We have seen that the types of the Man of God’s right hand, whom he made strong for himself, are varied in name and character and mission, yet not antagonistic, but rather variety in unity, so that all make one symmetrical whole, and all find their full complement or perfection in the Brother born for adversity, of whom even the pagan Pilate said, “I find no fault in this Man.” In every way and in all his life and ministry and work, Jesus of Nazareth was a perfect Man. He alone, of all men, was this. In him the blessed and holy God himself is well pleased.
We now come to another type of this faultless Man, BOAZ. In his very name, which signifies fleetness and strength, he represented Christ. Boaz was noble and good and great in Israel. Bethlehem was his home, the home of his son David, and the birth place of David’s son Jesus. Jesus was swift to run in the race that God set before him, and strong to finish the work he came to do. Never did he falter or turn back. To his mother he said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” To his Father he said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.”
In this virtue Boaz was a type of Jesus. Naomi said to Ruth, “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”
In the little book of Ruth is given a very touching biography of Elimelech and Naomi his wife, their two sons, and Ruth and Boaz. It says, “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.” Because of a famine in the land of Israel, Elimelech, with his wife and two sons, went to the country of Moab to dwell, and Naomi remained there about ten years. But the Lord did not prosper them in that idolatrous place; or her husband died. Then her two sons married maidens of Moab, named Orpah and Ruth. But, alas! The sons, Chilion and Mahlon, also died, and the three childless widows were left alone in their poverty and sorrow. It was then in the heart of Naomi to return to Bethlehem; “for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. 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.” Naomi entreated them to return each to their mother’s house, saying, “the Lord deal kindly you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. *** Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her. Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.” But she again plead with them to return, and said, “nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her. 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. 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 they God my God; 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. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. 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?” (The name means pleasant.) “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Marah; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 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?”
This was indeed another very mysterious and afflictive providence of God; for it seemed to have well nigh cut off the family of Elimelech; but really it was rich in wisdom and goodness and blessing, not only to the house of Elimelech, but as well to the house of Israel, and overflowing with mercy to the Gentiles. Truly did Cowper write, “God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.” &c.
We have read the words and sentiments of Naomi and Ruth, and have seen how they were received in Bethlehem. Let us seek instruction from them, seeing that the Lord was dealing with them. The sorrowful confession of Naomi showed bitter irreconciliation tot he dealings of the Lord with her, and also unbelief and distrust. This was natural and of the flesh. With her husband and sons she had left her home-land and inheritance and people, that they might do better for themselves among the idolatrous Moabites. She returned in ten years to Bethlehem, bringing only Ruth with her, each of them widowed and empty handed. Her husband’s inheritance in Judah had been sold for debt, and this left herself and Ruth, the widow of her younger son Mahlon, homeless, for they could not redeem the forfeited inheritance. Naomi was old and infirm, and so the youthful Ruth was under the humbling necessity of gleaning after the reapers in the harvest field, to pick up the crumbs that fell from the master’s table, that Naomi and herself might have bread. This sadly explains the words of Naomi: “I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty.” She was willing to go out, that she might keep all she had, and not lose it by the famine in Israel; but now, because she was empty, she was willing to return home again. It was in this way that the Lord brought her home again.
In all this there is a wonderful lesson of spiritual doctrine and truth. Naomi was an Israelite, as were her husband and their two sons; so all their inheritance and fullness was under the first and legal covenant. All this had been forfeited under the law, and was gone from her, and she had neither husband nor son to redeem it. She was no longer a married wife, neither full nor rich, but empty, grieved and forsaken. She had left to her the cleaving, loving, Ruth only, but she was as poor and homeless as herself. Naomi confessed that the Lord brought her home again in this sorrowful way, having Ruth only with her; still it was true that the Lord had brought her home, home to Bethlehem, home to his people and her people, home to her kinsman, the mighty man of wealth, the noble Boaz.
In all this sorrowful way, which was of the Lord, the bereaved and dear Naomi, who was still pleasant, was a beautiful and true type or figure of the Hebrew church of Christ. For all that was true of Naomi in her experience in going out full, and in the Almighty dealing very bitterly with her, and in bringing her home again empty, was as touchingly true also in the Lord’s dealings with the gospel church among the Jews. For he took away from them their legal head, their first husband, their children under the law, and all their inheritance and fullness in the old covenant.
As Naomi went away from Judah to the country of Moab, so did her legal people depart from that covenant, and they lost all their legal fullness. To suffering Naomi it was a bitter way indeed, yet it was the Lord’s good and best way to bring her home to a better inheritance, and to rest in a richer faith and trust. Paul clearly shows all this, by relating all his advantages and fullness in the law as an Hebrew, and then says, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things.” In this way only could Paul know and be brought into the fullness of Christ, and Christ become more than all else to him, and blessedly be all in all.
Having seen how the Lord was wonderfully shown us that in the typical Naomi, let us now return to the lovely Ruth in the little city of Bethlehem. She was a Gentile, but had forever turned away from her natural people and their gods, henceforth to live and die with the people of Naomi, and to worship her God. We have read her precious words to Naomi. Truer love, stronger faith, firmer trust and more undying devotion to God and his people could not dwell in the heart of any one, even Mary the mother of Jesus. It beautifully manifests the blessed and sweetly overcoming power of the God of all grace in bringing home to himself the stranger, the Gentile Ruth, to live to him in the same faith and can fail to be filled with hearty admiration and esteem for both the Jewish mother and her Gentile daughter, for their endearing love and union to each other. This is a sweet wonder, seeing that the Jew looked upon the Gentile as unholy and unclean, as no better than swine.
We have seen that Ruth, whose name means a friend, the true and loving Ruth, was a woman of faith, a faith that could not be turned back, an overcoming and trusting faith in the God of Israel, This was Naomi’s God, and now no less the God of Ruth. In this faith and uniting love they two were one, and their people one.
All will now see in lovely Ruth a beautiful type of the Gentile church. Poor in herself and a stranger, her faith in God had separated her from the world in which she once was at home, and it had joined her to Naomi and her people in Bethlehem. Most touchingly Ruth walked by faith, and was saved by hope. For her faith and hope in the God of Naomi was all she had in the world to look to and trust in. True, Naomi was with her as her loving mother, but Naomi was as poor and needy herself as Ruth, and they were then both desolate widows, sorrowful and having no inheritance. God alone could provide for them now, build them a house and give them an inheritance. With nothing in their hands, having neither husband nor son, the God of Abraham had brought these two sorrowing women to Bethlehem. O how sadly interesting they were! It is no wonder “that all the city was moved about them;” for our own hearts are moved about them in love and sympathy.
We behold in Naomi and Ruth, Jew and Gentile, thus united as one in the same faith and love to God, the one church of Christ in her desolate widowhood and poverty in herself, before the spiritual Bridegroom manifestly betroths her unto himself in bonds of love and faithfulness, and seals her upon his heart as his bride, all fair and lovely.
In this place it is edifying and profitable that we notice the commendable example the Lord has wisely given the church in Ruth, of a true believer in coming to dwell with his people in the church. Naomi, a type of the church, did not urge or persuade Ruth to go, nor even invite her, but urged her to go back to her natural people, as Orpah had done, and told her of her own afflictions, and that she could offer her no natural inducement to cast her lot with hers in Bethlehem. This proved the faith of Ruth, that it was in God, and she must be true to her faith. “Faith worketh by love, and purifieth the heart.” It was her faith that separated Ruth from her worldly people, and turned her willing feet to go with Naomi. The same faith in Moses led him also to choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Seeing this in sweet Ruth, Naomi was content to have her with her. Had she urged Orpah, as many are urged now, she would also have gone on with them to Bethlehem, as she had started to go. But this would have been worse for both Naomi and Orpah, because she was moved by sympathy and natural affection only, and she could not have felt at home with the Lord’s poor and afflicted people. It is needless and wrong, therefore, to urge any one to go to the church; for until they are drawn and moved, like Ruth, it were better to follow the example of Orpah. The Lord in his perfect love and wisdom has given his people these true examples and patterns for our learning.
Boaz now appears to Naomi and Ruth, and he is another worthy and noble example. The Lord, the God of his people Israel, raised Boaz up for that time, and specially honored him, so that he became renowned in Israel, as we shall see. Yea, the Lord made Boaz the head of the house of Elimelech, the restorer of the lost inheritance to both Naomi and Ruth, and the illustrious ancestor of the house of David the king, of whom Christ came according to the flesh. All this was through blessed Ruth, and for her sake. For both King David and his son King Jesus were sons of lovely Ruth, the woman of faith. “This is the LORD’S doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Do we wonder now that Elimelech and his two sons, in whose name was the inheritance, must be sent through famine into the country of Moab and there lose their inheritance through poverty and death, and there leave three desolate and poor widows? For this was God’s way to take away the legal inheritance, to restore to his poor people the better gospel inheritance, to bring in the Gentiles as fellow-heirs with the Jews, and to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. The hand of the Lord directed it all.
It was the time of barley harvest at Bethlehem when the Lord brought his daughter Naomi home, and her trusting Ruth with her, to share her poverty. And thus through hunger Ruth went into a near field to glean, or gather up the heads of grain that might be left by the reapers. This was the law in Israel, that the poor might live. The Lord blessed the poor, and they have the gospel preached to them. It is because they are poor that they feast on its riches.
“And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him whose sight I shall find grace.” Behold her faith! “And she said unto her, Go my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. And, behold Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.” Seeing Ruth gleaning, Boaz asked them, “Whose damsel is this?” Being told, he said to her, “Hearest thou not my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: *** and when thou art athirst go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him ‘Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.”
“So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest.” He had commanded his young men to let her glean even among the sheaves, and to let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she might glean them. Ruth related all this to Naomi, who said unto her, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, the man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.”
To the nearest kinsman in Israel belonged the right of redemption of the forfeited inheritance, that he might justly restore it to the family in rightful possession. Naomi and Ruth were the only remaining heirs of the family of Elimelech, and they were equal heirs. Now it was in the heart of Boaz to perform the kinsman’s part for Ruth, by making her his wife, thus restoring her and Naomi to the inheritance, and making them the happy possessors with himself of his own rich inheritance and home. But there was a nearer kinsman than Boaz, as he told Ruth, whose claim upon Naomi and their lost inheritance was first. So Boaz said to Ruth, “If he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well, let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth.”
Before ten of the elders of the city this one thus answered Boaz: “And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.”
“And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s, and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the eldres said, we are witnesses.”
“So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife.” Unto them was born a son, And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age, for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women and her neighbors gave it a name saying, There is a son born unto Naomi, and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Obed means worshiping God. How true this name was of Boaz and Ruth and Naomi, and how true the prophecy of the women, that this son should be famous in Israel, and should restore the life of Naomi; for of his sons there should be raised up unto Naomi and Ruth and the house of Israel a line of famous kings, from David unto Christ. And so Ruth was indeed better to Naomi than seven sons.
Now all this is truly blessed and wonderful. The infinite love and wisdom and omnipotent power of the God of Boaz and Ruth only could have accomplished it. Here was poor Ruth, a Gentile stranger, who had come from afar, an humble gleaner, now exalted to honor and riches, and made the happy wife of Boaz, a Jew! Yea, she became the near ancestress of the renowned King David; yea, too, of King Jesus, the Son of David, and the last King to reign upon the throne of his father David; for he was of her family in Israel! It is al most blessed and glorious. God, and not man, had wrought it all. Most wonderfully did the Lord fulfill the blessing of Boaz upon Ruth at their first meeting, saying, “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
Boaz and Ruth are one, she the happy bride, he the rejoicing bridegroom; and in them the Gentiles are one with the Jews, their fellow-heirs to the same inheritance. And better still, through the lovely Ruth, our friend, the holy child Jesus, the Son that God gave unto us, is one with us Gentiles.
Now this leads us to enquire, By what law of righteousness Boaz redeemed the forfeited inheritance of Elimelech, restored it to Namoi and Ruth, made her his bride, and raised up a son and heir to Elimelech and kindredship. This was God’s law in Israel. The right of redemption and of marriage to the widow of the kinsman belonged to the brother or nearest kinsman. This was a sacred right. Boaz was a noble son of Abraham, the friend of God, and he esteemed it an honor to himself to honor this righteous law. But there was a nearer kinsman than himself and this one held the first claim against this poor family. But we have seen that Boaz redeemed this claim unto himself, and then fulfilled all the law of redemption, most happily to Naomi and Ruth. In all this it could be truly and righteously said of him, “Then I restored that which I took not away.” These are the words of One greater than Boaz, even of the Redeemer of his father’s family, our spiritual near kinsman.
Thus it was in all these respects, as we have seen, and very specially as the near kinsman and redeemer, the restorer, that Boaz was the noble and renowned type of our Brother Redeemer. What, then, did the nearer kinsman typify? Who said, “I cannot redeem it,” and whose claim Boaz honored by redeeming it to himself. He evidently represented the law of justice; for we know that the law could not redeem that which was forfeited and held under bonds. Yet the claims of the law were just, and they must be met righteously, and met, too, by a near kinsman, one in whom was the right of redemption, as shown in the typical Boaz. Paul therefore says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, (not by us,) who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We may truly say of Naomi and Ruth, that in the spirit of the law of redemption it was fulfilled in them, and they walked in its fulfillment rejoicingly, but their rejoicing and their happy freedom from condemnation, and justification unto righteousness, was in Boaz, their near kinsman and redeemer, and not in themselves. In this Naomi and Ruth personated the church under the law, and the redeemed church under grace, even as Boaz personated Christ, the spiritual Bridegroom and Head of the church. In Boaz there was a blessed redemption and free inheritance for both Naomi and Ruth, Jew and Gentile. The same is more blessedly true in Christ Jesus the Savior of the Jews and also of the Gentiles.
“Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” This is true as well of the Jew as of the Gentile. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into on Spirit.”
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh and enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and come and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
How happily this was prefigured by Naomi and Ruth in the house of Boaz, and how dear was their love and sacred their peace! We have seen that Boaz was the same near kinsman to Ruth that he was to Naomi, before he married Ruth, he being the brother of their husbands, or their near kinsman. In the absence of this kindredship, which must be near, the right of redemption could not have vested in Boaz, but because of it, Naomi and Ruth, representing the children of God among the Jews and the Gentiles, are made one blessed family in Boaz and in Jesus. For Jesus was no less the near kinsman of Ruth than he was of Naomi and Boaz, both in the flesh and in the Spirit. As the Son of David, Jesus was descended from no less than four Gentile women. Of these our typical Ruth, the bride and the joy of the mighty Boaz, was the most illustrious, because she was the very embodiment of overcoming Faith and blessedly personified the bride of the Son of God, the household of faith.
Boaz loved Ruth, and gave himself for, her that all his honor and riches might be hers with him; so likewise did Christ love the church, and gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church. Boaz, the near kinsman, redeemed Naomi and Ruth up out of poverty, putting them in possession of his own inheritance; and so Christ brings home all his kindred from legal bondage and Gentile idolatry, to love and worship God in the beauty of holiness, and will say to them. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
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