Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Boaz and Ruth: Firm Foundations

Your servant frankly confesses how he dreaded last week’s lesson on Samson. It was like a foray into darkness; he was just about everything a man should not be. Except ... he chose to repent in his last hours. So, Samson: you had something good, after all, to teach us. And you made it into Hebrews 11, God’s honor page of heroes (vs. 32)!

But now with Ruth and Boaz, again we’re back in the same era of Judges—darkness. Yet we come upon a most beautiful and thrilling example of Christlike love in the two of them with Naomi. The darker the swamp the lily grows in, the brighter is its white.

And fortunately, both “stars” exhibit a mature, self-denying, humble character. Who gets the credit? Only the Lord Jesus, “the Savior of the world.” But thank God, both Ruth and Boaz come onto our stage clothed in His righteousness.

But strict obedience to every little detail of Moses’ holy laws for Israel gets shelved in the story. He had decreed that Moabites should be excluded from fellowship in Israel; “even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD forever” (Deut. 23:3; cf. Neh. 13:2). Some legalistic-minded soul should have opposed granting Ruth a visa! But the love of Christ triumphed over “the letter of the law.” The lady who could have been barred, turns out to become an ancestor of Christ!

There are two outstanding “insights” in this “Ruth story,” that permeate the 1888 message of Christ’s righteousness:

1. The truest, most successful soul-winning “evangelism” will occur when the message of that “other angel” of Revelation 18:1-4 lightens the earth with glory. But Naomi, in our love story, appears on the surface to reverse every “law” of soul-winning as we know it.

She keeps telling Ruth and Orpah, “Don’t come with me to ‘my church,’ that is, to Israel, the land of God’s true people! Go back, go back to your pagan beginnings!” On the other hand, we try every method we can to induce people, “Come with us, join our church! Come! Don’t go back to Babylon!’”

Naomi’s quiet, unselfish, loving life is drawing both of these pagan girls in spite of her words, and both have started on the journey with her to Israel. That is the purest, truest “evangelism! No psychological tricks or inducements; only truth in love.

When the earth is lightened with the glory of the message that “began” in 1888, the honest will surmount every obstacle to press in and find fellowship with those who hold the “third angel’s message in verity.” This of course will be a change from our “evangelism” of so long; why the difference? Ellen White explains:

“I heard those clothed with the armor [of Christ’s righteousness] speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel’” (Early Writings, p. 271).

2. The “redeemer” who can redeem Naomi’s (and now Ruth’s) property has to be the “nearest of kin” (cf. 2:20; 3:9; 4:1). This idea inspired the 1888 “messengers.”

“Man has lost his inheritance and is himself also in bondage. And as he himself cannot redeem himself nor his inheritance, the right of redemption falls to the nearest of kin who is able. And Jesus Christ is the only one in all the universe who is able.

“He must ... be not only near of kin, but the nearest of kin. ...Therefore ... He Himself took part of flesh and blood in very substance like ours, and so became our nearest of kin” (A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way, chapter 4).

“Boaz could not come in as redeemer until it was found that the one who was nearer than he could not perform this office of redeemer. The redeemer must be not only one who was near of kin, but he must be the nearest among those that were near. ... This is the story also in the second chapter of Hebrews [vss. 14-18]” (Jones, Sermon #14, 1893 General Conference Bulletin).

The vast proportion of Christians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, think of Christ as Someone who belongs in stained glass windows in cathedrals. The popular “dogma of the Immaculate Conception” denies Scripture; it says that the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother experienced a miraculous breaking of the genetic code that links all humans by our common DNA to the fallen, sinful nature of our fallen Adam, so that Mary was never tempted sexually, and neither was her Son, Jesus. There, with one stroke, we are denied the only Redeemer who can save us from sin and prepare a people who learn to “follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” and stand “without fault before the throne of God.” That is said of them only because it is true of them, thanks to their Redeemer, “nearest of kin.”

—Robert J. Wieland


If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: Or, download the PDF document here.


(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 7 now in MP3 format. To recieve as a podcast, click here.