Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Rehash and Repost: Building up the Father's House

The book of Ruth feels like a wonderful little oasis of personal life that we can relate more easily to than all the killing and political machinations going on in the surrounding books. But let's be careful, lest we are too readily satisfied, interpreting this book in our own sentimental, romantic image and not looking for anything of greater depth.

Whilst the book is called Ruth, this is in a sense misleading, for it is about how God uses Ruth and Boaz to restore Naomi (Ru.4:14)

Echoes of Genesis 1 abound in Ruth 1. Adam and Eve were kicked out east of their covenant dwelling, the garden of Eden, after their unfaithfulness to the LORD. Now Elimelech and Naomi, instead of seeking God for mercy that he might lift the famine that he has brought due to the Israelites covenant infidelity, decide to throw in the towel and go East to the Moabites. There, Naomi suffers sorrow upon sorrow as death eats up all the males in the household.

But just as God promises salvation to Adam and Eve back in Genesis 3, so too on her return to Israel, even though she blames what she sees as the capricious sovereign will of God for her troubles, God still, through Gentile Ruth and mix-race Boaz (Matt.1:5) will restore her and turn her weeping into dancing.

Chapters 2-4 tell of that beautiful restoration. Whilst we can probably assume that Boaz and Ruth genuinely loved each other, the primary drive in their union is not romance, but covenant fidelity to the law of the Levirite. They are the ones with the eyes of faith - deeply ironic, given their gentile blood lines. They are more determined to uphold the Mosaic Law than the Israelites!

Just as Adam became a dead bridegroom to Eve - unable to bring her to eternal life, or to bring forth the offspring that would take the glory of the LORD to the ends of the earth, so to Elimelech became (literally) a dead bridegroom to Naomi spawning weak sons who could not go the distance.

Note that it's not those who are born in the right place, but those who keep the covenant who become a source of life to Naomi and continue to build up the father's house.

Boaz is a name given to one of the pillars in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem (2Chron.3:17). For it was by the swift (Boaz means swift) and righteous action of this man that the house of the LORD was built up, the seed line was continued and the line and house of Judah could eventually come to prominence in the life of Israel i.e. when David took the throne. (Judah the lion had been put out to grass for 10 generations because of the shenanigans of Genesis 38. See Deut.23:2 and then count the number of generations from the illegitimate son Perez to David. That's why the otherwise seemingly random genealogy is there. Cool eh?)

Ruth is a picture of the true church who through her union to the bridegroom brings life and joy to a barren, bitter and dead world.

Christ is the true and better Boaz who perfectly keeps the covenant law and comes to build up his Father's perishing house (the world) marrying a widowed, barren and dying humanity. He is also the true and better Obed. He is the offspring of promise, miraculously given, whom the whole creation longs for.

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