Ruth chapter 1-2
The lovely book of Ruth is a story of Divine Grace and Redemption, a story of departure and the recovery, through grace, of an inheritance lost through death. Let us try to find the wonderful spiritual lessons in this story.
Meaning of the names
It is a story chiefly concerned with one Jewish Family, the Family of Elimelech and Naomi. The meaning of their names, as with so many names in Scripture, is very significant and instructive.
Elimelech means: ‘whose God is King’, Naomi means: ‘my pleasantness’. In these two names we see Israel's original status and position before the Lord and the Lord's appreciation of His people, a position and an appreciation which will find its ultimate fulfilment in the Millennial reign of our Messiah Yeshua. Then the Lord will reign as the King of Israel and His people will be ‘His pleasantness’.
Departure from the house of bread
The first verse of the Book links it with the period when the Judges ruled in Israel, generally a period when the nation of Israel repeatedly departed from the Lord. Their condition is summed up in the words of Judges 17:6 "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes". This period of departure was reflected in the family of Elimelech. They had departed from Bethlehem - Judah (the house of bread) a place where bread was promised but due to persistent disobedience there was a famine where there ought to have been bread. They went out from the inheritance and sojourned in the land of Moab and while in that Land their sons took wives of the women of Moab, one was Orpah and the other Ruth.
From the house of bread to the house of death
The land of Moab brought only one thing to Elimelech and his sons, 'death' and death outside the land of promise. With them also died any claim on the inheritance, for all males were dead and there was no seed raised up to claim the inheritance. In her great sorrow and desolation Naomi hears wonderful news. The Lord had visited His people in giving them bread, and she decides to return to Bethlehem-Judah. Initially her two daughters-in-law begin the journey with her but she implores them to return to their own people and Orpah is content to do so, but Ruth cleaves fast to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18). A Gentile Ruth cleaves unto all that she knows of the Lord and His people and all she knows of the Lord and His people she has heard from Naomi. And so it is through the Bible, which came to the world through the Jews, that Gentiles can come to a living knowledge of the God of Israel.
Arriving at Bethlehem
What a pitiful sight Naomi and Ruth must have made on their arrival at Bethlehem in Judah. One was bereft of all and one was a stranger. Since AD 70 this has been Israel’s condition bereft of King, Temple, Priesthood and Sacrificial System and wandering as a stranger. They arrived at the time of barley harvest, yet how could they share the bread as they had lost their inheritance. All the males were dead and there was no heir. No seed remained capable of taking up the inheritance.
God's grace intervenes
Here we are shown a great principle as far as the Lord's dealings with His people are concerned and indeed with man in general. It is only when the flesh has come to the end of itself that the Lord intervenes in Grace. When everything has been lost through death, restoration is only possible on the grounds of resurrection and that is a Divine work. This has been the Lords way with Israel in the past and will be in the future. Genesis 15:2 Abram asks the Lord: "Lord God what wilt Thou give me seeing I go childless?" and Abram is again promised seed. In Genesis 16 a son is born to Abram of Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, but this was not the chosen seed for the chosen seed demanded life from that which was dead, three times it is stated in Scripture "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" Genesis 21:22, Romans 9:7, Hebrews 11:8. "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age,...."Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable." Hebrews 11:11-12. The flesh can have no part in the purposes of God Romans 7:18 "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing..." Ezekiel 37 speaks of a day yet future. Ezekiel is shown a valley which was full of bones and asked in verse 3 "Son of man can these bones live?" and in verse 12 he is told to prophecy unto the house of Israel saying "Thus saith the Lord God; behold O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. " The principle is again the same life from that which is dead. Thus the tremendous truth of Romans 11:15 is not an isolated truth but is the principle of Gods dealings in Grace with His people Israel. "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
Boaz is introduced (Ruth chapter 2)
What a lovely type Boaz is of our Lord Messiah. When all the efforts of the flesh have failed and restoration is only possible on the grounds of resurrection, it is only then that we are introduced to Boaz. A picture of the one who said to Martha "I am the Resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25. Chapter two of the book of Ruth begins not with what Boaz has done but what he is in Himself. Many times we can be so taken up with the work of redemption that we forget the Redeemer. What He has accomplished is a result of what He is in Himself. The first verse reveals that Boaz had the power to Redeem "A mighty man of wealth" and that he also had the right to Redeem he was "of the family of Elimelech" (a near kinsman). What a wonderful picture of Israel’s own Messiah.
Ruth seeks the Divine favour of the God of Israel
As a Gentile Ruth was an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12). It is to be noted that the link with the Kinsman Redeemer came, not through Ruth but through Naomi – ‘And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and His name was Boaz.’ (Ruth 2:1). The Messiah Himself speaking with the Samaritan woman at Sychar’s well, told her: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22). Ruth sought shelter under the wing of the God of Israel but she could only find it through Boaz. Though Israel, like Naomi, have departed and are, as a Nation in unbelief, yet Paul says in Romans 11:11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Directed to the field of Boaz
"Her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz" (Ruth 2:3). Those that would seek Grace the Lord directs to the field of Boaz which is The Word of God, for all Scripture testifies of Christ. The Hebrew word for ‘hap’ means ‘by chance’ and so it seems to those looking on that conditions and circumstances in the world have changed by chance and yet those who believe the Word of God will discern the Lord's hand in bringing about the circumstance where the Jewish people have His Word in their own language and are to be found gleaning in the field of Boaz.
Two things Ruth did not know
While diligently gleaning with a hunger and a zeal Ruth was unaware she was in the field of Boaz and though the field is often referred to as the field of service Ruth could not have been serving as she had not yet met Boaz. We cannot serve the Lord until we know Him. She was gleaning in His field but she did not know it was his and she did not know him.
Today many orthodox Jews are searching the Scriptures daily gleaning in the field of Boaz in those things that testify of Him and yet unaware the field is His. The Lord said in Luke 24:44 "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me". Many times, just like Mary, much that is gleaned is kept and pondered in the heart Luke 2:19. Jacob did not know the identity of the man that wrestled with Him through that dark night at Peniel, for two thousand years a man has wrestled with Israel His identity unknown to them, it is the man Christ Jesus.
"And behold Boaz came from Bethelehem"
Ruth beheld a wondrous sight while gleaning "and behold Boaz came from Bethlehem" (2:4). Many people for the first time are seeing Him in all His beauty through the reading of the New Testament Scriptures Matthew 1:1 "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ" "Behold Boaz" (in whom is strength).
She learned he was near of kin (RUTH 2:20)
"The man is near of kin unto us" (2:20) as "the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew 1:1). One who not only has the power to Redeem but also the right to Redeem. The Amazing Grace of God in bringing Ruth into the Royal line of Messiah overruling Elimelechs departure and establishing His promises through Divine Grace. That is what Lord does to believers, also in our days!