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  • Lit., judged. Ruth is an appendix to the book of Judges, contemporary with the first half of Judges. Judges is a book of Israel’s miserable history, dark and foul; Ruth is the record of a couple’s excellent story, bright and aromatic. The main character in this story is like a lily growing out of brambles and a bright star in the dark night.

    The book of Ruth is an important part of the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:5), which is the record concerning the incarnation of Christ. As a Moabitess (v. 4), Ruth was excluded from the congregation of God’s holy people (Deut. 23:3). Nevertheless, she was brought into the holy elect of God and became an important ancestor of Christ through her marriage to Boaz, the great-grandfather of King David (Ruth 4:21-22; Matt. 1:5-6), which became a factor that ushered in the incarnation of Christ (Matt. 1:5-16). Hence, Ruth became an important ancestor to bring Christ into humanity through the marvelous incarnation, which made God one with man (Matt. 1:18, 20-23). This is the intrinsic significance of the content of the book of Ruth. See note Matt. 1:53c.

  • The famine in the good land was a lack of life supply for living and satisfaction. It was sent by God to His people as a punishment (Lev. 26:26; Ezek. 14:13) because of their forsaking God as their source and Husband and their turning to idols. See note Judg. 1:11, par. 1.

  • Bethlehem, the city of David, would be designated as the birthplace of the coming Christ (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-7), and Judah was the land of the royal tribe among Israel (Gen. 49:8-10), the top part of the God-promised land (Exo. 3:8b), which was the good land (Deut. 8:7-10), the land of Immanuel (Isa. 8:8).

  • The matter of rest is the key to the book of Ruth. Israel, as God’s elect, was living in the God-promised land for the carrying out of God’s economy. Remaining in the good land that God had promised and given was the genuine rest (Deut. 12:9; Heb. 4:8). Israel’s rest, their prosperity for their enjoyment and their contentment, was related to their situation with God in His economy. For an Israelite to leave the good land meant that he was cutting himself off from God’s eternal economy. Elimelech was in the good land and had a portion of it, and he should have remained there. However, he foolishly swerved from the ground, the standing, which gave him the opportunity to enjoy the rest in the good land, a rest that ultimately resulted in the bringing of Christ into humanity through incarnation to be the real rest to God’s people (see note Gen. 2:21b, par. 3 and note Heb. 4:91).

  • Elimelech swerved from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab, a country of the descendants of Lot who were born through his incestuous union with his daughter (Gen. 19:30-38), a place that was rejected and condemned by God (Deut. 23:3-6), and a country of idolatry (v. 15; Judg. 10:6).

  • The death of Elimelech and his two sons (vv. 3, 5) was a chastisement from God on the house of Elimelech (v. 20). It left Elimelech’s wife, Naomi, and her two daughters-in-law as widows without children in a foreign country. That was the pitiful result of Elimelech’s swerving from the rest in God’s eternal economy.

  • The Moabites, a people born of incest (Gen. 19:30-38), typify all sinners, who were born of “incest” through the “marriage” union of Adam and a fellow creature, Satan (John 8:41, 44a).

  • In this bright and aromatic story, Ruth typifies the church in four ways. First, Ruth was a woman in Adam in God’s creation and a Moabitess (a sinner — see note Ruth 1:41) in man’s fall. Through the fall the God-created man became a sinner and thus became the old man (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9) consisting of two parts — a natural (good) part created by God (Gen. 1:27, 31) and a fallen (evil) part corrupted by sin (Rom. 5:18-19a). As a created and fallen person with these two aspects, Ruth typifies the church, before its salvation, as men in God’s creation and sinners in man’s fall being “our old man” (Rom. 6:6).

    Second, Ruth, the widow of the dead husband, was redeemed by Boaz, who cleared the indebtedness of her dead husband to recover the lost right to her dead husband’s property (Ruth 4:9-10). In this aspect Ruth typifies the church, whose old man is her crucified husband (Rom. 7:4; 6:6), being redeemed by Christ, who cleared away her old man’s sin for the recovery of the lost right of her fallen God-created natural man (Eph. 5:25). Ruth’s old husband, Mahlon, typifies the fallen part of our old man, and his indebtedness typifies our sin caused by our fallen part, because of which we lost our right as a God-created being. Ruth herself, as the wife, typifies our natural man, who was created by God to be God’s counterpart, His wife, and who was redeemed and regenerated to be the new man as the wife of Christ (Rom. 7:1-4 and notes). Christ’s death on the cross destroyed the fallen part of our old man, redeemed the part created by God, and cleared our sin caused by the fallen part, thereby recovering the right of the God-created part.

    Third, Ruth, after being redeemed by Boaz, became a new wife to him (Ruth 4:13). As such, she typifies the church, which, after being saved, became the counterpart of Christ in the organic union with Him through the regeneration of the church’s natural man (John 3:6, 29a; Rom. 7:4b). When Ruth married Boaz, she was redeemed from her indebtedness, and she became his new wife for the producing of the needed heirs. In the fulfillment of this type, Christ, our new Husband, died to redeem us and to clear the indebtedness caused by the sins of our old man. Then in resurrection He, as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b), regenerated us to make us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) married to Him. After being redeemed and regenerated, our natural man, excluding our fallen part, becomes our new man (Eph. 4:24) and takes Christ as our new Husband in the divine organic union with Him. Now, in the organic union between Christ and us, we can bring forth Christ and spread Christ by ministering Him to all men universally for His increase (John 3:30).

    Fourth, Ruth (a Gentile sinner) being united to Boaz that she might participate in the inheritance of God’s elect typifies the redeemed and regenerated Gentile sinners (the main constituents of the church) being attached to Christ that they may partake of the inheritance of God’s promise (Eph. 3:6).

  • Naomi’s returning to the Holy Land was her returning to the rest in God’s economy to participate again in the enjoyment of the God-promised land, where there would be the possibility of being related to Christ’s genealogy. Naomi returned with Ruth, her daughter-in-law given to her by God for the accomplishing of His economy concerning Christ (v. 22a).

  • cf. Ruth 3:1

  • Ruth chose the goal of participating with God’s elect in the enjoyment of Christ, and she even became an important ancestor of Christ, one who helped bring forth Christ into mankind. This was more than just a resolution on the part of the Moabite widow; it was a goal, a choosing. Ruth chose God and His kingdom for the carrying out of God’s economy concerning Christ.

  • Ruth chose to go to the land of Israel because she probably had heard a great deal concerning God, God’s promise, and the good land. She had heard the good news sufficiently for her to make a wonderful choice (cf. Rom. 10:17).

  • Lit., she.

  • Meaning bitterness.

  • Naomi did not rebel against God’s dealing but admitted that God had dealt not only with her husband but also with her (vv. 20-21; cf. v. 3). This indicates that she was a godly woman who believed in God, regarded Him, and feared Him.

  • cf. Job 1:21

  • Others translate, testified against me.

  • Barley, which ripens earlier than other grains (2 Sam. 21:9), typifies the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:20). Barley and wheat (Ruth 2:23) typify Christ as the material for making food for both God and His people (Lev. 2; John 6:9, 33, 35).

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