TODAY’S READING: RUTH
Boaz redeemed the land, the inheritance, of Naomi to keep alive the name of her dead husband Elimelech. But, Boaz never interacted with Naomi. Instead, Boaz redeemed the land for Naomi through his relationship with and eventual marriage to Ruth.
The story is a beautiful picture of Jesus redeeming the kingdom of his Father. God’s kingdom is all the whole earth, all the land is his. Jesus comes to redeem the whole earth to keep the name of God alive. He does this by marrying a Gentile bride. Ruth is a Gentile and is a picture of the bride of Christ, the church. Note that Ruth is from Moab, which means something like “who is your father?” or “what is your father?” So, as Jesus redeems the kingdom of the earth for his Father, he reveals who the Father is to his bride.
We could spend quite a bit of time digging through the rich details of the story, but let’s just look at some highlights of Boaz to see him as a shadow of Jesus, our redeemer.
BOAZ WAS A WORTHY MAN
Ruth 2:1 says, “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.”
The Hebrew word translated worthy is gibbor, which generally means strong or mighty and is typically associated with a warrior. Clearly, the word is difficult to translate in the context of the verse and almost every version of the Bible has a different translation. Here are some of the different translations:
- a man of great wealth
- a man of standing
- a prominent rich man
- a mighty man of wealth
- a wealthy and influential man
- a wealthy, prominent man
- a man mighty in wealth
While each translator has a slightly different spin on gibbor, most of them identify Boaz as a man of wealth.
Jesus was born to poor parents. But, at one time he was a man of wealth. In John 17:5, Jesus says, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” From before the foundation of the world, Jesus was a man of great wealth because of the glory he shared with the Father.
BOAZ LET RUTH GLEAN IN HIS FIELD
In Ruth 2:8, Boaz says to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them.”
In verse 10, Ruth answered, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
Boaz answered in verses 11 and 12, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
The law of Israel was that a poor person was allowed to glean the grain of fruit of the field. This didn’t mean that the poor person could take whatever they wanted, some great haul of fruit. That would have been reaping the field. Gleaning was the process of picking up that which had fallen out of the reapers’ hands. To glean was to get the grain that was dropped or from the corners of the field that could not be effectively reaped.
Boaz allowed Ruth to get the leftovers or the scraps of his field. And, Ruth was grateful for it. Boaz acknowledged that he let her glean because of the faith Ruth showed to her mother-in-law in leaving her native land.
Jesus beautifully fulfills this shadow of Boaz in Matthew 15:22-28. Notice all the similarities between Jesus and a foreign woman with Boaz and Ruth.
“And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
This foreign woman left her land and came to Jesus. She asked for his help. She even knelt down before him. The woman didn’t ask for the bread, the full fruit of the field, but the crumb’s, the gleanings. Jesus recognized her faith and gave her a full reward, the healing of her daughter.
BOAZ GAVE RUTH BREAD, WINE, AND ROASTED GRAIN
Ruth 2:14 says, “And at mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.”
Here we see Boaz as picture of Jesus giving a new covenant that extends even to the Gentiles.
Jesus gave the bread and wine to his disciples at a meal. “Luke 22:19-20 says, “And he took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'”
The new covenant was a promise that Jesus would dwell in his people through the Holy Spirit. This is what Hebrews 8 is all about. Hebrews 8:10 gives the essence of this new covenant, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Through the revelation of Jesus, Paul includes the Gentiles in this new covenant promised by Jesus. Ephesians 3:4-6 says, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
The roasted grain that Boaz gave to Naomi is a picture of the body of Christ burnt on the cross. We know love because Christ was crucified on the cross yet forgave us for our sin of murdering him. It is this act of Jesus that most fully reveals the divine nature.
It was by his forgiveness from the Christ of which we partake that Christ showed us how to escape the corruption of the world. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
Like Ruth who ate of the roasted grain until she was satisfied and had some left over to give, we partake of the divine nature of Christ, the crucifixion and death of Christ that revealed the God’s love through his forgiveness that brought life, and share it with others.
2 Corinthians 4:10-12 says that we are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
By eating to the full of the roasted grain that Jesus gives us life, we will have some leftover to share the life of Christ with others.
BOAZ GIVES UP HIS REPUTATION AND RICHES FOR RUTH
Ruth 4:5-6 says, “Then Boaz said, ‘The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you shall also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.’ Then the redeemer said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.'”
While we don’t who it was, there was a redeemer closer to Naomi than Boaz. But, in order to redeem the land for Naomi, the redeemer would have to marry Ruth, a Moabite. Israelites were forbidden from marrying Moabites, and their children were banned from the assembly of the Lord for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). The closer redeemer was unwilling to redeem the land for Naomi because he would have to marry Ruth and risk his whole inheritance. He was unwilling to give up what his reputation and his inheritance, his wealth.
We saw earlier that Boaz, a rich man, was a picture of Jesus who had glory, riches, with the Father before the foundation of the world. Like Boaz, Jesus gave up his reputation and riches to marry a Gentile bride.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, event death on a cross.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Like Ruth who became rich through Boaz who risked his reputation an inheritance for her, we become rich through Jesus Christ who gave up all he had with the Father for us.
BOAZ TOOK RUTH AS HIS WIFE AND BORE HER A SON
Ruth 4:13 says, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.”
The name Boaz means by strength, in strength, or God establishes in strength.
The name Ruth means female companion or beauty.
Boaz took Ruth as his wife and went into her is a picture of Jesus taking us as his bride and coming into us. God establishes in strength his female companion.
Ruth had face many trials – the death of her husband, the loss of her family and the leaving of her native land, famine, and the fear over who would provide her in a foreign land. But, she trusted in Boaz, her redeemer.
Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Boaz entered Ruth and she bore a son that would be an heir of all that Elimelech had. So too, Jesus enters us through his Holy Spirit, who makes us son and heirs.
Romans 8:14-17 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
There’s so much more than could be written about Boaz, Ruth, and the whole book of Ruth. But, even this short look at Boaz as a shadow of Jesus as our redeemer causes the heart to burn to know Christ more.