Arlen L. Chitwood
Gleaning in Boaz’s Field (1)
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.
So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. . . .
So she gleaned in the field until evening . . .
So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 1:22-2:3, 17a, 23)
Ruth chapter one, as it pertains to Christians in a type-antitype structure introduces not only salvation by grace but that which is to follow in the Christian life as well. And the emphasis in the chapter is upon the things subsequent to salvation by grace, not upon salvation by grace itself.
This is the ordered structure seen anywhere in Scripture. Salvation by grace is dealt with numerous places throughout Scripture, beginning in the opening verses of Genesis; but salvation by grace is never seen as the main subject or thrust of Scripture. Rather, Scripture dwells centrally upon the things in the Christian life subsequent to salvation by grace, presenting matters surrounding the reason that the one formerly “dead in trespasses and sins” has “passed from death to life.”
Revelation in the book of Ruth, structured in the preceding manner, is fraught with significance and meaning. Teachings surrounding salvation by grace occupy only a small part of the book and are seen at the beginning of the book, in chapter one (vv. 3-5 [as seen occupying only a small part of the opening section beginning Scripture — Genesis. 1:1-5]). Then the remainder of the book deals with that which follows salvation by grace, taking the Christian on a spiritual journey that carries him from the point in his spiritual life immediately following the birth from above forward into the Messianic Kingdom (vv. 6ff [as also seen at the beginning of Scripture, in the remainder of the opening section — Genesis. 1:6-2:3]).
Do you want to know how to be saved? Go to the book of Ruth. Do you want to know the things that God singles out and deals with as matters of special and particular importance in the Christian life? Go to the book of Ruth. Do you want to know how to be a fruitful Christian during the present day and time? Go to the book of Ruth. Do you want to know how to prepare for the inevitable future appearance before Christ at His judgment seat? Go to the book of Ruth. Do you want to know about that which will occur at the judgment seat? Go to the book of Ruth. Do you want to know about that which will occur following the judgment seat, leading into the Messianic Kingdom? Go to the book of Ruth.
It is all there in this small book of four chapters. The Spirit of God, moving an unknown human author to pen this account, has placed more in this book than it would ever be possible for any student of the Word to even begin to exhaust in a lifetime of study.
The Purpose, Goal
Note the importance, seen in chapter one, of Christians being introduced to the purpose and goal of the race of the faith near the very beginning of their spiritual journey. It is vitally important that Christians, shortly following the birth from above, be told why they have been saved and be provided with instruction concerning the spiritual journey in which they now find themselves engaged.
If not, how can Christians properly make the decision that Ruth made in chapter one — to cleave unto Naomi and travel with her toward another land (which has to do with the Christians’ connection with Israel, the Word given through Jewish prophets, and travel toward another land as well)? Or, if not, how can Christians on this journey to another land understand the reason for the inevitable spiritual warfare that awaits them and the need to properly prepare themselves for this warfare (against Satan and his angels dwelling in the land of the Christians’ inheritance and seeking at every turn to prevent Christians from one day realizing their inheritance, as co-heirs with Christ, in this land [Ephesians 6:10-18])?
Then, relative to this spiritual warfare, note that the first piece of armor that Christians are commanded to put on in Ephesians 6:14 has to do with being girt about the loins with “truth.” The word “truth” in this passage is not a reference to the Word of God. That’s seen later in the arrayal process (v. 17), as Christians move from an immature (Greek: gnosis) understanding of the Word to a mature (Greek: epignosis) understanding of the Word. Rather, “truth” in verse fourteen has to do with the manner in which one embarks upon the conflict at hand — in an earnest and sincere manner, seen in the steadfast manner in which Ruth acted (as opposed to Orpah turning away from Naomi, the journey, and going back to her own land and people).
An early introduction to the purpose and goal of the journey set before Christians could only be considered a vital, natural, and necessary course of events. Note two previous central types in this respect:
In one type, God told Abraham about the purpose and goal for the journey set before him prior to his leaving Ur (Genesis. 12:1-3). And, in another type, Moses was commanded to instruct the Israelites concerning the purpose and goal of the journey set before them prior to their leaving Egypt (Exodus 6:6-8).
This is the way matters are laid out in the types, which is really the only logical way in which they could be laid out. And this is the way matters must occur in the antitype as well. Shortly after the birth from above, if there is to be ensuing victory in the spiritual life, Christians must begin receiving instruction concerning the journey set before them, the land lying out ahead, the inevitable battle for the land, etc.
(In one of the previous central types, note the parallel between the testing of the Israelites under Moses at Kadesh-Barnea in Numbers chapters thirteen and fourteen and the testing of Ruth and Orpah in Ruth chapter one. A testing of this nature can occur only following certain things having been made known [evident in the type of the Israelites under Moses]; and at the time of testing in the types, two kinds of individuals are seen in each instance.
In the account of the Israelites under Moses, the twelve spies, who had traversed the land set before them for forty days and nights, brought back a report concerning the land, along with fruits from the land. These spies told the people about the land, displayed the fruits of the land before them, and told them about the strength of the inhabitants dwelling in different parts of the land.
Then, two of the spies [Caleb and Joshua] voiced a proper and true exhortation with the report, urging the people to move forward, defeat the enemy, and take the land.
. . . Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. [Numbers13:30b].
But, the other ten spies voiced an improper and evil exhortation with the report, which caused the Israelites to fear, desire to appoint a new leader, and return to Egypt.
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. [Numbers 13:31b].
Then, the end of the matter has to do with two kinds of individuals relative to the inheritance set before them: (1) those who overcame and ultimately realized their inheritance [Caleb and Joshua (Joshua 14:6-14; 19:49, 50; cf. Num. 14:24, 30)]; and (2) those who were overcome and were overthrown in the wilderness, short of realizing the goal of the death of the firstborn in Egypt and their deliverance from Egypt [the remaining ten spies, plus an entire generation of Israelites that they had misled (Joshua 5:6; cf. Numbers 14:23-37)].
In the book of Ruth, exactly the same thing can be seen in Ruth’s and Orpah’s actions, though details are not given. It is simply stated that one [Ruth] moved forward with Naomi, but the other [Orpah] turned back.
This is why all of the various types on a subject must be compared with one another and viewed in the light of the antitype. Only through this means does Scripture bring all of the details together and present the complete picture in all its fullness.)
It is evident that Satan and his angels carry out their attack against Christians in a systematic and well-planned manner, for they would know that an onslaught of this nature is their only hope for victory in the battle. And Christians need to understand that the only way in which they can overcome such an attack is through following God’s instructions, as these instructions relate to all things in the spiritual life.
If Christians follow the Lord’s instructions in His Word, victory will ensue. If Christians do not follow these instructions, defeat will be inevitable. The whole of the spiritual life, taking one from the point of the birth from above (Ruth chapter one) to an inheritance in the Messianic Kingdom (Ruth chapter four) is really that simple to grasp in its whole overall scope.
Then, in connection with instructions surrounding the spiritual journey is a harvest, which involves the entirety of the Christian life during the present dispensation. This is the point to which one is taken in the book of Ruth immediately following things revealed about the journey toward another land (which one must grasp and understand first in order to become involved in the harvest in a proper manner). And this book devotes an entire chapter to the harvest, revealing numerous details concerning the proper conduct of Christians throughout their pilgrim journey.
1) Barley and Wheat
Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem together at “the beginning of barley harvest”; and Ruth is seen working in a field from shortly after their arrival until “the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest” (1:22-2:23).
Barley and wheat were normally planted at different times in the fall. Barley was usually planted early in the fall and wheat later in the fall. Thus, during the spring of the following year, barley would normally ripen first and would form the type sheaf of grain that the priest waved before the Lord at the time of the feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:9-11).
The feast of First Fruits was the third of seven Jewish festivals, outlining the prophetic calendar of Israel. The Passover was the first festival, occurring on the fourteenth day of the first month of the year. This was followed immediately by the feast of Unleavened Bread (beginning on the fifteenth day), which lasted for seven days. Then, the feast of First Fruits occurred on the day immediately following the next weekly Sabbath after the beginning of the feast of Unleavened Bread (which would be on the first day of the following week).
(E.g., the year Christ was crucified, the fourteenth day of the first month of the year, the day that the Passover was observed, fell on a Friday. Then, the seven days when the feast of Unleavened Bread was observed began immediately following the Passover, on the fifteenth day of the month; and, since the Passover this year fell on a Friday, the regular weekly Sabbath was also observed on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, the day immediately following the Passover.
This is why Scripture refers to this particular Sabbath as “a high day” [John 19:31], for one of the feast days from Leviticus 23 fell on the regular weekly Sabbath — the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. Then, the feast of First Fruits was observed on the day immediately following the Sabbath [on a day when the feast of Unleavened Bread continued to be observed].)
Christ died as the Paschal Lamb on the Passover, at the time of day when the paschal lambs were to be slain in Israel; and He was raised on the feast of First Fruits [on the third day, dating from the Passover]. Thus, the priest waving a sheaf of grain before the Lord on the feast of First Fruits speaks of resurrection, following death. And “barley” ripening first and being seen as the type of sheaf that the priest waved before the Lord on this day would speak of resurrection as well.
“Barley” would, to an extent, be contrasted with “wheat,” which would speak of both death and resurrection. Note Jesus’ words in John 12:24:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
“Death” must occur first, but “fruit-bearing” can only be associated with resurrection. Thus, that symbolized by “wheat” would really encompass both — death, followed by resurrection.
In this respect, beginning with the barley harvest and continuing with the wheat harvest in the book of Ruth depicts a beginning and a continuing associated with resurrection. But the introduction of wheat into the complete harvest depicts death in connection with and following resurrection, if fruit-bearing is to occur.
This whole overall thought sets forth vital and indispensable truths in the Christian life, seen centrally in two realms in the New Testament: baptism, and the saving of the soul.
God rejects first things and establishes second things among that which He has rejected. This is a truth seen throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis.
For example, God rejected the first heavens and the first earth, and He will one day destroy the rejected (present) heavens and earth and bring into existence a new heavens and a new earth; God rejected the earth’s first ruler (Satan), and He will one day remove this first ruler and give the kingdom to a second Ruler (Christ); God rejected the first man (Adam), and He has brought forth and accepted a second Man (Christ); God rejected the works of the first man (works of the flesh), and He has accepted the works of the second Man (works of the Spirit); God rejected Abraham’s firstborn (Ishmael, “born after the flesh”), and He accepted Abraham’s second born (Isaac, “born after the Spirit”).
And on and on one could go showing examples of the preceding, which all center on the same central subject — the things of Satan on the one hand, having to do with sin and death; and the things of God on the other hand, having to do with spirit and life.
In man’s life today, God has rejected the first birth, for it is associated with the fall, sin, and death. This is why man must be born from above. He must come into possession of a spiritual birth, a birth associated with God’s Spirit and with life — the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life, effecting a spiritual birth from above.
Then, the different places that God has assigned for the first birth and the birth from above are graphically seen in the act of baptism, which is to occur immediately following the birth from above. A burial and resurrection are to be shown through this act. The old man is to be buried in the waters; and he is to be left there, in a state of death. But the new man is to rise up from the waters, and the person is to walk in newness of life.
That is the picture shown through baptism, with resurrection and walking in newness of life applying to the new man alone. Nothing associated with the old man is to be seen rising up from the waters. God has rejected the old man, who can only bring the new man down spiritually if allowed to live and co-exist with the new man in any form or fashion. Beyond that seen through baptism, the new man alone possesses an association with the goal out ahead.
The man of flesh has no inheritance with the man of spirit, graphically shown in the type of Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael, typifying the man of flesh, was rejected; Isaac alone, typifying the man of spirit, was accepted.
God’s command to Abraham through Sarah was very clear in this respect:
. . Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac. (Genesis. 21:10b).
And this whole overall thought, set forth much earlier in Genesis (e.g., chapter 3), never changes in Scripture. The man of flesh (man lacking the pristine covering of glory, which Adam lost at the time of the fall, resulting from sin and a consequent severed relationship with God) is simply not acceptable to God. Fallen man, separated from God, must be born from above (a divine work — a work of the Spirit, based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary — resulting in a spiritual birth, bringing man back into a correct relationship with God [though not in exactly the same manner seen prior to the fall, with man’s flesh covered by God’s Glory]).
That which is depicted by baptism in the Christian life today was depicted by the Red Sea passage of the Israelites during Moses’ Day. One is the type and the other the antitype, both are seen occurring immediately following the birth from above, and both set forth exactly the same biblical truths.
In the type, the Israelites, experiencing the death of the firstborn in Egypt, first passed through the Red Sea on their journey toward an earthly land (in which they were to realize an inheritance). That reckoned as dead was to be buried, and it was to remain in the place of death. That associated with the spiritual birth alone was to be seen in the lives of the Israelites as they came up out of the Sea on the eastern banks, sang the victor’s song, traveled toward Sinai, and then traveled toward the land of their inheritance.
In the antitype, exactly the same thing is seen, though relative to a heavenly land. In connection with the new birth, there is a death as well. That connected with the first birth remains unchanged, in the place of sin and death, rejected by God. And that reckoned as dead is to be buried and left in the place of death. The new man alone is to be seen associated with resurrection, life, a reception of the Word of God, and the journey toward the land of one’s inheritance.
(Note that there is no power in the act of baptism per se, as there was no power in the Red Sea crossing of the Israelites under Moses per se. The power lies in that which was depicted by the Red Sea crossing, by baptism — a burial [having to do with the old man], and a resurrection [having to do with the new man].)
Note how the things surrounding baptism, as they relate to Christians, are depicted in two sections of Scripture in the New Testament:
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. . . .
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Romans 6:4-6, 11, 12).
buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. . . .
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth . . . .”
(Colossians 2:12; 3:1-5a).
To avoid any misconception concerning that which had previously been stated about the old man and death, note how Paul words matters at the end of each of these sections. In Romans, the command is given to not allow sin to “reign” in one’s life; and in Colossians, the command is given to “put to death” the things associated with the old man, the man of flesh.
That is, remaining within the symbolism shown by baptism, the Christian is not to allow the old man to rise above the waters with the new man. Rather, the old man is to be kept below the waters, in the place of death. But, though the old man is to be reckoned as dead and left beneath the waters in the place of death, in actuality, he is very much alive. And Christians must recognize this fact, governing their lives accordingly.
A major tragedy in Christian circles today — one with deadly consequences — has to do with the fact that numerous Christians have been misled by the same thinking that pervades that of the world. They have been misled into thinking that Ishmael (typifying the man of flesh) and Isaac (typifying the man of spirit) can co-exist in the same tent together, in peace.
But that, according to the clear teaching of Scripture, is impossible. Details surrounding the matter have forever been clearly laid out in Genesis, and the principles within these details can never change. The son of the bondwoman is to be cast out, for he has no inheritance with the son of the freewoman (Galatians 4:22-31).
(Note that the same thing causing major problems in Christian circles today, typified by the account of Ishmael and Isaac in Genesis, is causing major problems in the world because of the descendants of these same two individuals [with the problem centered in the Middle East]. And an inheritance is in view in both instances — a heavenly among Christians, and an earthly in the Middle East.
A cry relative to a holy war is being echoed today by numerous descendants of Ishmael — Death to the descendants of Isaac! [i.e., Death to Israel!]. And the whole of the matter has to do with the rights to occupy a particular portion of land in the Middle East.
Exactly the same cry would be echoed in the spiritual realm in the lives of Christians today by the old man, if allowed to live and move about. It would be voiced against the man of spirit, seeking to bring him down to the place of death [cf. Romans 8:13].
And the whole of the matter is the same as that which is seen through the actions of the descendants of Ishmael in the Middle East. It has to do with rights to occupy a particularly portion of land [in this case, land in a heavenly realm; i.e., it has to do with Satan and his angels presently occupying and contending for the rights to that heavenly realm from whence a rule over the earth ensues].)
The man of flesh has been rejected, he is to be kept in the place of death, and the spiritual man alone is to be operative in all activities in the Christian life. Resurrection for the old man or any thought of his having a part in the future inheritance is completely out of the question. All of the basics for these things were set forth very early in Scripture, in Genesis, and they can never change.
The overall thought has to do with governing one’s life accordingly, with a future inheritance in view. If a Christian keeps the old man under subjection, leaving him in the place of death, matters will progress as God intended. However, if a Christian allows the old man to gain the upper hand, allowing him to leave the place of death, matters will, instead, go in a direction that God did not intend. Victory marks one realm and defeat marks the other.
B) The Saving of the Soul
The salvation of the soul simply presents another facet of the same thing seen through that portrayed by baptism. The birth from above is a spiritual birth and has to do with man’s spirit, not with his soul (John 3:3-6). This birth places him in a position where he can then come into a realization of the salvation of his soul.
The soul is associated with that pertaining to the natural man — a person’s emotions, feelings, desires, etc. as they pertain to his man-conscious existence, to his natural life. “Soul” and “life” would be used interchangeably in this respect; and all of the things associated with the natural man, the old man, are to be brought under subjection. These things, as the grain of wheat in John 12:24, must die if there is to be fruit-bearing in a resurrection life (John 12:25; cf. Romans 8:13).
Thus, the saving of the soul has nothing to do with transforming the old life, changing the old man. The things associated with the first birth cannot be transformed or changed. There is nothing good about the old man to transform or change.
Rather, the saving of the soul has to do with living a life — completely within “the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10) — which will result in the old man being kept in subjection, kept in the place of death (beneath the waters — the Red Sea in the type, baptism in the antitype).
It is losing one’s soul/life (present) in order to realize one’s soul/life (future). The inverse of that which is true in this respect concerning Christians during the present dispensation (losing one’s soul/life) will be true during the Messianic Era (realizing the salvation of one’s soul/life). Note Matthew 16:24-26 in this respect:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whoever desires to save his life [Greek: psuche, ‘soul’ or ‘life’] will lose it, but whoever loses his life [Greek: psuche, ‘soul’ or ‘life’] for My sake will find it.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul [Greek: psuche, ‘soul’ or ‘life’]? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul [Greek: psuche, ‘soul’ or ‘life’]?”
If any Christian wishes to “come after” Christ — have a part in His sufferings, to be followed by having a part in His Glory (cf. Matthew 16:21-23; 1 Peter 1:9-11; 4:12, 13) — he must do that which is stated in verse twenty-four. He must “deny himself” (deny the fleshly impulses of the soul, associated with the natural man, the old man), “take up his cross” (enter into the place of suffering and death), and “follow” Christ.
And note that the saving of the soul is connected with “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-17:5). It has to do with Christ appearing in all His Glory on the seventh day (17:1) — the seventh millennium, the Sabbath foreshadowed in Genesis. 2:2, 3 (cf. Exodus 31:13-17; Hebrews 4:4-9) — and rewarding “every man according to his works.”
Thus, the saving of the soul has to do with present sufferings and death, with a view to future glory and life, to be realized in the coming kingdom of Christ. It has to do with losing one’s life during the present dispensation in order to gain it during the coming dispensation (something that only a person who has been born from above, possessing spiritual life, can do).
2) Beginning, Continuing, Ending
“Barley” is seen as the grain being harvested at the beginning of the harvest in the book of Ruth, and both “barley” and “wheat” are seen as grains having been harvested at the end of the harvest in this book. And all that lies between — proper work during the time of harvest — must be seen in connection with the symbolism set forth by these two forms of grain.
If there is to be fruit-bearing during the time of harvest, it must be accomplished by the spiritual man through the power of the Spirit. And to bring this to pass, there must be death. The grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die. Only then can fruit-bearing, in its true biblical sense, occur within the resulting resurrection life.
In the type, Ruth reaped the harvest in Boaz’s field. “The field” is a reference to the world (Matthew 13:38). Thus, in the antitype, Christians are to reap in a world presently under the control of Satan and his angels, but a world that will one day be under the control of Christ and His co-heirs.
However, they are to reap only after a certain revealed fashion, set forth in type in the book of Ruth. And this must be recognized and heeded.
There must be a clear understanding of the goal out ahead, there must be a steadfast determination to move toward that goal, and there must be a proper governing of the spiritual life if victory is to be achieved.