Today: [Ruth Chapter One]: Ruth – the Story of a Redeemed Life. In this chapter we see the beginning of the story of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner born an enemy of God’s people. She suffers loss and chooses to remain loyal to Naomi her mother-in-law even though it means sojourning as a foreigner is Israel. As a result she becomes an ancestor of Jesus himself and great-grandmother of king David. For us looking back she is a type and shadow of our own soul coming to Christ and for the bride of Christ that Jesus takes to Himself.
[Rth 1:1-22 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man [was] Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one [was] Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
The story of Ruth is the story of a woman of Moab accepting the God of the Hebrews. She becomes the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus. Like the book of Judges it is attributed to the Prophet Samuel but the author is not named in the book itself. The events described in the book take place late in the era of the time of the Judges. In other words during the time when Micah erects the idol at his house and the time when the eleven tribes rise up to punish the tribe of Benjamin of the affair with the Levite and his concubine’s death at Gibeah.
There are those who contend that it was produced in the time of Nehemiah and Ezra when intermarriage between Israelites and foreigners was a crises among returning Jews. The theme is that of loss, loyalty and redemption. According to the principle of 1 Cor. 10:11 Ruth is a type and shadow to the soul and it’s relationship to Jesus as the Boaz of our salvation. She is also a type of the corporate, many membered bride of Christ who is joined to her Jesus/ Boaz at the threshing floor in the time of harvest. The Song of Solomon is the close companion of this book because of it’s romantic overtones.
The scene opens with Naomi’s husband Elimelech taking his family with his two sons to Moab to settle there. A scholar would read this as a metaphor of the children of Israel going into captivity in a strange land. The names of Elimelech and his sons are strongly suggestive of this. Elimelech’s name means “God is My King” implying that though the children of Israel go into captivity their loyalties are with God as their potentate (which of course is questionable because as Deut. 28:6 implies from Moses’ perspective the people would go into captivity specifically because they rejected God as their king). The names of Naomi’s sons mean “sickness, pining and destruction”. They are considered as not being their actual names but literary artifices to establish underlying themes. When you think one of them being married to Ruth who is Jesus’ ancestor it speak of God stepping into the blood line of man to cut off sickness and destruction and bring in Boaz whose name means “fleetness”. The suggestion is that the Lord is swift in bringing salvation and stepping even into our past to bring about salvation in our present because He is the kinsmen redeemer of our soul.
5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. 6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each [of you] in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. 10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go [your way]; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, [if] I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilon die in Moab. Jewish sources suggest that Elimelech left Israel to go to Moab because there was too much poverty and he didn’t want to give of his substance to the needy. He is used a cautionary example of the end of the man who has resources but refrains from helping his brother. Remember that Moab is descended from the incestuous relationship of Lot with his daughters. This also is interesting because the two daughters waited till their father at and drank then lay with him in order to conceive children. In the book of Ruth Naomi counsels her to wait until Boaz eats and drinks and then to lay down and “uncover his feet” which is in other places in the bible is a euphemism for something more intimate. To modern thinking this is controversial but remember in these days a marriage was constituted by something as simple as a husband taking his bride into his mother’s tent (as in the case of Isaac – Gen 24:67).
After the death of the men in the family Naomi purposes to return to her people and tries to persuade her daughters-in-law to return to their own people. She points out that she is too old to remarry or to provide them husbands through the tradition of the kinsman redeemer. This practice arises from the law of Moses whereas when a man died without giving his wife children the next of kin had the responsibility to marry the widow and raise up seed to his deceased brother.
14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. 15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God: 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. 18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. 19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem.
If you look at the types and shadows in this story Ruth represents the soul in need of redemption. Boaz speaks to us of Jesus who in coming to earth became our near kinsmen to deliver us from the power of death and the sickness and wasting of sin. Who does Naomi represent? I think it is clear that Naomi represents the Jewish race who was used by God to bring forth Jesus and also in whose culture the church was born. If Judaism had not colluded in the death of Jesus the book of Ruth would have figured much more prominently in the teaching of the church showing the fraternity between the Jewish people and Christianity and emphasizing the debt that the church owes to Judaism. Some might argue that God never intended anything positive regarding first century Judaism and that there was no way they would have accepted Jesus. Remember however that Jesus said in Matt. 23:37 that his purpose was to gather Jerusalem as a hen would gather her chicks to protect them from an impending storm. As with Judas the death of Jesus was inevitable but the people involved in conspiring Jesus’ death had a choice whether or not to do what they did. So for me Naomi represents righteous Jewry used by God as the instrument through which Jesus and eventually the church itself was brought into the earth.
When Naomi sends her daughters-in-law away Ophrah obeys but Ruth will not be denied. She represents and prefigures for us what it means to accept Jesus as savior. She choose to sell herself into service to her mother-in-law and without realizing it secures for herself by her selflessness a destiny as an ancestor of Jesus. Notice the different aspects of her oath to Naomi:
Where you go I will Go (John 5:19 … I only do what I see the Father do…).
Where you lodge I will lodge (Eph. 2:6 … we are seated in heavenly places in Christ…)
Your people will be my people (John 13:35 … they will know you are my disciples by your love….)
Where you die I will die (Gal. 2:20 …we are crucified with Christ nevertheless we live…)
The Lord do so to me if ought but death part us (Rev. 2:10 … be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life…)
And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, [Is] this Naomi? 20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why [then] call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
Bethlehem is Naomi’s place of ancestry. Bethlehem means “house of bread”. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and referred to himself in John 6:48 and other passages as “the living bread”. Because of the choices her husband made to leave their homeland she now returns destitute and embittered by loss. Her name means “delight” but she rejects this asking to be called “Mara” or “Mary” which means “bitter”. She shares in this an affinity with the mother of Jesus who was prophesied to by Simeon in Luke 2:35 that a sword of bitterness would pierce her as well. At the time of Jesus’ death Joseph is dead. When Jesus’ dies He takes on himself that which Naomi’s sons’ names represent (sickness, destruction and pining). This speaks to us of Jesus becoming sin who knew know sin thus representing in Himself both the husband of Ruth who dies (whose name means sickness and weakness) and the kinsmen redeemer of mankind through the type and shadow of Boaz who we meet in the next chapter.
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