The morning sun was mid-sky when Boaz acquired the sandal from the nearer kinsman. In this crowded, open-air courtroom, Boaz held the sandal high and shouted, "You are witnesses to this transaction. I have bought all that was Elimelech's and his sons. In addition, Mahlon’s widow, Ruth, will become my wife and I will raise a son for Mahlon, so neither his inheritance is lost nor his position at the city gate.”
“...All the people…said, ‘We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.’”
What an amazing and grand blessing. This very wealthy, prominent Israelite would marry a Moabite, and they were excited about it.
Nevertheless, what did their blessing mean, especially since they referred to Rachel and Leah building the house of Israel?
When the elders spoke of the house of Israel, they did not mean a literal house. They meant its people. These Bethlehemites were asking God to bless Ruth and Boaz with many children and grandchildren. Together Rachel and Leah bore Jacob, whom God renamed Israel, twelve sons. Israel’s descendants grew to become their nation and by a miracle of God, it still exists today.
Israel, the new name God gave Jacob means, “…you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." Such a prophetic name and to this day Israel continues their struggle with God, because they are stiff-necked people, as we all are. However, they prevail because they are God’s chosen. If not, they would have perished or absorbed by neighboring nations, long ago. No other nation has survived disbursement for almost two thousand years and returned a pure nation. But, so many see their Jewishness as a nationality only, instead of the chosen of God. They are the apple of God’s eye – His own special people – a kingdom of priests.
God said as long as the sun, moon, stars, and sea exist, and if the heavens remain unmeasured, then the nation of Israel shall never cease to be a nation before Him. He is their keeper and He is their shield.
But, this same God who watches over Israel has His eyes on us.
Symbolized by Ruth, the church is like a wild olive branch, and Israel, a cultivated olive tree whose roots and trunk are the patriarchs, the Law, and the prophets. As Ruth came from Naomi, the Church came from Israel. However, because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God has temporarily “broken off” or set aside some Israelite branches. Then with the salvation provided by Jesus Christ, He grafted believers into this cultivated olive tree. Now, we too, enjoy His love, protection, and blessing, but in a different way. Instead of being one nation, we are many. Serving God by the power of His Holy Spirit, we “…are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” God’s own special people, called out of darkness into His marvelous light.