Harry Whittaker
Judges And Ruth

31. “Types of Us” (1 Cor. 10:6)

Whilst there is no known indication in the New Testament that the events and characters in the Book of Ruth are of any special typical significance, quite a number of details suggest that such a view is not out of place. Certainly, with Paul’s exposition of the allegory of Sarah and Hagar to teach a lesson of humility it would be folly to assert dogmatically that no such typical significance either was intended or is to be found in the story of Ruth.

The following tentative outline suggestions may be of interest:

  1. Elimelech (= “My God is King”), leaving Bethlehem in time of famine to seek security in Moab is a type of God’s people, Israel, throwing off God’s authority and abandoning the Source of Life (Bethlehem = “The House of Bread”) to join with those who are shut out from the people of God (Deut. 23:3). Israel, God’s firstborn, became through apostasy illegitimate (cp. the origins of Moab: Gen. 19:36,37). Mahlon and Chilion (= “weak” and “pining”) illustrate the state of Israel’s faith.
  2. The deaths of Elimelech and his sons can be interpreted as the visitation of divine wrath on Israel, culminating in the eventual scattering of the nation (cp. Jesus’ cursing of the fig-tree).
  3. Naomi represents the faithful remnant in Israel returning to God.
  4. In Orpah and Ruth are figured two classes of Gentiles — those who hear the gospel but turn away from it, and those who thankfully acknowledge their privilege in being allowed to break old associations in order to join “the Israel of God”. (But note: the break with the old life must be made.) Naomi’s discouragement of Ruth has its counterpart in the understandable reluctance of the early Jewish preachers of the gospel to include the Gentiles in their ministrations: e.g. Peter before he went to Cornelius.
  5. Naomi’s poverty in her return and her lament that her lot is bitter (“Marah”) suggest that even the devout Israelite in accepting divine forgiveness must acknowledge that at best he can only come empty-handed, driven by bitter experience to acknowledge the unwelcome fact.
  6. The name and character of Boaz (= “Strength”) makes him fit the type of the Man whom God “made strong for himself”. “When we were yet without strength....Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).
  7. Ruth’s gleaning foreshadows the Gentiles’ eagerness for the spiritual “crumbs” (Matt. 15:27) from Christ’s work. The special portion given her anticipates the spiritual food and drink provided in Christ and also Gentiles taking Israel’s place of privilege.
  8. The form of Boaz’s blessing upon Ruth suggests that the godly Gentile has become seed of Abraham. “If ye are Christ’s then are ye (Gentiles) Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
  9. Naomi’s recognition of Boaz as the “redeemer” corresponds to the acknowledgement by godly Jews of Jesus as the Messiah.
  10. All these things happened at barley and wheat harvest, i.e. at Passover (the death of Christ) and Pentecost (the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit). Does the threshing of the barley represent the sufferings of Christ? If so, Boaz’s sleep by the heap of corn at the end of his labour would typify death and resurrection. (How many more instances in Scripture of sleep and waking being a figure of death and resurrection? Gen. 2:21; 15:12; Ps. 5:3; Jer. 31:26; Dan. 8:18; 10:9-11; Lk. 9:32; Rev. 1:17.)
  11. Ruth’s coming — washed, anointed and clothed in her best — to claim the right of marriage shows the Gentiles to be acceptable now through the death of Christ, but they must come washed from their sin, anointed with the Spirit and arrayed in garments of righteousness. That this was done at night at the threshing floor shows (like the deep sleep of Adam that he might receive his bride) that apart from the death of Christ this acceptance of both godly Jew and Gentile would be impossible.
  12. ‘Lie down again. These two sleeps at the feet of Boaz correspond with (a) baptism - the figurative burial with Christ, and (b) the sleep of death in him until the day of glorious resurrection.
  13. The six measures of meal intimate that the perfect rest of God is near. Ruth gained more by the free gift than all her laborious application to duty could ever bring her! But what is the meaning behind the fact that these six measures represent just twice what was waved before the Lord on the resurrection morning — according to the Rabbis (Lev. 23:10,11), and also twice what was used in the spiritual baking in the parable (Matt. 13:33)?
  14. The other kinsman disowning his right of marriage is a signal intimation that Moses, with first opportunity, could not by his Law bring redemption. This near kinsman who does not redeem echoes the failure of the Son of Judah (Gen. 38) in a comparable responsibility. Hence the tracing of the genealogy back to Pharez (Gen. 38:29; Ruth 4:18).
  15. Ruth’s marriage to her as yet unmarried “redeemer” has its counterpart, of course, in the Marriage of the Lamb. The details of the greeting and blessing accorded to Ruth again suggest the fulfilment of the ancient Messianic promises given to Jacob and to Judah. The mention of Pharez especially is a reminder of the “Seed” who was grudgingly acknowledged.
  16. The child of the marriage, Obed, has a name which means ‘Serving’. The glorified saints of God are made happy in continuing service to the one who redeemed them. In the figure of Revelation “they serve him day and night in his temple”.

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