Leviticus 23:17 – “You will bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread, baked with leaven, to be waved.”
The Book of Ruth tells the story of four people: Naomi, Ruth, Orpah, and Boaz who lived during the time of the Judges, a time of severe famine in Israel, during which Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons Machlon and Kilyon, went into the country of Moab and remained there for ten years. During their stay in Moab Elimelech died, both sons got married (one to Orpah, one to Ruth), and both sons also died. Naomi and Ruth then return to Israel.
Orpah: The Uncommitted.
Joshua 24:15 – “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.”
Orpah initially wanted to accompany Naomi and return with her to her land; but, unlike Ruth, she kisses Naomi and then returns to Moab, thus reverting to being a Moabitess, estranged from all that is Israelite. She is a type of Judas Iscariot, who also initially follows Yeshua, but takes leave of him by kissing him. Orpah represents those who are attracted by the spiritual but never seem to fully commit to it. Orpah represents the ambivalent, the fence sitter, the hesitant, the lukewarm, the undecided.
Naomi: The Returning Israelite
Ruth 1:6 – “Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.”
Naomi represents the faithful Jews who for two thousand years proclaimed “Next year in Jerusalem.” She represents the faithful Jews who wanted to return to a covenant relationship with Yahweh, the faithful Jew who has heard that Yahweh is once again working in the land of promise, providing bread and sustenance (Ruth 1:6). And so she returns to Israel, to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19), to Beit-Lechem [בֵּית לֶחֶם H1035], to the House of Bread! To get to Bethlehem from Moab, Naomi and Ruth must cross the Jordan River – a symbol of water baptism. Naomi’s life is changed from tragedy to restoration and hope. Yeshua is our hope of restoration, the agent who changes our life from tragedy to fullness. Naomi represents the Jew who encourages the Gentile to join in worship of the true God, Yahweh. Naomi is a forerunner of the disciples and apostles of Yeshua.
Boaz: The Ga’al [גָּאַל H1350]
Song of Songs 2:4 – “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at harvest time. Boaz asks Ruth to break bread with him (Ruth 2:14). Boaz covers Ruth with his “wings” (Ruth 3:7-10), purchases her to be his wife, and then proceeds to redeem Naomi’s land and give her an heir through Ruth (Ruth 4:1-22). That heir is none other than Yeshua, a son of David, Ruth’s great-grandson (Ruth 4:21-22)! Boaz represents the Kinsman-Redeemer, the Ga’al, Yeshua. Like Yeshua, Boaz falls in love with a gentile woman, marries her, redeems her, and gives her heirs according to the law (Leviticus 25:25; Deuteronomy 25:5-6). He is both Because Boaz was willing to take this step, to become ga’al-redeemer to Naomi and both ga’al-redeemer and bridegroom to Ruth. Yeshua is both Israel’s and our kinsman redeemer (Hebrews 2:17), has paid the redemption price in full (John 19:30), and both Jews and gentiles are his heirs (Romans 8:17; Titus 3:7; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 3:6).
Ruth: The Gentile Bride
Ruth 1:16 – “Wherever you go I will go, and wherever you live I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
Upon returning to Bethlehem, Naomi sends Ruth to Boaz’s threshing floor where he promises to take care of her. His first move is to invite her to break bread with him (Ruth 2:14). Yahweh invites us into a relationship through His Son, Yeshua (the Bread of Life). Ruth and Boaz get married and raise a family. Ruth represents those gentiles who are redeemed by the Jewish Kinsman Redeemer, Yeshua, and then become his bride, forming the family of Yeshua, the church! Just as Ruth’s family was composed of both Jew and Gentile, so too is the Bride of Yeshua.
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Ruth, then, is both the story of Yahweh’s providence and the story of a shadow of Yeshua. In Boaz is the ga’al who redeems the family land, plus the bridegroom who provides a son and who reunites the Jewish and Gentile families of the Older Covenant. In Boaz we have the ga’al who blends the kinsman-redeemer role to the bridegroom, a shadow of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach who reunites the Jew and Gentile families in the Newer Covenant.
For the Jewish faith, the Book of Ruth says that Yahweh is not constrained to using the nation of Israel as his only light in this world. He can, and will raise up outsiders if he decides to do so. For today’s church, he gives the same message: the church is not an exclusive club. Its doors are meant to be open, and his providence is guaranteed to any who come in and seek him in faith and trust (Matthew 11:28-30).
Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets. The day is coming when Yahweh will show his strength on the mountains of Israel. What is prophesied will come to pass, what is foretold will be made known. Time is short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – get busy reaching the lost.