Mysteries of the Kingdom
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Christ and the Church
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess . . . .”
And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife . . . . (Ruth 4:5a, 9, 10a, 13a).
A major, necessary key to understand the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew chapter thirteen (vv. 44-46), which Christ gave once He had reentered the house (v. 36), is seen in understanding marriage as it occurs in both type and antitype in Scripture.
1. As it occurred with Boaz and Ruth, Ahasuerus, and Esther.
2. As it will occur with Christ and His bride.
3. As it will occur when God again takes Israel as His wife.
(This subject was dealt with in a general way in the last chapter of this book; it will be dealt with in relation to Christ and the Church in this chapter [from the book of Ruth], and it will be dealt with in relation to God and Israel in the next chapter [from the book of Esther]).
Understanding the typology of both Ruth and Esther (particularly Ruth, as matters pertain to both the redemption of the inheritance and marriage), is vitally necessary in order to properly understand the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew chapter thirteen.
The fifth parable begins with events foreshadowed by events in chapter four of the book of Ruth — Boaz’s redemption of a forfeited inheritance belonging to Elimelech’s family (with Ruth then becoming his wife), typifying Christ’s redemption of a forfeited inheritance (with [a portion of] the Church then becoming His wife).
In the type, these things occurred only after Ruth had become a member of the family (chapter 1), had gleaned in Boaz’s field from morning until evening, from the beginning to the end of the barley harvest (chapter 2), and had prepared herself for an appearance on Boaz’s threshing floor at midnight (chapter 3). And so it is in the antitype. All these things precede the redemptive act seen in chapter four — type or antitype.
The Family Relationship (Chapter One)
The book of Ruth begins with a Jewish family (a father [Elimelech], a mother [Naomi], and their two sons [Mahlon and Chilion]) leaving Bethlehem, because of a famine in the land, to sojourn in Moab. The family dwelled in Moab for awhile, and the father died. This left Naomi, the mother, and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion (1:1-3).
The sons then took wives of the women of Moab. Mahlon married Ruth, and Chilion married Orpah, and they dwelled in the land together for about ten years. Naomi’s two sons then died, which left Naomi with only her two daughters-in-law (1:4, 5).
After this, Naomi received word that the famine had ended in her own country; and she made the necessary preparations to leave Moab and return to Bethlehem (1:6).
She departed on the journey toward Bethlehem, with Ruth and Orpah. But, while in route, Naomi urged her two daughters-in-law to return to the people which they had left rather than accompany her the remainder of the way. Orpah, at this point in the journey, chose to turn back; but Ruth chose to continue the journey (1:7ff).
Ruth, in her determination to continue the journey with Naomi, said,
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.
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.” (1:16, 17)
Then Naomi, seeing that Ruth was determined to continue on to Bethlehem with her, “stopped speaking to her.” And the two of them continued the journey together (1:18ff).
Thus, the family relationship was established at the very beginning of the book, with the remainder of the book providing numerous details concerning this relationship. And three particulars are presented about this family relationship in the first chapter:
1. Ruth and Orpah, becoming a part of the family, were taken from the Gentiles.
2. Ruth and Orpah were joined to a Jewish family.
3. A division later occurred within this family relationship — Ruth went on with Naomi, Orpah turned back.
All of this, of course, is typical of events occurring within God’s economy during the present dispensation. God is presently removing from the Gentiles “a people for His name” (Acts 15:14; cf. Romans 11:25). Israel has been set aside for a dispensation, while the Spirit of God acquires a bride for God’s Son. And this Gentile bride, as Ruth, must possess a Jewish relationship. There can be no journey to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, apart from an association with the Jews.
Four thousand years ago God called one man out of the human race to be the channel through whom the remainder of the human race would be blessed. God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, gave him a land through an unconditional covenant, and promised that through this one man and his seed (through Isaac, Jacob, and his lineal descendants, through his twelve sons) all the Gentile nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3; cf. Genesis 13:14-18; 15:18-21; 22:17, 18).
Beyond this point in Scripture, all spiritual blessing (salvation, or any other blessing) coming to mankind could come only through Abraham and his descendants, through the lineage of Isaac and Jacob. This is the way God established matters very early in His revelation to man, this is the way they presently exist, and this is the way they will always exist, whether in time or in eternity.
(Actually, God had previously established matters in this respect beginning with Shem [Genesis 9:25-27], with Abraham, a descendant of Shem, being singled out about four hundred years later as the one through whom that which is seen beginning with Shem would be fulfilled.)
Salvation for Gentiles today (or for Jews) can be effected only through divine power and only through that which God has brought to pass through the Jewish people. Note two verses of Scripture in this respect:
Salvation is of the LORD. (Jonah 2:9b)
Salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22b)
Both must be true. Salvation must be of the Lord because unsaved man is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Unsaved man is completely incapable of acting in the spiritual realm. He is spiritually dead, and Another must act on his behalf in order to effect life where no life exists. And this is accomplished through the Spirit of God breathing life into unregenerate man, on the basis of the finished work of God’s Son, a Jew.
Thus, salvation is both “of the Lord” and “of the Jews.” Individuals passing “from death to life,” through the work of the Spirit during the present dispensation (cf. John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1, 5) are, positionally, “in Christ,” Abraham’s Seed. And since Christ is Abraham’s seed, they too, because of their position “in Christ,” are also Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:16, 29).
Those who, in time past, were “aliens from the commonwealth [citizenship, having to do with regal activity] of Israel” have been “brought near”; and, through being “Abraham’s seed,” are now “heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly].” They, through being Abraham’s seed, have the prospect of one day participating in regal activity in the heavens with the greater Son of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:12, 13).
But, going back to the type, note the difference that Scripture presents between Ruth and Orpah after they had become members of the family and had begun the journey to Bethlehem, the House of Bread. Ruth determined within herself to complete the journey. But it was not so with Orpah. She turned back.
And so it must be on the one hand and is on the other with Christians today. All Christians are in a position to begin the journey toward the House of Bread, but not all begin or complete the journey. Some, like Ruth, leave the country from which they were called and go on (ref. the fourth part of the parable of the sower in chapter 3 of this book); but others either never really begin the journey or, like Orpah, they turn back after beginning the journey (ref. the first three parts of the parable of the sower in chapter 3 of this book).
In the typology of Genesis 24:57, 58, Ruth, as Rebekah — in response to the question, “Will you go with this man?” — said, “I will go.” And Ruth went on with Naomi, toward the House of Bread. Orpah though didn’t respond in this manner. Instead, she turned back.
At the time of the journey, Ruth and Orpah were related to Naomi through death (The prior death of their husbands had terminated the marriage relationship itself. And, in the antitype, Christians are also members of the family through death.
Christians are Abraham’s seed through death, the death of Another). But, though Orpah, after turning back, remained just as much a member of the family as Ruth, there is no mention of her in the book of Ruth beyond the point of her turning back, just as there is no mention of Lot’s wife in the Genesis account beyond the point of her looking back [Genesis 19:26].
Christ’s admonitions and warnings to this effect in Luke 9:62; 17:32 are clear:
No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Remember Lot’s wife.
Gleaning in Boaz’s Field (Chapter Two)
Once Naomi and Ruth had arrived in Bethlehem, attention is called to two things:
1. They had returned at the beginning of barley harvest.
2. Naomi had a kinsman (through her deceased husband), Boaz, in whose field Ruth could glean grain.
And this is where Ruth found herself — gleaning in Boaz’s field (1:22-2:3).
Boaz, “a mighty man of wealth,” took note of Ruth gleaning in his field, inquired of her, instructed her to not glean in any other field, and then instructed his workers in the field to purposefully leave handfuls of grain for her to glean. And Ruth gleaned in Boaz’s field after this fashion from morning until evening, from the beginning to the end of the harvest (2:4-23).
All of this is a picture of the Christian in the race of “the faith,” gleaning in the field of the One whom Boaz typifies. A “field” is used in Scripture to typify the world (Matthew 13:38; cf. Genesis 37:15), “gleaning” in the field has to do with bringing forth fruit while in the world, and “the length” of the gleaning (from morning until evening, from the beginning to the end of the harvest) has to do with a never-ending work, extending throughout the dispensation.
A Christian is to set his sights on the goal out ahead, and he is to be busy throughout the course of the dispensation in his Master’s field. And he is to concern himself with one thing. He is to concern himself with that which is provided for him to glean, not with that provided for another to glean.
Boaz instructed his workers to purposefully leave handfuls of grain behind for Ruth to glean. Thus, Boaz provided that which Ruth was to glean, giving his workers instructions that it was to be left specifically for her. And all she had to do was glean that which the workers, at Boaz’s instructions, had left.
And so it is with Christians bringing forth fruit today. The Lord of the harvest has provided for each and every Christian. Christians are to simply glean that which has been provided by the Lord’s instructions for them to glean. They are to bring forth fruit through simply working with that which has already been provided for them.
Then the length of time in which they are to be busy in the Master’s field, after this fashion, is simply stated. It is “until evening” on the one hand, and it is “until the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest” on the other (2:17, 23). It is a never-ceasing work, and it is to continue until the end of the present dispensation.
And another thing relative to the harvest stands out in the text — something of utmost importance and significance. Ruth, after she had gleaned in the field throughout the day, “beat out what she had gleaned,” leaving “about an ephah of barley” (2:17). That is, she didn’t confine her work to just one part of the task — gathering the grain which had been left for her. Rather, after gathering the grain, she worked with that which she had gleaned, removing the grain from the stalk. She worked with that which she had gleaned until the valuable part alone remained.
And so it is with Christians today. They are not to confine themselves to just one part of the task. They, for example, are not to cease their work following the proclamation of the message of salvation by grace through faith. Rather, once a person has been saved, they are then to continue their work with that which has been taken from the field. They are then to provide instruction concerning why the person has been saved. They are then to proclaim all the various facets of the message surrounding the coming glory of Christ. And they are to provide this instruction until a certain revealed time.
Remaining within the framework of the type, they are to reap stalks of grain from the field. Then they are to continue the harvest, working with that which has been gleaned from the field. And they are to continue this work until that which is worthless has been separated from that which is of value. They are to continue this work until individuals have been brought from immaturity to maturity (from gnosis to epignosis), until they have been grounded in “the faith” (Ephesians 4:11-15).
Note how Paul conducted his ministry along these lines (cf. Acts 20:20-32; Colossians 1:1-29). And note Paul’s command in his second epistle to Timothy, along these same lines:
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)
The word “evangelist” (Greek: euaggelistes) means, a proclaimer of good news. The word is not used in Scripture in the narrow sense in which it is often used in Christendom today — one proclaiming only the good news of the grace of God as it pertains to eternal verities. Scripture uses this word in a much broader sense.
Timothy, being told to “do the work of an evangelist,” was simply being told to proclaim the good news. What good news was he to proclaim? The context itself has to do with the good news of the coming glory of Christ (cf. 3:15; 4:1, 7, 8). Thus, contextually, this facet of the good news would be foremost in view.
But there is another facet to the good news — a preceding facet — the good news of the grace of God. And the command to Timothy could not preclude this facet of the good news, though the context deals with the other. In other words, if Timothy was dealing with the unsaved, he was to proclaim the good news of the grace of God. He couldn’t proclaim anything else to them, for they were still “dead in trespasses and sins.” They were incapable of spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But, once they had “passed from death to life,” he was no longer to proclaim the good news of the grace of God to them. Such would be meaningless, for they had already heard and responded to this message. He was then to proclaim the good news of the coming glory of Christ, for now they could understand spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
Either way though he would be doing the work of an evangelist. That is, he would be proclaiming good news, whether relative to salvation by grace or the coming glory of Christ.
And placing this within the framework of the type in Ruth chapter two, the same person proclaiming the good news of the grace of God to the unsaved is then to proclaim the good news of the coming glory of Christ to those responding. And he is to continue the latter until the wheat has been separated from the chaff, else the Lord of the harvest will, Himself, have to make this separation at the judgment seat.
(In the preceding respect, there is often an unbiblical distinction made between an “evangelist” and a “pastor-teacher,” as seen in Ephesians 4:11. In actuality, their message is the same. It involves both the gospel of the grace of God and the gospel of the glory of Christ.
The difference in their ministries would lie more in the fact that a pastor-teacher has a flock entrusted to him, which means that the emphasis in his ministry would undoubtedly fall more into the latter category than the former. But the fact remains. Both the evangelist and the pastor-teacher are to proclaim the whole of the good news, with circumstances determining where the emphasis is to be placed.)
Preparation for Meeting Boaz (Chapter Three)
Chapter three in the book of Ruth presents two main things. This chapter presents Ruth preparing herself for a future meeting with Boaz, and the necessary details concerning that meeting. And the whole of the matter — how Ruth was to prepare herself for this future meeting, on Boaz’s threshing floor — was told to her by Naomi.
That would be to say, Ruth, a Gentile, learned everything she knew about how to prepare herself for the future meeting with Boaz, along with details concerning the actual meeting itself, from a Jew.
And if Christians in the antitype today would know anything about present preparation for a future meeting with Christ, on His threshing floor, along with details concerning that meeting, they will have to learn these things from that which God gave to and through Israel. They will have to learn these things from a Jewish book, which relates the story of a Jewish Savior.
He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation [any Gentile]; and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 147:19, 20)
Naomi, speaking to Ruth, set forth three things that she was to do by way of preparation prior to going forth to meet Boaz. Naomi told Ruth:
Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor . . . . (3:3a)
Ruth prepared herself after this threefold fashion, and she then met Boaz on his threshing floor. And this, resultantly, set a sequence of events in motion that are seen brought to a conclusion in chapter four of the book.
a) Wash yourself
“Washing” has to do with cleansing, and the overall thought in Ruth 3:3 has to do with the necessity of Ruth presenting herself clean in Boaz presence. And, brought over into the antitype, exactly the same thing is seen — the necessity of Christians presenting themselves clean in Christ’s presence, in that future day.
Cleansing in this typical sense, as presented in the book of Ruth, can be seen numerous places throughout Scripture. Old Testament priests, for example, were given a complete bath upon their entrance into the priesthood (a one-time event, never to be repeated [Exodus 29:4; 40:12-15]); and then, subsequent provision was made for repeated washings of the priests’ hands and feet as they became defiled in the process of carrying out their ministry (Exodus 30:19-21).
These latter washings were that which Christ dealt with when washing the disciples’ feet in John 13:8-10. A washing of the complete body had already occurred. Thus, only washings of parts of the body were now necessary.
And that pictured by these latter washings when Christ washed the disciples’ feet is also the same type of washing dealt with in Ruth 3:3. Ruth washed herself as a member of the family, not to become a member of the family.
Water, as used in these various washings in different places in Scripture, can never take away sin. But a washing of the complete body and subsequent washings of parts of the body, after the fashion presented, typify that which can — Christ’s shed blood.
In the Old Testament sacrifice, shed blood covered sin. The sin itself actually still remained, though God didn’t see the sin. Rather He saw only the blood that covered the sin.
But the shed blood of Christ, to which all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed, goes a step farther. The shed blood of Christ does away with sin. Rather than cover sin, Christ’s shed blood completely removes sin, with the sin no longer even existing.
A Christian, by means of Christ’s blood, has been cleansed completely. Within the typology seen in the Old Testament, his complete body has been washed, never to be repeated (a cleansing that has to do with his eternal salvation, the salvation of his spirit).
But, also within the typology seen in the Old Testament, defilement occurs in the process of the Christian carrying out his ministry in the field, necessitating repeated cleansings of parts of the body, as they become defiled (cleansings that have to do with present and future aspects of salvation, the salvation of the soul). And that’s what the present high priestly ministry of Christ is about.
Christ’s present high priestly ministry is being performed in the heavenly sanctuary, on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat, to provide a present cleansing for the kingdom of priests that He is about to bring forth. It is being performed for Christians (members of the family), so that they can be properly prepared for an inevitable future meeting, a meeting with Christ on His threshing floor; and it is being performed so Christians can appear in His presence, in that future day, in a clean manner (cf. 1 John 1:7-2:2).
b) Anoint yourself
“Oil” was used in the Old Testament to anoint prophets, priests, and kings. And there was a connection between the use of oil after this fashion and the Holy Spirit coming upon an individual to empower him for the office to which he was being consecrated.
The anointing of Saul and David would be two such examples (1 Samuel 10:1, 6; 16:13). The Spirit came upon each following their being anointed, to empower them for the regal tasks that they were to perform.
Then the parable of the ten virgins sets forth matters as they would exist relative to the Holy Spirit and Christians during the present dispensation. All ten virgins had oil in their vessels, but only five possessed an extra supply of oil (Matthew 25:1-13).
That would be to say, all Christians have that which is spoken of in the parable through the use of oil, but not all Christians possess an extra supply of oil. That is, all Christians are indwelt by the Spirit, but not all Christians are filled with the Spirit.
And, as Ruth could not be properly prepared for meeting Boaz apart from being anointed, neither can a Christian be properly prepared for meeting Christ apart from being filled with the Spirit. This will become more evident through viewing the third part of Naomi’s command concerning proper preparation.
c) Put on your best garment
Ruth was going forth to meet the bridegroom, and so are Christians in the antitype. And an individual going forth to meet the Bridegroom must not only be properly prepared through that which is shown by the washing and the anointing but also through that which is shown by the raiment. And in view of that which lay ahead and that which Scripture elsewhere has to say about this matter, only one thing can be in view in this part of Naomi’s command to Ruth, as it relates to Christians. Only the wedding garment can possibly be in view.
This apparel, according to Revelation 19:7, 8 is made up of “the righteous acts of the saints.” This is something that Christians progressively weave for themselves, over time, as they glean in the field and beat out the grain. And to do this work in a proper manner, with the wedding garment being progressively woven, an extra supply of oil is necessary. That is, being filled with the Spirit for the task at hand is an absolute necessity, for only through being filled with the Spirit can a work in the spiritual realm be accomplished in an effective manner.
Appearing in Christ’s presence in that future day without a wedding garment is the central issue in the parable of the marriage feast (Matthew 22:1-14), and it is a central issue in the letter to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-21).
Relative to the man appearing without a wedding garment and the subject at hand in Matthew 22:1-14 — the wedding festivities — the man was cast into the darkness outside the banqueting hall (v. 13). And relative to an entire church appearing naked in Christ’s presence and the subject at hand in Revelation 3:14-21 — ruling from His throne (v. 21) — Christ said, “I will vomit you out of My mouth” (v. 16).
Clear instructions concerning the necessary preparation have been given, and clear warnings concerning that which will occur if the instructions are ignored have been sounded. And any Christian presently in possession of the Word of God — presently in possession of these instructions and warnings — who ignores this revelation and one day finds himself/herself in Christ’s presence, in an unprepared manner, will be without excuse.
2. The threshing floor
The threshing floor was the place where the grain was taken to be beaten out and separated from the chaff. This is the place where that of value was separated from that which was worthless.
John the Baptist connected the threshing floor with Christ’s future judgment of His people (Matthew 3:12), and he could only have drawn this thought from that which was set forth in the Old Testament types. This is the place where “the chaff” will be burned “with unquenchable fire,” which is what Paul had in mind in his first letter to those in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Ruth appeared on Boaz’s threshing floor in a particular manner, at a particular time. She appeared in a prepared manner, at midnight.
“Midnight” in Scripture is always used in connection with judgment. That’s the manner in which the word is first used in Scripture (Exodus 11:4), establishing a first-mention principle, which can never change. And, with the usage of the word set in this manner, any subsequent place in Scripture where the word is used, judgment has to always be in view (e.g., Job 34:20; Psalm 119:62; Matthew 25:6).
(“Midnight” is a translation of two words in both the Hebrew and Greek texts [also, at times, a compound word in the Greek text] — lit., “the middle of the night,” either Hebrew or Greek.)
Thus, both “the time” and “the place” of Ruth’s appearance in Boaz’s presence speak of judgment. But Ruth herself, passing through that which was connected with judgment, was blessed (3:10); and the reason is obvious. Ruth was properly prepared for this appearance. Ruth was properly prepared for that which lay ahead.
Not only had Ruth washed herself, anointed herself, and put on raiment, but she had also threshed that which she had gleaned from the field prior to her appearance in Boaz’s presence. Had she brought the grain that she had gleaned from Boaz’s field with her to the threshing floor, there would have been nothing more for Boaz to do with it, for it had already been threshed. That which was of no value had already been removed.
In the light of 1 Corinthians 11:31, 32, Ruth had brought matters to pass in such a manner that events on the threshing floor could have had no affect on that which she had gleaned from the field. Or, in the light of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, there could have been no “wood, hay, straw” threshed from her gleanings. This had already been removed.
Ruth was prepared in every way possible for the meeting with Boaz, on his threshing floor. Thus, only blessings could possibly have ensued.
Redemption of the Inheritance (Chapter Four)
The redemption seen in Ruth chapter four, chronologically, occurred after all the events depicted in chapter one through chapter three had been completed. This redemption had to do with a work that occurred following events on the threshing floor, and this work had to do with two things:
1. Boaz’s redemption of a forfeited inheritance belonging to Elimelech’s family, belonging more particularly to Naomi following Elimelech’s death (Ruth 4:3, 5).
2. Ruth, through Boaz’s redemptive work, becoming his wife (Ruth 4:5, 9, 10).
And once the inheritance had been redeemed, with Ruth becoming Boaz’s wife, the inheritance then belonged to them.
This, of course, in the antitype, has to do with a redemptive work to be performed by Christ, on behalf of Christians, following events at the judgment seat. And once the forfeited inheritance has been redeemed, the one typified by Ruth will become the wife of the One typified by Boaz, with the inheritance then belonging to them.
(For additional information on Christ’s dealings with the Church, as presented in this chapter, refer to the author’s book, Ruth.
The redemption of the inheritance and the bride, through this redemption, becoming Christ’s wife form the central subject of the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, dealt with in chapters 10 and 11 in this book. For additional information on this subject, see the author’s book, The Time of the End, chapters 8 and 9.)