this is not a great or a highly positive moral standard Bible story that you want to teach your children in Sunday School, yet it has great significance to the story in the book of Ruth. It helps to explain the dilemma that the nearer relative was experiencing. Tamar is also a name mentioned in the Genealogy of Jesus so it must have some relevance to something we need to know. If you search the Bible, you will discover that the term “daughter-in-law” is not widely used. In fact Tamar and Ruth are only two of four women in the Bible called by this title. So they are directly related and tied together meaning they share some commonalities that are very distinctive. As we continue through Ruth chapter 4 you will see why I went over this story.
Rth 4:10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
Boaz tells everyone to be witnesses to the fact that he has bought the land of the dead husband and he will marry the widow wife to raise up the name of the dead.
Rth 4:12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.
The people of the city now speak a blessing on the actions of Boaz. Did you notice the name of Tamar being mentioned? You see if it was not for the illicit actions of Tamar there would be no Bethlehem or people to witness these deeds of Boaz. There would be no elders of the city, there would be no Elimilech, in fact there would be no Boaz. Everyone present was a descendant of the house of Judah whom Tamar his daughter-in-law bore to him. All of these people recognized that they would not be present if it were not for Tamar and they could foresee that down the road in the future there would be many people born on this planet who would be grateful that Ruth was there to raise up and continue the family name of the tribe of Judah. In fact looking at the genealogy found in the Bible, if not for Ruth and Boaz, there would have been no King David and eventually no Jesus Christ.
Rth 4:15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
Boaz fulfills the requirements of the law and marries one of the few women in the Bible that get mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus our Savior. Boaz is called the redeemer, the restorer of life. and a nourisher. These are all terms that could describe Jesus to us today. The story of Ruth is different than what many people think of when thinking of Jesus and the church. Yet it has many natural patterns in it that are very significant to this spiritual reality. In my next blog I will try to explore more of these patterns given to us in the Book of Ruth.
You can continue reading this series, by going to “Part 5“.
(Ver 1.1) We have already seen in chapter 2 where Ruth has found favor in the eyes of Boaz her potential kinsmen redeemer and she has even eaten with him in resemblance to a covenant type meal where they have shared bread. We can tell that Boaz likes this woman and grants her grace beyond all others. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law knows the law and has recognized who Boaz is. In this next chapter we will see that God has orchestrated the answer to Ruth’s problems because of Ruth’s faith. God has answered her confidence in Him beyond her wildest imagination. It is amazing what trusting God a little can do. If you have not read the first part of this series I would suggest that you go back and start with “Part 1“. Now, let’s now look at chapter 3:
Rth 3:2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
Apparently, Naomi has some inside scoop on what Boaz is up to. Either Naomi is very nosy or Boaz has been dropping some clever clues in some obvious places. You figure out which one it is. Naomi knows that tonight Boaz will be working late in the threshing floor with the harvest. Of course all of this is symbolic and has meaning. Threshing in the Bible times was the harvest time activity by which the grain was removed from the husk. The husk represented the tares (or false grain) when it was separated from the actual usable good pieces of the plant. It really does not matter how this is done for this story, just the fact that it is being done is the part that is significant to what we need to know. If you study the words of Jesus you find that there is another coming harvest of people in the world in Matthew 13. Jesus informs us that the world is the field and that the wheat is the children of the kingdom of God. The tares are the children of the evil one. So we can see the Book of Ruth is prophetic in nature and speaking of something, an event that is coming soon. You should go and read Matthew 13 and find out the pattern of things to come. Then you will better understand the shadows contained in the book of Ruth.
Rth 3:3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
Obviously Naomi knows the law of Moses and tells Ruth to clean up herself really good and dress in her best garments and then to go to the threshing floor to meet Boaz. You can see that this is the picture of the church given to us in Revelation 19:7 where it says “his wife has made herself ready”. But, she tells her not to do anything until after he has eaten and finished drinking. It almost sounds like wait until the party is over and then do the following:
Rth 3:4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
Here is where it gets complicated to understand. Maybe Naomi knows something I don’t, but Ruth is instructed to uncover Boaz’s feet and then to lay down and wait for him to wake up or return to a sober state and see what he has to say and then do what he says. The best that I have been able to figure out is that in Leviticus 18 God tells people not to uncover and make nude certain relatives for sexual purposes. God gives us a long list of individuals including your children and your grand children and says the reason why is if you see them naked, it is your nakedness that you are looking at because they came from you. What we can deduce from this, is that the practice of uncovering someone even partially is for sexual reasons and it is only OK for the husband and the wife. So in effect, Ruth is saying you are my husband, I have seen you naked. I know she only uncovered his feet, but it is a symbolic gesture that he realizes when he wakes to find her there at his feet.
Rth 3:7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.
So Ruth told Naomi that she will do what she has spoken and that is exactly what she does. Remember Naomi is the one that knows the law and Boaz is the one that is suppose to follow the law and fulfill his obligation to the dead. So Naomi is in effect speeding up the process and making it happen. It would appear that Boaz is either dragging his feet (figuratively speaking) and not doing what he is required or there is more to the story than we know right now.
Rth 3:8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
Now midnight comes around and we can assume it has been at least a couple of hours. Ruth must have went to sleep also at the feet of Boaz waiting for him to wakeup. Midnight is a very specific hour. It is the 6th hour of the night, the beginning of the 3rd watch of the night and represents the middle of the darkness. It is interesting to note that this is the hour when people are easily frightened and become scared. It was around midnight when the death angel visited in Egypt and killed the firstborn who did not have the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. It is also interesting to note that in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the 10 virgins. It just so happens that the bridegroom shows up at midnight and 5 of the virgins had oil and 5 of the virgins did not and were called foolish. So there is some significant parallels being given to us. Jesus Christ is called the “bridegroom” and the church is His bride. We can again see the connection between Jesus and the man called Boaz.
Rth 3:9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
The word that is interesting in this verse, is the word for “skirt”. This word actually refers to the wing of a feathered bird like an eagle and is translated like that many places. It is also used to refer to the hem of a garment or robe. The priests were required to sew tassels on the hem of their garments. Then there is this reference in Deuteronomy that seems to be in reference to an elicit sexual encounter.
Deu 22:30 A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.
You can see that the man’s father and his father’s wife are spoken of in terms of being one. By the son uncovering his father’s wife he is said to uncover his father. So obviously Ruth must have learned something about the law herself. Boaz wakes up and is startled and asks who are you in the middle of the night. Ruth tells him I am Ruth and you are my near kinsmen redeemer. Now here is the other part that you miss reading the English part of the translation from the KJV Bible. This word “skirt” also occurs in the previous chapter, but is translated in a completely different way:
Rth 2:12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Reading this verse we can better understand what Ruth was trying to say to Boaz. Ruth was telling Boaz you are God’s answer to my problem, spread your wings over me and I will put my trust in you. If this is not a marriage proposal I do not know what you would call it. Wings are spoken of as a covering, and a place of safety in the O.T. Bible like in the Psalms. Many times this is God’s people under the wings of God’s protection. This is the picture of Ruth and Boaz as well as the Church and Jesus.
Look at this verse in Ezekiel and see if this is not what the woman Ruth is saying for her Redeemer to do to her.
Eze 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
God says to Israel, when I looked upon you I spread my skirt over you. You can again see the reference to nakedness and being unclothed. In association with these words God says I have entered into a covenant with you and you have become mine by marriage. This is a very clear picture of Christ and the church. If you recall in the N.T. the church is said to be clothed with Christ. We wear Christ as a symbolic garment. This is a covenant marriage description when the husband covers his bride.
Rth 3:10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
A reference to the kindness of Ruth is exemplified by Boaz. She is also portrayed to be a woman of character and integrity who is not doing things just for her on good. Her thoughtfulness and the fact that she followed her wiser mother-in-law’s instructions all proved that Ruth was a great candidate for a wife. We do not know how old Boaz is, but by implications given he is not a young man. Based upon him potentially being one of Elimilech’s brothers who has already died, we can assume that he is closer to Naomi’s age than to Ruth’s age. Nevertheless, Ruth is commended for doing what she has done.
Rth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
Boaz says that the whole city knows that she is a virtuous woman. Of course remember we are in Bethlehem, the future birthplace of Jesus. The Hebrew word translated as “Bethlehem” means the House of Bread. Another symbolic term for God’s spiritual house. Boaz commits to Ruth to do whatever is necessary to accomplished what she needed to satisfy his Lawful duty. Boaz has committed to do whatever is necessary to make her his wife. This is a marriage commitment and a verbal contract. Boaz has committed to redeem his dead brother’s debts and to raise up an heir for him, by marrying his dead brother’s son’s wife. This is the law of God, but also the wisdom of God and a picture of Christ and the church.
If you would like to continue this series of lessons, you can go to “Part 4“.
(Ver 1.1) In chapter one of Ruth we were introduced to many of the characters of the story of Ruth, but not all. If you did not read Part 1 of this series I would suggest that you go back and read the foundation and introduction and all of the information that I covered in chapter 1. I will not normally repeat myself so if you missed it, you just missed it.
So far we have seen that Naomi and Ruth have returned to Bethlehem during the time of the Barley Harvest and that they are in desperate shape financially. All of the men in their family have died and they have great needs just to survive. So let’s get into chapter 2 and the introduction of another primary character that will come to save the day.
Rth 2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
We are immediately introduced to some new concepts and a new character in the very first verse of Chapter 2. Boaz is described as a near relative of Elimelech, the dead husband of Naomi. This is where it starts to become important to learn and know what the law says. Because of God’s wisdom, the law provided for the situation that Naomi and Ruth now were facing. The law says that if a man should die without leaving any heirs, that a brother or near relative of the dead man was required to marry the widow and to have a child by her to become the heir of whatever was owned by that man who died. This would also mean that the dead man’s family name would not perish from the face of the earth. One of the men that was qualified to fulfill this requirement was a man who just so happened to be a very wealthy man and his name was Boaz. Here is the law of Moses that pertains to this matter:
Num 27:8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.
Num 27:9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.
Num 27:10 And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren.
Num 27:11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.
What we see is an order of precedence and responsibility being established by the law of God. God declares a specific inheritance order when a man dies. God does this by design and for a purpose, that I will not get into in this blog. Let’s look at the order and analyze it, the order is always from the firstborn son, then the next born son, until the youngest son. If the man who dies has no sons, then his daughters can inherit in the same order from the firstborn to youngest. Next, if he has no living children, then the inheritance goes to the brothers of the man who died, again from the firstborn to youngest in that order. If he has no living brothers you go up the family tree to your father’s brothers, from oldest to youngest. The responsibility is thus passed to whomever is still living in the family from oldest to youngest, to inherit the dead man’s possessions. But, of course it is more complex than that. You also get the man’s debts and you must pay off those debts and redeem them. You just don’t get to take whatever he owned and make it yours, especially if his wife is still alive. Because she was also his and by the law of marriage she was one with him. So she has now also become your responsibility and there is more to it than that also. Here is more of the Law concerning widows and the brothers obligations:
Deu 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
Deu 25:6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
Deu 25:7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
Deu 25:8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
Deu 25:9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
Deu 25:10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
This is some very strange stuff, however as you continue to read in Ruth you see that they definitely follow these rules and protocols as the law of God dictates. God says that if a woman is a widow it is up to her husband’s brother to marry her and raise up an heir for his dead older brother. If you recall it was the eldest who inherited everything anyway and the younger son would have had to work for the older son because he would have inherited it all from their father. This was just how it was in the Law. By the younger son refusing to marry the older son’s wife they had legal recourse to take it to the elders and thus the reputation of the younger son who refuses to take his brother’s wife, his name would be disgraced and he would no longer be a person of any significance within the House of Israel. They would change his name to “Him that has his shoe loosed”. We will talk about this more later as we go through the rest of the chapters of Ruth. For now let’s go to verse 2 of chapter two:
Rth 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Obviously Ruth and Naomi are hungry and in need of food. Ruth asks Naomi if she can go into the field and glean to find food for them to eat. Fortunately for Ruth and Naomi God also provided for them in the law of Moses. God wrote a commandment that establishes a principle that we should probably even be following today:
Lev 19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
God told the children of Israel not to pick their crops totally bare. Harvest time was a time to go and reap the crops, but it was also a time to leave some for the poor to come and get also. However, this was not a welfare system like a US government type of program. God did not give anyone anything for free. If the poor wanted to come and work and pick the crop to eat, they could eat, but if they wanted to have someone come and drop it off at their feet, they would go hungry. We can clearly see that Ruth had to go into the field and work to gather their food supply. Being a lone individual, she was unable to get rich from what she picked, but at least they could eat and not go hungry. Ten times in chapter two, it speaks of Ruth going into the harvest field to glean. Boaz happens to own the field that Ruth is working in and he sees her and asks his people who is this and they tell him Ruth the Moabitish who returned with Naomi from Moab. Boaz makes some commands and grants Ruth some extreme favor and grace. He commands his workers to help her gather and not to touch her. She is granted the ability to rest in their facilities and to drink from their water pitchers. This Gentile woman has found extreme favor with the right man and she does not even realize it yet. However, Ruth has one quality that exemplifies her beyond any other that might also be gleaning, she is humble. Humility is always the key to receiving grace.
Rth 2:10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
The Bible says “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). This is a Bible law and an established principle for receiving what you need. Boaz speaks further to Ruth and tells her that she has done well to stay with her mother-in-law and to live with a people she did not know. In other words Boaz was telling her that she had made the right choices:
Rth 2:12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Boaz now tells Ruth that she is trusting in the God of Israel. Because she has placed her confidence in the true God, God will reward her. Another way to say this is there are benefits to trusting in God. Ruth left her relatives and walked away from her old familiar life into a place she did not know and she has now found the favor with God. What made Ruth different than the other hundreds of widows that were in the land at that time? Ruth had faith, she trusted God. I really have not discussed applications of any of these scriptures up until this point. I have told you that the book of Ruth contains many significant types and shadows, which are natural examples of spiritual truths. I guess you might have already noticed that Ruth appears to be a type of the church. Those who have left their old lives and followed after the living God, trusting in His grace by faith. Does this sound familiar? It ought to if you are a Christian.
Rth 2:14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
Continuing through the 2nd chapter we see another pattern being discussed. Boaz invites Ruth to eat with him and gives her bread and vinegar. Did you know that in Bible times you did not eat with someone casually, because by eating with them you were entering into a covenant with them. Simply by sharing bread with someone a covenant is established. If you do not understand covenants, this is not something you do with your enemies by accident or chance because it could cost you your life. A covenant is a marriage in the eyes of God so that is why you do not enter into them by accident. Boaz obviously likes Ruth a lot and has decided by this action to enter into a covenant with her, for her to become his wife. After all of this Boaz commands his reapers to grant her even more favor and let her pick anywhere she wants, even from the parts they are working in. The reapers are further ordered to leave handfuls on purpose for her to get easily. I would say Boaz has a plan.
Ruth goes back to Naomi and tells her all the good news that she knows so far. How she met a man named Boaz and what he had said to her. Naomi becomes ecstatic and almost can’t contain herself and says the following:
Rth 2:20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
Naomi realizes and knows the law of Moses and God. She recognizes now that God has not forgotten them or their dead husbands. It is important to note what Naomi says next about this man named Boaz. She calls him a near kin. That means he is not a distant relative. It could place Boaz in the category of a brother to Elimilech. She then calls him “one of our next kinsmen”. It is interesting to note now that she does not say our next kinsmen, just one of the next kinsmen. What’s the difference? Remember God had a specific order of priority and the oldest always had first responsibility to fulfill the law first. Now here is the introduction to one of the keywords found in the this Book of Ruth that you definitely need to know. The word “Kinsmen” is a Hebrew word that means a “Redeemer”.
What is a “Redeemer”? Obviously a Redeemer is someone who redeems? So what does that mean? It is often compared to someone who visits a modern pawn shop and sells a valuable item for cash. The owner of the pawn shop usually pays them pennies on the dollar for their item in hopes of them not coming back to redeem their item. To redeem your item means you pay the price to get your item back. Does any of this sound familiar? Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, he has paid the price for our sin and bought us back. This is redemption by God from the fact that mankind sold themselves to Satan.
Isa 52:3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
This is God’s message to the church. God declares that we have sold ourselves for nothing and therefore we would be bought back without money. In other words God was not going to pay any money to get us back, but that did not mean it didn’t cost anything. You see Jesus Christ gave his blood and life to pay the price of our redemption and this was more valuable than any money, gold or natural wealth.
At the end of chapter two of Ruth, Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz asks her to only work his field until the time of the end of the harvest season. I really do not know how you can read this story and not see the church and Christ throughout it. Christ owns the harvest field and the church are the laborers that are working to bring in the harvest. There is a coming time of the end of the harvest when it will be over. Jesus said in the Gospels “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few”. Jesus is not talking about a wheat or barley harvest or a natural crop. I guess because the natural Jews do not know the New Testament, they do not see the types and shadows given to them so clearly. It reminds me of a shadow portrait my son had done when he was young. I could look at it and recognize his profile immediately even though it was just an outline and showed no facial details. But, I could do this because I knew him and if you did not know him you would not know who it was a picture of. This is how the Bible is to those who do not know Jesus Christ. Because they do not know him personally, they do not recognize when they encounter a shadow that is projected and points you to him.
If you would like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 3“.
(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.