In Chapter three and verse one Naomi seeks to comfort Ruth and has the desire for Ruth to enter into a restful relationship with Boaz. Naomi understands what it is like for a woman to be without a man and a man to be without a woman for she experienced this loss with the death of her husband. She wanted Ruth to have this happiness and the fulfillment that comes from the rest of a true relationship with God’s plans, both for a husband and potential family, as well as the deeper significance of the restful relationship with God through His Sabbath. This rest is discussed in Hebrews 4:1-11 where God speaks to the true rest of His Sabbath which He had promised to His created people at Creation and commanded them at Mt. Sinai. Genesis 2:1-3; Mark 2:27-28; Exodus 20:8-11.
Naomi, Ruth’s counselor and confidant, is aware that the harvest was about to end, another one of the many gospel symbols of the prophetic experience of God’s true harvest and the rest that He has promised His people in Matthew 13:36-43, and she saw that a special opportunity afforded itself. Naomi knew that Boaz was not married and that he was of her kindred. She instructed Ruth to wash herself and put on special clothing, the righteousness of Jesus Matthew 22:11-14; Zechariah 3:1-5, and when Boaz has finished eating and drinking he will go and lay down by the harvest. Naomi instructs Ruth that when he has lain down to go uncover his feet and lay down at his feet and if Boaz accepts her he will instruct her as to what to do.
Ruth, in her total obedience and surrender agrees to follow the instructions of Naomi. Naomi is fulfilling her role as the church to Ruth to guide her in the special instructions of the Jewish nation, something that Ruth, as a Moabitess would not know on her own. Ruth, totally surrendered to God, trusted that the counsel of Naomi was in harmony with the God of Israel, and was willing to obey. This obedience to God, through the instructions of Naomi, is another sign of the fact that Ruth was a totally converted and Spirit filled individual for God says in Acts 5:30-32 that Jesus gives repentance, forgiveness of sins, and the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
Ruth follows Naomi’s instructions to the letter and goes and uncovers Boaz’s feet at midnight (see Matthew 25:1-13 regarding the midnight declaration of the bridegroom) and lies down at his feet. Boaz, the type of Christ, was afraid when he felt something at his feet and woke up and conducted an investigative judgment of what had happened and asked who the woman was at his feet. Ruth testified that she was indeed Ruth, Boaz’ handmaid, and declared unto him her awareness that he was her near kinsman, and asked him to spread his garment over her, thus declaring that she was his wife.
This interaction between Ruth and Boaz on the harvest floor at midnight is one total gospel story. This was a discussion between a man and woman preparing to get married, as well as a symbolic picture of Jesus and His church preparing to fulfill their marriage covenant. They are to join together and have the child prophesied in Revelation 12:1, 2 5, 6. Please take your place at the feet of Jesus, just as Ruth did to Boaz. Accept His marriage garment over you as a pledge of His ability to redeem you and to care for you always. As Ruth did with Boaz so Jesus offers us His total care if we will surrender to Him and to His love.
When Boaz hears that that the woman at his feet is Ruth, and she is willing to enter into a marriage relationship with the near kinsman – himself, he is overjoyed and he blesses her in that she has showed him kindness by offering herself to him in response to his gestures of compassion during the harvest time. He blesses her wisdom in that she did not seek young men but she had accepted him, an older man, wise, mature, and in full relationship with the God of Israel. Then He blesses her a third time when he tells her that all of Bethlehem knows that she is a virtuous woman and so he will fulfill his role in the marriage interaction. Boaz then tells Ruth that although he is indeed a near kinsman there is one who is nearer to Naomi than Boaz. But if she will tarry through the night Boaz will follow up in the morning and will settle the issue with the elders of Bethlehem as to who is the nearest kinsman and he will surrender himself to the will of God. Ruth agrees to this proposal and lies at his feet all night.
In the morning, before anyone could recognize her, and think evil of her, Boaz awakens Ruth and asks for her vail – her cloak. This vail is a symbol for the sanctuary system in Israel that the vail hides the presence of God so that He can draw near to them without harming them with His brightness. She offers her vail to Boaz and he fills it with six measures of Barley so that when she returns to her mother-in-law to testify of the abundance of the harvest, and the ability of Ruth’s husband to be to care for her and for Ruth’s Israelite family member – Naomi. This is a symbolic figure of the abundance of the harvest that Jesus will gather in Revelation 14:14-16 from His church on Earth.
When Ruth returns to the city of Bethlehem she brings her gift of harvest to Naomi. Naomi asks her a prophetic question “Who are thou my daughter?” This inquiry is a prophetic question regarding what Ruth’s name is now. Is she Ruth, the daughter- in-law of Naomi, or is she Ruth the soon to be wife of the man who is in the lineage of Messiah? Ruth tells Naomi all that occurred, and brings forth the harvest testimony, indicating a fruitful relationship between Ruth and Boaz, and Naomi tells Ruth to sit still for Boaz will not be able to rest, fulfill the glories of the true Sabbath rest, until he settles the matter this very day. Boaz wants Ruth to be his wife and he will force the issue with the other kinsman until it is settled in the courts of the day, at the gate of the city of Bethlehem.
This struggle between the two kinsmen is a type of the struggle between Christ (Boaz) and Satan (the kinsman who selfishly will not fulfill his role as kinsman to Ruth and Naomi). Boaz, the type of Jesus, will seek to complete the matter and to fulfill His promises to His wife to be, the church. In the next chapter we will see how God settles this issue.