Christ in the OT- Part 4
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
Here we are again on KLMX radio and I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. We’ve been looking at Christ in the Old Testament this week and I’ve covered quite a bit of ground up to today. If you’d like to read this entire series, visit our website at www.fbcdesmoines.org (spell and read it again).
Today we’re going to look at one of my favorite foreshadowings of Christ, from the book of Ruth. This study will take us deep into Jewish history and show us some fascinating things about God’s providence and mercy. Let’s go to Ruth and get started.
Ruth 1:1-7 Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. (2) The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. (3) Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. (4) Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. (5) Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. (6) Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. (7) Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
In these passages, we see Elimelech leaving his native country with his wife Naomi and settling in Moab. They have two sons, both of which marry Moabite women. Both sons die and Naomi decides to return back to the land of Judah. If I were preaching on this in my normal time frame, I’d read the entire book of Ruth, but since I have to condense this into 15 minutes, I will have to paraphrase some parts. At this point in the story, Naomi tells her two daughters in law to return to their mother’s house and find other husbands. One of them, Orpah, does so, but the other, Ruth, says:
Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. (17) Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."
We need to understand something about the Moabites at this time. First, Israelites were forbidden from marrying outside of themselves and the Moabites themselves received a curse from God for their activities in Numbers 22-23 in which they attempted to curse Israel. We can see this in:
Deuteronomy 23:3-4 "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, (4) because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
Therefore, Elimelech’s sons sin when they marry Moabites. Furthermore, if you back up to Genesis 19, you’ll see that the Moabites themselves are descended from a sinful relationship. Lot- nephew of Abraham, the father of faith- is fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with his daughters. His daughters, afraid that they will not find a husband, get their father drunk and sleep with him. They conceive and we see in:
Genesis 19:36-38 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. (37) The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. (38) And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
This is the heritage of Ruth. Her people are created from an incestuous relationship and later forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord to the 10th generation from their cursing thru Balaam. Remember that point.
Naomi goes back to her homeland and settles in the area of Boaz, a near relative. Ruth begins to glean grain from Boaz’s fields and before long he notices her, shows her special favor, and inquires about her. Boaz finds out that Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi, one of his near relatives. In Jewish life, relatives were bound to support one another and so Boaz seeks to purchase her husband’s former land. Naomi will come with the purchase of this land and, by virtue of law, so will Ruth.
Note this phrase "buy back". This is what the word "redeem" means. "Redeem" has the prefix "re-" which means "do again". "Return" means to come back again, re-do to do again, reward to pay back for efforts, rewinds means "wind back a little bit", and redeem mean to buy back again. So, for Boaz to "redeem" Naomi means that he is buying back what was formerly hers. Boaz is kin and thus is Naomi’s (and by extension, Ruth’s) "kinsman-redeemer". But, wait…there’s a problem. It turns out that there is another relative, one which is closer to Naomi than Boaz. Let’s look at that passage:
Ruth 4:1-8 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, "Come aside, friend, sit down here." So he came aside and sat down. (2) And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down. (3) Then he said to the close relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. (4) And I thought to inform you, saying, 'Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.' " And he said, "I will redeem it." (5) Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance." (6) And the close relative said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it." (7) Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. (8) Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." So he took off his sandal.
Ruth 4:13-22 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. .. And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Now we have the full picture! We have Ruth, a Moabitess, cleaving herself to Naomi and eventually being redeemed by a kinsman-redeemer of Naomi’s. As a result of this, the Moabites, formerly estranged from God are now back in the family- they are redeemed. If you recall, back in Deuteronomy 23, God said that no Moabite would enter the assembly of the Lord, up to the 10th generation. Want to guess how many generations it was from that statement to Ruth? Ten. The Bible is amazing in its prophetic accuracy.
So, how is this a foreshadow of Christ? We know from:
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
From these two passages, we see that Christ was a) first born among many brethren, and b) made like His brethren. If we are Christians, then we are adopted children of God and since Christ was the only begotten son of God, this makes us spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. This is why Christians call each other "brother" and "sister", because we are together in the family of God. To think of Christ Himself as our "brother" is a humbling thought! There is no kin closer to us that a sibling, and therefore Christ is a perfect kinsman. Unlike the other relative of Naomi who was concerned about himself and said "I cannot buy it, lest I ruin my own inheritance," Christ is able and willing to make the payment for our redemption. Christ bought the exiles back into the family of God through the payment of His perfect life for our sinful and wicked life. We deserve death for our transgressions and Christ took that punishment Himself. Just like the redemption of Naomi and Ruth- two helpless widows- by Boaz- the wealthy farmer-, Christ has made the payment we could not make.
Furthermore, we see the magnificence of God’s grace in our study of Ruth. Remember that the Moabites were conceived through incestuous sin and yet in God’s plan, the redeemed and grafted-in Ruth becomes the mother of Obed, who becomes the father of David and from the line of David comes the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
[When you read the book of Ruth and think about the Moabites being grafted back into the family of Abraham, think also of Paul’s discourse in:
Romans 11:17-18 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, (18) do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.]
This is a nearly incomprehensible thing that God would use the results of such vile sin to glorify Himself, but that’s exactly what happens. God’s mercy and grace are magnified, as they well should be. This should also be a huge encouragement to us. No matter how black your heart, and how deep your sin, if God calls you, you will be washed clean. You can have a fresh start in Christ. Maybe you’re like Ruth the Moabite, estranged from God in the wilderness. If so, I urge you to cling to the family of God like Ruth did to Naomi and ask that Christ become your kinsman-redeemer. Become a member of the family of God and have your sordid past washed away. To the glory of God the father, through the atoning sacrifice of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, amen.
Christ in the OT- Part 3
Christ in the OT- Part 5