While we’re on the matter of models, try dissecting one. First, go read the book of Ruth. How do Naomi and Ruth model Israel and the church, respectively? What role is Boaz in? Can you figure out who in the book of Ruth is the model of the Holy Spirit? (HINT: The Spirit won’t testify of himself.)
Did you read the book of Ruth? It’s only four chapters, so it’s a quick read. In a nutshell, Naomi and her hubby go on a road trip to Moab to get away from a famine. Naomi’s sons both marry Moabite women. All the menfolk in the family die. Naomi, hearing the famine is over, returns to Bethlehem. Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, goes along. Ruth heads out to collect gleanings, which was a sort of a Jewish welfare system. Reapers could go through the field only once. Anything that was left was for the poor to collect and eat. The guy who owns the field Ruth ends up in sees her and tells his reapers to cause her no harm and leave some extra for her to collect. Naomi notices that Ruth comes home with too much stuff and finds out who owns the field. Boaz is a redeemer of the family so Naomi instructs Ruth how to get Boaz’s attention. Boaz takes care of everything. They get married at the end.
Boaz was what is called a “Goel” or kinsman redeemer. In Israel, when land is sold, it’s not an absolute transfer the way we think of it. It’s really what we would call a lease. A contract is drawn up and sealed, and the instructions for redeeming the land early are written on the outside. In the Jubilee year, all land goes back to the original owner, but to get the land back sooner, the nearest kin can fulfill whatever the deed requires to get it back. The kinsman redeemer is also expected to marry the widow of a deceased kinsman and raise up offspring for his dead relative. This was called a “levirite marriage.” The kinsman redeemer is not required to do any of this, but he has that option. If he declines, then the next nearest kinsman has the right to take over the responsibilities.
So, Boaz was not Naomi’s nearest kin. That’s why he had to confront the nearer kinsman at the city gate. Technically, it was Ruth’s job to do that, but Boaz fulfills the requirements of the law for her. Once the nearer kinsman declines to redeem the land for Naomi and marry Ruth – he had to do both – Boaz is free to marry Ruth and redeem the land.
Boaz is in the role of our “goel.” He fulfilled the requirements of the law for Ruth so he could take a Gentile bride and restore the land to Naomi. Who is our “goel?” Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the requirements of the law for his Gentile bride and will be coming to restore the land to its rightful owner.
Naomi was a Jewish woman who taught a Gentile woman what to do to approach Boaz. Naomi is in the role of Israel. Israel is often spoken of as divorced or widowed. Naomi is a widow in this story. Through the actions of the kinsman redeemer Naomi – and Israel – will get the land back.
Ruth is the Gentile bride of the kinsman redeemer. Who is the Bride of Christ? The Church.
So, who was the Holy Spirit in this model? Well, look at who introduced Boaz to Ruth. It wasn’t Naomi. It was an unnamed servant. Remember the Spirit never testifies of himself. He is often, but not always, an unnamed servant in these adventures.
One last bonus trivia point for you: The threshing floor is often used as an idiom for the Great Tribulation. If Boaz is a model of Christ in this story, where is Ruth when the thrashing floor happens? At the feet of Boaz. We know from Revelation that during the Great Tribulation, Jesus is in heaven until the end. So if the Church is at his feet, where are they? Yep. Same place.
By the way, the significance of Ruth asking him to cover her with the hem of his skirt is not what you might think. She’s not propositioning him. She’s asking for his authority and protection to be placed over her. In Israel, rank and authority were shown on the hems of garments.