Hope you can’t wait for Pentecost, one of God’s wondrous Holy Festivals this Sunday (May 20, 2018). This one is more widely respected because Acts 2 shows it was the occasion for the giving of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the New Testament Church.
Ruth is a special book of the Writings section of the Old Testament—one of the five Megilloth festival scrolls that are read in synagogues at feast times. It wasn’t a matter of “What book shall we read?” and Ruth was pulled out of a hat. Ruth is read at Pentecost because it has many obvious connections with this important Holy Day.
Firstfruits—Ruth and her mother Naomi arrived in Bethlehem during the barley harvest which began after the Wave Sheaf (firstfruits) offering during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Ruth gleaned barley and then wheat which ended at Pentecost (Ruth 2:23).
This is why Pentecost is called
♥ the Feast of Harvest (Exo. 23:16)
It’s interesting that the instructions in Lev. 23:22 about Pentecost tell landowners to leave the corners of their fields for the poor and strangers to glean. This makes showing kindness and love an obvious emphasis for observing Pentecost. Boaz (type of Jesus Christ) showed special attention and giving for Ruth (type of the Church) the way Christ loves us His Church (Eph. 5:25).
We learn God’s plan of salvation when we keep His Holy Days. Let’s not beat around the bush—if we don’t observe God’s Holy Days, we won’t really understand His plan of salvation. The physical harvests in Israel picture how and especially when God the Master Timer is harvesting His people spiritually for His Family and Kingdom.
This is the smaller spring harvest first of barley, then of wheat.
This is why Pentecost is called
♥ the Feast of Firstfruits
Keeping Pentecost provides the astounding revelation that God the Father is calling (John 6:44) only a few in the years up to the return of His Son who are being trained to serve as kings, priests, judges and teachers in His Millennium on earth and in the ensuing Great White Throne Judgment. Those events are pictured by the fall Feasts when the big harvest of billions of humans will occur.
So we see from the Bible and its Hall of Faith (Heb. 11) that God selected only Abel, Enoch and Noah up until the Flood. The New Testament says God has a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) on the narrow and difficult path that few find at this time (Matt. 7:14). Rev. 14:3-4 specifies that there will be 144,000 firstfruits. Some theorize symbolism in that figure, but you’d think the God who knows the number of stars and hairs knows how to count!
Pentecost is also called
♥ the Feast of Weeks—seven of them (Exo. 34:22)
It seems that these seven weeks compare to the seven eras of the Church in Rev. 2 and 3 which end in the first resurrection and marriage to Christ.
♥ Pentecost means “count 50”
We can learn from
♦ the tests Israel faced during the 50 days from the crossing of the Red Sea to the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai
♦ the appearances that transpired during the 50 days from Jesus’ resurrection and acceptance by the Father until Acts 2
♦ the courtship in Ruth which covered 50 days of harvesting
Become God’s people—Tradition says the 10 Commandments were given on Pentecost. When Israel accepted the covenant, they became God’s people. Ruth chose to accept the laws of God and so became part of God’s people. “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). Orpah obeyed Naomi and returned to her paganism—and who remembers her! I wouldn’t’ve wanted to name my daughter Heather Orpah!
The surprise is that a Moabite is grafted into Israel and into the line of David and the line of Jesus! (Matt. 1:5). Ruth becomes the great grandmother of David. Well, God had already welcomed Rahab the prostitute! It would seem like Deut. 23:3-6 would have forbidden Ruth—and even David from becoming king since he would come before 10 generations would pass. The Jewish Midrash implies that the Deuteronomy prohibition related only to women who wed Moabite males.
Marriage—At Mt. Sinai Israel entered into a marriage agreement with YHWH. Boaz and Ruth marry as a type of the coming marriage of Jesus Christ to His Church (Rev. 19:7). That marriage will be for all including Gentiles who are grafted into the spiritual Bride.
Kinsman/Redeemer—A major theme in Ruth is kinsman-redeemer, based on Deut. 25:5-10 about Levirate Marriage. The Hebrew word goel means “one who redeems” and is used 13 times in the book of Ruth.
Naomi guided Ruth to put a move on Boaz—who was sleeping in his work clothes with a coat for a blanket that Ruth pulled over herself as a sign she wanted to be under his “wings.” There was nothing indecent about Ruth’s proposal! It aroused the older Boaz to realize that Ruth wasn’t set on a younger man and it was time for him to redeem and marry! But there was a closer kinsman who had the first right of refusal and could have closed the deal on Boaz! So all parties controlled themselves and waited to see what God was working out. God had been doing that all along! Ruth didn’t just “happen” to choose Boaz’ field (Ruth 2:3).
About a mile east of Bethlehem is a field called “Field of Boaz” and adjacent is the “Shepherd’s Field” where tradition says an angel announced the birth of Jesus. The place of their courtship follows down the line to Christ! Who but God could work that out!
Jesus Christ is our Redeemer! (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
A kinsman-redeemer had to:
♣ be a blood brother—Jesus became our brother by His virgin birth
♣ have money to purchase the inheritance—Jesus bought us with a price of His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20)
♣ be willing—Jesus laid down His life of His own free will (John 10:18).
♣ marry the redeemed—Jesus will marry His Bride
None of the good blessings would have come for Ruth if she hadn’t been a hard worker of admirable character. It is estimated that Ruth gleaned about 31 pounds of barley per day!
Or for Boaz—if he weren’t a godly man who kept God’s laws, he would’ve, as the joke goes, remained ruthless! Every day he greeted his workers: “God with you” [the word “be” is in italics—not in the Hebrew (Ruth 2:4)], an interesting tie-in with God’s name of Immanuel (“God with us”).
Boaz prayed that God would reward Ruth, and he got to be the answer to his own prayer (v. 12).
“The reputation we earn opens—or closes—the door of opportunity”—Bible Reader’s Companion.
“The story is set in the difficult days of the Judges, which were marred by appalling spiritual, moral, and social decline. Yet, as the story unfolds, we discover that within the corrupt society there were still true believers: simple folk who tried honestly to love and serve God, and to live generously with their neighbors”—Lawrence Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, 1991.
Are we taking advantage of our opportunity to be part of God’s firstfruits harvest as we keep Pentecost this Sunday? Are we working hard in God’s fields which are “white for harvest” (John 4:35) to build the Family of God?