We won’t go over the entire story in detail, but basically the book of Ruth recounts the history of a family. Naomi, her husband and two sons, travel to the land of Moab during a time a great distress and drought in Israel. While there, her sons marry Moabite women but her husband and sons all die, leaving the women alone, heartbroken and destitute.
One daughter-in-law returns to her family, while the other, Ruth, vows to remain with her mother-in-law Naomi and the two travel back to Israel, to the family town of Bethlehem. Naomi sends Ruth into the fields to glean food so they won’t starve, the owner of the field is Boaz, a close relative of Naomi and he’s impressed with the quality of human being that Ruth is, he makes sure she’s able to gather plenty of food and makes certain that she’s kept safe.
Naomi realises this situation could provide redemption of the families historical land as well as the continuation of the family bloodline, if Boaz, the near relative, is willing to redeem them all. But he has to be a legitimate relative, he has to have the wherewithal and he has to be willing. It just so happens, that’s Boaz is all three.
We’ve been talking for some time now about how God describes Himself as Israel’s husband and that Jesus is the Bridegroom of the church, so how does this story of Naomi connect with those relationships? The book of Ruth may be an historical family account, but it’s incredibly prophetic.
So the story is this; Naomi is Israel, she suffered and went into the world, into exile. She suffered great loss while in the world but the light she carried reached a young Gentile bride who joined herself to Naomi/Israel, and Ruth the Gentile bride believed in the truth of God and committed her life to Naomi/Israel and her God.
Through, and in spite of her heartbreak and suffering, Naomi/Israel reveals God’s Law, His Word, and His Truth to Ruth the Gentile bride, and she instructs Ruth of God’s ways. God is nothing like one of many pagan gods and idols that Ruth the Gentile/bride used to believe in, no Naomi’s/Israel’s God is One – the only God and He can be trusted. Naomi’s/Israel’s God makes provision for His own, and even for the poor, broken, downtrodden, weak and vulnerable, and Ruth the Gentile bride learns avidly from Naomi/Israel.
Then Naomi/Israel reveals that God has made provision for redemption; could there be one from among Naomi’s/Israel’s own kin who would redeem what sin and death had taken from them?
Yes, there was! His name was Boaz, he was a kinsman, he was willing – he wasn’t forced – no one made him lay his life down, he was willing to lay it down of his own accord in order to pay the bride price of redemption for the inheritance of Naomi/Israel, and to restore what had been lost through exile and death. He was willing to marry Ruth the Gentile bride, bringing her completely into the nation and people of Israel – she was grafted into Naomi’s/Israel’s people – and as her Goel – her kinsman-redeemer, he would cover her, protect her, provide for her and bless her and secure the generations ahead.
The book of Ruth is the picture of Israel revealing God through brokenness to a destitute Gentile world, providing a Goel, a Kinsman-Redeemer who would pay with His own blood the necessary bride price, to see His own people restored to their inheritance and take a Gentile bride for Himself, the bride being grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel.
God created the marriage relationship primarily to present to humanity the most accurate and perfect picture of the depth of love, commitment, sacrifice and intimacy that He wants to have with His people and His Son wants to have with the world He died to redeem. The book of Ruth presents the relationship between God & Israel and Christ & the Church all in one.
Paul said in Ephesians 2:11-13, “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision’, which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS, you who were formerly far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We HAVE NOT become ethnic Jews, but we have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel.
Many nations have been part of the British Commonwealth, Australia is one, as is New Zealand, Canada, Barbados, Botswana, Cyprus, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago…being part of the British Commonwealth doesn’t mean Australians stop being Australian and are now British, but being a member of the Commonwealth united all member states through language, history, culture, and shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. All the benefits of the British Commonwealth belong to the members of the British Commonwealth; we’re allies, a family if you will.
Any human explanation has its limitations and flaws of course, but for the sake of getting a handle on the issue of Israel and the church it’s a little bit helpful.
Next time will finish off the book of Ruth, and in particular, look at the important and unique relationship that should exist between Jews and Christians.