Let me tell you a story. It is a good one and it is in the Book!
Remember the different ways of studying scripture? (see right side panel for a review). Well this story is first and foremost an actual historical event. A p’shat level interpretation. But then you can go to a deeper level a remez level. Because this story also has an allegorical and prophetic meaning that supports fully the actual event.
Let’s take a listen to the story of Naomi and Ruth from a prophetic angle as an allegory of Naomi (meaning “pleasant”) being Israel, and Ruth (meaning “friend” or “clinging one”) being the faithful Gentile followers of Jesus.
The story begins as Naomi and her husband and sons have to leave Israel because of a famine. The boys grow up and get married, but after a couple of years things are not so pleasant for Naomi. She suffers tremendous loss of her natural family while in exile, and she is left penniless and alone except for these two Gentile daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.
When the famine ends, Naomi decides to pack up and move back home to Israel. So she urges Orpah and Ruth to go back to their families. Orpah does, and Naomi loses one of those who had been grafted into her family line by marriage, but Ruth vows,
(Ruth 1:16-17) “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Life has been so bitter for Naomi that she is about the change her name from “pleasant” to Mara (meaning “Bitter”), even as Ruth makes this vow. But Ruth continues to cling to her. This prototype of a “Gentile Believer in God will not let go of her mother-in-law no matter how bitter she becomes. Ruth knows that her only way forward with God is alongside Naomi.” (Teplinsky, p.111).
When these two impoverished women arrive in Israel, it is the time of the harvest of grains, and Ruth literally bends her knee to serve—what the literal translation of the word bless is—she is blessing Naomi by harvesting grain from the corners of a field and bringing it home. Naomi is so touched by her blessing that Ruth is no longer called “my daughter-in-law,” but “my daughter.”
While Ruth is in the fields gleaning, she catches the eye of Boaz. Boaz marries Ruth—following the law of redemption carefully—Boaz knew the law and order, so did Naomi, and Naomi instructed Ruth in following the law—in a pretty scandalous manner, I might add!
Boaz redeems both Ruth and Naomi’s lives in the Promised Land. And just three generations later, David, a beloved king of Israel is born into their line. And we know who comes later in this line: the final redeeming Savior. The One Boaz of course is representing in the allegory: Jesus. The redeeming Savior who restores God’s intended order.
If Naomi had not followed God’s whistle to come home to Israel after her desolation; if Ruth had not clung to her, neither would have lived, or been saved from their situation.
Their obedience to their proper roles—honoring and serving for Ruth and vision and instructing for Naomi—allowed three generations later in their family line King David to be born. And generations later another King chose this family line to enter personally from Heaven’s throne to earthly Jewish culture as the actual Jewish Savior, filling up the shadow events where God had hinted so many times that this was His plan all along.
The Lord is inviting us as Gentile Believers, Christians from the nations, who have watched Naomi’s (Israel’s) desolation and her sons die, to come and be Ruth to her. To be the honoring and clinging daughter in law that will reconnect her to her Kinsman Redeemer in fullness, and be taught by Naomi/Israel’s own knowledge of the ways the Kingdom is supposed to function.
A modern view of what harvest looks like in Israel.