The Book of Ruth
The day of Pentecost commemorates God’s people receiving God’s law and His Holy Spirit. But there is also an exciting prophecy about this day: It pictures the Church marrying Jesus Christ.

The day of Pentecost commemorates God’s people receiving God’s law and His Holy Spirit. But there is also an exciting prophecy about this day: It pictures the Church (those called out today) marrying Jesus Christ.

How real is that marriage to you? God put an entire book in the Bible to help make it more real to us. Even today the Jews teach the story of Ruth on the day of Pentecost.

God Offers a Choice

Samuel wrote the book of Ruth during the times of the judges, when Israel was very evil and corrupt. It was a time much like our own.

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 Moab where they could get away from all the problems.

While they were in Moab, Elimelech died. That obviously created more troubles for Naomi and her family. The two sons married women in Moab. Then, about 10 years later, both of the sons died. Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. The three of them became very impoverished, and Naomi decided to make the trip back 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 were very sickly sons.

On the other hand, Ruth means to satisfy. She is a type of God’s Church. We are all to learn how to satisfy God. How can we do that? The root word for Ruth, rafof, means to quake. Ruth satisfied God because she quaked, or trembled, at His word. That is what God is trying to get His Church—the future wife of Jesus Christ—to do.

Orpah means to turn the back. That is a prophecy of what Orpah did. The fact that it says she turned back shows that at one time she knew the God of Israel.

Already we can begin to get some good insight into the history and prophecy of God’s Church. It seems one church will always turn its back on God, and then there will be a remnant, like Ruth, that 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.

So Naomi started back to Judah, where the God of Israel was. She knew there were still problems there, but she wanted to follow God.

Both daughters-in-law started to make the trip 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 former 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 very 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 in 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’re 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.

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” (verse 15). The Soncino Commentary says she could hear Naomi saying, essentially, “Go ahead, go back to your paganism. You have that choice.” Orpah had been with the true God of Israel, and she turned back. Before she was gone, however, she received this warning from Naomi.

Total Commitment

Ruth also heard Naomi and decided to cleave to her. Cleave is a strong word. We must 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—nothing in the Bible equals it in glory and in opportunity. This is not a fantasy; it is real, and it is worth changing for. We have to reach a certain level of character before we’ll be ready for that.

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, Entreat 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 these two verses are! This is the kind of attitude Christ wants in His Bride. He wants total commitment.

We can look at those two verses spiritually and derive great meaning from them. For example, where Christ will have His home and headquarters, that’s where ours will be: Jerusalem—eventually, the new Jerusalem.

But notice: Verse 17 brings a new dimension to the picture. Why does Ruth say, “Where you die, I will die”?

Let’s 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. These people were committed to their family. When the Bible talks about sleeping with their fathers (e.g. 2 Samuel 7:12), 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!

That’s the kind of commitment God wants from us. If we’re going to marry Christ, what’s so bad about dying for Him? We must be prepared to do that—to say, in effect, God, if I die, I’m going to bury my bones with the Church that is following and trusting you. That’s where I’ll be when I die! That is not a partial commitment—that is going all the way. That is refusing to pass up the chance to marry Christ no matter what happens.

If we don’t have this attitude, we won’t be there! Even the Laodiceans in the Tribulation will have to stand and say, If you want to kill me, kill me! I’ll die for God! And they’ll have their bones buried with God in that sense.

When we get baptized, we are committing to move to a new land, becoming part of a new people, following a new God. We take on a new family—a new life! We have to realize what we’re getting ourselves into to make such a commitment.

But it’s worth it. After all, who are we to be marrying Jesus Christ, and 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 the calling, isn’t God free to ask for the highest commitment from us? Luke 9:62 says that if we put our hand to the plow and then look back, we’re not fit for this reward! If we wonder, or hesitate, or reason, Well maybe it is better back there, then we’re not fit for the Kingdom! Those are strong words. We must be totally committed.

Ruth was the essence of true loyalty. She had the kind of commitment it takes to be in the Kingdom of God.

“When [Naomi] saw that [Ruth] was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her” (Ruth 1:18). You know that if you have total commitment, some of the pressure of this way of life is bound to become easier. 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, though, Satan will always try to destroy us.

Boaz

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. That made for a lot of gossip.

Naomi is also a type of God’s Church. Here she had been reduced to nothing, but she remained faithful to God. “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [meaning pleasant or delight], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21). Could we give up everything for the marriage to Jesus Christ?

Verse 22 shows that they arrived in Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest. 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 that coming marriage 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 this 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’re 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 Boaz—a type of Christ. 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’re the lowly of the world, but we’re the only ones who have real strength! God gives it to us.

It says that Boaz was a kinsman of Naomi’s. The Anchor Bible calls him a covenant brother. That 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’d 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’s why we love each other. That’s why we love the Laodiceans. That’s why we love the world the way God does.

A Special Woman

The law in Israel said the poor could glean the fields of landowners after they were done harvesting (Leviticus 19:9-10). “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 go out with the poor and work.

It says in verse 3 that “her hap” brought Ruth to the field belonging to Boaz. But of course, this didn’t just happen. God was working it out. Ruth was truly a godly woman, even though she grew up amid Gentile religions.

Verse 4 shows that Boaz was a religious man—a genuine, godly man. It also shows that his people loved working for him.

Boaz had recently lost his wife, and God was about to give him another one. Boaz 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 already becoming somewhat protective of Ruth. He told her not to even worry about the men in the field, who may have had lustful or violent attitudes. Boaz would protect her from them. Ruth had to 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 going through that we didn’t even know were coming our way?

Ruth responded with real humility and respect to 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 from his field, and seen a nobody. But he had checked into her background, and he was impressed! She had left her parents and her country, all to be with the God of Israel (verse 11). He looked at things very differently than most do.

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’ve seen how a mother hen will take her chicks under her wings; she’d fight Goliath if she had to in order to protect those chicks! That’s 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 saw that she was a special woman.

Verses 15 and 16 show that after speaking with Ruth, Boaz told his workers to allow Ruth into the best areas of his fields and never to rebuke her. Things were really beginning to look up for Ruth.

Seeking Rest

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 had a rough life, and Naomi wanted to seek rest 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 labor involved in this miserable world. Naomi wanted Ruth to be able to rest from all the work and suffering that they had gone through.

That’s the kind of emotion we should have toward sin and this world. We need a 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 that so desperately. We are the only ones willing to tell the people of the world what they’re doing to themselves and how it will all end. Sadly, most of them will have to experience the worst of the trouble before they’ll learn this lesson.

Naomi wanted everything to work out for Ruth. She wanted to see Ruth marry the wealthy Boaz and to have a happy, fulfilled, restful, peaceful life.

All That You Say, I Will Do

Naomi gave Ruth some instructions. “And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight 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).

Ruth could have said, We never did anything like that in Moab! This was a strange custom. 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.

Realize the spiritual parallels here. It is interesting that Ruth really had to go after Boaz. She had to go to him and lay herself at his feet. She had to really show him 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! Now, the way the world views it, we’re going to have to do some strange things to be the Bride of Jesus Christ.

But look at Ruth’s incredible attitude. “And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do” (verse 5).

Remember, she is a type of the Church. 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 Herbert and Loma Armstrong kept God’s holy days for 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’s biblical), will you say, All that you say unto me, I will do? Will you humble yourself to that point?

This is the attitude Christ demands of His wife. This is total commitment. This shows that you understand that God knows what He is doing. When we have this attitude, God can trust that He’ll never have another Lucifer rebelling against Him. God is going to bring each of us to this point before we marry Him.

As preparation, 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 Paul said to the brethren in Corinth: “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” (2 Corinthians 11:1-2). 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 Naomi’s instructions, she followed through to the detail. “And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her” (Ruth 3:6). God is saying that if we can get to the point where we will do all that He 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.

Protection

“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). The spreading of the skirt represents marriage. Ruth showed that she wanted to marry Boaz, and he reciprocated. God says He will protect us, or take us under His skirt, if we have this kind of attitude of submission toward Him.

Let’s look at a related passage in Ezekiel where Christ talks about His Bride. Before He married us, we were naked and bare. “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).

But once we enter the marriage covenant, Christ says He’ll 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). When the terrible times come upon the whole world, we will be protected under Christ’s skirt (Ezekiel 5:1-3). Our Husband will look after us and take us to a place of safety. We know that He allows trials, but they are always for an important reason: Our Husband is getting us ready to marry Him. We are never outside of His protection.

Godly Character

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 shown 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 100! He was a very youthful 100, as you can tell from this story; but he knew that Ruth could have chosen a younger man or any number of other temptations of the world. But she wanted to stay with 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 can’t hide that kind of character. That’s what God wants us to demonstrate and continue to build.

Then Boaz told Ruth that he wasn’t the nearest kinsman to her. In Israel, if a widow had no children, the closest eligible male kin of her dead husband was to marry her to give her offspring (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). Before Boaz could marry her, 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 2-6 show how Boaz, in the presence of these 10 elders, dealt with this kinsman. He did everything lawfully, exactly as God would have wanted it. The man told Boaz he didn’t want to jeopardize his own inheritance by taking on the responsibility of marrying Ruth. “Redeem 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.

A Royal Line

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 baby] 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 borne him” (Ruth 4:14-15).

Naomi began to take care of 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 right in the line of David—Ruth was a Moabite, a Gentile, who was given a phenomenal opportunity, and she actually became the great-grandmother of King David!

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. Let’s celebrate this day of the firstfruits, and our wonderful, tremendous future marriage to Jesus Christ!