Arlen L. Chitwood
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."
When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. . . . (Ruth 1:16-19a).
Chapter one in the book of Ruth has to do with two main things as the material pertains to Christians in a type-antitype structure: (1) with Gentiles becoming members of a dispersed Jewish family, where death was involved in the family relationship; and (2) with a journey toward another land, following this family relationship being established.
The chapter deals sparingly with the former but at length with the latter. That would be to say, the chapter deals sparingly with salvation by grace but at length with that which follows salvation by grace in the Christian life. As at any point in Scripture, this chapter, along with the book of Ruth as a whole, deals centrally with the purpose for salvation. It deals centrally with things surrounding that which follows individuals passing from death to life, not with things surrounding individuals passing from death to life itself.
Within the structure of the book, as matters pertain to Christians, the things surrounding individuals passing from death to life are seen at the beginning of chapter one. Then, three main things are seen in revelation that continues through the remainder of chapter one, all of chapter two, and the first part of chapter three; and this precedes revelation having to do with Christians before the judgment seat in the latter part of chapter three, followed by revelation having to do with the redemption of the inheritance and the reign of David’s greater Son (with His co-heirs, forming His wife) in chapter four.
The three main things seen between an individual passing from death to life (chapter 1a) and that individual subsequently appearing before the judgment seat (chapter 3b) are: (1) the journey toward another land (chapter 1b), (2) work in the field throughout the present dispensation (chapter 2), and (3) preparation for meeting Christ on His threshing floor, His judgment seat (chapter 3a).
All three of these are inseparably related and occur during the same time in the antitype. That is, during the time that a Christian is laboring in the field (the world [Matthew 13:38]), he is to be laboring in such a manner that the labor is not only a progression toward the goal of his calling (ultimately realizing an inheritance in another land) but also a preparation for meeting Christ before the judgment seat at a time following his labors in the field. Both the journey and the preparation are part and parcel with the labor in the field in this respect.
Thus, each of the three chapters present different facets of a complete, threefold picture concerning exactly how a Christian is to govern his life during the present dispensation if he is to be found among those revealed as overcomers at the judgment seat and subsequently be allowed to come into a realization of the goal of his calling (to be realized during the coming dispensation, the Messianic Era). This present study will deal with the first part of the picture, from chapter one (the journey toward another land); and the subsequent two studies will deal with the second and third parts of the picture, from chapters two and three (work in the field throughout the present dispensation, and preparation for events surrounding the judgment seat at the conclusion of the dispensation).
Two Types of Christians
The book of Ruth opens by depicting two types of Christians. One type is shown through the actions of Ruth, and the other type is shown through the actions of Orpah. Following their becoming members of the family, both Ruth and Orpah found themselves on a journey toward another land, with Naomi; and both exhibited a determination to continue the journey.
Only one though (Ruth) continued the journey to the end. The other (Orpah) turned back to her own people and land, apparently during the early part of the journey.
Thus, following things surrounding the birth from above, the book immediately deals with things pertaining to both the spiritual and the carnal Christian — with things pertaining to the overcomer and the one who is overcome. And the book deals with these things in relation to the race of the faith, the journey from the land of one’s birth to the land of one’s calling.
That’s the way matters are introduced in the book. It’s not laboring in Boaz’s field (chapter 2) or preparing for meeting Boaz on his threshing floor at the end of the harvest (chapter 3a) that is seen first, but the journey toward another land. And this order is for a reason. There can be no proper labor in the field or preparation for that which lies ahead apart from possessing some type of understanding of the goal, knowing something about why these things are being done.
Apart from some type of understanding of the goal, one’s labor in the field, and one’s preparation for that which lies ahead, would be done in an aimless manner. And laboring in the field in this manner can only open the door for tragic consequences to follow — something seen throughout Christendom today in its leavened, Laodicean condition.
(The leavened condition of Christendom at the end of the dispensation was foreshadowed by that seen in the fourth parable in Matthew chapter thirteen [v. 33] and the seventh church in Revelation chapters two and three [3:14-21]. Contextually in these two sections of Scripture, that which is being depicted has to do with a corrupted condition in relation to biblical doctrine surrounding the Word of the Kingdom, not a corrupted condition in relation to biblical doctrine in general.
And this is the same corrupted condition referred to in a question that Christ asked during His earthly ministry, recorded in Luke 18:8b — a question that has to do with “the faith” [an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom in Scripture], and a question that, from the wording of the Greek text, expects a negative answer:
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [lit., “the faith”] on the earth? (Luke 18:8b)
In relation to “the faith” — the Word of the Kingdom — part of Christendom will not be fundamental and part liberal when Christ returns. Rather, the whole of Christendom [that seen in so-called fundamental and liberal circles alike] will be leavened. And the command to Christians throughout these churches [so-called fundamental and liberal alike] is to hear and heed that which the Word of God has to say on the subject [cf. Revelation 3:20-22].)
Note, for example, how a verse such as 1 Corinthians 15:2 is invariable handled in this respect — a verse having to do with the goal out ahead and a verse almost universally, but erroneously, applied to salvation by grace in Christendom today:
by which [the gospel from v. 1] also you are saved [lit., “you are being saved”], if you hold fast [same word translated “hold fast” in Hebrews 3:6, 14; 10:23] that word that I preached to you — unless you believed in vain [i.e., unless you have believed without a purpose, a cause, a goal]. (1 Corinthians 15:2)
It is evident that “the gospel,” introduced in verse one, has to do, not with the gospel of grace, but with the gospel of glory. The gospel of glory was the good news that Paul proclaimed to saved individuals in the church in Corinth, after they had heard and acted upon his prior message surrounding the gospel of grace. And the complete panorama of the matter is seen in verses three and four where Paul deals with the whole of the gospel message, as also seen in the book of Ruth and numerous other places in Scripture.
Misapplying that which is stated in verse two in this manner not only corrupts the simple message of the gospel of grace (for this, erroneously, makes both verses three and four relate to the gospel of grace) but it does away with teachings that the verse does deal with — the Word of the Kingdom. And this forms an example of the type misinterpretation of Scripture that is rampant in Christendom today.
Paul, as he clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3, first delivered a message surrounding Christ’s death to individuals in Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2). Then, once these individuals had received this message and had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ — after they had been made alive spiritually and were in a position to grasp spiritual truth — Paul then began proclaiming to them the central message that he had been called to proclaim throughout the Gentile world of that day. And this message drew from things surrounding the burial and the resurrection of Christ (v. 4), which had to do with Christians in relation to the coming glory of Christ, not with the unsaved in relation to the gospel of grace.
(For a more detailed discussion of this complete panorama of the salvation message — in relation to the complete gospel message, shown through death, burial, and resurrection — see the author’s book, Search for the Bride, chapters 5, 6.)
And it is within a framework of that seen in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 — the simple message of salvation by grace, followed by the purpose for salvation (referenced first, along with this being the central thrust of the passage) — that two types of Christians are seen through the experiences of Ruth and Orpah in the first chapter of the book of Ruth. But beyond the time that Orpah turned back, the book deals only with one type of Christian. And this is seen in the experiences of Ruth, setting forth the proper conduct of the faithful throughout the pilgrim journey, along with that which lies in store for the faithful at the end of the journey.
Carrying matters pertaining to Orpah beyond the point of her turning back, relating to the unfaithful, is dealt with elsewhere in Scripture. It is another part of the complete picture, which can be seen only through comparing Scripture with Scripture — viewing all of the types on the subject together, along with the antitype.
From Egypt to Canaan
The type in Ruth chapter one is preceded by two other major Old Testament types dealing with the subject — Abraham, called to travel from Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-3); and the Israelites under Moses, called to travel from Egypt to Canaan (Exodus 4:22, 23; 6:1-8). The former had to do with the calling of the father of a nation yet to descend from his loins; and the latter, four hundred thirty years later, had to do with the calling of the nation that had descended from Abraham’s loins (Exodus 12:40, 41).
The point of departure and goal in both instances was the same — from a Gentile land to a land separate from all Gentile lands (as the descendants of Abraham were separate and distinct from those comprising all the Gentile nations). Abraham departed from one Gentile land (Chaldea, in Mesopotamia, east of the land of Canaan), and the Israelites under Moses departed from another Gentile land (Egypt, west of the land of Canaan). But the goal was the same — the land that Abraham and his descendants were to inherit for an everlasting possession.
Thus, Ruth chapter one simply forms additional commentary on a matter that had already been dealt with in Scripture. This chapter, as the preceding two accounts, has to do with a journey from one land to another. It has to do with a journey from either the land of one’s dispersion (Naomi) or the land of one’s birth (Ruth and Orpah) to the land of one’s calling.
And all three of these accounts form types having to do with both Israelites and Christians. These accounts have to do with Abraham and his seed. And, in this respect, they can have to do not only with Israelites (the lineal descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob) but with Christians (Abraham’s seed as well, because of their positional standing “in Christ”). Christians, through their positional standing “in Christ,” become “Abraham’s seed [because Christ is Abraham’s Seed], and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
Certain promises were made to Abraham and his seed. And there can be no realization of these promises apart from being Abraham’s seed — whether lineal descendants of Abraham, or through being “in Christ.”
In this respect, the three referenced Old Testament accounts pertaining to Abraham and his seed can (and do) foreshadow the experiences of both Israelites and Christians in the antitype. Both possess a land to which they have been called (the Israelites, an earthly land; and Christians, a heavenly land), both are presently removed from their respective lands (the Israelites, dispersed in Gentile lands; and Christians, living in these same lands), and both are to one day be placed in the respective lands to which they have been called.
The latter will occur following the completion of God’s dealings with both Israel and the Church during Man’s Day (the completion of the present dispensation and the subsequent completion of the last seven years of the previous dispensation). And this will be Messianic within the scope of its fulfillment.
(Note that a number of types or statements in Scripture have a dual antitype or fulfillment in this respect.
For example, the experiences of Jonah form a dual type of both Christ and Israel. The type is more particularly about Israel [disobedient, but to one day repent and be raised up to live in God’s sight, on the third day — the third one-thousand-year period (cf. Hosea 5:13-6:2)]. Christ though applied part of Jonah’s experiences to Himself as well [Matthew 12:38-41]; and Christ was not only raised from the dead on the third day, but He will be raised up to rule and reign on the third day as well — the third one-thousand-year period.
The third day, the third one-thousand-year period, is the time when all of God’s firstborn Sons will be raised up [Christ, Israel, and the Church (following the adoption)].
Then note the statement about Christ in Matthew 2:15: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1, pertaining to Israel. Yet, as in the book of Jonah, Christ — the very Author of the Scriptures — applied the statement to Himself as well.)
1) In Relation to Israel
One part of the type seen in the book of Ruth has to do with Israel, though an account of God’s dealings with Israel is not the central thrust of the book. The book has to do more particularly with an account of God’s dealings with Christians during the present dispensation, during that time when Israel remains in disobedience, scattered among the nations.
But, though the central thrust of the book has to do with Christians, Israel must be seen in the picture of developing events. And the reason for this, as seen in previous chapters in this book, is evident. Apart from a connection with Israel, the things relating to the Church could not exist.
And, since the book has to do with things pertaining primarily to the Church, Israel appears in the background in the book, not in the forefront. But, even with the nation in the background, the Spirit of God has revealed events relating to the Church in such a manner (as He moved the human writer to pen this account [cf. 2 Peter 1:21]) that the things pertaining to the journey of God’s people from one land to another are revealed in relation to Israel as well as Christians.
A) An Earthly Land
God called Abraham out from Ur of the Chaldees and made an everlasting, unconditional covenant with him concerning a seed and a land. Abraham’s seed had to do with his progeny, with a nation emanating from his loins through Isaac and Jacob; and the land had to do with a designated earthly land with certain specified boundaries, located in the Middle East (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15:18-21).
Confusion sometimes arises concerning the unconditional nature of the covenant and the fact that there are specified conditions for blessings to be realized within the framework of the covenant. That is, there are no conditions relating to God’s promise concerning the land belonging to Abraham and his progeny through Isaac and Jacob (which would render the future existence of Abraham’s seed as unconditional as well [evident from God’s promise concerning Isaac’s birth at a time when Abraham sought to have God recognize Ishmael as the promised seed — Genesis 17:15-21]). But blessings within the scope of this unconditional covenant for Abraham and his seed were another matter. Conditions were involved if blessings were to be realized.
This can be seen within the scope of the Abrahamic covenant itself, though it is more evident by viewing the succeeding Mosaic covenant (which had, for its basis, the Abrahamic covenant). In Genesis 22:16-18, following Abraham’s obedience to God’s command concerning the offering of Isaac, God called to Abraham out of heaven a second time and said:
. . . “By Myself I have sworn,” says the LORD, “because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son —
blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
These verses have to do with the realization of blessings within that which God had previously promised to Abraham, not with the ownership of the land that had previously been stated through the unconditional nature of the covenant itself. And this is what is specifically dealt with in the Mosaic covenant (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
The Israelites today, because of past disobedience, find themselves scattered among the Gentile nations (as Elimelech’s family found itself at the beginning of the book of Ruth). And the Jewish people will remain scattered among the nations, removed from their land, until God’s purpose for this scattering has been fulfilled (ultimately resulting in their national repentance [cf. Leviticus 26:40-42; 2 Chronicles 7:14]).
Only then will God re-gather His people to a land that He, unconditionally, gave to Abraham and his progeny though Isaac and Jacob. Only then, because of Israel’s obedience, will blessings follow.
And these things will occur only after a nation that cannot be destroyed (cf. Jeremiah 31:35-37) has been decimated (seen in the type, as Elimelech’s family was decimated, but not destroyed [Naomi remained and was allowed to return back to the land]).
B) An Overthrow of Earthly Powers
The Israelites, called out of Egypt under Moses, were to enter into the land at Kadesh-Barnea and drive out or destroy all of the Gentile nations in the land. And this was not to be done within their own strength, but within the Lord’s strength and power. The Lord was to go before them and battle the enemy on their behalf (Deuteronomy 6:17-23; 7:12-24).
Moses though, prior to fulfilling his calling to lead the Israelites into the land, because of a specific sin, was disqualified (Numbers 20:7-12; Deuteronomy 32:48-52); and the lord later instructed Moses to charge Joshua with the task that he had forfeited and left unfinished (Deuteronomy 31:14-23; 34:9-12).
Joshua, following the death of Moses (along with the prior death of an unbelieving generation of Israelites [Numbers 13, 14; Deuteronomy 1:28-2:14]), led the succeeding generation of Israelites across Jordan into the land. And under Joshua’s leadership (covering about twenty-five years), beginning with the destruction and conquest of Jericho, the Lord’s command concerning the inhabitants of the land began to be carried out. The inhabitants of the land began to be progressively slain and/or driven out, and the Israelites subsequently began to inhabit different parts of the land (Joshua 1ff).
But not long after Joshua’s death, matters began to go awry in this respect. The Israelites began to turn from God’s command, failing to drive out the inhabitants; and, in complete accord with God’s previous warning, trouble then ensued (Judges 1ff; ref. chapter 1 of this book).
This continued throughout the time of the Judges (about 300 years) and the succeeding time of the kings (about 450 years), until God finally allowed outside Gentile powers to come into the land, uproot His people, and carry them captive into other lands.
God allowed the Assyrians to come down about 722 B.C. and take the northern ten tribes into captivity, and the Babylonians to come over about 605 B.C. and take the southern two tribes into captivity. This, in turn, brought an end to the Old Testament theocracy and a beginning to the Times of the Gentiles.
And now, 2,600 years later, the Times of the Gentiles still continues, for conditions remain unchanged, with Israel still scattered among the nations. But the time is not far removed when the Israelites, following the nation’s repentance, will be allowed to return to the land (in the antitype of Naomi returning in Ruth chapter one). And following that time, Israel will dwell in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with the Gentile nations dwelling outside the land and being blessed through Israel.
(Note what is at the heart of the Middle East problem concerning Israel and the surrounding nations today. A remnant of Jews has returned to the land, under a Zionistic movement that began over one hundred years ago. And the central problem has to do with both the Jews and the Gentiles dwelling in the land together and contending for rights to the same land.
Though this is occurring during the Times of the Gentiles, with the existence of a remnant in the land having nothing to do with God’s promise concerning Israel’s restoration from a worldwide dispersion, principles concerning the land and problems resulting from Jews and Gentiles trying to co-exist in the land together remain the same. And man’s efforts to resolve the present conflict through an attempted peaceful co-existence of Jew and Gentile in the land, will never result in anything but trouble.
The man of sin, during the Tribulation, will make the ultimate mistake in this respect. He will “divide the land for gain,” something that will enter into his subsequent judgment at the end of the Tribulation [Daniel 11:39-45; cf. Joel 3:2].)
2) In Relation to Christians
The other part of the type seen in the book of Ruth, the central thrust of the book, has to do with God’s dealings with Christians. God has set Israel aside for a dispensation, and He has called the one new man “in Christ” into existence for particular, specific purposes, clearly revealed in Scripture.
First, this new man was called into existence to be the recipient of that which was offered to and spurned by Israel at Christ’s first coming — the kingdom of the heavens, the heavenly sphere of the kingdom (cf. Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-8; 12:14ff). The rejection of the proffered kingdom resulted in the kingdom being taken from Israel, with a new nation then being called into existence, to which the kingdom was offered (cf. Matthew 21:33-43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
Then, this new nation, the one new man “in Christ,” was called into existence to be the entity from which Christ’s bride would be taken. It is those Christians bringing forth fruit for the kingdom during the present dispensation — the overcomers — who are destined to comprise Christ’s bride; and it will be the revealed bride (revealed at the judgment seat) who will reign as consort queen with the Son during the coming dispensation.
A) A Heavenly Land
Within the scope of God’s promises to and dealings with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the book of Genesis, both heavenly and earthly aspects of the kingdom are seen (cf. Genesis 14:18-22; 22:17, 18; 26:3, 4; 28:12-14). Rulership in the kingdom begins in the heavens and progresses to the earth. This rule begins with God, progresses through the earth’s incumbent ruler (Satan, with his angels [though ruling in a rebel capacity]), and continues into the kingdom of men (cf. Psalm 103:19; Ezekiel 28:14; Daniel 10:13-21; Luke 4:5, 6).
Satan and his angels rule from a place in the heavens above the earth, and they rule through men on the earth. This rule extends throughout all of the Gentile nations, but not Israel (for Israel is “not [to be] reckoning itself among the nations” [Numbers 23:9b]). Michael is Israel’s heavenly prince; and Michael rules, in this respect, separate from the kingdom of Satan (cf. Daniel 10:13-21; Ephesians 3:10; 6:11, 12; Revelation 12:7-9).
Israel, in the Old Testament, was made the repository for both spheres of the kingdom, both heavenly and earthly. Under Moses, Israel was offered the earthly sphere; and under the One greater than Moses, Israel was offered the heavenly sphere.
Disobedience eventually separated Israel from the earthly sphere, though, following repentance, the nation will one day be restored.
Rejection of the heavenly sphere though was a different matter. This sphere of the kingdom was taken from Israel following the Israelites spurning the offer, and a new nation was called into existence to be the recipient of these heavenly promises and blessings (cf. Matthew 12:31, 32; 21:43).
And it is this heavenly sphere of the kingdom that is being offered to Christians today. Note the passage 1 Peter 2:9, 10a in this respect:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
who once were not a people but are now the people of God . . . .
The word “royal” in verse nine is the translation of the Greek word basileios, which is a derivative of the Greek word basileus (meaning “king”). Thus, basileios in this verse, translated “royal,” should be understood in the sense of “regal” or “kingly,” i.e., “a kingly priesthood.”
And this corresponds perfectly with the Israelites in the type being called forth to be “a kingdom of priests” in the earthly sphere of the kingdom (Exodus 19:5, 6), for Christians in the antitype are being called forth to be “a kingly priesthood” in the heavenly sphere of the kingdom.
(The Septuagint [Greek translation of the Old Testament] rendering of Exodus 19:6 [trans., “a kingdom of priests”] is identical to the Greek New Testament rendering in 1 Peter 2:9 [trans., “a royal (‘kingly’) priesthood”]. Note also the expression, “kings and priests,” in Revelation 1:6; 5:10.)
B) An Overthrow of Heavenly Powers
As an overthrow of earthly powers is seen in the type (Gentile nations inhabiting the earthly land), an overthrow of heavenly powers is seen in the antitype (Satan and his angels inhabiting the heavenly land). As the Israelites were to dwell in this earthly land, as “a kingdom of priests,” following the overthrow of the Gentile powers in the land (powers ruling under Satan and his angels), so it is with Christians relative to the heavenly sphere of the kingdom. They are being called to dwell in this heavenly land as “kings and priests,” following the overthrow of Satan and his angels (ruling through the Gentile powers on earth).
And as the Israelites were to rule within a theocracy, so will it be with Christians. There was a warfare relative to the land and an existing theocracy in the camp of Israel; and there is likewise a warfare relative to the land, with a theocracy in view, in Christendom today.
Note Ephesians 6:12 relative to the present warfare, with a theocracy in view:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood [powers on earth in the kingdom of men], but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [lit., “against the spiritual things of the evil one in the heavens”].
The journey for Christians is toward that heavenly land, and the warfare for Christians emanates from this same land. Christ, in that coming day, is to replace Satan; and Christians, ruling with Christ, are to replace angels presently ruling under Satan.
Satan knows this, and he presently vents his wrath toward Christians who aspire to occupy one of these positions after he and his angels have been put down.
Thus, the warfare rages; and it will continue to rage throughout the present dispensation as long as there are Christians on hand who look toward the proper goal as they run the race of the faith.