RUTH - PICTURES OF SALVATION
RUTH and BOAZ.
To meet someone at the airport we don't know we'd need pictures of him to help us recognise him when he comes. These would prepare us for his coming so that we'd accept him and not reject him and let him pass us by. For this reason the Old Testament is filled with pictures of the One who would come to bring salvation (the Messiah). These PICTURES of Jesus are called TYPES of Christ. They describe every aspect of his Person and Work. When Jesus came he claimed to fulfil the whole Old Testament. He's the central character of the whole Bible and key to understand it. With our eyes opened we see Jesus everywhere in the Word and the Bible comes alive with significance. (Luke 24:25-32,44,45).
One of these Pictures of Jesus is found in the great love story of Ruth and Boaz.
It's set in the time of the Judges- dark times in Israel. Against this dark background shone a bright light out of BETHLEHEM that gave hope for the future. The Book of Ruth tells this story which anticipates the true Star of Bethlehem when in a dark world the Light of the World was born and began to shine out of Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) This story, full of love, devotion, faithfulness and loyalty tells the story of Boaz and Ruth and how they come to be husband and wife.
It's a romance that pictures the Divine ROMANCE between Christ and his Church (the subject of the whole Bible.) The Bible starts and ends with a MARRIAGE and the heart of it's revelation is the UNITING of God and man in covenant love and fellowship and co-dominion (MARRIAGE is the best word we have to describe such a union)
The problem is that sin has come in breaking the relationship between God and man leaving us poor, destitute and defenceless. So there's a great obstacle in the way of the fulfilment of the 'romantic' dream of union of God and man.
A great sacrificial price must be paid by the Bridegroom (Christ) We need to be REDEEMED (bought back) to be restored to God and belong to Him. Thus REDEMPTION and THE REDEEMER are the main themes of the Bible. The Drama of Redemption in the Bible tells the story of how the Bridegroom (Christ) out of love for his Bride (the Pearl of great price) pays the price to make it possible for her to be restored and exalted to be His wife. The BRIDEGROOM becomes the REDEEMER of His BRIDE so that the 2 can be one.
The story of Boaz and Ruth is a picture of this drama, and so is a story of ROMANCE and REDEMPTION.
The ROMANCE is the fulfilling of the dream of this union of love against seeming impossible circumstances keeping them apart. REDEMPTION is the paying of a sacrificial price to accomplish this. Union is made possible by the Bridegroom becoming her REDEEMER. The man must take the initiative to redeem. He alone has the power and authority but the woman must accept Him as her husband by accepting his redemption.
REDEMPTION happens when a person or thing has fallen into the hands of another and a PRICE must be paid to get it back. Redemption is the release of a person or thing through the payment of a price or ransom. To redeem is to save or rescue someone from a bad situation, to deliver them out of the hands of another and restore them to blessing, by paying the necessary price. The Redeemer sacrificially pays the price for freedom and the redeemed now belongs to Him. Jesus came to redeem us to God. with his own life, with his own blood! (Mark 10:45, Matt 20:28, 1Tim 2:6, Gal 3:13, 1Pet 1:18,19; Rev 5:9). 'The church of God which He purchased with his own blood' (Acts 20:28). We have been redeemed from the hand of sin, satan, and curse by the BLOOD OF JESUS (the price He paid to set us free to be His Bride - we now belong to him (1Cor 6:19,20).
'Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her...that he might present her to himself a glorious church (bride)' (Eph 5:25,27). The PURPOSE of REDEMPTION isn't just us to save us from sin but to save us for Himself -to be His Bride forever-sharing his eternal life, riches, position and glory -ruling and reigning with Him. REDEMPTION is part of the ROMANCE for itís the Bridegroom overcoming all obstacles to make union possible.
RUTH chapter 1
Elimelech ('My God is King') and Naomi his wife ('Pleasant') have 2 sons. Famine causes them to leave Bethlehem ('The House of Bread'=the place of God's provision) and go to Moab (a Gentile land). This was a BACKSLIDING, leaving God's will leaving the land of promise to find satisfaction in the world. God looked after those who remained in Bethlehem. As a consequence Ebimelech died and as did his sons 10 years later.
Elimelech=Adam whose sin brought destruction and death on his whole family. The sons married but died childless.
Naomi=Israel scattered to the nations who though flawed, brought the knowledge of God to the Gentiles = Orpah and Ruth. One of her Gentile widowed daughters-in-law was RUTH ('Beauty' or 'Rose') Naomi (Israel) returns to the land where she will meet her Saviour. She tries to send her daughters-in-law away to find husbands elsewhere because she can't provide sons for them and as gentiles they'd have no status in Israel.
Ruth ('beauty'- inner and outer) =believing gentiles.
Orpah ('one with big hairdo'-concerned with outward things only) =unbelieving Gentiles. Orpah left Naomi and went back to her gods. But Ruth believed in the God of Naomi (Israel) and so decided to stick close and bless her. Gentiles have come to know God through Israel for He's revealed Himself through her and her Bible. A true believer knows her debt to Israel and blesses Israel. It looked bad but her FAITH IN GOD controlled her actions. (Ruth 1:16-18) As a true SEEKER OF GOD she'll find God and her salvation. (Jer 29:13) She knows He is the God who has revealed Himself through Israel and her scriptures and so that is where she goes to seek her destiny and salvation.
When they return to Bethlehem Naomi calls herself 'Mara'='cursed, bitter' (v20,21) for due to sin sheíd lost her way. The women were empty of husbands and sons. This meant poverty and no future. The family name would end and they were outsiders in society. Naomi and Ruth picture mankind (Jew and Gentile) under the consequences of sin, without hope, powerless to save themselves (Eph 2:12,13) Women on their own (in those days) were outsiders, with no status or ability to provide for themselves. Not having a son to care and protect in later life was a great problem. They were bound to servitude and in great need of a saviour.
Chapter 1 introduced RUTH= a believer seeking after the true God as He has revealed Himself to Israel through the scriptures. It shows us in our great need of salvation and inability to obtain it ourselves.
RUTH Chapter 2 introduces BOAZ= a picture of Christ:
'There was a relative (kinsman) of Naomi's husband, a man of great wealth ...his name was Boaz.'(v1)
(1) BOAZ like Christ was a mighty man-ABLE to SAVE. (Boaz means: 'In Him is strength, Ability')
(2) He was wealthy-he alone has the resources to redeem her.
(3) He was Lord of the Harvest (ch2and3)
(4) Born in Bethlehem (Micah5:2, Matt2:6)
(5) Kind, compassionate, loving -WILLING to SAVE.
(6) He was a KINSMAN to Ebimelech and Naomi.
This is crucial to the story as it qualified him to act as REDEEMER. Likewise Christ was born into the human family to redeem us. He is related to Adam and Israel and so is one of us -our Kinsman-Redeemer.
The Book of Ruth is the revelation of CHRIST as our KINSMAN-REDEEMER, our BOAZ -for 'IN HIM IS STRENGTH and ABILITY' to redeem, save and restore us. He is 'ABLE to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him.' (Heb 7:25).
By 'the Law of Gleaning' (Lev 19:9, 23:22, Deut 24:19) the poor who didn't have their own land could glean the left-overs of any field. Ruth was still outside Christ but was trying to glean what she could from the wheat (the Word) Ruth was led by the Spirit and 'happens' to go to Boaz's field. When our heart is to seek God He'll lead us to the answers. The Spirit leads us to Christ and his fields as He led Ruth to Boaz.
In v6 a Servant (= the Spirit) introduces Ruth to Boaz. He tells her to stay in his fields (v8,9) She asks why she has found grace in his eyes, she being an outsider. (v10) He's seen her and admires her faith in God and loyalty to Naomi, and is attracted to her.(v11)
God sees those who seek after Him and rewards them. Boaz blesses her: 'A full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to trust' (v12) 'He is a rewarder of those who believe and diligently seek Him.' (Heb 11:1). Boaz arranges for her to stay in his fields under his provision and protection. She tells Naomi (the matchmaker) who gets excited because she knows he is a NEAR KINSMAN (v20) which means he has the right to REDEEM them and bring them under the covering of his wings (his authority and blessing).
The key word and concept of the story is KINSMAN-REDEEMER ('GOEL' in Hebrew). He had an important part to play in the life and laws of Israel.
(1) The Redeemer of the Inheritance in the Promised Land Property laws were different to ours. The land belonged to God, who gave each family a part of the land but they didn't have the right to sell it forever. If they lost the land by poverty and debt they could sell it but it was restored to them in the Jubilee. (Lev 25:25-34). Or a KINSMAN had the right to pay the price and REDEEM the land back for the family.
(2) The Redeemer from Slavery
Similarly if a man in debt sold himself into slavery a KINSMAN could REDEEM him and pay for his freedom.
(3) Avenger of Blood (Num 35:9-38). If a family member was killed the nearest kinsman (his Protector) must find the killer and avenge his blood. If it was accidental he could flee to a City of Refuge. When we sin we are under a sentence of death and need to flee to Christ -only in him are we safe. But he was still in danger if he left the city. But when the High Priest died he was free from all condemnation! (Rom 8:1)
(4) The Redeemer of the Family Name and Future by Marriage (Deut 25:5-10, Ruth 4:10) It was a disaster for a man to die without sons to continue his NAME, that he could live on in them. His inheritance in the land and his name would be lost. So his brother was obliged to marry his widow to raise up a son for him thus redeeming his name and inheritance into the future. This is behind the story in Luke 20:27-38. If there was no brother, a near KINSMAN could pay the price to REDEEM the man's future (but he wasn't obligated) It was a sacrifice for he would invest in providing for the widow and the son but the son or the inheritance would not be named as his but his dead brother's. (4:6)
BOAZ is the picture of CHRIST as our Kinsman-Redeemer.
RUTH is the CHURCH - the redeemed.
In order to REDEEM us he must be our near-KINSMAN. That's why Jesus had to become a man like us, related to us by blood to redeem us (Galatians 4:4,5; Heb 2:14-16, Phil 2:5-8, Jn 1:14). Being a Kinsman like Boaz gave him the right to redeem. His perfect life and blood gave him the ability to redeem us. Wealthy Boaz was also ABLE. However neither Boaz nor Jesus were obligated to redeem their Ruth (church) but it was a decision of LOVE. In love, Boaz redeemed Ruth taking her as his wife. In love, Jesus, our Boaz, laid his life down for us to pay the full price for our redemption (full restoration to blessing) Now we are in him, the Bride of Christ and in preparation to be his eternal wife, the completion of our redemption. (John 10:15,18, Ruth 2:1,3:11,4:9). Praise God, in love our 'Greater than Boaz' was ABLE and WILLING to redeem us.
Jesus fulfilled every aspect of the KINSMAN-REDEEMER
The key revelation in this story is of CHRIST - our KINSMAN-REDEEMER.
The Kinsman-Redeemer was a relative who had the right to act as:
(1) The Redeemer of the Family's Promised Land
(2) The Redeemer from Slavery
(3) The Protector / Avenger of Blood
(4) The Redeemer of the Family Name and Future by Marriage.
BOAZ is a picture of Christ our Kinsman-Redeemer. To REDEEM us he had to be our KINSMAN. That's why Jesus had to become a man like us, related to us by blood to redeem us.
In chapter1 we see Ruth, a seeker after God in great need of redemption. Like us she ís powerless to save herself.
In chapter 2 we meet Boaz-the One able to Redeem.
In RUTH chapter3 we see Ruth (us) coming to Boaz (Christ) for salvation.
This redemption results in SHALOM (a state of rest and well-being) (v1)
Boaz, the kinsman is pictured as the Lord of the Harvest who winnows the grain on his threshing-floor. He throws the grain into the air, with a breeze blowing. The chaff is separated from the true grain because it's blown downwind. The chaff is gathered up and burnt. The grain is put into the Lord's barns. Jesus will do this with the unbelievers (chaff) and believers (grain) in the final judgement. (Matt 3:11,12; Ps1:4)
Ruth dresses as a bride (v3) and lays at his feet showing her willingness to submit to him as her lord. (v4). She uncovered his feet so that he would feel the cool night breeze, wake up to cover his feet and find her there! (v7,8) He asks who she is and she answers 'Ruth' and says 'don't just cover your feet, cover me also': 'Spread the WINGS of your GARMENT over thy handmaid, for you are a near-kinsman' (v9)
This was a lovely way of asking him to be her Kinsman-Redeemer.
'Like your feet I'm out in the cold, defenceless. I ask you to redeem me, take me in, protect me, bring me in from the cold. I want to belong to you. You're able to bring me into rest. I can't save myself. I cast myself at your feet. I want to dwell under the shadow of your wings. Spread your authority over me. Warm me with your presence. Let us be united in marriage.'
Boaz was more than willing to redeem Ruth (v10-13). Christ so wanted to redeem us that he died for all. He was glad she didn't go after others.
Jesus is so glad when we come to him rather than go after other things or gods for help. He takes us in. He offers Himself to us, spreading His wings for us to come under. 'He shall cover you with his feathers and under his wings you shall trust.' (Ps 91:4; Ruth 2:12)
Christ like Boaz had the right to redeem but not the obligation. He was willing but could only do it when she came to him and laid at his feet calling upon him to be her redeemer.
Boaz (Christ) was WILLING and ABLE. Boaz (Jesus) didn't have to redeem Ruth (us) but in love he laid his life down for us to pay the full price for our redemption. Sin left us out in the cold but he took us in giving us a covering (atonement) with his redemption (blood). When we come to Jesus we are covered (atoned) with his blood and we are safe from judgement and enter into peace with God, protected for eternity under his wings. Ruth was outside Christ, seeking salvation- realising He was her Kinsman-Redeemer she came to Him, submitted to him as Lord, asked him to cover her so that she would be IN HIM, she trusted in his covering (salvation). She came to Christ personally and asked him into her life and trusted herself under his wings. He took her in. She was seeking Godís salvation, now she found it in Boaz through this act of faith. She trusted herself to him, relying on His character, strength and love, came to him and called upon him for salvation.
But there was a problem: Another kinsman had first rights to redeem. Would he step in instead? He must be given the opportunity. (v12). This raises the issue of whether salvation can be found in anyone or anything else. This is in the story because God wants it known that there is salvation in no one else so that all our trust, love and praise would be in Christ.(Acts 4:12) That's why the law came first, (before Christ) to show it can't save us, nor can we save ourselves by our works. Nor can any other guru or religion save. 'No one can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God any ransom for him. For the redemption (price) of their soul is precious (costly).' (Psalm 49:7-9). To pay for one person's eternal life and salvation is beyond anyone. All are born as slaves to sin (inheriting a sin-nature from Adam) and can't pay the price to set themselves free let alone redeem another!
Only the spotless Son of God born of a virgin is sinless and thus free to save. 'God sent forth His Son, born of a woman...to redeem us' (Gal 4:4,5) He's able to redeem and set us free for the value of His Blood is infinite and able to pay the full price of our redemption! (John 8:32-36) So the Law came first to show it couldn't save. (v13). Boaz sent a coded message to Naomi (v17) in the 6 measures of barley he gave her that day. (Man is to work 6 days before resting in the completed work on the 7th day). He was promising her that he would complete all the work of redemption that day before entering his rest. He was saying- 'leave it to me, I will do it all and see it through.' This is how Naomi interpreted it (v18).
Jesus finished the full work of redemption, paying the full price before he entered into rest and sat down at God's right hand.
In RUTH chapter4 we see the redemption and the blessing procured for Ruth. Boaz invites the other kinsman to redeem the land but when he makes clear that he would also have to redeem Ruth by marrying her he said: 'I CANNOT' (v6) He didn't have the wealth, he couldnít pay the price to redeem, take in and provide for this family. Now the way was open for Boaz to redeem. (v7,8) The removal of the shoe was a shame to the other for not being able and willing(Deut 25:8-10). By it he signed over right of ownership and redemption (the right to walk on the land).
Jesus, our Boaz was the only one strong enough, rich enough and free enough to redeem us. Thank God he was also willing! Boaz (Jesus) paid ALL the price to redeem Ruth and her land (blessings)(v9). Boaz with unselfish love, laid his life and resources down to redeem. What he paid to raise up a family for Ebimelech had to be taken from his own family.
Boaz fulfilled the responsibilities of the Kinsman-Redeemer.
Willing and able to pay the redemption price he:
(1) Redeemed the land (v9) buying back her lost land, so she could live in the blessings (her inheritance.)
(2) Redeemed Ruth from certain slavery (servitude).
(3) Accepted the responsibility of covering and protecting her even with his life.
A Redeemer is described as the RESTORER and NOURISHER of life (4:15)
(4) Redeemed her by paying the price to marry her.
'I've purchased Ruth to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead (Ebimelech) upon his inheritance (land), that the name of the dead be not cut off.'(v10) The sons would continue the family name.
Thus he secured her eternal peace, name and blessings. Her redemption was completed in a fruitful union that produced David and Christ. (v11-20)
Jesus fulfilled every aspect of the KINSMAN-REDEEMER:
(1) He came to pay the price to restore us to every lost blessing, to abide in our promised land. (Gal 3:13,14) (In the fall we lost our land and position (every blessing) in the Kingdom.)
(2) He released (redeemed) us from slavery to sin. We sold ourselves (in Adam) into slavery to sin which had the right to control our future. Only a free and wealthy Kinsman could redeem us from the slave-market of sin.(Eph1:7) A slave can't free a slave. Only Jesus, free from sin, could deliver us, purchasing us with his precious blood (1Pet 1:18,19) No-one else could pay the price for our eternal salvation. The Greater than Boaz is Able ! (2:1)
(3) He's our Protector and will avenge the blood of the righteous. The only escape is to flee into Christ. Heíll destroy satan. He lays his life down to bring us in, protect and nourish us.
(4) He marries us to secure our eternal name, blessings, position, inheritance and future. Redemption is the releasing from a state of poverty and curse (c.f. Ruth) and restoring to blessing and wealth by the payment of a price (ransom) We had no future. We were delivered from being out in cold (outside Christ) and brought into Christ, redeemed by his blood. (Col 1:12-14) Redeemed from slavery we now belong to him, purchased with his blood. Redemption is completed and consummated in the marriage-the fulfilment of the Romance. Christ's redeeming work brings us into union with himself giving us an eternal future, life, inheritance, name, and blessing under the shadow of his wings. Ruth's fruitfulness prophesies the church would be a great blessing.
The greatest part of his work isn't to redeem our blessings (land), but to redeem US, paying the price to set us free and be eternally united to Him. Thus Redemption culminates in the Marriage of CHRIST and the CHURCH. RUTH is a TYPE of the CHURCH - the redeemed community. As a Gentile she prophesies the Gentiles coming into Kingdom of God with full equality in Christ.
To be our Bridegroom, Christ had also to be our Redeemer. The price is paid. We are now betrothed. Our redemption (release) is completed at marriage (the resurrection) (Rom 8:23). Ruth and Boaz (Church and Christ) are united forever in love. Ruth and the land (inheritance) are united forever.
Jesus purchased full restoration for all. In the story in taking Ruth as his wife he gave Ebimelech (Adam-the human race) an eternal name and future. Mankind was fruitless in our marriage (union) to sin. Through Boaz (Christ) man lives on forever. Man is redeemed and has a future. Naomi (Israel) and Ruth (the church) also are redeemed and united in God's plan. Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer will protect us if we put ourselves under his shadow. He will avenge us. His love is shown in that he became one of us to redeem us, paying the price none else could pay for 'IN HIM IS STRENGTH'. He is full of power and life. Like Ruth let us be at his feet and let him cover us.
For salvation we must come to the feet of Jesus and ask him to save us. This is a picture of us coming to the Lord Jesus to save us. (Romans 10:17) WE MUST COME TO JESUS TO BE SAVED! (Matt 11:28). Jesus said: 'He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37).