Ruth—Becoming the Bride of Christ
Chapter 1: Ruth: A Book for Our Time Today
The book of Ruth was recorded in the Bible especially for our time today. It is far more important than we would tend to think.
The book of Ruth begins, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled …” (Ruth 1:1). Her story occurs during the period of Israel’s judges. The book of Judges is part of what is known as the former prophets, which is definitely prophecy for our day. (Request a free copy of my book The Former Prophets: How to Become a King to learn just how relevant these prophetic books are.) In the time of the judges, Israel was very evil and corrupt—a time much like our own.
Because Ruth’s account takes place during that period, you could conclude just logically that this book is also primarily for this end time.
Notice Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” There was no king in Israel at the time. Judges is the bloodiest book in the Bible. Israel, generally, would not seek direction from the judges. “[E]very man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
Israel’s ultimate hope is in the Second Coming and our marriage to Jesus Christ. Those firstfruits who get ready for that wedding will share David’s throne with the King of kings.
That message is what the book of Ruth is all about. So the book of Ruth provides a solution to the disastrous period of the judges.
Nearly every Bible authority will tell you that the Prophet Samuel authored this book. The Jews certainly believe that, and I believe it. Samuel was the one who oversaw the transition in Israel from the judges to the kings—from the nation not really having any authority over it, to having it, especially under King David.
Samuel was a prophet. He prophesied! And this little book is filled with prophecy—some of which, you will see, is the most inspiring in the Bible!
I want to show you that the book of Ruth is specifically for the Philadelphia Church of God. It is aimed directly at us!
Herbert W. Armstrong did not understand much of this book. God did not reveal large segments of it to him. Why? Because it was to be revealed only to the very elect in the Laodicean era, the last Church era before Jesus Christ returns (Revelation 2 and 3). We’ll see that more clearly as we continue.
There are five books that the Jews consider the “festival scrolls”; they read each one on a particular holy day every year. On the day of Pentecost, the Jews read Ruth, a book that holds a lot of meaning for them. This book holds even greater meaning and depth for members of God’s true Church. It needs to be understood by those whom the Bible calls “firstfruits,” who are called before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
We must see these books differently from how they were seen at the time they were written. Most of the people at that time did not have God’s Holy Spirit. We have to view all of this through the prism of the Spirit, which changes and deepens the entire thrust of the book! Remember, the Holy Spirit was also given on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
Ruth and Boaz courted during the spring harvest, and they married on Pentecost. The story occurs during that 50-day period. It is a type of the Church’s marriage to Jesus Christ! Boaz was a type of Christ, and Ruth was a type of the end-time Church at Christ’s Second Coming. As you read the book of Ruth, you see that it progressively leads to the Church’s marriage to Jesus Christ. What ruth talks about leads right up to our ultimate destiny: becoming the Bride of Christ! This epic event is pictured on Pentecost, and that is what this book is all about.
To make matters even more inspiring, Ruth was an ancestor of King David—the great-grandmother in his royal lineage. The book of Ruth relates the physical origins of the house of David.
How significant that God, in this book, emphasizes our marriage to Christ right at the origins of the physical lineage of David! This has everything to do with you. David is very special to God’s people today: The end-time prophecy of Isaiah 22:22 shows that God’s people hold “the key of the house of David”—the physical and spiritual descendants of David. For this reason, God wants us to continually learn more about the lineage of David’s house. Astoundingly, the book of Ruth has a lot to teach us about it!
God puts a lot of emphasis on the house of David. He prophesies that His people in this era will play a key role in preserving the throne of David just before Christ returns. I believe we will present the throne of David to Christ! What an honor! Do you think God would let carnal-minded, rebellious people who have sat on that physical throne present it to Christ when He returns? I think the Bible gives definite proof that He will not.
It is absolutely stunning that in the small yet powerful book of Ruth—in which you can see the physical origins of the house of David, the starting point of David’s lineage—God gives us understanding about this marriage between Christ and the Church! This should be a source of tremendous excitement and inspiration to God’s people!
A Famine in the Land
Ruth 1:1 tells us that a famine was taking place in Israel. I am not saying that everything in this book is spiritual, but if you look at spiritual Israel in this end time, God’s people witnessed a serious spiritual famine! After Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, those who succeeded him turned away from Christ and, for a short time, there was a deadly famine of the Word. (James 5:17-18 describe it as a 3½-year drought, as our booklet The Epistle of James explains.)
The Philadelphia Church of God started in 1989. The famine ended when God gave us Malachi’s Message in order to show those in the Church of God what was happening. When people would come into this Church, they would talk about how they were starving spiritually! They weren’t getting any spiritual food in the Laodicean churches. What a blessing it is to be fed by God! He has provided a deluge of nourishing revelation to this Church.
Elimelech and Naomi were a rich couple with two sons. Israel had a famine, and the family came under a lot of pressure because of their wealth. So they moved to the neighboring “country of Moab” to get away from all the problems.
While in that region, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi a widow. That obviously created more troubles for Naomi and her family. The two sons married local women. Then, about 10 years later, both sons died. Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth (Ruth 1:2-5). The three of them now impoverished, Naomi decided to return to her home in Judah.
This was all happening according to God’s plan. The two sons’ names were Mahlon, which means sickness, and Chilion, which means vanishing. They had been very sickly sons.
At this point in the story, Naomi is a type of God’s true Church, until Ruth replaces her as the type. Later on, Boaz fulfills a type of Jesus Christ. But at this point, Boaz is not in the picture yet. Naomi was alone and having a very difficult time. She had lost her whole family, except these two daughters-in-law. What might this picture prophetically?
After Mr. Armstrong died, the Church entered its Laodicean era (Revelation 3:14-22). This is the time when 95 percent of God’s people have rebelled against God. Many prophecies show that God is going to plunge the Laodiceans into the Great Tribulation, and though half of them repent, the other half are going to die forever! This could be the greatest spiritual calamity ever!
When you see Naomi’s overwhelming grief over her lost family, you get a sense of the scope of this spiritual tragedy! When she returned to Bethlehem, she told people, “Call me not Naomi [meaning pleasant, or delight], call me Mara [meaning bitter]” (Ruth 1:20). It was terribly bitter for this woman to lose her family! “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi …?” (verse 21). Her family was taken away, and it was hard for her to accept it! Why wouldn’t it be?
Naomi, a type of the Church then, is expressing God’s emotions about all that has happened to the Church of God today! Her grief reflects how God feels! You surely have to believe that God is expressing His emotions here, saying, Look, this is my Family! Look what I have lost! These are Spirit-begotten sons He is losing! What father with agape love would not be moved and have deeply bitter emotions over such colossal loss? This is probably the worst spiritual crisis ever in God’s Church! This didn’t happen while Mr. Armstrong was alive, but it has happened in this final Church era because the Laodiceans rejected what he taught.
We need to feel the Laodicean calamity the way Naomi mourned the loss of her family—and much more so! Her loss was physical; ours is spiritual. We have to realize the danger of this and realize, out of agape love, that this is a tremendous loss to God! God has been stirred and saddened by all this, and His people should reflect His grief.
Naomi had been reduced to nothing. She was really experiencing a harsh trial. To lose a great husband and two sons, whom she loved dearly, was a massive, fiery trial to say the least!
Sometimes in trial we have a hard time seeing any good coming from it; we can’t understand why God would allow it. How many of us would stay with God if we lost our husband and two sons? But we must have the faith to know that God is love, and He will never do anything that would be harmful to us. We must know by faith that our Husband will protect us in every way possible. When you experience a serious trial, you really must know that, or you might turn and walk away from God, as many have! We must always submit to God, even when He disciplines us.
When Naomi was going through all her trials, she had no real idea where God was leading the situation. Yet difficult as it was for Naomi, through it all, she remained loyal and faithful to God. She just decided she would not leave God. She knew God was working something out, especially through Ruth. But she had to learn it as she went along.
This great lady never stopped obeying God. And she certainly was a great lady.
Following God and preparing for kingship isn’t always easy. But God does give us a plethora of blessings if we obey Him and are loyal to Him. Naomi’s trial gave rise to one of the greatest blessings that any woman received in the Bible! She ended up playing a tremendous part in building the house of David—the descendants of David, including Christ! In the end, Naomi serves as a monument forever—canonized by the great God because of her loyalty in spite of her severe trials! She has a monument right there with David (Ruth 4:14-17).
God Offers a Choice
So Naomi began the journey back to Judah. She knew there were still problems where God was leading her.
Both daughters-in-law started out with Naomi. But then, through God’s inspiration I’m sure, Naomi told them about this hard choice they would have to make. “And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead [that is, their deceased husbands], and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept” (Ruth 1:8-9). This was a deeply emotional moment for these women.
“And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people” (verse 10). Both daughters said at this stage that they wanted to stay with Naomi.
But Naomi countered with several arguments (verses 11-13). This is God’s way, in any age, of getting us to count the cost. We have to fully realize what we are getting into before committing to follow God.
At that point, Orpah rethought her position. “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her” (verse 14). Orpah turned her back on Naomi while Ruth remained faithful.
Orpah means to turn the back, or turn back. Her name was a prophecy of what she did. The fact that it says she turned back shows that at one time she knew the God of Israel. Orpah was on the right track for a time, but here she made a deadly decision. I think it is safe to say that she was lukewarm.
Already we can begin to glean some good insight into the history and prophecy of God’s Church. In this end time, that is exactly what the Laodiceans have done.
It seems one church will always turn its back on God, and then there will be a remnant, like Naomi and Ruth, who will cleave to God no matter what the problems are. God offers us the choice—He won’t force anything on us. He wants us to be excited about this marriage and to choose it with passion! He wants to make it as real as possible to us so we will realize what we are being offered and make the right choice.
In Matthew 24:41, Christ prophesies that in this end time, there will be two women grinding at the mill; one shall be taken to a place of safety while the other is left to face the Great Tribulation!
What the lukewarm Laodiceans have done is really devastating to our Father! Think about a father or a mother who sees a family member heading into physical death and spiritual death! That is emotionally draining!
The indications are that Orpah was within earshot of what Naomi said next: “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” (Ruth 1:15).
Ruth also heard Naomi and decided to cleave to her. We want to be like Ruth and cleave to God. There will be hardships in doing so, and we must count the cost; but look at the reward: We will marry Jesus Christ! This is the best that God has to offer men and women of this world—nothing else in the Bible equals it in glory and in opportunity! This is not a fantasy; it is real, and it is worth sacrificing and striving for. We have to reach a certain level of character before we will be ready for our marriage to Jesus Christ. We have to passionately love the law God gave on that first Pentecost.
Look at the incredible attitude Ruth displayed toward Naomi: “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 thy 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” (Ruth 1:16-17).
How powerful Ruth’s declaration is! This is the wholehearted attitude Christ wants in His Bride. He wants total commitment from her.
Those are two powerful verses. We can meditate on these two verses spiritually and derive great meaning from them. For example, where Christ will have His home and headquarters, that is where ours will be: Jerusalem—eventually, the new Jerusalem.
Ruth was the essence of true loyalty. She had the unswerving commitment it takes to be in the Kingdom of God. We expound on this in Chapter 3.
Ruth had counted the cost. She knew what she was doing. So what did Naomi finally do? “And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more” (verse 18; Revised Standard Version). She was absolutely convinced that Ruth meant every word.
You know that if you have total commitment, some of the pressure of this way of life is bound to be lessened. If Satan sees real determination in us, he is likelier to leave us alone, as far as trying to change our mind goes. Do we have Ruth’s determination? Do we cause people to say, There’s no need to talk to that person—they’re in that Church until they die. Of course, we cannot discount that Satan will always try to destroy us.
God’s Plan in Trials
When Ruth lost her first husband, that was a fiery trial for her. We have several women in God’s Church who have lost their husbands, and for most of them, that has been a fiery trial. It changes just about everything.
But you must look at it the way Ruth did. She knew that God had a purpose in this. We have to keep that in mind when a sore trial afflicts us. I can’t think of a better example in the Bible where a woman faced her fiery trial this way. Ruth realized that she had something special. Naomi was a great woman, and Ruth knew God was leading her. She recognized that there was something even greater than a physical husband!
Ruth was motivated by the fear of God! Read her inspiring speech to Naomi again: What an attitude this woman demonstrated—just shortly after her husband died! She saw something in Naomi that was very different from what had been in her past. She was beginning to understand something deeply!
Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not trying to in any way lessen the importance of a wonderful husband or wife. I know losing a spouse is a fiery trial. I’m just saying we must have God’s perspective. Psalm 116:15 says that the death of a saint is precious in the sight of God. Precious!
Just look at what God ended up doing with Ruth! Ruth played a vital role in preparing for David’s throne! It is truly stirring to think of what God did with this woman! You’d have to agree with what God did in allowing her to go through that trial. He really had a plan for this lady!
Naomi and Ruth traveled to Judah together, finally arriving back in Bethlehem. All the people recognized this formerly wealthy lady, and saw that she had been reduced to poverty.
They arrived in Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22). The story from this point occurs within the 50 days of the barley harvest. It is about all the firstfruits making it to the end of the harvest when the marriage occurs.
“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).
Again, Ruth is a type of the Church. Boaz is a type of Jesus Christ. This story should make our coming marriage to Christ extremely real to us! All the emotions we experience over a physical marriage are just a type of the excitement, passion and emotion we should have over our spiritual marriage! This is so much more wonderful than physical marriage—any physical marriage would be worth giving up, if you had to, for this! We are going to marry Jesus Christ!
Boaz means “in him is strength.” We are weak; there is nothing we can do of ourselves. But we can be strong if we go to Jesus Christ. There is strength in Christ. There is no spiritual strength in any man, apart from God. But you can be strong—whether you are male, female, grandparent or grandchild—because God will give you strength. We just need the character to go to Him and build strength through His power. We need to get rid of inferiority complexes. Yes, we are the lowly of the world, but we are the only ones who have real strength! God gives it to us. This is the lesson!
The Bible states that Boaz was a kinsman of Naomi’s. The Anchor Bible calls him a covenant brother. This is what we all are: covenant brothers! In Ruth 3:2, where it says Boaz is of their kindred, the Anchor Bible translates it covenant circle. Why are we here? Why are we a part of this little Church operating out of Edmond, Oklahoma? It is because we are covenant brothers! We made a covenant with God, and He brought His Work here. We each said at baptism that we would give up our families and even our own lives if necessary—that we’d bury our bones in the true Church of God. That makes us all covenant brothers, and that is why we love each other. That is why we love the Laodiceans. That is why we love the world the way God does.
A Law of Love
The law God gave Israel said the widows, the fatherless, the poor and the strangers could glean the fields of landowners after they were done harvesting (e.g. Leviticus 19:9-10). That is a law in Israel, designed to take care of everybody. Nobody is left out, as long as you are willing to work. There is no welfare if you are able to work but you refuse; if you don’t work, you don’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
God also said that when reaping your harvest, do not make clean riddance of the corners of your field; that is for the poor and the strangers (Leviticus 23:22). He said when you have reaped the harvest and forgotten a sheaf in the field, do not go back to fetch it—it is for the stranger, the fatherless and the widow (Deuteronomy 24:19). He said when you beat the branches of the olive tree and don’t get all the fruit, leave it alone—for the stranger, the fatherless and the widow (verse 20). This principle is repeated over and over. This is the law of love! God makes sure people are taken care of as long as their attitude is right.
Remember, pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction (James 1:27). What a wonderful, loving God! Isn’t that a wonderful government you want to be part of? Under that government, if you work, you will do well. That, to me, is very moving.
Think about how God concludes this: “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing” (Deuteronomy 24:22). Remember how hard it was when you were a slave? Don’t forget that history! This is the way it is to be done with God!
Ruth came in and gleaned like nobody else. We are God’s Family, and He will not let His Family starve. And when His Family has the attitude Ruth had, He gives us special opportunities like He gave her. She loved God’s law. She was quite a reputable lady and one of the great ladies of the Bible.
In Jeremiah 31:31-33, God says He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—and write His law in their hearts! He didn’t do that in the past with ancient Israel, but He will do it in the future, as He is doing it already with His Spirit-begotten people! God is helping us to really love the law of love! The more you understand it, the more you love it! It takes care of everybody! Nobody is left without the blessings of God! And the better our attitude, the more blessings we have.
A Special Woman
“And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace …” (Ruth 2:2). She wasn’t asking for permission here. Ruth had firm determination to go out and support Naomi and herself. She wasn’t afraid to humble herself and work alongside the poor.
Verse 3 says that “her hap” brought Ruth to the field belonging to Boaz. But of course, this didn’t just happen. God was working it out because Ruth was truly a godly woman.
Boaz was a religious man—a genuine, godly man (verse 4). His people loved working for him.
Boaz had recently lost his wife, and God was about to give him another one. He saw Ruth working in the field and asked one of his foremen about her. He could see that she was a hard worker, laboring for her food, and for Naomi—and, really, for God. He was very impressed. Think about the spiritual parallel here. Are we hard workers? Our future Husband knows.
“Then said Boaz unto Ruth, 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: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn” (verses 8-9). Boaz was becoming protective of Ruth. He told her not to even worry about the men in the field, who may have had lustful or devious attitudes. Boaz would protect her from them. Ruth must have thought, This is the field to be in!
This is the way Christ protects us. How many times has He saved us out of situations we weren’t even aware of? How many ordeals has He prevented us from falling into that we didn’t even know had come our way?
Ruth responded with real humility and respect toward Boaz. “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?” (verse 10).
Boaz could have looked on her, a poor woman gleaning in his field, and ignored her as a nobody. But he had checked into her background, and he was impressed! She had left her parents and her hometown, all to follow the God of Israel (verse 11). Unlike others, Boaz was sensitive to the momentous decisions Ruth had made.
Boaz said to Ruth, “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” (verse 12). You have seen how a mother hen will shield her chicks under her wings; she would fight Goliath if she had to in order to protect her chicks! That is the way God is, taking us under His wings, looking after us, protecting us. Boaz recognized that Ruth had faith and that she was being blessed by God. He knew that she was a special woman.
After speaking with Ruth, Boaz told his workers to allow her into the best areas of his fields and never to rebuke her (verses 15-16). This is a picture of how our Husband looks after us! We are His Family, and He is going to make sure we are taken care of if we are loyal to Him. He’s not about to let His Bride be mistreated or neglected. What love God has for us!
Things were really beginning to look up for Ruth. Of course, as Ruth prospered, so did Naomi. “Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1). They had a rough life, and Naomi wanted stability for Ruth. This is a physical type of the rest spoken of in Hebrews 4:9: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God”—a rest from sin and the hard labor prevailing in this miserable world. Naomi wanted Ruth to be delivered from all the work and suffering that they had gone through.
This is the kind of emotion we should have toward sin and this world. We need rest from sin! When you know what is about to happen in this world—all the tribulation that will culminate in the Day of the Lord—you realize how much we need that rest! We can’t take care of ourselves; we need God to protect us. One day this world will fall down before God the way Ruth did before Boaz and say, Oh God, please give us your rest! This world needs it so desperately. We are the only people willing to tell the world what they are doing to themselves and how it will all end. Sadly, most of them will have to experience the worst calamity ever before they will learn this lesson.
Naomi wanted everything to work out for Ruth. She wanted to see Ruth marry the wealthy Boaz and have a happy, fulfilled, restful, peaceful life.
All That You Say, I Will Do
Naomi gave Ruth some peculiar instructions. “And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do” (Ruth 3:2-4).
This was a strange custom. It is kind of a dangerous scenario in some ways. You ladies with the Spirit of God, if somebody directed you to do that, you would think it very unusual, even undignified. But focus on Ruth’s incredible attitude. “And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do” (verse 5).
What an attitude! She thought Naomi was so special, and was so certain that God was directing her, that she would do whatever Naomi asked of her. This was unorthodox, but it was also a part of the law. I think Ruth knew that and so agreed to do it.
Remember, Ruth is a type of the Church. This is not about looking to a woman or a man. This is about our attitude toward God. Yes, He will put us through some unpleasant experiences at times. But we need to strive for this wonderful attitude: All that you tell me, I will do.
This is the attitude we must have toward Jesus Christ. He wants us to get to the point where we say, All that you say unto me, I will do—even if we don’t understand it! Remember how Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong kept God’s holy days for 14 years before God revealed to them the meaning. Mr. Armstrong just looked into the Bible and said, All that you say unto me, I will do. Are you that devoted to your Husband? Even if the true Church of God directs you to do something that you don’t fully understand (as long as it is biblical), will you say, All that you say unto me, I will do? Will you humble yourself to the point of total submission? And will you do so with a good attitude? This is where the real battle goes on in these fiery trials, and sometimes it takes time to work your way through it.
This is the attitude Christ demands of His wife, an attitude which shows you have faith that God knows what He is doing. When we have this attitude, God trusts that He will never have another Lucifer rebelling against Him. God is going to bring each of us to this point before we marry Him.
Ruth not only said she would follow Naomi’s instructions, she followed through to the details. “And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her” (verse 6). God is saying that if we can get to the point where we will do all that God says and won’t compromise on one detail, then He will make us His wife for all eternity. Now that is special!
Again, how real is this to you? Our spiritual marriage isn’t far away. We don’t have much more time to prepare for it.
“And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:7-9).
Ruth’s request to Boaz to “spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid” was a reference to a custom at the time. The Hebrew literally means “spread your wing,” which symbolized protection, like a chick seeking refuge under the wing of its mother. Even today, when a Jew marries a woman, he spreads the skirts of his prayer mantle over her to represent his protection of her. Ruth showed that she wanted to marry Boaz, and he reciprocated.
In a related passage in Ezekiel, Christ describes the transformation of His Bride: “I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare” (Ezekiel 16:7).
Once we enter the marriage covenant, Christ says He will protect us: “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine” (verse 8).
Boaz’s protection of Ruth is a vital part of the covenant. It is a type of Christ’s protection of His faithful saints. God says He will protect us, or keep us under His skirt, if we have this depth of submission toward Him. And we are going to need His protection even more in the future.
Ezekiel 5:1-2 describe the terrible destruction and enslavement that will afflict the modern nations descended from ancient Israel. One third of the people in these nations will die from societal breakdown; one third will die in a foreign military attack; and one third will be enslaved and taken to other nations as captives. God says that even among those who survive as slaves, He will draw out the sword after them. That is the wrath God has toward the people of Israel and even those in His own Laodicean Church because of their sins. The violence is going to produce rivers of blood. There is going to be nuclear devastation! God is wrathful because of our wickedness and evil—especially those who have known God. He is going to punish, punish and punish as mankind can’t even imagine, because we have never seen such calamity before. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
When these terrible times come upon the whole world, our Husband will look after us and take us to a place of safety. Notice verse 3: “Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.” Right in the context of all the destruction, it says that God will take “a few”—His very elect—and protect them! God will take His people who have attitudes like Ruth’s to a place of safety. The day when that will be needed is at the door. Nobody on Earth has ever needed protection like we are going to need it in the near future!
God protects us even today. Of course we have trials and tests. We know that He allows trials, and they are always for an important reason: Our Husband is getting us ready to marry Him. Without trials, we wouldn’t grow; we would stagnate. Look what God puts the Laodiceans through just to get 50 percent of them into His Kingdom! He has to put them through a nuclear Great Tribulation! And He is going to have to try us and test us so we will learn. But we are never outside of His protection if we remain faithful to Him.
Any good husband will protect his wife. But what about having the all-powerful Jesus Christ protecting you? As the rest of the people of Israel are killed, dying or being swept into captivity, the protection Christ offers will truly be precious. This is what He will do for those who have made and kept their marriage covenant with Him!
Ruth had shown a great deal of character by coming to Boaz in this way, and he was impressed. “And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3:10). Near as we can tell, Ruth was about 30 or 40 years old, and Boaz was around 80 to 100! He had a very youthful spirit, as you can tell from this story. Still, he knew that Ruth could have chosen a younger man or any number of other temptations of the world. But she wanted to marry Boaz.
Do you realize that godly character is impressive to God? The more of it you build, the more Christ wants you as His Bride!
Boaz continued, “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman” (verse 11). Do people know that you are virtuous? Can they see that we are God’s people? Do we live lives the whole city notices as being different, virtuous, godly? You cannot hide such character. This is what God wants us to demonstrate and continue to build.
Then Boaz told Ruth that he wasn’t her nearest kinsman. In Israel, if a man died having no children, the dead man’s closest eligible male kin was to marry his widow to give her offspring to carry on the deceased husband’s name (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). Before Boaz could marry Ruth, he had to clear things with this other kinsman.
This he sought to do the very next day. “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. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down” (Ruth 4:1-2). Even here you can see the authority that Boaz commanded.
Verses 3-6 show how Boaz, in the presence of these 10 elders, dealt with this kinsman. He did everything lawfully, exactly as God had instructed. The man told Boaz he didn’t want to jeopardize his own inheritance by taking on the responsibility of marrying Ruth. “[R]edeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it,” he said (verse 6). So Boaz was free to take Ruth as his wife.
“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 upon his inheritance, that 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” (verses 9-10). Boaz had totally followed God’s laws. He, too, was a person of high character, and God had worked out everything perfectly for him.
Great-grandmother of David
Boaz and Ruth married, and soon after had 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 [Ruth’s son] 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” (Ruth 4:14-15).
Naomi nursed this child, and they named him Obed, which means serve. He grew up to really serve God in his life. Obed had a son named Jesse, who also served God. And Jesse had a son named David. This child born to Boaz and Ruth was the grandfather of King David. Ruth and Boaz were in the line of David—Ruth was given a phenomenal opportunity, and she actually became the great-grandmother of King David!
Think about what this woman did, and then think about what God did in her life. It is stunning! After all, she has a book named after her in the Bible! You’d have to believe a woman who would do what she did and have that attitude is going to have a mighty, exalted reward in the future! She wasn’t perfect, but she really set a marvelous example.
God’s firstfruits will be king-priests, serving with David in the World Tomorrow as part of that royal lineage. That is the fulfillment of the day of Pentecost. That day truly gives God’s people a lot to celebrate, most especially our wonderful, tremendous future marriage to Jesus Christ!
Chapter 2: Was Ruth a Moabite?
You can view Ruth as the beginning of the royal line of David. This gives Ruth’s story a special luster. The book of Ruth is about royalty—real royalty! Ruth married Boaz, the prince, and she became one of the greatest royal figures of the Bible!
She can be considered the mother of David’s line, and that physical line flowed right down to Jesus Christ Himself. Christ is a Son of David (Matthew 1:1). Given Ruth’s prominence in this noble line, it is important to carefully consider her own background.
Ruth was a lady from “the country of Moab” (Ruth 1:6). The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s daughters thought they wouldn’t have any other chances to have children, so they got their father drunk and got themselves pregnant by him—a terrible history! (Genesis 19:30-38). This shows how much living in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah had affected them. It was a most polluted act. And the Moabites came from this evil, incestuous relationship.
Does it seem a little odd that Ruth would be from this people who were, you could say, polluted because of what had happened? Is it logical to think that God—who is a God of purity like we’ve never known ourselves—would begin the house of David with someone who came from such a background? I don’t think He would. For one thing, it simply doesn’t have the ring of truth to it. But beyond that, there is a lot in the Bible that indicates God wouldn’t do that. After all, God forbade Moabites in Israel from entering the congregation of the Lord for 10 generations (Deuteronomy 23:3).
We can gain insight into God’s view on this subject by studying the purity He required in ancient Israel.
Jesus Christ’s Ancestry
An important clue about this is found in the book of Ezra. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after going into captivity, they intermarried with non-Israelites. Ezra 9:1-2 reveal that they didn’t separate themselves from the people of the land, but “have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands ….”
Writing about this account in Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong made a statement that we need to pay attention to.
“Against God’s command, the people of the colony began to intermarry with Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites and other races [including the Moabites]” and then he quoted Ezra 9:2, and inserted the comment in brackets: “so that the holy seed [racially pure, for they had not the Holy Spirit] have mingled themselves with the people of those lands ….”
Mr. Armstrong continued, “The Prophet Ezra was angry! He stood up before the congregation and said: ‘Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore … separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives’ (Ezra 10:10-11).” Ezra really was wrathful and did a lot to stop this sin.
Mr. Armstrong concluded with this statement: “Jesus Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, and it was necessary that He be of the original pure racial strain, even as Noah was” (emphasis mine throughout). The Hebrew word that tells us of Noah’s “perfect” genealogy (Genesis 6:9) is the same word translated “without blemish” in Exodus 12:5 to describe the Passover lamb.
That statement is surely controversial in today’s world, but it is based on a number of facts. God puts a lot of emphasis on purity, certainly spiritually, but even physically. He forbade interracial marriage as the Ezra account makes clear. In fact, His law emphasizes the importance of such purity by commanding it even in breeding and working cattle—as well as sowing seed and using fabrics for garments (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9-11). His tabernacle, symbolic of His Church, was made of the finest, purest materials (read Exodus 25).
These physical aspects of purity, however, are only types of the spiritual purity God wants in His people (e.g. Psalm 24:3-4; Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 John 3:3). Christ is pure love! He is all give, and He is going to marry a Church that is a “chaste virgin” (2 Corinthians 11:2). We want to be pure as God is pure—totally righteous as much as we can be. We want to think and act like God as much as we possibly can. That is what this is really talking about.
But Mr. Armstrong did say that from the beginning up until the time of Christ, that physical, racial line—the descendants of David only, of the tribe of Judah—was pure. So you have to wonder about Ruth’s background, this lady from “Moab,” who was such a biblically prominent part of that line.
Was Ruth a Moabite? To answer this question, we need to look at some specifics in Israel’s history before her time.
In the Land of Moab
When the Israelites were journeying to the Promised Land, they sought permission from Sihon, king of the Amorites, to pass through his land. Sihon refused and launched a war against the Israelites (Numbers 21:21-23). And what happened? “And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon” (verses 24-26).
You can see the geographic area of these events on Maps A and B. Map B shows that Israel moved in and conquered the Amorites. This was in the land east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River.
Beginning in verse 33, you see how the Israelites went on to conquer the people of Bashan as well, including Og the king. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land” (verses 34-35).
Numbers 22 begins: “And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.” Map B shows the plains of Moab are clearly in Israelite territory. They conquered that whole area. No Moabites even dwelt there when Israel took that area over. They took it from the Amorites, who had previously driven out the Moabites.
Notice, however, that Moab remained just below them, south of the Arnon River. And they are still in that same area today. God actually would not let the Israelites take that land: “And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession” (Deuteronomy 2:9). Perhaps one reason is that this may be where God will locate the place of safety.
Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, the tribes of Reuben and Gad told Moses that they actually wanted to have their inheritance right there on the east of the river, rather than in Canaan. It was prime grazing land, and these tribes had a lot of cattle (Numbers 32:1-5). This is talking about the plains of Moab, so it is the very area discussed in the book of Ruth. This area east of Jordan is clearly Israelite territory. Joshua 22:25 shows that the Jordan River was a clear divide between the Israelite territory on the east (“plains of Moab”) and that on the west (“Canaan”).
Fast-forward to the time of the judges. In Judges 11, the Israelites have just conquered two countries and are settled above Moab, which by this point is much smaller. “And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel” (Judges 11:4). Israelite elders fetched Jephthah, and notice: “And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably” (verses 12-13). The Ammonites wanted those lands back.
Jephthah’s response, in verses 14-28, is significant. He explains the whole history of that area and says that the Israelites are the rightful inhabitants! They had lived there for 300 years, and the Ammonites had never tried to reclaim the territory before then.
Map C shows the locations of the tribes of Manasseh, Gad and Reuben. Gad and Reuben occupy the plains of Moab. The plains don’t belong to the Moabites—they belong to Israel. No ethnic “Moabites” lived there!
The 300 years of Israel occupying that land includes the time of Ruth.
Ruth 1:1 says Elimelech “went to sojourn in the country of Moab” along with his family. Verse 2 says “they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.” It could read “the plains of Moab”—which was partly inhabited by the tribe of Reuben.
Isabel Hill Elder laid out these facts in her book Far Above Rubies. “The territory continued under its ancient name, the land of Moab, during the Amorite occupation,” she explained. “When now by conquest it became the possession of the Israelites, the name was not altered by the new owners. Moses leaves posterity in no doubt as to the location of the newly acquired land of Moab, as distinct from the Moabite territory south and southeast of the Dead Sea, to which racial Moab was now confined. On nine occasions the great leader describes the new Israelite possession as ‘the land of Moab by Jordan, opposite Jericho.’” That is not in the nation of Moab, as you can plainly see from Map C.
For example, Numbers 33:50 says that “the plains of Moab” were “by Jordan near Jericho,” which is under Benjamin’s territory (see Map C). So in the Bible, the area is called “the plains of Moab” even after Israel had taken over the area. The Israelites retained the name Moab, just like they retained the name Canaan even after entering the Promised Land.
God’s Law About Moabites
Read God’s command in Deuteronomy 23:3: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever.” God gave this plain instruction through Moses.
As Elder wrote, “This racial law never was canceled nor annulled.” You can’t find it in the Bible. And even if they went to the 10th generation, that would take them past the time of Ruth. Had Ruth been a Moabite, then Ruth’s first husband, Mahlon, broke that law, and so did her second husband, Boaz.
Ruth 1:4 says Naomi’s sons “took them wives of the women of Moab.” This is the only verse where the phrase “women of Moab” is used in the entire Bible, and it comes from the Hebrew ishshah, women. When the Bible talks about Moabitish women, it uses the term “daughters of Moab,” from the Hebrew bath (Numbers 25:1; Isaiah 16:2). This word indicates that those women were descendants of Moab—descended from Lot. The Bible never says Ruth was a descendant of Moab. Again, she did not live in the sovereign territory of Moab, but in Israelite territory still called the “plains of Moab.”
“Ruth moved to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, and married a man named Boaz, of the royal house of Judah,” Elder wrote. “When she bore the child, Obed, the stage was being set for the future kings of the nation of Israel, and the coming of the Messiah.”
Elder actually said that Ruth may well have been a Jew. This seems probable, considering God’s emphasis on the purity of the genealogy of David that Christ had to be a part of.
How much does this mean to people in the world? This is truly important to God’s people, who have the key of the house of David! This Church is going to be teaching people in the World Tomorrow about the book of Ruth! Who could possibly teach that except the people who have the key and understand this at the time God wants us to understand it, just before we’re about to marry Jesus Christ? You have to be here at “the last end” to understand the whole story of Ruth! That is why God is revealing all this now. We must get the whole picture and be able to teach it.
‘God of the King’
In his book Ruth: the Israelite, Robert Alan Balaicius writes, “Naomi’s husband’s name was Elimelech. This is a prophetic flag, for Elimelech means ‘God of the king.’ This name is quite fitting for laying the groundwork for the royal line through which David and so on would descend, and the kings of Judah through him.”
What is a king on this Earth if the true God is not the God of that king? Look at all the evil that can create!
This author shows how Elimelech’s meaning—God of the king—is akin to several similar words: Abbamelech means father of the king; Achmelech, brother of the king; Alammelech, oak of the king; Adrummelech, splendor of the king; Anammelech, affliction of the king; Ebedmelech, servant of the king. God really was orchestrating a plan here in the time of Ruth. All of this will conclude with God over all the kings! And if you don’t have God over the king, you have nothing but evil!
Remember, the book of Ruth took place during the time of the judges, when everybody was doing that which was right in their own eyes, which is a prophecy for this time today. That explains why God isn’t directly mentioned much in this short book. But when you understand it, you can see that God was deeply involved in these events. As Balaicius writes, “God is surely present and overseeing all of this.” He actually mentions how God was involved in ensuring there would be a pure racial line to introduce David, who would have descendants sitting on his throne right up until the time of Jesus Christ, when Christ Himself would sit on it. God is very much in the picture!
If you have a king, this is what you need. For a government with a king to work, you must have God over the king! This is illustrated in Micah 2:13, where it talks about “their king … and the Lord on the head of them.” If God isn’t at the head, the king won’t do anything worthwhile spiritually.
So right at the beginning of the book of Ruth, it talks about the God of the king. This is laying the groundwork for what is coming. God has to rule over whoever has the throne of David to make it effective. We must have God in the picture!
‘Unto Her Gods’
When Orpah decided to return to Moab, Naomi said to Ruth, “Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law” (Ruth 1:15). That sounds like pagan Moab, but is it really?
The Hebrew word translated “gods” is elohim. That is the word God uses for Himself thousands of times in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 1:1). But there are verses where the same Hebrew word is used in other ways. In Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, for example, it is correctly translated “judges,” referring to the men who served as judges in Israel. Referring to Ruth 1:15, Elder said: “Therefore this word might correctly have been translated ‘judges,’ and the context warrants this translation.” Yes, it does. This occurred during the time of the judges—when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). That is what they are talking about here. The translators just used the wrong word.
Notice how Ruth responded to Naomi: “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 thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Elder said this statement is “amazing proof that Ruth was an Israelite and possibly a Jewess,” and I believe what she says is irrefutable.
Note that “shall be” is in italics, meaning that these words were added by translators. “Hebrew is written with consonants only, no vowels. The vowels are added in the spoken language,” Elder wrote. “One of the things this does is leave the word tense for the individual to add when reading. You have to understand the context in order to correctly read the Hebrew. To put things in plain English, it is impossible for Ruth to become, or ‘shall be’ a part of Naomi’s tribe, if she was not of the same genetic strain. ‘A Gentile in the woodpile’ would make Ruth a Gentile, not an Israelite of pure racial strain. The future tense, then, is not correct.”
What Ruth said should read, “Your people are my people, and your God is my God.” They really did have the same people and the same God—because it was all Israel!
“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest” (verse 22). Here is one of several places in the book of Ruth referring to “the country of Moab.” Elder explained, “The word used for country in the original Hebrew translates best as ‘land.’ The land of Moab, or the plains of Moab, it could read. The reference is to physical land, not to the occupying people of the land. The term is not pointing to the nation, but to the territory.”
In Joshua 22, 21/2 tribes were left on the east side of the Jordan, with a blessing (see Map C on page 35). However, after a short time, the tribes that had continued into Canaan saw them building an altar that they assumed was pagan, and sought to go to war against them. In the confrontation that followed, the tribes on the east—in the country of Moab—assured them that they were not following other gods. In effect, they said, We are the same people, and we worship the same God!
That was the area Ruth came from. She did not worship pagan Moabitish gods. Her God was the same as Naomi’s God—the true God.
A Stranger—Not an Alien
When Ruth began working in his field, Boaz began to show her great favor. He protected her from harm and ensured that she was taken care of and provided for.
Notice Ruth’s response to his kindness: “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?” (Ruth 2:10). Ruth called herself a “stranger.” Does that mean she was a Gentile?
The Hebrew word she used was nokriy. She did not use the word ger, which refers to people of another race (e.g. Genesis 15:13; 23:4; Exodus 2:22; 18:3). Elder explains, “Ruth is speaking of herself as one strange to those of her own blood, and in the land which she had not visited hitherto. The word nokriy in the Hebrew is therefore the correct term for the sort of stranger Ruth was.”
If Ruth were a stranger, in the sense of being a Gentile, the laws of levirate marriage (where the nearest kinsman marries the widow) would not have applied to her!
The Royal Lineage!
In the end, Ruth had a son by Boaz (Ruth 4:13). “[A]nd they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David” (verse 17). When Ruth bore Obed, the stage was being set for the future kings of the nation of Israel and the coming of the Messiah! Several generations later, Jesus Christ was born from this royal line.
Verse 22 says: “And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.” That was added by an editor. But look what it is all about: It’s about the throne of David and all the kings who sat on David’s throne! It’s all about race, and then it is given to Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah, and He’s going to bring grace to all the world! God is going to try to bring everybody He possibly can into His Family.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul writes about two olive trees: a wild olive tree and a good olive tree, the latter representing Israel. The Gentiles must be grafted into the good olive tree—and even Israelites, who have departed from God, have to be regrafted in! In the end, there will be only this one olive tree! The whole world will be ruled from David’s throne—God’s throne! It is going to unite everybody. First, God unites the throne of David with the law and the scepter. Soon He will unite the whole world with that throne! Everybody’s going to be Israel! Everybody will fear God and follow God, or they won’t be around very long.
This is real! And this is what God is trying to help us see in the book of Ruth! He wants to get that vivid picture in our minds. It’s all about the throne of David, or the throne of God, and where all this is leading!
Again, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “Jesus Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, and it was necessary that He be of the original, pure racial strain, even as Noah was” (op cit). God did prepare a pure racial strain for Christ at His first coming—and, I believe, a pure spiritual strain for Christ at His Second Coming. It all seems logical that God wants it to be as pure as it can be, especially at the Second Coming. That physical purity is a type of the spiritual purity God requires. He really wants it to be pure!
God worked through Ruth to begin to establish the throne of David. And why? This points you to God’s ultimate goal: restoring His royal government to this Earth! Nothing is more important to God than that! The Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course states, “The one great purpose now uppermost in God’s mind is the restoration of His government on Earth. Once His government is restored, God will set His hand to bring salvation to all mankind” (Lesson 31).
That is what the book of Ruth is ultimately about! It is about the key of the house of David! It’s about how this world is going to be ruled and governed by God the Father and, under the Father, by Christ and His Bride!
God’s people who remain loyal to David’s throne today are going to have the opportunity to sit on it with Christ forever! The restoration of His government is uppermost in God’s mind today. Is it uppermost in yours? Do you truly love His government? It should be foremost for every person who is going to share that throne! If we are going to marry Jesus Christ, we must learn to think this way!
The book of Ruth makes the royal lineage real. Notice Luke 1:30-32: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.”
God the Father gave the throne of David to His Son. Christ will rule from that throne forever—totally submissive to His Father’s government. It is a God Family throne. The Father is the Head of His Family.
Chapter 3: Seven Steps to Becoming the Bride of Christ
The day of Pentecost commemorates God’s people receiving God’s law and His Holy Spirit. But it is also an exciting prophecy about the Church marrying Jesus Christ.
How real to you is the marriage of Jesus Christ to His Church? Is it truly as real as a physical marriage? God gave us the book of Ruth to help make it more real to us.
In fact, Ruth gives us seven steps to becoming the Bride of Christ.
Ruth means to satisfy. She is a type of God’s Church. We must learn how to satisfy God. How can we do that? The book of Ruth really spells that out and shows us how to become Christ’s Bride.
There is revelation in the book of Ruth that you really have to study to understand. You have to dig into these scriptures in order to get the entire picture and make final preparations for our marriage! Our physical marriages are really insignificant compared to this. It is the spiritual marriage God really wants us to prepare for! The firstfruits are about to marry the Son of God and there will never be another marriage like it! God says the firstfruits must really study and work to understand everything God is teaching us. This is critical!
Ruth showed us through her example how to make ourselves ready for that spectacular wedding. If you follow these seven steps, you will be part of that marriage!
When Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem, she tried to convince her two daughters-in-law to remain in the land of Moab: “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find a home, each of you in the house of her husband!” (Ruth 1:8-9; Revised Standard Version). Naomi was trying to get them to count the cost, because if they had followed her and then turned away, that would have created all kinds of problems.
This is a picture of how we must not make a commitment to God lightly; He demands that each of us count the cost first (Luke 14:25-33).
At first, both daughters-in-law said they would go with her. But after Naomi insisted that they return home, Orpah decided to leave (Ruth 1:10-14).
Verse 14 concludes, “[B]ut Ruth clave unto her.” Clave is a strong word. It means to be glued together, to adhere firmly or to follow hard. The same word is used to describe how one of David’s mighty men fought so long, so hard and so valiantly in slaying Philistines that his hand “clave” to his sword (2 Samuel 23:10). Ruth clave to Naomi!
Then Ruth expressed her total commitment: “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people [are] my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17; rsv).
This is expressed differently in the King James Version, but realize what Ruth is saying here! Again, Naomi is a type of God’s true Church. Ruth was saying, “I’m going to cleave to you—to the point where I’m going to be buried where you are buried! Not even death will part me from you!” The only way you can really understand this is to see that Ruth had the eternal vision represented in the day of Pentecost! She was one tough, immovable lady!
One: Ruth had the vision of Pentecost
In the passage about counting the cost, Christ warned that you may have to give up your mother, your father, your sister, your brother and even your own life! (Luke 14:26). He doesn’t usually make us give up everything, but this is the attitude God says we must have if we’re going to marry Christ.
Ruth is a wonderful example for us today. When someone is baptized in God’s true Church, this is the commitment he or she makes to God. When we get baptized, we are committing to move to a new land, becoming part of a new people, following the true God. We enter a new family—a new life! When God’s ministers counsel someone for baptism, we spell this out. Every person has to realize what he or she is getting into. God doesn’t want anyone to follow who cannot keep this commitment! It must be the very depth of commitment that Ruth had!
Is this the kind of commitment we have to marriage? Well, it should be—even to physical marriage! When you get married physically, you ought to have a real commitment to that marriage, a commitment akin to this—only this is far greater.
Ruth put a lot of emphasis on this: “I know this is God’s people, and I’m not going to leave you unless I’m dead.” Do we have this kind of commitment? Do you have such absolute dedication to God that you would say, “I’m not leaving this Church, this Philadelphia Church of God, and the people of God—unless I die!” This separates us from the Laodiceans. Like Ruth, we figuratively say, Our bones are going to be with this Church forever. That was what Ruth was saying! Not even death will part me from you, the true Church of God! In other words, Even if somebody took a sword and was about to cut my head off, I still would not recant! Ruth was willing to die for God’s truth. She let it be known that not even the threat of death would stop her.
Anciently, Israel never had this commitment, even by the letter of the law. Today, most of God’s people don’t have this commitment to God. The Laodiceans are “rich and increased with goods,” living in a time of great prosperity, and some of them gave up God and this marriage for such trivial things that it is embarrassing!
Christ says you may have to give up your family in this world, but He will give you 100-fold more in the Church of God. You may even have to give up your own life—but look: You’re going to marry Jesus Christ and sit on the throne of David for all eternity! Is that worth dying for? Of course it is! But you certainly have to have a deeper understanding than what the Laodiceans have.
Look at Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” Notice the order here. God expected Abram to get out of his country—that is difficult. He also wanted him to leave his kindred—his relatives. Finally God asked that he leave his “father’s house”—that’s the most difficult of all, leaving his immediate family. The commitment we are asked to make is all-encompassing.
And, as Ruth said, the commitment involves the dead as well. These people had a very strong link with their father’s house, their ancestry. Abraham and Isaac and their wives were buried in the same cave. Jacob told his children that he didn’t want to be buried in Egypt—he wanted to be in the same cave as his fathers (Genesis 47:29-31). These people were committed to their family. When the Bible talks about sleeping with their fathers, that is literal! Their bones and dust mingled in the same grave. This was very important to them.
But it goes deeper than that. Ruth told Naomi, I won’t just embrace your God, because I could turn away from that like Orpah did. But I’m telling you, I want my bones buried where your bones are buried. I’m with you totally, and not even death will separate us!
This is the kind of commitment God wants from us!
If we are going to marry Christ, what’s the difficulty in dying for Him? We must be prepared to do that—to say, in effect, God, when I die, I want my bones buried with the Church that is following and trusting you. That’s where I’ll be when I die! This is not a partial commitment—this is going all the way. This is refusing to pass up the chance to marry Christ, no matter what happens.
If we do not have this attitude, we will not make it! Even the Laodiceans who are in the Tribulation will have to stand and say, If you want to kill me, kill me! I’ll die for God! (Revelation 12:11). And they will have their bones buried with God in that sense.
This is what God wants us to glean from the book of Ruth: to see the commitment we need if we are going to marry Jesus Christ. Even facing death will not keep you away from God and His way of life. It takes a lot of study and a lot of understanding to have this level of commitment.
What a beautiful message this is, and what a vision it is to inspire us. It is worth it. After all, who are we to be marrying Jesus Christ, and be given such honor for all eternity? We are the weak and the base of the Earth, yet God is offering us this magnificent glory. Given the magnitude of our calling, isn’t God worthy of the highest commitment from us? Luke 9:62 says that if we put our hand to the plow and then look back, we are not fit for this reward! If we wonder, hesitate or reason, Well maybe it IS better back there, then we are not fit for the Kingdom! These are strong words. We must be totally, absolutely committed.
Two: Ruth was an extremely hard worker, physically and spiritually
Ruth accompanied Naomi back to Israel. “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter” (Ruth 2:1-2).
In order to support her mother-in-law, Ruth humbled herself to glean with the poor. She went out into the field and worked. Gleaning corn, barley or wheat is hard work, and Ruth did it conscientiously.
Ruth’s example is really wondrous to behold. She had the faith to go out and glean and do whatever needed to be done, and simply trust God to take care of them. She worked, and she worked hard—and then expected God to bless her as He said He would. And how she was blessed!
God led Ruth into the field of Boaz, a well-respected and prosperous member of a royal Jewish family, a noble prince. Boaz noticed this young woman diligently laboring away. “Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose maiden is this?’ And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, ‘It is the Moabite maiden, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.’ She said, “Pray, let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, without resting even for a moment’” (Ruth 2:5-7; rsv). Ruth is a phenomenal example!
This is the pivotal turning point. Here Ruth is beginning to interact with Boaz. The symbolism changes at this point in the story: Ruth begins to become the type of the true Church, because we had to leave the church we were in, and follow Jesus Christ in beginning a new Work.
The May 1981 Good News made this point: “Ruth’s labor as a gleaner in the fields of Boaz, her future husband, is full of meaning for us. What does a gleaner do? A gleaner neither sows the seed nor nurtures the crop as it matures. Both these jobs are the responsibility of the husbandman who owns the field. Thus a gleaner is, by definition, one who is allowed to share in and benefit from the enterprise of another. What a wonderful analogy!” We are working in Christ’s field, and He has allowed us to glean His precious truth. If we take advantage of it the way He wants us to, we will proceed directly to our marriage with Jesus Christ! This is everything to really strive for!
How much are you gleaning from Christ’s abundant field? God’s people have never had as much truth as we have today. How thankful are you to be in Christ’s field gleaning this wonderful truth and reaping spiritual rewards? We had better do all the gleaning we can!
Three: Ruth had a bowing-to-the-ground humility before God
Boaz instructed Ruth to remain in his field and promised she would be protected, well treated and provided for. Notice how Ruth responded: “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?” (Ruth 2:10). In the face of being so blessed by Boaz, a type of Jesus Christ, she bowed all the way to the ground in humility.
Boaz was truly impressed by her virtuous humility! Again, “Ruth” means to satisfy, and we have to learn how to satisfy God. How do we do that?
The root word for Ruth is rafof, which means to quake. Ruth satisfied God because she quaked, or trembled, at His Word. This is what God is trying to get His Church—the future wife of Jesus Christ—to do. Isaiah 66:2 says that God looks to the man who has a contrite spirit and trembles at His Word. When you read God’s Word, do you really tremble at it the way Ruth did?
“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” (Ruth 2:11). You can’t very well hide the virtue that Ruth was acting on. Ruth did not self-righteously try to get noticed. But she was demonstrating tremendous character, uncommon loyalty and admirable selflessness, dedicating her life to taking care of her mother-in-law. She had left her father and mother and her native land in order to do this. People knew exactly what she was doing, and they were thoroughly impressed. They knew she was obeying God, and they told Boaz of her in full detail. He was fully aware of her.
When we live righteously, God is fully aware—and many other people are as well. If somebody is doing good work, serving the Church and Work, stepping out and taking action, he or she cannot hide that. Good works are out there where people can see them. Not that you are trying to get people to see your works, but they are going to see them in many cases. This is what happened with Ruth. She is our example.
“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” (verse 12). A full reward! How many more rewards could we receive? Boaz knew she would receive a full reward because she gave 100 percent to all that she did! It was amazing what this woman did, and that of course is why her example is canonized in the Bible.
Ruth committed herself not to Boaz but to the living God!
Remember, this history is recorded specifically for us. How God blesses us if we are bowing to the ground in humility! It is extremely difficult to be the kind of person who will do anything God wants you to do and who will humble yourself in any way to obey Him! But Ruth did it and set the example for us.
The following verses show that the blessings Boaz provided went far beyond what the average gleaner would find in an already reaped field. He let her eat at his own table and instructed his workers to ensure she received extra provision (verses 14-16). When you throw your heart into gleaning the corners, God will soon give you abundant blessings from the whole field!
This generous, caring, godly man was a type of Jesus Christ. This is how He looks after us and how He blesses us. We all have trials and tests, but what blessings God makes available to us when we step out in faith and commit to Him! When we have Ruth’s attitude, loyalty, work ethic and humility, God blesses us! If you think you need more blessings, Ruth’s example shows you how to receive them! Most of all, God will give you wonderful spiritual blessings: the building of the very character of God.
The greatest blessing of all is what will happen when the day of Pentecost is fulfilled! There is only one Bride who will serve on David’s throne with Christ forever! That is a full reward! God is opening up a reward to those who have an attitude like Ruth today that is so full it will never be offered to anybody else, ever! It is unparalleled in the Bible! But can we comprehend it? It is truly a challenge to God’s people to even comprehend what God is offering us—but we can if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us. God is doing everything He can to inspire us to live our lives the way Ruth did!
When her daughter-in-law returned home, Naomi was impressed with the bounty she had gained. Upon learning that it was Boaz who had been so generous to her, she realized that God had led Ruth to a kinsman. Soon after, she gave Ruth instructions on making known to Boaz her willingness to marry him (Ruth 3:1-4).
These instructions surely would have seemed unusual to Ruth. But her response was remarkable: “All that thou sayest unto me I will do” (verse 5).
Was this an obedient lady? All you tell me, I’ll do it—every little bit! Naomi told her to do something that was quite bold. If Boaz had been like many of the evil men in the world, he could have really taken advantage of her. But Naomi knew he would not. And Ruth trusted her and knew she was telling her the truth. She was a wonderful woman who just did what Naomi told her to do. She knew that Naomi had given up her whole family to death and was still loyal to God, and she felt very secure in listening to Naomi so she could follow God.
This is a picture of the true Church having such an obedient attitude! All that you say to me I will do! As long as I’m following Christ through men who follow Him, I’ll do it! We have to follow God’s Church very carefully and closely. When there are leaders who are leading you to God, follow them. Be willing to follow. True ministers of God are trying to help you.
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:1-2: “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” This is the goal of the true minister: to bring you to the point where you are a chaste virgin, ready to marry Christ. To help you take on the attitude of, All that you say unto me, I will do. God actually inspires a jealousy in His ministers, as a man is jealous over his wife. God’s people should respond by following such men.
Ruth not only said she would follow her instructions, but notice: “And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her” (Ruth 3:6).
Four: You must show God that you want to marry Christ
“And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:7-9).
Think about Ruth’s attitude here. She was deeply serving and humble, gracious and thankful for God’s blessings. She appreciated what God was offering her, and she went after this marriage! Ruth showed Boaz that she wanted such a relationship. She really had to go after Boaz. She had to go to him and lay herself at his feet.
Realize the spiritual parallels. This does not apply to an individual; Ruth represents a whole collective body.
Ruth had to really show Boaz that she wanted to marry him! Jesus Christ wants the same from us. He says, I want you to show me how much you want to marry me! Prove it to me! The way the world views it, we are going to have to do some strange things to be the Bride of Jesus Christ.
What an important lesson Ruth teaches us! God is telling us here that we must really, really want this marriage! He wants us to show Him we want it. God wants to see how much we want it and treasure it! He wants to know how thankful we are for it! He wants us to show Him our faith in our spiritual lives. If we don’t want it, then He doesn’t want it either.
When you enter into a physical marriage, if it’s the right kind of marriage, you really want it. You yearn for the marriage. God is saying, How about my marriage to you? How much do you desire it? And how much are you willing to do to marry me and be loyal to me? Because this is the kind of wife I’m going to have, and no other.
Do we really let God or Christ know how much we love Him? We all fall short in this at times. But God says, I’m not going to have a bride that doesn’t really want the marriage! If they’re lukewarm, I’m going to spew them out of my mouth!
Surely God’s loyal people truly want this marriage. But we have to understand it more deeply all the time, to make sure we have this kind of dedication—or how can God use us to teach the world? Look what our Husband went through for us! And now He wants to know what we’ll go through for Him. You have to commit your life to this.
There are times when we have to be bold about certain things; this is what God wants in His wife. He wants her to be bold when it’s legal, lawful and right, and sometimes maybe bold in a way that would be rather shocking to other people. I’m sure this was rather shocking to Boaz while it was happening. But Ruth was quite an assertive lady in the right way.
Ruth comprehended what God was going to give her in the marriage. This makes a difference in our lives. We must get this profound truth into our minds so we comprehend it! This takes a lot of thinking about it.
Five: You must build up the house of Israel, spiritually
Boaz redeemed Ruth from another, closer kinsman, and was able to make her his wife. He said, “Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon [her deceased husband], have I purchased to be my wife …” (Ruth 4:10). Boaz purchased her! God’s people today have been bought and paid for with the highest price possible—the bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20). Our lives are not our own! You don’t belong to yourself. You belong to God!
“And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel …” (Ruth 4:11).
Ruth was a great woman, and people all around knew it and were amazed. They recognized what a great woman she was, and they dwelled on it. They said, She can build up Israel like Rachel and Leah did!
There is something God wants us to learn here about building. We are builders! Remember, this book is specifically for the Philadelphia Church of God.
When you read about Rachel and Leah, you can see that God is talking specifically to us today. What did these two women do? Why is God talking about Rachel and Leah in this context? It is a coded message, and God has decoded it.
First think about Rachel. In Genesis 30:22-24, we read how Rachel bore Joseph. Joseph was the father of Manasseh and Ephraim. Genesis 48 records how Jacob adopted Manasseh and Ephraim in a way he did not do with his other grandsons: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (verse 16). The nations that descended from these two became the end-time, prophetic Israel, which received the birthright promises. These two nations are Britain (Ephraim) and the United States (Manasseh)!
There is a reason God brings this into the book of Ruth. Where has God headquartered His end-time Work—the only Work on Earth that is publicizing God’s message of warning and of hope for end-time Israel and for the world? In America, one of the birthright nations where God has given all these blessings—the one with the most power since Ephraim (which was at one time greater than Manasseh) faded from the scene.
This Work is trying to save as many lives as possible by warning people of the punishment to come. We are pointing people to the God of Israel, and teaching the law of God by which they can build their lives the right way. We are building the faithful members of God’s Church with instruction on building their relationship with God, building strong families, building stable congregations. This Work of God is aimed at building the house of Israel, physically and spiritually! We need to do all we can to build this Work!
Even if the nations of Israel reject this message, it will still be a strong witness against them.
Ruth 4:11 also mentions Leah. How is that prophetically significant?
Leah gave birth to Levi, who became the father of the Levites. In a pivotal end-time prophecy (Malachi 2:4-7), God uses the name Levi to point to a man who was the spiritual father of the ministry in the Worldwide Church of God—as Levi was the physical father of the Levites.
This prophetic Levitical role was fulfilled by Herbert W. Armstrong. God used Mr. Armstrong to build His ministry. Mr. Armstrong was led by God to develop a system that educated and prepared the ministers whom God was choosing. He was a spiritual father to them—He either ordained the ministers or approved their ordinations. He set the example for me and many others today.
This prophecy praises him for his godly fear. Mr. Armstrong trembled before God’s Word! God says the law of truth was in his mouth, and he turned many away from lawlessness! (verse 6). God revealed His law to him, and He established the law through this man.
We ought to seek the law at his mouth! (verse 7). He taught the law, and the ministers could go to his mouth and receive the law and the teaching of God. They could really get the truth from him. He didn’t hold back. Go to his mouth! Read his autobiography and learn about his life. See how God used him. His is another example like Ruth’s, only greater!
God calls this man His messenger to deliver the law and teach us the government of God. This is more important now than ever before, because this Levi also gave us the new stone of destiny! The stone is a type of the throne of David and of Jesus Christ Himself! To have a successful throne of David, you must have a king who will implement God’s law and administer God’s government. Now you have the throne and the law together, and that is what makes it all work! Remember, there has to be a “God of the king”! (You can read about this in my book The New Throne of David.)
Mr. Armstrong was the messenger of God, and in a sense, he brought us the new throne. God’s faithful people today are to do all we can to promote what God did through this man. We print Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography and distribute it freely. We print and freely distribute The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Mystery of the Ages and many of his other works. How precious is the knowledge that God gave us through Mr. Armstrong! We have so much to glean, so much to absorb, and it’s so wonderful! And the more we learn, the more inspired, moved and stirred we are! These are blessings God has given to us, and we want to glean all we can and share them with as many as desire it.
Yet the Laodiceans cause people to stumble at the law (verse 8). They do not teach God’s law; they have their own ideas. When you see how sick this world is and all the terrifying events unfolding before our eyes, how can the Laodiceans still trust their own wicked, evil, unstable human nature?
We have a job to do in Israel. We have to build up the spiritual house of Israel—the Church of God and the Work of God—in any way we possibly can. That is why we are here. The Bible is a book about Israel and about God’s plan to use Israel to bring salvation to the whole world! What a magnificent message, what wonderful truth, we have the opportunity to deliver!
We have to build up the house of Israel. The Church will not be great if we do not use the power of God’s Spirit, keep God’s law, and glean from the fields that Christ has given us. If we do all we can to build up this Church, people cannot help but see it. If you are out there doing everything you can to build up spiritual Israel, it will be noticed. Of course, doing that also helps physical Israel, or the end-time nations of Israel.
Six: We must declare the scepter promise and the law
Leah also gave birth to Judah. He was the father of the Jews, who received the scepter promise (this is also explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy).
Genesis 49:1 says, “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” Here, in the first book of the Bible, Jacob delivered end-time prophecies about his sons’ descendants.
Verse 9 says, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?” Well, somebody needs to rouse him up. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come …” (verse 10).
Christ is the descendant of Judah and of David, who will come and take the scepter and rule from that throne. The scepter promise is finally fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself—the ultimate royalty!
But there is yet another way the book of Ruth is specifically prophetic for the pcg today: The mention of Judah’s mother, Leah (Ruth 4:11), points us to the change in the line of kings from David on down to the modern-day United Kingdom—to the throne being moved to God’s own Church today. We have the throne during this last leg just before Jesus Christ returns to Earth. God wants the throne to be spiritually more pure than what it has been, because after all, Christ is coming! Can you imagine Him taking the throne from carnal-minded people who don’t even know what it’s about and don’t know anything about Him? He has to have people here who understand the new throne and new stone, so they can easily relate to Him once they start ruling. The saints who are here when Jesus Christ returns have the new stone and the new throne. We have the wonderful law that Mr. Armstrong taught, and the government to make sure that law is taught properly.
Realize this: We are going to have a lot to teach even the prophets and apostles! We have a lot of truth God has given us that they never heard! Having this stone and throne is an awesome responsibility! God is going to begin to convert the entire world—everybody who has ever lived! That is what the scepter is really about! What a wonderful plan!
The reference to Rachel and Leah is really about the new stone and the new throne. This is all a coded message, and it is specifically for us today. The Church is going to marry Christ, and we will help Him teach the law. This all leads directly into our marriage to the Messiah! What a wonderful, thrilling journey this has to be for anybody who really sees what is going on!
The birthright promise does not offer us salvation. But the scepter promise does! God gave Abraham a promise of race (that his descendants would become physically great nations) and a promise of grace (that all human beings would be blessed through one of his descendants, Jesus Christ). But soon, the promise of grace will be fulfilled for the whole world! It is going to save most of mankind! How? Through the scepter and the law taught by Jesus Christ from David’s throne. We should not recoil from God’s law, which will bring us real freedom and peace: It’s the law of love, joy, happiness and fulfillment!
Ruth is a book about royalty—royalty greater than has ever been. This royalty will be right beside Jesus Christ, ruling from Jerusalem headquarters forever. This is the most majestic royalty there ever will be for human beings!
“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). Who was that son? “[T]hey called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David” (verse 17). He was the grandfather of King David!
The book of Ruth closes by emphasizing this point: “And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (verses 21-22). Ruth’s marriage set the stage for the establishment of the house of David and all the kings who descended from him, culminating in the King of kings, the Messiah, who is about to return!
Realize the significance here. In a book that contains this glorious vision about the marriage of Christ and the Church, it ends by focusing not on that marriage, as you would expect. It zeroes in on the lineage down to David. Why is that? Commentaries say it is a mystery. That is true: It is a mystery—to everyone outside the one Church that has the key to the house of David!
When you have this key, then whatever portion of the story you are looking at, you see the whole picture. Without this key, it is impossible to recognize the right context. People read Ruth and see only a small slice of the story. They cannot recognize where it begins and ends. But to this last era of the true Church, God provided this marvelous key that opens up wonderful understanding! We see details that even Mr. Armstrong was not given to see. You can see why God would want to give that key to us, I think, because we see the ending of the book of Ruth. This key opens up everything! (Isaiah 22:22).
God’s people today are going to sit on the throne with Jesus Christ and rule the world with Him as His Bride! God is really giving us some special opportunities, just like He did for Ruth when she was out there gleaning in the fields.
You cannot unlock the full meaning of the book of Ruth without the key of the house of David. It is really a royal key and a wonderful opportunity, because it’s all about our marriage to Jesus Christ! This is the key of the house of David, and spiritually, we are of the house of David! This is the hope of the whole world!
Seven: We are here to serve the world
Obed means serve. Christ told the disciples, “[W]hosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27). We are here to serve the entire world!
This is what Mr. Armstrong was trying to get the Laodiceans to see! But they were too selfish and wrapped up in themselves to see what God was doing. Mr. Armstrong had such a battle trying to get them to understand that we are not here just to get ourselves saved. We are here to get ready to teach the world, serve the world, and give our lives to the world! Yes, we will lead them as God directs us, but we are going to serve them because we love them. This is God’s Family, and the one who will serve them most of all will be God the Father.
We are going to help God teach the whole world—and then, teach all those who have ever lived—and then, go on out into the universe and build and build! We will build up Israel and build up the universe as God rules us with His law of love!
This is what Pentecost is all about: It’s about giving yourself, giving to the world—even dying for the world if you have to—giving everything you have to God to get this Work done! This is what we will be doing forever from the very throne of David as the Bride of Jesus Christ. Then after the Millennium and the Last Great Day, we will go on to serve in the universe for all eternity—forever and ever and ever!