RUTH: THE LINK FROM JUDGES TO THE KINGS OF ISRAEL
(Continued from No. 14)
"So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son (Ruth 4.13)."
In our lengthy series of articles drawn from the book of Ruth we have strived to maintain our original theme, predestination from Genesis to Revelation. With some few points of considerable interest, a conclusion to our review of the book of Ruth is now contemplated. As always, it is our fervent prayer the Lord would bless both writer and reader.
"Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down (Ruth 4.1)."
Boaz was a type of Christ. To discover some of the particular beauties of this fourth chapter, contemplations on the type and anti-type will be beneficial.
The prominence and position Boaz maintained in Beth-lehem-judah were well known. He was apparently beloved generally by all with whom he engaged in commerce. His coming to the gate, commanding attention and respect, ordering the posture of those assembled, indicated he stood in renown. Upon arrival of the nearer kinsman, Boaz said "Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here." We are not informed what business the kinsman had there, but Boaz waited him out as if he knew he would come by that way. We previously mentioned how it was certain the kinsman would show up, and just on time; otherwise confusion would have prevailed in the very plan of God. The birth of Obed, Jesse, David, and all the rest of that blessed line to Jesus the Lord hung in the balance. The reason we can say it was certain? Pre-destination!
Predestination! A (any) destination planned beforehand by God for His good purpose. This destination, planned beforehand, was the prompt arrival of the kinsman at the gate of the city. So up he came, at the very same day, hour, minute, and second that it was determined for Boaz to be there also. Arminians shall fan out the flames of eternal hell before they overthrow the truth of God's universal government displayed in this episode. Boaz and the nearer kinsman would meet that day. They would resolve the issues. The nearer kinsman had to be dismissed from consideration as redeemer by his own inability to fulfill the role. Boaz was to be the supreme figure in the conclave as they met at the gate of the city. Thus, the nearer kinsman fulfilled all that was predestinated for him.
"Ho, such a one! Turn aside, sit down here." Boaz does not call the man by name, or at least the Spirit of inspiration did not suffer it to be recorded. All we need to know of this kinsman is what was recorded. It is extremely instructive to see that when Boaz spoke, the kinsman responded accordingly. The nearer kinsman could have sprouted wings and flown away as easily as he could have refused the dictates of Boaz. Should any disagree, or perhaps find our assertions repugnant, we ask pointedly - offer proof to the contrary. What are the facts? This: Boaz requested the kinsman to turn aside and sit down. Did he refuse? Not a squirm or wiggle was evinced. The fact is, he turned aside; he sat down.
"And he [Boaz] took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down (Ruth 4.2)." Order, under the steady direction of Boaz, continued. Boaz probably selected ten men, both out of custom, and to signify the law with which they were engaged. Whatever the reason, there was no problem for Boaz to assemble this council. As a type of our dear Lord and Master, Boaz would certainly realize his will without the slightest impediment. It would not be amiss to say - these ten elders were made willing in the day of his [Boaz's] power.
All things were ready. This extraordinary procedure was to be enacted by the convocation at the gate. The time of redemption was at hand. Either Boaz (the active) or the nearer kinsman (the passive) would redeem the inheritance of Elimelech.
Viewed from the perspective of a free-willer, a clash of wills and temperaments might have developed. The scene had the makings of a conflict of great proportion. The Arminian observer would wait with tense anticipation the uncertain outcome. Who, if any, would marry Ruth? Would Boaz or the kinsman of first claim prevail? Questions always surface when affections are driven by fleshly reasoning. May the Lord be praised, believers do not anticipate the capricious decisions of man, nor await mysterious outcomes either. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord (Proverbs 16.33)." Before the earliest motions of the created universe had pulsated, the issues of that momentous day were settled. "How?" one may ask. How? In the will and good purpose of our heavenly Father! "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; lam God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isaiah 46.9, 10)."
God either was, or was not, involved in the matters between Boaz and the nearer kinsman along with the others assembled at the gate. But, if God was not involved in the affairs at the gate then there was no certainty that anything would result favorable to the birth of Obed. He may, or he may not, be born to Ruth and Boaz, if God had no hand in events. If the birth of Obed was not determined by God, then it would depend on forces outside of God. The birth would be the result of chance, fortune, or whatever. The thought is frightful! More than frightful, however, it is preposterous. If there are events in which God has no involvement, to that extent He is no God at all. Whatever forces rule or control events which God does not preside over are the gods of those events. Surely, the Arminian would drive God from the universe if they could. God's little children await no such uncertain outcome, however, for their God is sovereign in all things, including the disconcerting of Arminian schemes. "That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish (Isaiah 44.25)."
If God was involved in the affairs at the gate that day then He was fully involved. His ways are not our ways. If God was at all involved, and He was, then His involvement dates from all eternity, before there was a world on which to stage the episode. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He changes not. With Him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. All things are (and always have been) naked and open before Him. He is in one mind. He speaks and His creation obeys. This, our God, is worthy of our worship and adoration, praise, and anthems. He feeds the ravens, upholds the sparrow, adorns the lily, and commands the winds and waves to obey Him. Can such a God as ours absent Himself from the affairs of mankind, leave them to fortune and chance, and abdicate His sovereignty? The power to decide issues that affect not only the nominal affairs of the world, but of the world to come as well, rest firmly in the mind of Jehovah.
God had eternally determined the issue. All events concluded in precise harmony with His holy predestination, Satan and Arminians notwithstanding.
We examine finally some remaining details. Having previously examined verses 3-6 of chapter 4, we turn our attention to the 7th and 8th verses. "Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe (Ruth 4.7, 8)."
The kinsman lamented, "I cannot redeem it" therefore his refusal was to be permanently recognized among his people by the removal of his shoe. This was no ancient custom in the day of Boaz and Ruth, but it did date to the arrival of Israel in the land of promise, probably 135-150 years earlier. Authority for the practice of drawing off the shoe was given in the general instructions from Jehovah to Israel, and recorded in Deuteronomy 25. It was there the authority for raising up the name of the dead brother by his widow was recorded. The drawing off the shoe was a testimony to the refusal of the kinsman to take the wife of a brother. This was in perfect harmony with the directions of kinsman-redemption, found in Leviticus 25.47-49.
To learn exactly what precipitated the removal of the shoe, we cite from the Bible account: "Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed (Deuteronomy 25.8-10)." From this record we conclude that the removal of the shoe was performed by the aggrieved party; in this instance, the widow the kinsman refused to take so the seed of the dead brother might be raised up. The reluctant kinsman did not remove his own shoe any more than he spit in his own face. "So shall it be done unto that man..." makes it clear beyond controversy; the kinsman's shoe was not removed by himself. The shoe was removed by another. "The house of him that hath his shoe loosed." makes it equally clear. The public humbling of this kinsman was inflicted by the offended party.
"Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe." At this point the nearer kinsman of Naomi and Ruth acted in a manner equivalent to the recalcitrant kinsman of Deuteronomy 25. Buy it for thee was the same as saying, I like not to take her. Thus the time had come. The shoe was to be removed, signifying the refusal to redeem.
The question now is: just who drew off the shoe when matters with Boaz and the nearer kinsman were finally resolved? Was it Boaz, or was it the kinsman? From appearance, there seems to be weight of evidence in favor of both positions. On the one hand, the record in Deuteronomy 25 cannot be disputed: the negligent party had his shoe removed by another, the aggrieved widow. However, in the book of Ruth, the language of both verse 7 and 8 makes plausible the opinion the nearer kinsman removed his own shoe. "...a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor" weighs in favor of the kinsman, but could be explained in several ways. It is possible the man mentioned was the aggrieved party, and the neighbor was a bystander or interested onlooker. But that is only speculation - it will prove nothing. It could as well be the practice had been relaxed, thus allowing the kinsman to draw off his own shoe. Rather than suffer the indignity of having his shoe removed by the aggrieved widow, he was permitted to remove it himself. That too is only speculation, but is probably more likely than the first suggestion.
So how shall all this be resolved?
There is no question what Deuteronomy 25 teaches. The insulted widow personally removed the shoe of the resistant kinsman.
We know of no other record in Scriptures to point to, as either corroborating evidence, or that conflicts with the instructions for the removal of the shoe. The issue is, then, do we draw our conclusions from the testimony of Deuteronomy, or do we rely on what seems to be the somewhat different actions recorded in the book of Ruth? There is no hesitation here for our part! The evidence of the distinct instructions in Deuteronomy must prevail. That was the instruction given to the Israelites originally, and it allows no dilution nor dare we view it with indifference.
The suggestion that Naomi and Ruth were not even present at the meeting when Boaz triumphed over the nearer kinsman may be used to question our firm conclusions. Since both were absent, then neither of them removed the shoe as was instructed in Deuteronomy. That is exactly correct, and is also exactly why we propose that the Deuteronomy instructions must prevail. The actions in the book of Ruth only appear to be contradictory.
We mentioned previously that Boaz was a prominent type of our Lord. Never more did he shine forth as a type than when he consummated the redemption of the household of his kin. The glory radiated majestically, even in the removing of the kinsman's shoe. The Deuteronomy account specified the widow take off the shoe of the kinsman for refusing to do the part of a kinsman-redeemer. In ordinary cases, we doubt not that is exactly what took place. In this account, however, we are looking at Boaz, the foremost figure of redemption found in the whole of the Old Testament, undertaking for his kin. So then, to raise the figure above the normal occurrences of kinsman-redemption, which only incidentally prefigure the work of our Lord to redeem, Boaz himself removed the shoe for the aggrieved widow. He acted in behalf of both Naomi and Ruth, though only Ruth was being directly spumed by the nearer kinsman. In fact, Boaz undertook for Ruth and Naomi, and the whole house of Elimelech - to the fullest extent. Whatever debts accrued to their account, Boaz paid them in full, and then finally removed the shoe of the nearer kinsman who refused to redeem.
Boaz redeemed fully. Ruth and Naomi were completely passive. Our Lord redeems fully as well. The elect have nothing to do with their redemption except to be recipients. They too are passive. Boaz, therefore was the fullest figure possible of our Lord in kinsman-redemption. Had anyone else removed the shoe of the nearer kinsman, especially the kinsman himself, it would have greatly demeaned the typical figure.
"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 Mahion's, of the hand of Naomi (Ruth 4.9)." It should not be thought that Boaz paid the price directly to Naomi. Rather, it should be understood otherwise. The right or authorization came from (of) the hand of Naomi but she did not receive payment. Should this be questioned, we recommend the reader review again the account in Leviticus 25.47-49. There it is manifest; the debt was the property of the sojourner or stranger that waxed rich by the poor brother. Moreover, if the price of redemption was paid to Naomi, it would completely falsify the type. Boaz paid the price for, not to, Naomi.
Boaz also certified the whole of his business among witnesses. There was no question - the full work was performed. Complete restitution was made. Never again could a lawful claim be lodged against the household of Eliemlech. What Boaz redeemed was beyond any claim that might be initiated. Better still for Ruth and Naomi, their restitution had brought them into full union with the family of Boaz. By redemption, they were at once elevated to a status far superior to their former migrant-family station. Finally, the wealth and position of Boaz guaranteed the future solvency of Ruth and Naomi. These new members of the family of Boaz were now at rest. No one could henceforth question their position, for they had been elevated to wealth proportionate to the good will of Boaz, which we may say, seemed to be considerable.
The spiritual reader cannot fail to see the beauties in comparing the types Boaz, with the anti-type, Jesus our Redeemer. Wherever Boaz excelled, considerable as that excelling was, our Lord is more excellent and worthy of all praise.
"How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter... (Song of Solomon 7.1)!" There seems to be considerable in the Scriptures to cast additional light on the subject of the shoe and its removal by Boaz. Simple reflection will show that shoes are a necessary component of dress for most occasions. This is particularly true if one is a traveler or making their way from one place to another. We shall offer several thoughts on shoes, in the hope it may further our understanding of Boaz removing the shoe of the nearer kinsman.
Solomon, as well as Boaz, was a type of our Lord. His bride, as did Ruth, represented the church. Solomon exclaimed the beauty of his bride as she was adorned in shoes. The first word of instruction Solomon gave this maid was, "...go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock...(Song of Solomon 1.8)." This indicates she was to forsake friends and family, even all that was dear, and follow him who would be forevermore her companion. The journey would require shoes, for the way would at times be rough and thorny. Thus Solomon pronounced her beautiful when she was made ready for the journey. For Solomon's bride, like Ruth, she had been made ready, and would henceforth journey with her lord in honor. Shoes were a necessary component of dress and adornment, and rendered the bride beautiful in the eyes of Solomon.
There are those times when shoes must not be worn. Those times are similar to the situation of the nearer kinsman. He must have his shoe removed to show his inferior stature to the redeemer. So it was with Moses. With considerable curiosity he approached the bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed. And what was the call of God to Moses when he gazed on the fiery manifestation? "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground (Exodus 3.4,ff)." Now Moses was a man of great attainments (Acts 7.22) and could be considered the finest among the sons of Israel in his day. However, when drawing near to God, his superior, the inferior Moses could not stand in the presence of God while wearing shoes. The bride of Solomon was beautiful in shoes, but Moses, the figure of the law, must remove his shoes. He stood in the presence of the Eternal Flame. The removal of the shoes portrayed the subordinate stature of Moses, especially while in the presence of Jehovah.
Paul wrote the Ephesians to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6.11)." Had the apostle been writing to those that were retiring, or only sitting idly by, this direction would not be nearly so vital. But, the instructions were for those that were to stand against the wiles of the devil, not act the part of idlers. Therefore, among those items of preparedness was the covering for the feet. "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6.15)." Clearly, the church is not like the nearer kinsman, having their shoes removed; rather the precious gospel adorns their walk and protects their feet as they wrestle with principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (verse 12).
Luke records a story having considerable bearing on this theme: A father divided unto his two sons his living. The younger, often described as the prodigal, took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. Soon he had spent all. Next, a mighty famine arose in that land. The son began to be in want. Unable to grub out a living in the fields feeding swine, unable to eat the husks the swine ate, having no man give unto him, he came to himself. He remembered the hired servants of his father had bread, while he perished with hunger. The poor impoverished son vowed to arise, return to his father and confess his sin against heaven and before his father. He would relinquish his sonship and take his standing among the hired servants. "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (Luke 15.20)." The son fulfilled his intentions and confessed his sins. "But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet (Luke 15.22)."
The son was much like Naomi and Ruth. He had come back home from a far country. Just as Naomi lamented, "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty," so had he returned from an extended stay which resulted in bankruptcy. But, returning prodigals, just as Naomi and Ruth, find grace and mercy rather than servitude. Robes! Rings! Shoes! Even the sacrifice of the fatted calf! The son cannot stand in the presence of the father in tatters. "Bring forth the best robe!" It cannot be questioned if the father yet owned the poor vagrant as his son. "Put a ring on his hand!" Finally, the son was not like Moses before the bush burning with fire. Instead of hearing the injunction to remove his shoes, it was said, "[put] shoes on his feet!"
We believe the reader can make the comparisons necessary to find the beauty of this study. Our Boaz will remove the shoe from those that despise the bride. He shall also shoe those for whom He grants repentance.
The reader may find it interesting to give consideration to the Lord washing the feet of His disciples (John 13). To wash their feet meant they would necessarily have to have their shoes removed. This would show their low state before the presence of Him Who would also lower Himself to bow at the feet of His disciples. With this we reluctantly take leave of the book of Ruth. We have only whispered what could be shouted from the rooftops. Our few lines are insignificant, compared to volumes which might be written. Nevertheless, by the leave of our Lord, we have attempted to display from this sublime story how the absolute predestination of all things permeates every line and syllable. In the absence of predestination, the book of Ruth is reduced to random events that might just as well not have transpired at all - but for chance. By the grace of God we have been made to prefer predestination.
J. F. Poole
Volume 11, No. 6