A Voice in the
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Walk-thru the Bible
-- series --
Chapters - Topics:
- 01 - Famine (ch1)
- 02 - Refuge (ch2)
- 03 - Secure Rest (ch3-4)
Re: Famine (Ruth 1)
"Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was
a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to
dwell in the land of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons." (vs1)
For all the darkness and apostasy we see through the books of Joshua and
Judges, it is nice to finally come to some 'brightness'; like a light
shining in a dark land; a bright spot in an otherwise cloudy history. A
story of Faith and Love. I'm somewhat of a romantic sap for a good
romantic love story; when it's about real love based on mutual
character, not lust. Some married couples find this sort of love; most
don't. And even so much better when the parties also love God.
When Elijah was running for his life and feels himself to be all alone,
that the entire nation is idolatrous and totally wicked; God assures
"Yet I have left in Israel seven thousand, all whose knees have not
bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1Ki19:18)
Throughout Joshua and Judges, as the -nation- was backsliding, we saw
the 'individuals' here and there who were faithful to God. Some knew God
and were strong in their faith. But for the most part, those who knew
God were also weak and fearful, and in some cases, even after great
victories, prone to slipping.
By contrast, in Ruth, we are going to see a person from a pagan nation
whose faith in the Most High is going to be something that most of
Israel should have taken note of to seek to emulate. When deriding
Israel, Jesus spoke in terms of comparisons: comparing faithless Israel
of His day to various pagan nations of history...
"Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works
had been done, because they did not repent: Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to
you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been
done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth
and ashes. But I say to you, It will be more tolerable for Tyre and
Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are
exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty
works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have
remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more
tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
Israel had Jehovah as their God. The pagan nations did not. Israel was
God's "elect" (Is45:4, 65:9,22), and He made Himself known to them,
sending them prophets. To most of the pagan nations He did not. Israel
was supposed to be a light to the nations; a "kingdom of priests".
(Ex19:6) And it was through Israel that Messiah would come. (Is42:1-7)
And when Messiah came "to His own, and His own did not receive Him"
(Jn1:11), they crucified Him; just as Stephen also said, "Which of the
prophets did your fathers not persecute?" (Ac7:52)
God's own people, Israel, whose very existence and culture was shaped by
the Most High, for the most part rejected Him. As Paul says, "But with
most of them God was not well pleased..." (1Co10:5a)
So Jesus says to those who in a little while would clamor for His
crucifixion: You have seen and heard, and rejected. If those pagan
nations whom God destroyed HAD HEARD... THEY WOULD HAVE BELIEVED!
The book of Ruth is a prime example of those words. Ruth was a pagan,
but she believed in a way that would put most of Israel to shame!
But let's back up...
Ruth is "in the days [of] the judges". As I look at the Timeline and try
to surmise backwards from David to Ruth (4:21-22), it seems to me that
Ruth may likely have been during the days between Jephthah and Samson,
give or take (since specific years are not given). Or perhaps earlier if
we consider that Boaz was born through Rahab. (Mt1:5-6) (When devising
the timeline, the book of Judges contains a lot of questions as to
precise correct calculations)
In addition to trouble from the Philistines and Ammon, apparently God
also sent famine, as He had promised He would do if they disobeyed.
(De11:16-17) Due to famine Elimelech and Naomi, with their two sons, go
to stay in Moab a few years. While there, the sons marry a couple of
local pagan girls. And then all three males die, leaving three widows to
fend for themselves. Moab is across the Jordan River from Bethlehem, and
then south, next to the southern Dead Sea. Quite a ways to travel in
those days. They hear that the famine has lifted, so Naomi decides to go
In those cultures young brides tended to become part of the husband's
family, thus we read in the account how the two girls seek to cling to
Naomi. (vs10-13) Faithfulness to a husband was somewhat synonymous with
faithfulness to the husband's family. But Naomi tries to talk "sense"
into them. What more can she, Naomi, provide for them? She is old,
without husband, without sons. What kind of future can they expect? Go
home to your (original) families, and make lives for yourselves. Which
But not Ruth! And here is where the love story begins.
Naomi tries to persuade Ruth to follow Orpah's lead. Go home. Orpah has
returned to "her gods" (vs15) This is also Ruth's history, coming out of
paganism, from the gods of Moab.
But, in spite of Israel's apostasy and idolatry, she has seen the
witness of the Most High. She has seen the difference between Jehovah
and the pagan gods. In their minds, where she chose to live, in effect,
-defined- who her gods were. She wants Jehovah, and Naomi is returning
to Israel; that's where she wants to be.
"But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from
following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you
lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my
God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. Jehovah do
so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."
Songs and narratives of these two verses are often used for weddings.
But notice that Ruth's words have nothing to do with getting married to
a husband (she doesn't know about Boaz yet), but about her love for the
Most High, and her expression of her Faith in the God of Israel. She is
clinging to Naomi, going with her to Israel, because she wants Eternal
Life and Heaven...and she sees Israel, God's people, as the path to that
end. They are not simply some random -nation-, but they are a "kingdom
of priests" (Ex19:6); by definition, representatives and guides to God's
presence. In other words, if you will, she is reciting her own wedding
vows -to- God; as wedding vows traditionally speak of "till death do
us part". (vs17)
Before Ruth ever meets Boaz, she is already -married- to God. She's got
a better foundation for a successful marriage, than any cosmetics, spas
or plastic surgery. Most people think of the 'looks' of their potential
future mate; the Bachelor shows always show the participants dolled up
to the extreme and showing themselves off with swim suits, etc.
Years ago my dad told about some couple that met. The girl worked at
some place where she was behind this divider, similar to a bank teller
window in the olden days; and this certain man would come in to do
business and dealt with her regularly. Over time they got to know each
other, and 'liked' what they saw of each other. So they decided to get
better acquainted... he asked her out. And when he met the 'whole' her,
he also liked what he saw below her neck. But it started out
face-to-face. In computer terms, they became acquainted with each
others' 'personas', their soul and spirit. What's the first thing that
attracts your attention? The 'eyes' (and the soul that is behind those
eyes)? Or other things?
Rachel had "a beautiful figure and beautiful appearance" (Ge29:17) but
how much trouble did she stir up when she couldn't have children? And in
the end, Jacob contentedly spoke of Leah, with the "delicate" eyes at
his death-bed as his "wife" (Ge49:31), even though Rachel was the
'loved' wife (no doubt because she was the "hottie"), and Leah the
(plain) 'hated' wife.
Ruth has a beautiful soul. That much we know from the get-go. But this
story is not over yet!
And, I doubt that Ruth's charm doesn't all come from Naomi. They get
back to Bethlehem, and: Oh, poor me, poor me! I've had it so rough!
Don't call me Naomi ("my delight"), but Mara ("bitterness"). Watch me
pout before you-all...I've just had it sooo tough! Oh my! Oh my! Sob,
Sob! Boo Hoo!
See? Ruth isn't accompanying Naomi to Israel because Naomi is such a
'nice' person! Ruth has got something 'good' in her favor. Naomi is like
what we've been seeing of complaining obstinate Israel. Israel isn't
such a nice bunch of people. But Israel has the Most High! That's where
Ruth has come! ...to be under the "wings [of] refuge" of the God of
Re: Refuge (Ruth 2)
"And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Please let me go to the fields,
and glean heads of grain after him in whose eyes I may find favor. And
she said to her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came and gleaned in
the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the
fields belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. And
behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, Jehovah be
with you! And they answered him, Jehovah bless you! Then Boaz said to
his servant who was appointed over the reapers, Whose young woman is
And regarding the Feast of Pentecost...
"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not completely reap
the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your
harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather
every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the
sojourner: I am Jehovah your God." (Le19:9-10)
"And when you have counted for yourselves from the day after the
Sabbath, the day that you bring the sheaf of the wave offering, seven
Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days up to the day after the
seventh Sabbath; and you shall offer a new grain offering unto Jehovah.
You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an
ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven.
They are the firstfruits unto Jehovah...
This ancient practice in Israel is somewhat opposite of what farmers
today like to do. When a farmer adjusts the combine, he adjusts the
cylinder and beater bar to efficiently thresh the grain, without
crushing the kernels. Then the sieves and blower are adjusted to blow
out the chaff and keep the grain. If the sieve has the wrong sized
opening for the kind of grain being harvested, it might let too much
chaff into the hopper, or might not allow the grain to fall through to
be augered up to the hopper. If the blower is too strong, even if the
sieves are right, it will blow good grain out onto the ground; or if it
is not strong enough, the chaff will not be properly separated from the
grain. It's a fine balance. And when a new machine is purchased, the
farmer runs it a bit; stops to look on the ground and in the hopper. Is
too much grain ending up on the ground? Is too much chaff in the hopper?
The ideal is to have 'no' grain on the ground, and 'no' chaff in the
hopper. Years ago when I lived in N.Dakota, there used to be a combine
with the "Gleaner" name on the side. Was that the brand? Or the model
within a brand? (I don't recall. I'm not a farmer.) To be a "gleaner"
would be the manufacturer's desire to convey "how good" the combine was
in harvesting -just- the grain, and blowing out the chaff. And if a
farmer wants to make money, is that not what he wants? Get every last
kernel, and don't waste. Whatever grain doesn't make it into the hopper,
and ultimately to market, is that much -money- left in the field, gone
"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not completely reap
to the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any
gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for
the sojourner: I am Jehovah your God." (Le23:15-17,22)
In ancient times, not only was there the matter of separating grain from
chaff ("which the wind drives away" Ps1:4), but in hand-cutting and
handling, the stalks being brittle due to harvest-time heat and dryness,
often the heads would break off and end up on the ground, with the grain
still inside the husks. For a farmer with lots of land and a big
operation, picking up husks is not efficient use of employee time. But
the poor, with no other source of income, and lots of -time- on their
hands; for them it was a way to eke out an existence. But to be sure,
the gleanings were the "left-overs" after the main harvest was taken in.
Also, notice God's economy, from the passages quoted above. Leviticus
ch23 is a chapter which summarizes all the feasts in Israel, which in
turn represent the various historical phases of Salvation and Eternal
Life. These links are past studies.
"Law: Israel and Redemption"
"Feast of Ingathering"
"Next Feast of Israel"
As of this writing, all the feasts up through Pentecost have been
fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled Passover when He died on the cross. Pentecost
was 50 days after the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits which
represented the Resurrection of Jesus our "firstfruit" (1Co15:20)
The waving the sheaf was done on Sunday, the day "after the sabbath"
(Le23:11, Mt28:1) Pentecost was fulfilled at the coming of the Holy
Spirit, and was represented with "leavened bread". Prior to that,
sacrificial bread was unleavened, representing holiness from sin. When
the Holy Spirit came in Acts ch2, and the Church age began, the leaven
represents how the Church grew and expanded into the whole world. And in
addition to the 50 days, along with that feast, is the command about
leaving the gleanings for the "poor and sojourners". Sojourners being
'strangers'; not -of- Israel. Gentiles. As Paul says...
"Therefore remember that you, being Gentiles in the flesh; who are
called uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made in the
flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens
from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of
promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ
Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of
Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has
broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh
the enmity, that is, the Law of commandments contained in ordinances,
that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making
peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through
the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity." (Eph2:11-16)
Thus, not only is Ruth a wonderful 'love story'; but in many ways she is
an early picture of the predominantly -gentile- Church. A recipient of
PENTECOSTAL GLEANINGS. Ruth was not from Israel; she was a foreigner;
and she came because of Israel's God. And so her first recorded act as a
new resident of Israel was to request the gleanings.
And so Boaz comes and sees -her-. There were other women gleaning, but
had they -asked- after Israel's God? They were Israeli, but were their
hearts "Israel"? (Rom9:6b) And Boaz reaches out to -welcome- Ruth...
"May Jehovah reward your work, and full wages be given you by Jehovah
the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge" (vs12)
Does Boaz know the 'prophecy' he has just spoken? The "full wages" in
being a mother in the Messianic line? But apparently Boaz is one of the
"few" in Israel who truly knows the Lord. And from the testimony of her
words and actions, coming with Naomi, he recognizes in her a Godly
woman. They say that kindred spirits are drawn to each other. Boaz has
certainly noticed Ruth!
And notice what Boaz does. Tells the hired hands to "let grain from the
bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not
rebuke her" (vs16)
"...let him ask of God, who GIVES TO ALL LIBERALLY AND WITHOUT REPROACH,
and it will be given to him." (Ja1:5)
Furthermore, Boaz tells her, "You shall stay close by my young men until
they have finished all my harvest" (vs21) to whom he had given the
charge to watch out for her and said, "Do not go to glean in another
field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women" (vs8)
This talk from Boaz sounds like what David will say a couple generations
later (I guess this spirit runs in the family) to Abiathar the priest
when Saul is seeking to kill them both,
"Stay with me, do not fear; for he who seeks my soul seeks your soul;
but with me you shall be safeguarded." (1Sa22:23)
In those days a young unattached female was not always safe, even in
Israel. And if it was the days of the judges, Israel also had problems
with the enemies surrounding them. But Boaz obviously trusted in the
Lord. He knows his own safety is in the Lord... and extends the offer of
that shield of protection to Ruth as well.
They are kindred spirits, and he tells her... don't leave me. Stay with
me. She had made this promise to Naomi. Now Boaz is asking this of
her... even though he doesn't yet realize what is coming next.
Re: Secure Rest (Ruth 3-4)
"Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, My daughter, shall I not seek
a secure rest for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose
young women you were with, is he not our kinsman? Behold, he is
winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself
and anoint yourself, dress up and go down to the threshing floor; but do
not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and
drinking. And it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the
place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie
down; and he will tell you what you shall do." (vs1-4)
Ruth has come for 'refuge' under the Almighty. (2:12) But how is she to
survive? She is a widow woman in a strange land. In those cultures the
opportunities for women were not very good, unless she was attached in
some manner to a man, whether father, husband or brother. She has none
of these by birthright; remember, she -left- her own kindred to be under
God. Is she going to -strive- and WORK HARD to become -secure-?
How does the Christian have Salvational Security? Through works and
striving? By -being- 'good'? The "love of God" from which nothing can
separate us is "in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom8:39) Jesus purchased our
salvation and proclaimed, "It has been finished!" (Jn19:30) Our
Salvation and its 'Security' is provided -for- us.
And as Ruth is a type, a picture, of the Church we see her security
being provided -for- her. Just as Jesus provided Salvation "while we
were yet sinners" (Rom5:8) and strangers (Eph2:12) from God; Naomi sets
about to provide security for Ruth who is a 'stranger' in Israel.
Now, forget anything you may have seen in Hollywood movies. What happens
next is not a 'make-out' session, nor a seduction. The world can't seem
to address the topic of love without including lust and steamy smooching
lips. But Ruth does get dolled up, as much as a woman can 'doll' herself
up to go meet a man, who is likely dirty and smelly from the day's work,
out in the harvest field, and lies down at his feet.
What is a Kinsman Redeemer? When a man died, leaving his wife a widow,
and there had been no children, the dead man's brother was to take the
woman as wife to raise up "seed" for the sake of the dead man, to
continue the family tree. When Onan spilled the seed, and refused to
raise up children for his brother, the thing was displeasing in God's
eyes, and God killed him. (Ge38:7-10) And by the time that episode was
done, Judah ended up raising seed for his son's wife, who was Perez, who
was a great, great, great....grandfather to Boaz. (Ge38:29,Mt1:3-5)
In the Law God gave instructions in how to conduct the matter.
(De25:5-10) This was an important enough a matter that, if the brother
didn't want to perform the duty, the widow could take him before the
authorities, take off his sandle and spit in his face. It was a great
dishonor and humbling to NOT raise up seed for the dead.
When Ruth comes to Boaz, mentioning the "kinsman redeemer" expression,
what she essentially is saying to him is: We're supposed to get married.
I have come to you, here I am, and you are to be my husband. Filter out
the nicey nicey, and that's it, in a nutshell.
Remember, Boaz has already 'noticed' Ruth, and asked her not to leave.
He had no idea that when she would NOT LEAVE, that she was going to come
and say, essentially: You don't want me to leave? Well, here I am. I'm
all yours. Or perhaps he -did- know? While he seems, from his response,
to be all excited at the prospect, he is also a "just" man. By law,
there is another relative that is 'closer' to Ruth's situation. By
rights, this other person -should- be "first-in-line" to be her new
husband. And so, in a sense, if Boaz jumped right in and took Ruth, in a
round-about sort of way, he could be committing adultery with somebody
who rightly 'belonged' -more- to another man.
And Naomi takes note...
"Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out;
for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day"
Boaz may have noticed Ruth, as their souls have become knit; but legally
Boaz needed to conduct 'business' regarding the matter. And the Kinsman
Redeemer situation 'legally' was also a matter of -land-... -property-.
Being a -woman-, Naomi could not 'own' land, as such. Furthermore Ruth
was a foreigner, and God was quite clear that the land was not to be
sold outside Israel. (Le25:23)
So he goes to the city gate, where matters of law and business were
conducted. The other 'closer' redeemer happens by and...
"Ho there, you! Turn aside and sit down here. So he came aside and sat
Boaz tells him the proposition about the 'land' Elimelech and sons left
when they died. And the man says: Sure, I'll redeem it.
However there is a "string attached". Along with the land also comes a
wife. (4:5) Oh, I cannot redeem it for myself.
"You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it"
The man must have been married already? In those days they certainly
married more than one wife at a time, so the man -could- have taken
Ruth. But history also tells of the squabbles and family problems when
there was more than one wife and mother in a family. Jacob had four
wives between Rachel, Leah and their maids; and anybody who has read
Genesis knows of their constant infighting. Samuel was born into a
family of contention where his mother, Hannah, was the butt of abuse
from the other wife. (1Sa1) And what of the squabbles in David and
Solomon's families, what with their (plural) wives, and the children
from the various ones.
Thus, Boaz is given a clear path to redeem Naomi's property and aquire
Ruth as his wife.
So now, take note of the congratulatory words uttered that day:
"Jehovah make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and
Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in
Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem" (vs11)
Rachel and Leah, the "wives" of Jacob. Maidservants didn't 'count' for
historical reckoning; the maidservants were given to Jacob during the
family squabbles when Rachel and Leah were in competition to HAVE
BABIES. Babies sired through maidserants were accounted to the mistress
whom they served. And so, these city officials are bequeathing upon the
foreigner, Ruth, the same status as a "builder" of Israel. Little did
they know the future significance of "Bethlehem". Did they know they
were 'prophesying' (foretelling) that day? They thought they were
conducting 'business' that day and giving 'congratulations', but in a
very real sense, they were "having church"! (considering how people
today use that expression)
"May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah,
because of the seed which Jehovah shall give you from this young woman"
Had they known what they were saying there, it might be appropriate to
capitalize "[S]eed", because the Seed that was coming through Ruth would
be none other than Jesus Christ, Himself; the seed of David; Messiah.
The fulfillment of all the major prophecies since Genesis 3:15; and
fulfillment of everything they observed through the rituals of their
Law. Even the very 'transaction' they just concluded of the "redeemer"
and the 'purchase' of a 'lost' family, through death, was exactly what
Jesus would be coming to do... to Redeem and "purchase [sinners] with
His own blood" (Ac20:28)
And when Obed is born they exclaim...
"Blessed is Jehovah who has not left you this day without a kinsman
redeemer; and may his name be famous in Israel. And may he be to you a
restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age..." (vs14-15a)
When Jesus was born the angels proclaimed...
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men!"
And a new song was sung...
In Joshua [link] we discussed how
Rahab was a gentile; Ruth was a half-breed gentile due to Moab coming
from Lot, not of the promise through Abraham; and Perez came through a
stupid (sinful) act by Judah.
We don't get to Heaven because we are innately good. Jesus died for us
"while we were yet sinners" (Rom5:8); and "all have sinned" (Rom3:23)
The "wages of sin is death" (Rom6:23) for the -soul- of man... "the soul
who sins shall die" (Ezk18:4) And so Jesus came through a blood-line
that contained Jews, Gentiles, Half-breeds... and sinners. Mankind had
sinned, so a -man- needed to atone and pay the penalty. Jesus, when He
died, gave His "soul as a sin-offering" which was satisfactory payment
before the Father. (Is53:10-11) Thus...
"The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam a life-giving
The soul was subject to death. Jesus provided a...
"...new and living way" to pass through the veil into God's presence.
In the Evangelical Fundamental Gospel tradition there is a song
Sinners Jesus will receive! Sound this word of grace to all...
But this "Refuge" and "Secure Rest" is not something we can obtain for
ourselves, or -by- ourselves. It is the "-GIFT- of God [which is]
Eternal Life in Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom6:23b) Even though there is
so much wrong with the Reformation, Martin Luther did pen some
spectacular words [link] :
Christ receiveth sinful men, even me with all my sin...
Sing it o'er and o'er again: Christ receiveth sinful men
Make the message clear and plain: Christ receiveth sinful men
Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing
In the days of Naomi and Ruth there was famine in the land. Today we
see, as prophesied...
Were not the right Man on our side the Man of God's own choosing
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Sabaoth His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord Jehovah, that I will
send a famine into the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for
water, but rather a famine for hearing the Words of Jehovah." (Am8:11)
Ruth went to Israel to be under the shadow of the Almighty...
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under
the shadow of the Almighty." (Ps91:1)
As Ruth received a Secure Rest, we also have a Secure Rest...
"Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for Him" (Ps37:7)
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light." (Mt11:28-30)