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The Redeemer in the book of Ruth

24th May 2009, seh,mjh

 

1) It's not just a story!

One of the greatest dangers in our reading of the Bible, is that we can treat some of the books of the Bible as mere stories, and as such, we can fail to see the significance of what is written there. We have been advised that the scriptures can make us ‘wise unto salvation’ and the events that are recorded are for “ensamples” and “admonition”.(1Corinthians 10:11)

The two books of the Bible named after women present interesting contrasts. The book of Ruth introduces us to a servant – a gentile among Jews- and the book of Esther presents a queen - a Jewess among Gentiles.


The book of Ruth: redemption of a stranger

The book of Ruth establishes principles that are the foundations of the work of Yahweh through the Messiah. Boaz foreshadowed the character and mission of the Messiah, the Redeemer. The characters of Ruth and Naomi typify those qualities of faith, endurance and patience, that need to be cultivated by the faithful. The redemptive work of Boaz typified the principles of the Abrahamic covenant – the Messianic covenant. The book of Ruth is both history and parable, reflecting the Divine plan of redemption and shows that the Gentiles (non Jews) could be included in the covenant made with Israel on the basis of equality.

It is set between Judges and Samuel and when considered as a type of the future, suggests that at a time when Israel would fall into a state of spiritual anarchy, the Gospel would be proclaimed to the Gentiles, prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

The book of Judges records a period of violence and evil and a time of national misery for Israel. There was widespread apostasy in Israel. Worship had deteriorated to a mere legalistic approach, which destroyed the the true spirit of the Law. In what was a Theocracy, Yahweh was frequently rejected by His people. We are all familiar with the result as recorded in Judges 17:6 and 21:25, “There was no king in Israel; everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.”

The events in the book of Ruth, can be seen as a light in the midst of spiritual darkness. Despite images of chaos and wickedness in the nation of Israel, there were those who remained faithful to the principles of truth.

2) Faithful during trouble

Throughout history, despite anarchy and evil, when the ways of truth and righteousness are abandoned, there are those who remain faithful. During the time of the Judges, there was no renunciation of Yahweh, no public atheism, but there was something more insidious and dangerous. God was retained as a sign or symbol, but there was no recognition of Yahweh as King. Israel maintained a form of religion, but rejected their King.

Ruth, a gentile and from a despised race, not only found a place in Yahweh’s plan of salvation, but as David’s great-grandmother was in the line through which the future Redeemer and King of mankind was to come.

The first chapter of the book of Ruth records how Naomi and her husband had left the land of Israel, the fruitful land, because of famine, which was often the means by which Yahweh punished His people because of sin. (1 Kings 8:35 and 2Chron 7 :12-16)

The worst famine is a lack of obedience to the Word, as in the days of the Judges in Israel. Elimelech’s leaving Bethlehem foreshadows the dispersion of Israel. Elimelech’s name is significant in that it means “my king is God (El)”. His family found no relief in Moab, where Elimelech and his two sons died. In Elimelech’s two sons, Chilion (‘pining’ or ‘wasting’) and Mahlon (‘sickly’ or ‘weak’), there can be seen a future vision of the two divisions of Israel that would go into captivity and exile.

A Stranger takes hold of the Hope of Israel

Ruth, whose name signifies ‘to pasture a flock’ or ‘to nourish’ identified herself with Naomi and thus with the hope of Israel. These two women came together to the land of the covenant. In type, they made up the true Israel, comprising faithful Jews and Gentiles. The Hebrew word ‘shawb’, which is translated ‘returned’, ‘turn back’ or ‘go back’ occurs twelve times in chapter one of the book of Ruth. This stresses the importance of the concepts that are being developed in the book. Naomi and Ruth were returning to the land at the time of the barley harvest, the early spring, which is about the time of the Passover.


The redemption pattern parallel

The section of this book, which is to be focussed on in this article, is chapter two. In this chapter, Boaz can be seen as a type of the Messiah, the Redeemer. Ruth, as a type of the Gentile congregation (ecclesia), gleans in the fields of Israel. She is not idle, nor does she lament her lot in life. She does not want the charity of idleness, but takes the opportunity to provide for her needs and those of her mother-in-law.


3) Boaz as a redeemer

Boaz, who was the son of Rahab, another faithful Gentile, is spoken of as a mighty man of wealth. The word ‘mighty’ is ‘gibbor’ and signifies strong and valiant. In Isaiah, the Messiah is referred to as ‘El Gibbor’. (Isa.9:6) In Bethlehem, Boaz was highly respected and a man of strong character. The name ‘Boaz’ was given to one of the two pillars connected to the Temple of Solomon. In a spiritual sense, the spiritual temple will be established by ‘strong ones’.

In Ruth 2:4-8,we see Boaz and his relationship with his workmen. He shows an interest in their welfare and he greets them in an unusual way. He calls the Name of Yahweh upon them.

The Name

It is not “g’day mate” or “hello”, but “Yahweh be with you”. The workers return the greeting with “Yahweh bless you”. Why does Boaz use this unusual greeting and what could explain the workers’ response?

We see this again in Psalm 129:4-9.

”Yahweh is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion. Let them all be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth before it groweth up;:wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves in his bosom.Neither do they that go by say, The blessing of Yahweh be upon you: we bless you in the name of Yahweh.”

The Psalmist is stating that when people fall away from the truth, they disregard the Name of Yahweh.

In Numbers 6:22-27, it is recorded that it was the Name that was put upon the people of Yahweh The Priests were commanded to do this, as recorded in Numbers.

“Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, Yahweh bless thee and keep thee: Yahweh make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee: Yahweh lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27)


Boaz, as a faithful Israelite, reflects the mind of the spirit and he acknowledges Yahweh’s power in his life and demonstrates this to those in his care and they in turn respond to his example. Boaz, of Jewish and Gentile descent, would have to stand as a faithful witness for all generations.

A Name called upon the people

The following references show some of the instances where Yahweh’s name is called (or ‘put’) upon the people.

Deut 28:9-10, “And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of Yahweh;

Some Bibles have a margin reference to Numbers 6:27 where the name is ‘called upon the people’) and they shall be afraid of thee”.

Amos 9:11-12, “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen…and I will build it as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of Edom and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, (Hebrew ‘upon whom my name is called’) saith Yahweh that doeth this.”
Acts 15: 14-17,”Simeon hath declared how God did at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name…and to this agree the words of the prophets… I will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down… That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles , upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doeth these things”.

In Isaiah 63:19 it is stated that “We are thine thou never barest rule over them, they were not called by thy name.” The margin gives the rendering for ‘not called by thy name,’ as ‘thy name was not called upon them’. Similarly in Isaiah 65:1,where we read “I am sought of them that asked not…I am found of them that sought me not; I said , behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name”, the margin makes a cross reference to Isaiah 63:19, where the same statement occurs, as ‘thy name was not called upon them.’

This concept of rendering “called by my name” as “upon whom thy name is called” also occurs in Jeremiah 7:10 in reference to the house. “And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name.” Note that the margin gives the Hebrew as ‘whereupon my name is called’ for ‘called by my name’.The emphasis is changed and gives greater credence to what Boaz is doing in magnifying the name of Yahweh.


4) Ruth, Boaz and Messiah

In Ruth 2:10, Ruth humbles herself before Boaz. “She fell on her face and bowed herself to the ground.”She acknowledges her gratitude, as she is a “stranger” and in the position of one who has been called out of the gentiles into the hope of Israel and the gospel. Peter and James clearly state that Yahweh

is taking out of the Gentiles a people for HIS NAME” (Acts 15:14)

who are not manifest at this stage.

Ruth reflects the humility of the faithful. She knelt before Boaz. There are many instances recorded in the scriptures of the faithful kneeling in prayer. Solomon knelt when the Temple was dedicated. Daniel, in Babylon, knelt three times daily, facing Jerusalem as he prayed to Yahweh. Ruth, in her thankfulness, acknowledged Boaz as a manifestation of the Redeemer of Israel.

Who is the Redeemer?

Boaz states that the Redeemer is Yahweh. Boaz tells Ruth it is Yahweh,

“under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12)

This analogy refers to the care that Yahweh has for his people. The image is one of warmth, security and protection. It is a refuge. It is an expression repeatedly used by the Psalmist.(Psalm 17:8-9, 36:7, 57:1, 61:4-5, 63:7, 91:4) Yahshua used the same image in Matthew 23:37, when he lamented over Jerusalem,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stoned them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”

This is a very sobering point to ponder that the faithful have so often been rejected by those who should have recognised their messages and heeded their warnings.

In Ruth 2:14, Boaz invited Ruth to his table, as one of his household, to partake of the bread and the wine., which are the tokens of sacrifice and dedication. In Genesis 14:18 , Melchizedek offered these to Abram. Yahshua offers these to his followers. We do the same each Sunday in partaking of the bread and the wine at the Messiah’s table.

Here Boaz can be seen in the role of the Messiah as Redeemer. “The part of a kinsman”is one word in the Hebrew, “ga’al”. The word signifies “to redeem”, In other places in scripture this word has been translated as “near kinsman”, “avenger”, “kinsfolk”, “revenger”, “redeemer”, “deliverer” and “ransomed”. Ruth had two near kinsmen, Boaz and the nameless one in Ruth 3:12. They represent the two covenants in scripture. Boaz represents the Abrahamic covenant,of which Yahshua is the Mediator and the nameless one represents the Mosaic covenant.

In Isaiah, as in many places in scripture, Yahweh is revealed as the Redeemer of his people.

Isaiah’s words here reflect the relationship portrayed between Ruth and Boaz.

“Sing O barren, thou that did not bare…For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited…For thy maker is thy husband; Yahweh of hosts is his name; and thy redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called…In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith Yahweh thy Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:1-8)

This title “redeemer”, is most frequently used by Isaiah, which is significant as the name Isaiah, in its meaning, is very similar to that of the Messiah; Yah shall save. Israel was, in effect, married to Yahweh and Gentiles who desire to share in the redemptive power of Yahweh, must share also in the Name of Israel's husband, even as Ruth took upon her, through marriage, the name of Boaz.

Boaz, as a figure of the Faithful Israelite, exemplifies his trust in Yahweh in his attitude to his workmen and to Ruth. He acknowledges Yahweh in all his dealings with those in his care. Boaz placed Yahweh at the forefront of their daily doings and not only that, he is placing the Memorial Name of Yahweh on his workers in obedience to the divine command as in Numbers 6:27, manifesting the spirit of the Law. “And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them”. It is to be through the lineage of Ruth and Boaz, through Yahshua the Redeemer and Messiah that this earth and mankind will be ultimately blessed.


Recall the words of Malachi 3:16, “They that feared Yahweh spake often one to another…a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Yahweh and thought upon His Name. “These are the “jewels’ (Mal.3:17), written in the Lamb’s book of life, the purchased, the redeemed.

In the words of the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7:26,

“Let thy Name be magnified for ever.”


For more on Messiah's geneology

Twelve spies, two spies, Rahab & Boaz


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