The story of Ruth points out how the grace of God can redeem an individual that has no claim to that grace. Ruth's redemption could only come through a Kinsman-Redeemer. It also points out there was no redemption for anyone under the Law and the 10 commandments. The underlying theme in the book portrays the redemption of Israel in the last days of the Great Tribulation.
Ruth 1:1-5 “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3. Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.”
The main characters in the story so far are Naomi and Ruth. A man named Boaz will appear a little later. Elimelech and Naomi’s move from Israel to Moab, a pagan nation, suggests Israel's worldwide dispersion that was yet to come.
The death of Elimelech in a foreign land separated Naomi from her husband and their land. That pictures Israel, as a nation, forced from her land and separated from the Lord. The deaths of Naomi’s sons in a foreign land picture the terrible things that Israel has experienced among the nations over the centuries. The grief that came to Naomi as a result of the famine speaks of Israel’s spiritual failure and God’s chastisement of that nation.
Under the Law of Moses, the land each family inherited when Israel conquered the land was to remain the possession of a male member of that family. Elimelech and both his sons died, leaving no male heirs to claim their inheritance. Naomi heard the famine in Judah was over and she planned to return. The problems she encountered in Moab must have turned her heart back to the Lord. She undoubtedly felt guilty for leaving the promised land in the first place and for not trusting God to take care of her there.
When she told her daughters-in-law that she was going back to Judea, they both intended to go with her. Orpha changed her mind and chose to remain in the land of Moab in her present condition. Her decision pictures those Israelites who, in the end times, will not accept Christ as the Messiah and will remain estranged from God.
Ruth followed Naomi. Her faith in Naomi’s God would ultimately bring her to be included in God’s people. Her decision speaks of the remnant of Israel who will ultimately enter into a saving relationship with the Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ. They will inherit the blessings promised to their forefathers.
Ruth’s statement of loyalty to Naomi and Naomi’s God is a classic in world literature. Her plea for acceptance could echo that of every sinner who has ever come to realize his or her hopeless condition before God and has come to Christ for salvation.
Verses 16-17. “But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And where you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth’s statement left no doubt she had chosen to follow Naomi's God regardless of the things she had experienced.
Verses 19-21. “Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20. But she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty.”
Their arrival made quite a stir in Bethlehem. The women asked “Is this Naomi?” Here she was, a childless widow, hoping somehow to claim her late husband’s inheritance.
Naomi means “pleasant one.” Mara means “bitter one,” so it seems like God wanted Naomi to realize she had forfeited her blessing by leaving the land and not trusting in Him. In desperation, Naomi had returned to the land and to her God.
Verse 22. “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
Harvest time might symbolize the end of the age when God’s plan for the Nation of Israel will be finalized. After the church is Raptured and the Great Tribulation comes, Israel, here represented by Naomi, accompanied by a believing remnant, represented by Ruth, will return to the Promised Land.
Ruth 2:1-2. “There was a relative of Naomi's husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.”
Naomi’s late husband had a relative, Boaz, who was a potential “kinsman redeemer” if he married Ruth. His name means “in him is strength.” When you see him as a type of Christ, he aptly portrays the Greater Kinsman-Redeemer.
Ruth wanted to glean in the fields of Boaz. That represents the desire of the believing remnant of the end time to seek the Lord. When the Jewish remnant returns to God at the end of this age, they’ll enter the Promised Land with its ultimate blessings.
God directed Ruth’s path to where she would meet Boaz so His purpose for her might be fulfilled. That’s how God works.
When the times of the Gentiles have run their course,
Israel will acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah and
He will become their Kinsman-Redeemer.
They’ll be in fellowship with God once again
and back in the land of promise.
Ruth was a foreigner. But God had provided for the foreigner under the Law of Moses.
Leviticus 19:9-10. “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger:”
When Boaz saw a stranger in his field, he asked who she was and found she was related to Elimelech, so he allowed her to continue under his protection.
Ruth 2:10. “So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
Ruth bowed before Boaz and found favor in his sight. When Christ comes again, the Jews who bow before Him will find favor in His sight as their Kinsman-Redeemer.
As a stranger and a foreigner,
Ruth represents the apostate character
of Israel as she stands today.
God has set the nation aside
and it will remain that way until they recognize
His Son as their Messiah.
Ruth 2:11-14. “And Boaz answered and said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.’ 13. Then she said, ’Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.’ 14. Now Boaz said to her at mealtime, ‘Come eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back.”
Boaz invited Ruth to eat with him and the reapers. It wasn’t the custom for the gleaning girls to eat with the men. I’m pretty sure there were some eyebrows raised among the men when this pretty little Moabite widow was invited by the boss himself to eat with them. However, he had previously been told of her excellent character. (Verse 11)
Ruth was evidently overwhelmed by Boaz’s treatment of her. Not only was she invited to sit down with the reapers and eat her fill but to take some home for her mother in law. Out of the kindness of his heart, Boaz told the men to leave some grain behind on purpose. She would have understood how he might treat one of his maidservants this way but she was a foreigner and this was pure grace. God treats the undeserving sinner that way yet today.
Ruth didn’t know, at this time, that Boaz might be her kinsman-redeemer. She may not have known of the Israeli custom under the Law of kinsman-redeemers and levirate marriage.
When evening came, she threshed out about a bushel of grain and took it home to Naomi, who didn’t yet know whose fields Ruth had gleaned in.
Verse 19-20. “And her mother-in-law said to her, ‘Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you.’ 20. So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, "The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
Naomi informed her Boaz was a close relative of Elimelech who could be her kinsmen redeemer and marry her. Any male child they produced would receive Naomi's dead husbands inheritance in the land.
Ruth 3:1-4. “Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? 2. Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.”
Naomi explained the custom of levirate marriage and kinsman redemption provided under the Law. She even told Ruth the proper way to let the man know she wanted him to perform his duty as her kinsman-redeemer.
Ruth went to the thrashing floor and did as Naomi said. After Boaz had gone to sleep, she laid down at his feet and waited for his response. Everything she did was moral and proper.
Verses 8-10. “Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. 9. And he said, "Who are you?" So she answered, "I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”
She believed Boaz to be the closest relative. She was unaware there was a closer one.
Verse 12. “It is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.” Verses 13b-14. “But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the LORD lives! Lie down until morning." 14. So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
Boaz was separating the grain from the chaff on the threshing floor when Ruth found him. Christ is going to separate the unbelievers from the believing remnant when He comes for His final harvest of souls.
Ruth laid down at the feet of the redeemer who could give her rest and security in this world and that’s an illustration of the fact that, as sinners, the only place we can find rest and eternal security is at the feet of our Redeemer, Jesus.
This rest will also apply to the believing remnant of Israel at His second coming when their nation will enter into the Kingdom and find rest at the feet of Jesus.
When Ruth returned home the next morning, Naomi gave her some sound advice.
Verse 18. “Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”
Naomi knew Boaz was a righteous man and would act right away.
In chapter 4 we have the transaction Boaz proposed at the city gate.
Ruth 4:1-6. “Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, ‘Come aside, friend, sit down here.’ So he came aside and sat down. 2. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘Sit down here.’ So they sat down. 3. Then he said to the close relative, ‘Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4. And I thought to inform you, saying, 'Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ And he said, ‘I will redeem it.’ 5. Then Boaz said, ‘On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.’ 6. And the close relative said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself,’”
The city gate was the usual place for transacting business of this kind. Boaz informed the un-named man that Naomi had sold the land which belonged to Elimelech. Under the Law, the property would normally revert to the family at the year of jubilee, but Boaz wanted the kinsman to redeem it at once. The un-named kinsman agreed to redeem the land as an investment but he couldn’t marry Ruth. If he did, the land would not belong to him. If he and Ruth had a son, the land would go to Elimelech’s family in that son’s name.
The unnamed redeemer represents the Law of Moses, which came before Christ. The ten witnesses attest to the inability of the Law to redeem anyone.
The Law also required that “an Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation.” (Deuteronomy 23:3). The Law could only keep Ruth out, much less bring her in. She had to be redeemed by a kinsman.
Boaz represents the greater Kinsman-Redeemer, Christ, Who came after the Law. Ruth’s marriage to a kinsman-redeemer would bring her into the nation of Israel and her son would inherit the land that was reclaimed.
Boaz took off his shoe and gave it to the unnamed man. The act of giving your shoe to another person denoted transfer of property. It gave the new owner, Boaz, the right to set foot on and take possession of the land. Joshua 1:3. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,”
This was a legal transaction and a public announcement that Boaz had purchased the property and had claimed Ruth as his wife by levirate marriage. The names of the deceased, Elimemech and Mahlon, would not be cut off or removed from the city records. The elders and people in the gate affirmed the transaction and added their blessing.
Our names will never be removed
from the Book of Life
if we have been redeemed by our kinsman-redeemer,
The marriage occurred at the city gate but it was also a union sanctioned by God. Boaz and Ruth were soon blessed with a son and he would inherit the redeemed land.
This represents the redemption of the land of Israel and the people of Israel when the redeemed remnant will enter into the blessings of the Kingdom rest through their Kinsman-Redeemer.
Ruth 4:14-15. “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15. And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”
Ruth's union with Boaz brought hope to Naomi, and it also pictured a far greater hope for Israel's future restoration since the child they bore is in the lineage of David and it was through this line the world's great Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would come.
Verse 17b. “And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” No wonder they said, 'Your daughter-in-law ... is better to you than seven sons.'”
Verses 17-22 give the genealogy of Christ from Judah’s son, Perez, down to David. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a direct descendant of David through the favored line of David’s son, Nathan.
At the close of the Great Tribulation, a remnant of the Nation of Israel will accept Jesus Christ, their Kinsman-Redeemer, as the Messiah and they will enter the 1000 year reign in the Promised Land with Christ their King and David as their prince.
The great Kinsman-Redeemer died on the cross
for your sins and mine.
If you confess you are a sinner
and believe that Christ died for your sins,
you will be redeemed and will enter the family of God
and inherit all the blessings God has prepared for His children.