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Meditations on THE BOOK OF RUTH

PART III

After the barley harvest and wheat harvest had been completed, Naomi proceeded to give Ruth further instructions as will be seen in the third chapter and first four verses. She again reminds her of the fact that Boaz is “our kindred”, and in as much as the barley harvest has been completed, the “winnowing” is to take place that night in the threshing floor. Now, dear reader, do you not remember something about this threshing in the night time in your experience? You may have said, while standing in the field (or under the law) and the wind and storms beating upon you, “Oh, Lord, this is dreadful; I cannot bear any more,” but at last we come through the threshing machine then winnowed. Through this process, the precious is taken front the vile or the wheat is taken front the chaff. We have an example of this in Peter's denial of his Master the night the Savior was crucified. He went out and wept bitterly, and the Lord turned and looked upon Peter and said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” He did not say that Peter's self-confidence would not fail, but “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Peter had said before, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” How graciously did the Master say, “Get thee behind note, Satan: thou art an offense unto me.” Again he said, “before the coals crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Now comes the test. The little damsel said, “thou art a Galilean.” Poor Peter is now scared and is now put into the Lord's sifter which is a part of his threshing machine, and it is operated by Satan, in order to remove in Peter his self-confidence from faith, hope and charity, which always remain in the sieve. “There abideth faith, hope, charity, these three.” Peter must learn again not to trust in self and must learn also the truth of what Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing.” How often we have to be brought through this experience! So Naomi said to Ruth, “Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor.” According to her instructions, she went down to the threshing floor. “When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn.” Truth came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. What a striking figure! Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and heard his words. She washed his feet and wiped them with the hairs (her glory) of her head. Is this not the feeling of every humble sinner to lie at the feet of Jesus find hear his gracious words as Ruth heard them from the lips of this “mighty man of wealth”, Boaz? She now desires more of his loving kindness. This, she signifies by saying, “spread therefore thy plaint over thine handmaid.'' Now she relates to him what Naomi has acquainted her with before, “for thou art a near kinsman.” Boaz tells her that she is a virtuous woman and he assigns the reason as being that she followed “not young men, whether poor or rich.” Solomon said, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” Prov. 31:29. The eye of Boaz is fastened upon Ruth. His heart and affection go out to her as if to say, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Cant 4:7. Boaz now replies to Ruth regarding her kinship to hilly and he introduces the subject by saying, “Now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.” I ask the patience of my readers while I endeavor to explain, by the help of God, this wonderful mystery. To my mind, this “nearest” kinsman does not apply to our nearest kin in earthly ties, but the first right in matrimony is invested in the elder by reason of God's 1aw which was given to Moses as will be seen by the words of Laban to Jacob: “It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfill her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.” Now Leah was tender eyed (or nearsighted) . Is she not a type of the law? While “Rachel was beautiful and well favored,” and to my mind is a type of the gospel. Paul said, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another.” Paul did not say that the law was dead, but “ye also are become dead to the law.” He expresses it in this way to show that the law has no power to give eternal life and happiness, for he goes on and says further that if there had been a law given that could have given life, verily, righteousness should have been by the bat. Now after we have learned by our experience that the law is a failure, and having come to the end, we are now prepared to receive the following words: “Then said I, Lo, I Go come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will, O God.” Heb. 10:7. “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” Now when the day dawns, Ruth takes the six measures of barley which she received at the hand of Boaz and hurriedly goes back to her mother-in-law and tells her how graciously, kindly and wonderfully she has been favored at the hand of this ''night man”. Let us take special notice that in all her gleanings and gifts, she always went home and shared her blessings with her mother-in-law. Hoes beautifully this agrees with the language of our Master, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.” As we read the eighteenth verse, again, our minds are attracted by the wonderful words of Naomi, “Sit still my daughter.” Is it not good to sit; still sometimes and see what the Lord will do? Moses said to the children of Israel, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Naomi said also. “For the man will not be in rest, until we have finished the thing this day.” As proof of this statement, Boaz went up to the gate of Bethlehem Judah in search of this nearest kinsman and he “came by”. He did not call his name, but said, “Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here.” While it is on my mind, I would like to again reiterate as previously stated in a former article that Naomi is a type of the church under the law dispensation, and ail the instruction that she was giving to Ruth was making her better acquainted and bringing her to Boaz. The law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. These words do not signify that you can come to Christ, but they simply mean that you have completed your school under the law and are now prepared for the reception of Christ. Just as a schoolboy, when he finishes the grammar grades, is ready for high school. As Laban said to Jacob, “Fulfill her week” (yeah, the law), then it was legal according to the lair of Loses for him to take Rachel also. Let it be fully understood that the nearer kinsman, Boaz, does not have a legal right to marry Ruth until he obtains it from the court of Israel. This he proceeded to do by taking “ten men of the elders of the city” of Bethlehem Judah, also “all the people that were in the gate” to bear testimony to all that was said between him and the nearest kinsman. The ten elders of the city, to my mind, represent the ten commandments of the law, while those that were in the gate represent the gospel. Remember, dear reader, that both sides must hear all the evidence and be witnesses to every word and to the whole transaction that is made between Boaz and the nearest kinsman. It takes two witnesses in court to establish a thing beyond a reasonable doubt. So it takes the law and the gospel to establish the fact that Jesus proved his right as the legal possessor of his bride. How beautifully this agrees with the inspired prophet of old: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. Boaz said unto the kinsman, “Naomi that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's.” He also acquainted him with the fact that he, the nearest kinsman (or law), has the first right to redeem it. So the nearest kinsman said, “I will redeem it.” Then said Boas, “What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.” Who can this dead signify except dead sinners ? “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and in sin.” So through this marriage of Bow, and Ruth, the name of Mahlon was raised up. As the type, so is the reality. Through this conception of Jesus and the church, these dead sinners are raised up. I now return to the nearest kinsman. When Boaz explained the full requirements and the things that were necessary to be done in order to obtain this field, the nearest kinsman said, “I cannot redeem it.” “Redeem thou my right to thyself.” This expression is positive proof and a full acknowledgement that he is a failure. And he further proves this by taking off his shoe. How agreeable are the words of the apostle, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh.” Now Paul did not say the law was weak, but it was “weak through the flesh,” for he said that, “the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” But not so with Jesus, notwithstanding the fact that “It behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.” “Yet without sin” there was no weakness in him. He met the requirements of God's just and holy law, satisfied its full demands and kept it to a jot or tittle.

(To be continued)

Elder T. Floyd Adams
Willows Spring, N.C.

Signs of the Times
Volume 113, No. 3
March 1945