The First Years of Christianity: Ruth

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 6
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We have looked at the creation of Eve as illustrating the purpose and work of God in the new creation of the Church, the bride of Christ.
We have also seen the work of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven to form the Church, the bride of Christ, in the call of Rebecca.
Now we would behold the Bridegroom-Redeemer in the book of Ruth — the attractions of Christ, and the way the desolate stranger is drawn to Him and becomes the redeemed bride.
We get also the exercises of heart through which each soul passes, more or less, that is brought to Christ. Just as each, whether Jew or Gentile, is found dead in sins, children of wrath in Ephesians 2 — yes, each of those raised up with Christ to occupy the place of highest blessing in Him in the heavenlies — so it is in our picture. Ruth is one of a people outside, under the curse according to the law (see Deut. 23:3-63An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: 4Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. 5Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee. 6Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. (Deuteronomy 23:3‑6)), just as in Ephesians 2:1212That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (Ephesians 2:12), “Ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
Such is our condition by nature. Such was the position of Ruth, the Moabitess. And death was written upon her. All hope was gone as to her husband; he was dead, and his brother was dead; Elimelech their father also was dead. This is the place where grace finds her. For from first to last “by grace are ye saved.” God can use whom He pleases in that work of grace.
She who was “Naomi” (pleasing) in the land of Jehovah, has become “Mara” (bitter) when away from her God, and is stirred, for she hears of blessing when in the land of Moab far away “how that the LORD had visited His people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her.” Thus the work of grace begins apparently in both Ruth and Orpah. And so it is, often the work seems to begin in two persons, and they travel on together for a time. And there is the same outward love for a time to the feeble messenger of that grace. Thus it was with Orpah as well as Ruth. Orpah wept and kissed Naomi, and then went back to her demon gods. “I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [demons], and not to God” (1 Cor. 10:2020But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20)).
How many Orpahs have we known, who once professed to have left the world, and started for the heavenly journey? Such have sacrificed themselves and their children to the worship of fashion and pleasure. Not so where there is a real work of grace: “Ruth cave unto her.” She says, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” There must be uncompromising decision for Christ.
Nothing could more strikingly illustrate the soul's first meeting with Christ than Ruth 2. She gleans in the field of the bridegroom, the kinsman-redeemer. What grace he shows her! She is welcome when thirsty to drink, and at meal times to come and eat; and handfuls are dropped on purpose for her. Still she was only a gleaner. Many remain in the fields of our Boaz, happy to get blessing, and sharing those blessings with others, as Ruth did with Naomi, and never seem to reach the true ground of rest. “Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” said Naomi to Ruth.
We notice that the only way to find rest is to seek it at the feet of the Redeemer-kinsman, as seen in chapter 3. We must know Him as the Redeemer-Bridegroom, just as Ruth took that place at the feet of Boaz in his sleep, picture of the death of Christ. Spread thy sheltering protection over me, for thou art one that hath right to redeem. There was another relation before Boaz, and Ruth had to wait until the morning. Yes, we must be brought to the death, of the cross of Christ. But mark it is not there we find rest, the rest of redemption. If the morning of the resurrection of Christ had never broken the silence of the tomb, we could never have found eternal rest. He must rise again, or there can be no redeemed bride. We must call attention to this point in this beautiful illustration. The Church as such had no actual existence until Jesus arose from the dead. Ruth has not to glean now, but to sit still, “for the man will not be at rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”
Ruth 4 is the question, Who is to be your husband and redeemer? Man, as represented in Israel, was placed under law, as the old husband. That relationship existed. The question then was, Could the law bring man into resurrection redemption? It could not. It could go no further than the land; that is, the government of God in this world. It could not redeem the guilty. The first kinsman could not redeem Ruth, one of the accursed race, and give her a place in resurrection. Very strikingly is all this brought out in this chapter. He must relinquish all claim and pretension. “So he drew off his shoe.” What he could not do, Boaz did; he says, “Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.”
In like manner, what the law could not do, Christ has done; as it is written, “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church,” etc. Oh, what love was this — the eternal Son, the Creator of all things, to humble Himself so low as to become the Redeemer-kinsman of poor lost sinners under the curse of sin, to pay the purchase of their redemption; and, as risen from the dead, to take them into everlasting oneness with Himself as His body and His bride.
Very briefly let us now see how all these pictures or types of the Church have been fulfilled in the Church, the bride of Christ. In Ephesians we see the Church as the workmanship of God, according to His own purpose, which answered to the creation of Eve. God raised Christ from the dead. The new creation of the Church was consequent on His death and resurrection. The Church is to be presented to Christ, the last Adam, and be joint heir with Him over all things in the paradise of God in the heavenlies.
Then after the death and resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven to form the Church. This work of the Spirit is going on still, and will go on until that moment when the Church complete is presented to Christ, as Rebecca was to Isaac. The day of Pentecost was the first day of the work of the Holy Spirit in forming the Church, and soon the last will have arrived. See the Acts for the full account of the formation of the Church. And though the Satanic counterfeit goes on to Babylon's apostasy, yet the work, guidance, and care of the Holy Spirit never ceases; and daily now, as at the beginning, such as are saved are added to the Lord, as truly as on the day of Pentecost. And as the Church or assembly included all who were saved then, so now it is quite true there is no salvation outside the pale. of the true Church, simply for this good reason, that all that are truly saved are baptized into the one body, the Church.1 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are WE ALL baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:12-1312For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12‑13)). The Holy Spirit never makes or baptizes different bodies of Christians. For it is as true that there is but one body, as it is that there is one Spirit. Christ is the Head of His body the Church. “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4-64There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4‑6)). The Lord grant that we may hold this important truth firm to the end. For whatever is not truth is not of God, but of the father of lies.
There was one Eve, one Rebecca, one Ruth. In each figure, is only one. One bridegroom, Boaz; one redeemed bride, Ruth. There were different local assemblies, but only the one assembly, the body of Christ. All believers formed that one assembly. All believers now form the one Church or assembly of God. That one assembly is about to be caught up to meet the Lord, and to be forever with Him; and all the varied imitations of men or Satan will be left behind. The blessed hope of the Church may be seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-1815For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15‑18), and the judgments that will follow, in chapter 5:2-3: “and they shall not escape.” “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:7-87And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thessalonians 1:7‑8)).
How terrible the judgments about to be poured on apostate Christendom as revealed to us in Revelation 17 and 18. Then, when the great harlot is forever judged, the bride of the Lamb will be the true second Eve, the Rebecca, the Ruth. Then will be heard the voice of the great multitude in heaven, saying, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-87Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (Revelation 19:7‑8)). Read also the description given of her in Revelation 21:99And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. (Revelation 21:9) to end. “Having the glory of God: and her light [or shining] was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Such is the sure destiny of the Church of God, them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling. The Church of God is composed only of such. All pretensions as to being the true Church will soon be tested. May every reader of these few lines be tested NOW. Rest not, beloved reader, until you are quite sure you belong to the redeemed Church of God— until you know that you have redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins. Tomorrow may be too late; the Church may be gone to be forever with the Lord, and you, if unsaved, forever left, shut out. Oh, think of those words, “Too late!” What infinite mercy that it is not too late yet. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Oh, the precious grace that invites you so sweetly, even unto the last moment. Have you tried the pleasures of this world, its sins, fashions, and its follies — and still you thirst? Oh, come to Jesus; come now. He says, “And let him that is athirst come.” Do not say, I am too bad for such scenes of glory and holiness. No, He says, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” He is the truth; He will not deceive you. Oh, come. And to you who have come, can you look up to Jesus in the heavens and say, Come? Who can say that He will not come the day you read these words?
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