Monday, October 10, 2005

Boaz and Ruth

There was a famine in the land. And so the man packed up his wife and two sons and went to a neighboring country. In due time, the two sons married local girls. But tragedy shortly struck, killing the father and sons, leaving the three women alone. In the mean time, the famine in the mother-in-law's country ended, so she decided to return. One daughter-in-law stayed in her home country, but the other committed herself to her mother-in-law and threw her lot in with her.

So, Naomi and Ruth arrived back in Bethlehem at harvest time. In order to eat, Ruth went into the fields to glean what the harvesters missed. While doing this, she met the field's owner, Boaz, who encouraged her to stay with the servant girls in his field and told his harvesters not to harass her. In doing so, she was able to gather more than she would have otherwise.

Upon returning home that evening and reporting to her mother-in-law, Naomi realized there may be a deeper relationship possible between these two. So she instructed Ruth in how to present herself to Boaz to see what would happen. His heart was touched and the next day he proceeded to pay the price to bring Naomi and Ruth into his household.

There are a couple points in this story that I want to focus on as prophetic pictures of God's dealing with us.

First, there's Naomi. In this story, I see her as a picture of the Holy Spirit. Through her relationship with Ruth, Ruth came to love her and be committed to both her and her people. As the story unfolds, Naomi also guides Ruth into a loving relationship with Boaz. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit draws our hearts and opens our eyes to things spiritual. He brings us first to repentance from our old life and commitment to a new one and then prepares us as a bride for the Son.

Second, there's Ruth, a Moabitess, a stranger to the covenant and promises. She's a great picture of Gentile believers. We're born in a foreign country, with no inheritance. But our hearts are ignited by love and we commit ourselves to God, without really knowing what that means. We are welcomed into His family and become inheritors of the promise. As the relationship progresses, we move from the role of child to that of bride. I think this is a clear picture that from the beginning, God had in his heart to include all humanity in redemption.

Finally, there's Boaz. He starts out as a father figure, providing for and protecting Ruth and Naomi. As Ruth's heart is revealed by her service to Naomi and keeping herself from other lovers, Boaz's heart is moved. He pays the price for them and the relationship moves to one of intimacy and marriage. Similarly, we tend to start our Christian walk understanding our relationship with God as a child of His, he protects us, provides for us, meets our needs. But as we mature and spend time with Him, we get a better understanding of the price he paid for us and our relationship grows, deepens, intimacy forms. Our hearts are knitted together; we become friends.

I find it staggering to think that this is just a model of the eternal heart of Jesus. He loves me enough to pay for my protection and provision. His heart is made glad by me. He considers it a kindness to Him when I keep my affections for Him alone, not turning to lesser loves, gazing on Him with singleness of focus and desire. And as I spend time sitting in His presence, He burns this into my heart, convinces my innermost being and transforms me by the knowledge of his extravagant love.