About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Typology Links The Church To Israel's Restoration 

 

The story line to the book of Ruth is as follows.  An Israeli man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and two sons, fled their famine ravaged town of Bethlehem.  They relocated to a Gentile community in Moab.  While in Moab, Elimelech and the two sons died within a span of 10 years.  Stricken with poverty, Naomi returned to Bethlehem with her Gentile daughter-in-law Ruth who had converted to the worship of Yahweh and was determined to care for her Jewish mother-in-law.

 

Upon their return to Bethlehem, Naomi was concerned not only for Ruth's future but for the future of her own  family lineage.  She had lost her husband and her sons and had no male to carry on her family line.  She had also lost the land her family possessed when they fled to Moab.  Naomi's future was one big question mark.

 

Israeli tradition made it possible for a close male relative to marry a widow like Naomi.  Once married, the male relative could buy back any land that the widow's deceased husband once possessed.  Also, the first son born to this marriage was considered the son of the dead husband.  This would guarantee a future for the dead husband's family line to exist on their own land. 

 

Naomi and Ruth discovered such a close relative named Boaz, but there was one problem.  Naomi was too old to marry Boaz and give birth to a son.  To solve this problem Boaz would marry Naomi's Gentile daughter-in-law Ruth instead of Naomi.  Boaz and Ruth would have a son who would be considered the son of Naomi and her dead husband, thus keeping Naomi's family line in tact.  Once Boaz married Ruth, he would purchase the land for Naomi that was lost when her and Elimelech fled to Moab.  Naomi would have descendents on land that would belong to them, all of which was facilitated through a Gentile woman named Ruth.    

 

Many conservative Bible teachers believe these events in the book of Ruth have a "typological significance".  "Biblical typology" states that an historical event like what we see in the book of Ruth, is symbolic of, or, represents something, beyond the historical event.  In this particular case, Boaz represents Jesus, Naomi represents Israelis, and Ruth represents Gentiles.  Among those who accept the legitimacy of Biblical typology, there is little disagreement with these representations.   

 

The typological significance of the book of Ruth is as follows.  Like Elimelech and Naomi, Israelis fled their homeland in 70 A. D. when the Roman army drove most Jews out of Jerusalem and Judea.  They were scattered throughout the world and suffered greatly, as Naomi suffered while in Moab.  Like Naomi, Israelis have been returning to their homeland for the last 150 years in poverty, hoping to regain the land they lost centuries ago.  Also like Naomi after she first returned to Bethlehem, Israelis today haven't yet gained all the land God promised them. 

 

In the book of Ruth there was a closer relative to Naomi than Boaz.  He took precedent over Boaz when it came to marrying a widow and the purchase of lost land.  This unnamed closer relative was willing to buy the land for Naomi but was unwilling to marry Ruth.  This unnamed man represents the Law of Moses.  Israel is guaranteed a certain portion of land according to the Law of Moses.  Therefore, the Law of Moses was capable of dealing with the land issue.  However, since the Law of Moses was specifically given to Israelis and not to Gentiles, it could not unite itself to a Gentile in marriage.  Without the marriage, there could be no purchase of lost land for a widow. Since the purchasing of land and the marriage go hand in hand, the Law had to decline both.   

 

The inability of the Law of Moses to unite itself with Gentiles afforded Jesus the opportunity to do what the Law couldn't do.  Since God through Jesus spoke all of humanity into existence in the first place, including Gentiles, Jesus could unite Himself with Gentiles.   

 

Here is the typological conclusion we see from the book of Ruth.  In order for the Israeli Naomi to get her land back, and in order for her to have a son to carry on her Jewish lineage, Boaz had to marry a Gentile woman named Ruth.  In other words, in order for Israelis today  to have their land restored to them, continue their eternal lineage, and return to their God, Jesus had to unite Himself to Gentiles.  The salvation of Israel, in all of its varying aspects, is facilitated through the marriage of Jesus to a predominantly Gentile church.

 

The apostle Paul teaches this in Romans 11.  He says such things as, "did God reject the Israelites?  By no means". (verse 1)  "Did Israel stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!  Rather, because of their (Israel 's) transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious". (verse 11)  " Israel has experienced a hardness in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved " (verse 25 and 26)

 

If you study Romans 11, you will see that Paul confirms the typological significance of the book of Ruth.  God scattered Israelis around the world because of their sin.  He gave Himself to the Gentile world, which was meant to result in Israel's salvation, which includes the restoration of their land, their eternal lineage, and their reunion with Yahweh.    

 

How should Christians respond to this?  First of all, we must acknowledge that Christian anti-Semitism, Replacement Theology, and other such movements, that have been popular for centuries, is unbiblical.  As Gentile Ruth devoted herself to the care of Naomi the Jew, so Gentile Christians should dedicate themselves to the care of Israelis, even while they are in their present apostasy.  Along with praying for and  evangelizing Israelis, we should support them any way possible.  We should understand the Biblical principle; "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile". (Romans 1:16, 2:10)  Christians are indebted to the Jews and to their God.  Worship of the Lord Jesus Christ is the worship of Yahweh.  We should understand that as Gentile believers, we have an active part to play in the future salvation of Israel.  We should also understand that Jesus' relationship to the church can't be separated from Israel's land issues and their eternal family line, as seen in the typology of the book of Ruth. 

 

It is also important to remember that Boaz married a Gentile.  Jesus loves Gentiles, including Arabs and Persians, and so should we.  However, we do need to draw a red line in the sand based on Biblical prophecy.  When issues concerning Arabs and Persians conflict with the prophetic significance of Israelis, we have no other Biblical choice than to stand on the side of Israel. 

 

 

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