A Two-Fold Redemption
Revelation 5 continued
Some people think the book of Ruth was written merely to tell us some curious and interesting things about the ancestors of David. However, I am sure the book was written mainly to show us a model goel and what a comfort such a one could be to a poor, forlorn, homeless family of women. A certain Israelite, Elimelech of Bethlehem, leased his land and went across the Dead Sea into the land of Moab to earn a better living. He had a wife and two sons. In this foreign country, the sons both married Moabite wives. Both the father and the two sons died, leaving three widows sad and poor. Then, the mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return to Bethlehem. One daughter-in law insisted on going with her, declaring she would renounce her paganism and become a Jewish proselyte. They returned together. By this time, Naomi was probably too old to work. The story tells of Ruth’s brave efforts to support them both by gleaning in the fields at harvest time. Where they lived we do not know. However, we may imagine they rented shabby little room somewhere in the village of Bethlehem.
Perhaps you wonder why Naomi did not search immediately for her goel and ask for help. In the first place, she was too old to bear a son. Therefore, she could not claim him in marriage, nor could her daughter-in-law who was a foreigner. Israelites did not approve of their men marrying foreigners. The death of Elimelech seems to prove that he did wrong to go and live in a foreign land whereas the death of his sons would be looked upon as God’s curse for their having married Moabite women. If this assumption is correct, Naomi would not have the courage to ask for aid at once.
A convert to the Jewish faith, such as Ruth had become, would stand some chance of favor if she proved to be genuine. Ruth, of course, was genuine. When she went out to glean, God Himself seems to have led her straight to the field of her goel. Not being a Jewess by birth, she did not understand the goel principle. However, Boaz, her wealthy goel, did understand. He began to watch and see if she was genuine. Boaz told his field-hands to treat her with all respect and never correct her if in her ignorance she gleaned in places forbidden to other gleaners. They were instructed to pull out handsful of grain to put in her way to glean and to show her other kindnesses. Then, he spoke to Ruth gently and told not to go to any other fields than his to glean. She was told to freely drink the water provided for the field laborers. At times when they were eating, Ruth was invited to eat with them. Boaz offered her food so liberally that she took some home to her mother-in-law (2:18). The goodness of this stranger must have astonished Ruth greatly.
At the end of her very first day, she threshed what she had been allowed to glean and had about fifty pounds to take home! As she continued daily for seven weeks through barley and wheat harvest, we may be sure Boaz continued showing her many kindnesses. At the beginning of the harvest, he told Ruth, “It hath been fully shown me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thy husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou hast come to trust.” (Ruth 2:11). At the end of the harvest, he said to her: “Blessed art thou of the Lord, my daughter . . . And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people both know that thou art a courageous woman.” (Ruth 3:10-11).(1)
In time, Boaz performed the duty the law laid upon him as her goel, and they were married. When their first child was born (King David’s grandfather), the neighbors and friends came and congratulated Naomi, the mother-in-law—not Ruth, the mother of the baby. Does that seem strange? When we understand the custom, it is not so strange. This first son would be recognized not as Boaz’ son but the son of Ruth’s first husband, Mahlon. Soon, he would leave the home of Ruth and Boaz to live with his grandmother, Naomi, on the land which Elimelech, her husband, had owned before he went to Moab. Boaz must redeem that land and give it back to Naomi for a home before he married Ruth. That is the reason why the neighbors said to Naomi: “Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a goel (translated “kinsman”), that his (the child’s) name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thy old age: for thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee (who is better to thee than seven sons) hath borne him.” (Ruth 4:14, 15).
This reason is why Naomi “took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.” Boaz was rich and could well have afforded a nurse for the child, but Naomi claimed the child as hers. Then, the neighbors said, “There is a son born to Naomi,” though Ruth was the actual mother. This action shows how God refused to leave widows comfortless and alone. Naomi had all the fields of her dead husband back again and a son (though really her grandson) to live with her in her old age to support and care for her.
One part of the story has been passed over almost without mention although it was a matter of great importance to Naomi. Somebody was living in Naomi’s former home when she returned poor and friendless from Moab. She must have looked frequently with longing to the fruitful fields which her husband and his field hands used to reap and to the house where she lived in happy and prosperous days when her husband was alive. Boaz’ duty was to pay the tenant for the time left before the year of jubilee so Naomi could return to her former home.
Before Boaz married Ruth, he called the chief men of the town together. According to custom, he said to them: “Ye are witnesses this day, that I have acquired* all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I acquired* all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I acquired to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.” You see, he did not acquire it for himself, but to put someone else there (Ruth’s son and his) in Naomi’s first husband’s home, to be a son to Naomi, and to inherit the dead Elimelech’s property, cleared of all debt.
Now, you will understand better, perhaps, what it would mean to a Jew to be told that Jesus Christ was his Goel, Redeemer. His goel meant his nearest relative, his best friend and powerful patron. His goel would be the one bound by law to rescue him if he fell into dire poverty. His goel would be the one to care for his widow if he died. Lastly, his goel would be the one to avenge his wrongs. Yes, and Christ, our Redeemer, is much more than a goel to us.
Before the Lord settled the Israelites in the Promised Land and gave them their possessions, He delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, which became the first part of Israel’s redemption. Then, the land was given to them, and a goel was provided for each Israelite, meaning he would never lose his inheritance in the land. However, the redemption from slavery came first because it was of no use to give possessions to a slave. The owner of a slave owns all the slave has or will have.
At the beginning, God gave us the whole earth as our possession, saying to the man and the woman, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” However, man sinned and came under the power of Satan, becoming his slave. Man’s possessions then became the possessions of Satan. Thorns and thistles grew from the ground. Beasts became wild and fierce, and man has been able to subdue only a few of the domestic animals. Snakes and scorpions and other deadly things began to afflict man. The birds and fishes are out from under man’s control almost altogether. Also, the land only yields food for man when he works almost like a slave upon it. These situations describe the way Satan has seized man and made him his hard-working slave.
In many places in the Bible, we are plainly told that God’s intention is to yet make this earth what it would have been had man never sinned. First of all,
so far as man will allow, He is going to redeem him from Satan’s power altogether. Then, secondly, He is going to restore the earth to what it would have
been had Satan not marred it and put man back into full possession. You can
plainly see that so long as man is Satan’s slave, it is useless to give man a redeemed earth.
First, God must have a redeemed people. Then, He can place them in charge of the earth described in Isaiah 11: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots (that same Root of David, Jesus Christ mentioned in Revelation 5). And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord (the seven eyes of Rev. 5:6); and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears (that is, superficially): But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and, He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth (Rev. 19:15), and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked (2 Thessolonians 2:8—Antichrist). And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins” (Rev. 19:11).
Now this work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is fully described in Revelation until Jesus establishes His rule on the earth. In the last two chapters of Revelation, we have a glimpse of the effect of redeeming the earth and giving it back to redeemed man. We will come to the description presently. At this point, we will only write down what Isaiah tells us about it: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; and their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ (a deadly serpent’s) den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” What a truly wonderful picture of a redeemed earth!
Perhaps, you are saying, “I will never see the earth this way. I shall be dead and gone to heaven long before that time comes.” You are mistaken. When the time arrives, Jesus will come and set up His rule on the earth very rapidly. We are quite likely to live to see much of the above description accomplished, for we do not know how soon He may begin. Should we die in the meantime, we will come back to this earth with Him as superior beings to help in the restoration of the world. We will live here as the rulers of this earth with Him for a thousand years.
I’m getting ahead of the story. John tells us the story, and we shall presently study the details. What I have told you in advance is to whet your interest, for it concerns your personal history if you are a child of God.
First of all, you will understand that Christ intends to redeem us from Satan. He cannot redeem the earth and put us back in possession while we are slaves of Satan, for that would merely mean to put our old master—Satan—in charge again. We must not think of ourselves as anything better than slaves of Satan as long as we go on committing sin. It is not so comforting to put ourselves this low when we are sinners.
However, Christ, who is our judge, has put us here. He says, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (the word means “slave”) of sin,” which is the same thing as being the slave of Satan who provokes us to sin. Everyone who has ever committed a sin has passed under the power of Satan—and that means everybody. Some of us, though, have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, who died on the cross for our redemption. Are you one whom Jesus has redeemed? If not, cry out to Him now to redeem you, and He will hear. He says: “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” So you can be redeemed right now, and become a candidate for a real crown—not an ornament—but a crown that carries with it a right to rule on this earth.
First things come first. We lost our inheritance of the earth because we fell under the power of Satan. What toil and economy it costs a poor man to become the possessor of a few feet of the ground of this earth! The servants of the devil, many being rich men who have made their money dishonestly or who have oppressed the poor, often possess the land under our feet. Likewise, we pay high rent for it instead of having our share free. How did it come about? These men got the land by serving the devil. Remember not all men who have large estates serve the devil. Some are good, of course.
God intends that good people alone shall one day possess this earth. Therefore, He sent His Son to redeem us from Satan that we might come into our possession. When Christ died on the cross to redeem all who would turn to righteousness, was the reason He came the first time. We have been at fault in not understanding that Christ is coming a second time to redeem the earth. First, He came to redeem us.
Next, He comes to redeem our inheritance for us. The first time, He redeemed all who will believe on Him by dying for them. The second time, He will not be slain for us, but He will slay all who will not accept His redemption for their sins. He is “worthy,” or the right One, to open the book of judgment on the wicked because He died for them. However, they have gone on despising Him.
He is also the right One to put us in possession of our inheritance of the earth because He purchased us with His own blood. You must never think that Christ purchased us from Satan. Christ purchased us from our rightful Owner, His Father. Satan is an unlawful master to whom nothing is due. We have only to tell him in dead earnest, “Be gone!” and Jesus Christ will at once drive him out of our lives.
This entire book of the Revelation has to do with the second coming of Jesus to do the second part of His work as the world’s Redeemer. The first part of His redemption is to redeem us from sin, which corresponds to the Lord’s redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The second part of Christ’s work as a Goel is similar to the redemption of an Israelite’s land.
The “sealed book,” or roll in the hand of the Almighty on His throne indicates that the tithe to this earth has always been His and has never passed out of His hand. The time for giving the Jews their land, Palestine, as well as the land itself, are “in His power,” as Jesus told His disciples. The whole is as a sealed roll because no one knows either the time or the events until God chooses to reveal them. No one has the power to redeem Palestine out of the hands of the enemies of Christ until God the Father gives this power into the hand of His Son. What we say of Palestine is equally true of the whole earth.
In a vision, John saw Jesus Christ receiving this sealed roll. Also, He saw many of the events which follow Christ being revealed as the King of the whole earth, which John wrote down for our benefit. However, the time still remains a profound secret. We can only judge its closeness by recognizing some of the things John described in the Revelation as actually taking place before our eyes. What is God waiting for? He is waiting for sinners to repent so that they need not be punished when Christ comes, even the wicked dead will be raised up and punished in due course.
1. The word “courageous” has been wrongly translated “virtuous” here as though it were needed to defend Ruth from a charge of wrong conduct. Rather, Boaz commends her courage in supporting herself and her mother.
2. The word “acquired” should not have been translated “purchased.” It does not mean bought, but rather “gotten” (Genesis 4:1). The land could never be sold, nor could Ruth.