The restoration of God’s image in the book of Ruth
White Young Jeon
1) The book of Ruth takes the background of relationship that was made between Israel and Moabite. The Moabite was origin by the relationship between Rot and his second daughter. They were habited at the eastward area of the Dead Sea and have abundant pasture for their sheep; At one time Moab was stronger than Israel’s economy. Especially the field of Moab was the historical place where the second generation was gathered before they entered into Canaan.
Naomi who attributed in the tribe of Judah was immigrated to Moab out of Israel land where they was departed for serious famine. (1:1) at the time Moab was abundant environment. They had lived at the place for 10 years and her husband and her two sons were died because some diseases and left three widows. Naomi returned to her native land of Israel Bethlehem with her daughter- in-law. Ruth who was her second widow confessed “Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay, your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried, I will be buried… ” (1: 16-17) There the faithful Ruth served her other in law as her confession God led them to marry with kinsman- redeemer, Boaz providentially She was the mother of the king Christ Jesus even though she was a pagan woman. So the book of Ruth concentrates on the kinsman- redeemer. (4:14-17)
Why God accomplish His own divine economy through such a special case? The history reveals that God’s will was accomplished not by man’s will but God’s own wisdom and grace. So we can find that God’s providence in the universalism is very wonderful through this book.
2) The Restoration of God’s image in the book of Ruth relate to the two terms, providence of God and the universalism of redemption closely.
The invisible hand of Providence of God
The creator is the provider, the God of providence and the God of redemption. After he created all things by his word, he rules over them by his Word in order to accomplish his redemption, that is the restoration of God’s image, righteousness, mercy and faithfulness. Especially the book of Ruth cast the light of providence to us. The suffering of Naomi family, the devotional serving life of Ruth to her mother in law and the entering into the genealogy of Messiah were included the providence of God. In other word, God Himself ruled over a person, a family, a nation and a church by the invisible hand of God. The hand finally shall accomplish the restoration of god’s image.
First, the providence is stronger and broader than the miracle.
According to John Calvin’s Institute, as we understand the faith of providence, we get much comfort. Wonders rise some striking feeling and some comfort to the people who expected something in their lives. The family of Naomi where lived in Moab did not meet wonderful miracles, those are, curing their chronicle disease or solving her financial problem. They had lived ordinary immigrant life for 10 years without receiving influence of theocracy in Moab. Nevertheless the Lord prepared more wonderful event in the miserable family to accomplish the eternal economy for the redemption of Jesus Christ., just like the salvation of Israel that out delivered out of Egypt. After 50 years David who was a grandson of Boaz and Ruth became the king of the monarchy that was a symbol of Jesus Christ, true kinsman-redeemer.
Ruth took some problems in participating into the kinsman-redeemer as followings. 1) Orbah, the first daughter-in-law has to give up her right. 2) Boaz was the second kinsman- redeemer. 3) The witnesses could refuse for Ruth was the pagan woman who was called for the people of Kmos that was a pagan god. 4) Boaz himself could refuse Ruth as his wife. Although such crisis remains in the situation, God led that Ruth participated into the Kidman-redeemer by the providence of God. Providence is the womb of miracle. The free will and predestination of God do not take the controversy each other in providence. The people of God should hold the hand of living God of providence in order to change Mara into Elim.
Second, the people of God have to focus on the inheritance.
1) Inheritance means the abundant fruit that come out of salvation. It is the redemptive ethic. It is the grace and peace that God rules over and provide to His people just like the honey and milk in Canaan. It is the more abundant blessing than Joseph’s prosperity and ultimately reach to the heaven. So it is the eternal inheritance. At the perspective the Apostle Paul prayed that God opened the eyes of Ephesian Christians and knew the abundant inheritance in Christ ( Eph.1:18) and God made the Colossian Christian shared the inheritance to neighbor in Christ’s love.(Col 1:12) Also the apostle committed the Ephesians elders to the Lord and his word in order to participate not the eternal inheritance.(Act. 20:32) And also the inheritance was expressed in the life of the early church in devoting themselves to receiving the Apostle’s teaching, fellowship, eager praying, evangelizing and eating with joy and purity.(Act2:42-47)
2) What is the kinsman-redeemer in the system of the Law? Kinsman is the inheritance that means the property in Canaan for each tribe and each family. The redeemer means one who takes responsibility of the inheritance when the original owner passed away for some reasons as Boaz. The inheritance of Elimelek was transferred to Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer. His duty to the inheritance included his wife, Ruth. As like Boaz lived in the center of inheritance, the people of God have to live in the center of salvation (redemption).
1) Even though Naomi (pleasant) was changed into Mara (bitterness) in the grace of God’s providence she was restored through some training process in the hand of the Lord. Ruth was the grandmother of the King Christ Jesus. (Mt.1:)
Third. We have to follow the stream of Christ’s kingship.
1)God used the faithful life that Ruth had. She who was a woman of wisdom was an example of self- denial, cross- bearing and devotional life even though she learned them out of her mother in – law, Naomi. Especially her serving to her mother-in- law was a main seed in her devotional life. From this life she took the wonderful virtue as followings.
(1) Godliness- Redemptive ethic needs the redemptive personality. She accepted Naomi’s God as her Lord. Ruth’s redemptive personality dependeon the redemptive godliness., the fear of the Lord. Her faith was the same character that Abraham, David and new covenantial people of New Testament because she stood firm on the camp od Jehovah, Naomi’s God. So Hebrew suggested her deed was the faith.
Faith is choice. Rot’s wrong choice made him destroyed his life. but the chioce of Abraham and Moses made them to taste the heavenly treasure in their lives. So we assure that human ethic is very miserable in the world.
(2) Faithfulness – Ruth’s redemptive truth was expressed by the redemptive ethic. We can threat two thing in it.
The first feature is faithfulness. She sustained her unchangeable state in her life. She was faithful to the family and her neighbors. His faithfulness dominated on her life. The Spirit of the truth worked in her life, although she was very little in the Moab. Through her redemption the Spirit reveals the universal feature of redemption and opened the way that any chosen people among the gentiles is able to approach to redemption. When the Spirit of truth came upon us, he shall lead them into the truth. (Jn16:13)
The case of her life is the same of our redemption. The Spirit comes to the church, it automatically was received by Him eternally and every area until accomplishing the redemption. The Spirit produced the redemptive ethic in her life.
In the global day we have to be faithful to any small thing in Christ. It is the way of victory. Ruth’s faitfulness is a example of our church.
(3) Diligence – And also her faithfulness was corporated with her diligence. Faithfulness relates to diligence but the idleness the decieveness. Christ’s faithfulness and diligence was the channel to accomplish the redemption in Christian life. She had spiritual diligence serving her mother-in-law.( ) The spiritual diligence bring about the wisdom and the insight to solve any issue happened in the Christian life. Through her faithfulness and diligence she met Boas who was the forefather.
Especially the day of world mission need the example as Ruth’s redemptive ethic. As Peter taught to us to become a virtue missionary in I Peter2:9, we have to pursue to establish the virtue in our ministry. The missionary should become one who establishes the virtue to establish kingdom of God.
The Christian ethic and doing is very important in completing the salvation. The criteria of judgment on the white throne shall be the faith that has the deed and the ethic, that is, the redemptive ethic. (Mt 25
Universalism of redemption
The restoration of God’s Image focuses on the limited people, the chosen people but is the universalism redemption. As we see before Ruth, the universal character of redemption was revealed in the many events. Although God chose the Israelite as the people of covenant in the world, God revealed obviously to call his own people out of the entire world. For example, Melchizedek blessed to Abram. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”(Gen15:18-20), Rahab was saved by God because of the fear of God. “But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out “(Joshua 2:4-7) and also Ruth participated into the glory of Messiah by the hand of God’s providence. “and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.”(Matthew 1:5-7) These proved that the redemption has the character of universalism. In the New Testament Jesus Christ intensely visited to the chosen people in pagans and also the gentiles were invited by Christ. Why does Christ visit to a Samaritan woman? And why did Christ commend the Roman centurion because of his great faith? This pointed the character of universal redemption.
In the chaos day of the Judges a Moabite woman, Ruth was called by God in order to participate into the work of the redemption. Why did Holy Spirit stress her participation in the redemption because the redemption of God has the universal character?
Really the universal redemption attained to the climax of the eschatological day.
When Christ was born physically at Bethlehem, the magoi searched for him in order to worship him. (Mt2:1-6) And in the Acts we can see that diaspora came back to Jerusalem providentially. They received the Holy Spirit and lived a witness of the gospel.
The Christian has to hold the providence of God because the heavenly comfort came out of the faith of providence. Although they are suffered in their actual situation, the invisible hand of God prepared everything and provides them at the proper time to his people and makes them trained for accomplishing the purpose of redemption in the history. The case of Ruth cast one of the brightest lights to us to see the stream of universal redemptive history. This is the main reason to proclaim the gospel to the entire world to win the lost.