The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
The book of Ruth provides a postscript to the Judges. The story occurred during this time of strife and bloodshed. A famine swept through the land. Even Bethlehem, the most fertile of places, was affected. This beautiful narrative, involving a family, is a graphic picture of the gospel story-- the redemption provided in Christ Jesus.
Chapter 1:
The family, having left the ''house of bread,'' is in a far country.
They long to return.
Two words characterize chapter 1-- yearning and returning.
Chapter 2:Ruth is in a field, seeking and serving.
Chapter 3:Ruth is at the door. She has been received.
Chapter 4:
What better place could Ruth be, than within the house,
chosen and rewarded?
Old Testament names often have great significance. The Hebrew language puts much importance upon names, both those of men and those of God. Following are the principal characters of Ruth and the meanings of their names. For further study, associate the meanings with the story and note the typology.
Elimelech...''My God is King''
Bethlehem..''House of Bread''
Moab.........''Under the Curse''
Ruth...........''Friendship,'' or ''Beauty''
Let us now turn to a study of the typical teaching of this tender Old Testament story.
I. RUTH: A Portrayal of the Believing Sinner--
Ruth was a Moabitess, not an Israelite. God had commanded, ''[A] Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord'' (Deu 23:3). Moabites were cut off from the covenant relationship Israel had with God. This is also the position of Gentiles by nature, and it describes us before we were saved by grace. Paul wrote, ''That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world'' (Eph 2:12). Moab was under the curse of God.
II. RUTH: A Picture of Christian Experience--
Review the brief chapter outline with the following scriptural corroboration in mind:
III. RUTH: A Portrait of the Fullness of Redemption--
Three great words may be placed over this brief Old Testament story:
Pardoned! Purchased! Placed!
Naomi's words to Ruth are striking. ''Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day'' (Ruth 3:18).
Every Christian has this assurance from God's Word: ''Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ'' (Php 1:6). Ruth already had some measures of barley that were proof and pledge of the fullness that was to come.
IV. NAOMI: An Example of Comfort for Backslidden Saints--
The author of Hebrews said, ''Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth'' [Heb 12:6]. Naomi, who with her family had gone into the far country away from the ''house of bread,'' comes home, driven by loneliness and hunger. ''She had heard in the country of Moab how the Lord had visited His people in giving them food'' (Ruth 1:6). We are told that ''they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest'' (Ruth 1:22). In the far country, she had lost her husband in death. Her two sons became ill and died. How often God allows heartache, tragedy, and trouble to beset the path of His children who have strayed! He uses chastisement to bring them back to Himself.
V. BOAZ: Picture of Christ, our Kinsman-Redeemer--
It helps to become thoroughly familiar with the principles that were applied when Boaz redeemed the land that had belonged to Elimelech and restored it to Naomi and Ruth. I suggest that you read carefully the ''law of the kinsman-redeemer'' as stated in Leviticus 25.
The following observations are significant:
  1. Kinsman-redemption involved both person and inheritance.
    The levitical law stated, ''After he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him'' (Lev 25:48). We read tremendous news in Galatians 4:4,5, ''But, when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.'' Boaz redeemed the parcel of land so that he might restore it to Naomi. He also removed all of the encumbrances that were necessarily upon her and Ruth.
  2. The redeemer had to be a relative.
    ''Any that is near of kin unto him of his family may redeem him'' (Lev 25:49). The Lord Jesus took our nature upon Himself to redeem us. Although He is called ''the last Adam'' [1Cor 15:45], He was not tainted by Adam's transgression in any way. He had no sin in Himself, for He was ''holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners'' (Heb 7:26). Yet, He ''made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men'' (Php 2:7).
  3. The redeemer had to be able to redeem.
    The law not only required the redemption of the property but also included the obligation to raise up seed to the deceased. As the kinsman-redeemer, Boaz was not only to buy back the property, but he was also to take Ruth as his wife so that she might bear children. In Ruth's case, the first one in line to do this was unable to redeem. [But Boaz, whose name means 'strength,' was able. In our case, the first Adam could not redeem us.] But there is One! ''Their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is His name'' (Jer 50:34). Here is what our great Kinsman-Redeemer said in John 10:11, ''I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.'' Look also at verse 18, ''No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.'' Our Redeemer is able to redeem!
  4. The kinsman-redeemer had to pay the price in full.
    The levitical law demanded, ''Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overpayment unto the man to whom he sold it'' (Lev 25:27). This meant that the full price and more was to be paid for the land. Nothing was to be lacking; the payment was to be in full. ''Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot'' (1Pet 1:18,19).
    With the poet we rejoice,
    ''Free from the law, O happy condition;
    Jesus has died and there is remission.
    Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
    Christ has redeemed us, once for all!''
We can only skim the surface [in this brief overview]. Christ is seen prominently in the book of Ruth as the Kinsman-Redeemer. In the words of one biblical commentator, ''Add a Ruth postscript to the living epistle of your life; make Jesus your Lord, and rest in Him.''
[By God's grace, Ruth became a link in the line through which our Kinsman-Redeemer entered the world (Ruth 4:13-22; Mat 1:1-6).]

For a more complete study in Ruth, see the Book Notes on Ruth.

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

Go to The Book opening page.