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 theendof 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!