by Scott Newman
It’s not a Biblical lesson on “taking a calculated risk on love.” (I didn’t make that one up. I heard a preacher say that in a sermon series on Ruth. Part of my soul died that day.) It’s not a Biblical example of how sometimes a girl should initiate and show her interest in a man.
When we make these haphazard observations about this book, we are missing the cultural and historical context, and the author’s overall record of the story.
Nowhere in the book of Ruth does it ever, I mean ever say, “because Boaz loved her.” You actually can’t even find the word LOVE anywhere in this book. Those of you whose heart is breaking right now, I’m sorry. I really am. Now, there is no doubt Boaz is a wonderful man. We see dozens of examples in the book of Ruth that show his character, generosity, care, integrity, not to mention his love of God’s law to “do the right thing.” But Boaz doesn’t see Ruth in his fields or sleeping on his threshing floor and fall in love with her. He sees a woman (who has a great reputation) that he knows needs a provider. Out of compassion and a desire to do what is right (what the law calls him to do), he sets out to marry her.
But is that all there is to the book of Ruth, about a love story about a man called Boaz and a woman named Ruth? Why are single women only desiring a “Boaz” to be there husband? Why not a “Paul” or “Timothy” or “Jacob?” Why does Boaz get the nod as the most celebrated biblical bachelor of the year, rather than a “Solomon?” Or a “David?” At least they were kings…Why Boaz?
Since the OT is a shadow of Christ that points to the coming Messiah and the cross, how does the book of Ruth symbolize our future Redeemer? Lets do a quick study of the book of Ruth and glean from its historical record and dig a little further past those who seek to emotionalize, minimize, marginalize and reduce the awesome depths and riches that go beyond the pale, being just about a book that has been corrupted and down played to a mere symbol of a dating service on the same level for lonely Christian singles.
The book of Ruth takes place during the times of the Judges. The times of the judges is a bad time for Israel. Priests and Levites are unfaithful, the people turn to idols, and the judges cannot keep Israel from lapsing back into sin. Because of her sins, the garden of Israel has become a place of death, strife, and slavery. But the story of Ruth shows that the Lord will restore all that Israel lacks.
Ruth is a book of the faithful husband, Yahweh, and the faithless bride, Israel. The focus of Ruth is on the coming of the redeemer (Boaz) who rescues Naomi and Ruth from their poverty and barrenness. The book points forward to the coming of righteous king David, who will redeem Israel (in a sense) from the wickedness of the priesthood which culminated in Eli and his two ungodly sons, Hophni and Phinehas. It ultimately points to the coming of Jesus, the Christ who would fulfill the Law, redeem His people from their sins (their spiritual widowhood, barrenness and poverty), and rule over them in righteousness. Naomi is a picture of Israel, and the Lord’s mercy to widowed Naomi is a promise of mercy to His people. Ruth can be seen as a picture of the Gentiles, and her marriage to Boaz can be seen as the extension of the great ‘hesed’ (Hebrew for “lovingkindness” or “mercy”) of the Lord to the nations.
The book of Ruth is about God’s Sovereignty, His presence in the smallest details, and His plan to send His One & Only Son to our world. I could list miles of evidence in this book about how God provided and had His hand in every twist and turn of the story. But most importantly, God planned to include Ruth (a Moabite, who was specifically excluded from the nation of Israel– Deut. 23:3) into His family by marrying Boaz, which fulfills the prophecy that Jesus would be born in the lineage of King David. WHAT?! I know. Stay with me. Ruth and Boaz had a son who was King David’s grandpa. God’s plan all along for Ruth was to marry Boaz and to have a child that would secure Jesus’ lineage in the Davidic line just as the prophets had declared. THAT is the point of this story and the purpose of it being in the Bible.
The book of Ruth is an analogy of Christ’s love for His people. Okay, I tricked you a little bit. It is a love story, but not in the way we usually make it out to be. Boaz is a picture of Christ. Ruth could not save herself. She needed a provider and Boaz did just that. He redeemed her, provided for her, and sheltered her. A beautiful picture of exactly what Christ does for you and me. We are destined for poverty; we are vulnerable; we are in trouble with no way to help ourselves, but He steps in and chooses to redeem us. The story of Ruth & Boaz is an analogy for the greatest love story of all time: Christ’s love for His people.
So please, please, please. Stop making Ruth and Boaz into some sort of Hollywood romance story. Stop using Ruth’s story as an excuse to make a move on a rich dude in order to serve such narcissism. Stop praying for your Boaz to appear. Your Boaz has already appeared and came over 2,000 years ago and His name is Jesus the Messiah and Redeemer of the world reconciling sinners to Himself, through the death, burial and resurrection. Christ already offers you everything you will ever need and more, in Him. Is He enough for you, those believing singles whom are married unto The Lord.