The Book of Ruth, part 14, The Generosity of God
Jun 17, 2019
Boaz treated Ruth with respect and love as she gleaned in his field of barley, speaking to her kindly and with comforting words. More than that, after their initial conversation, Boaz even allowed her to eat meals with the reapers, giving her a place of honor at the table. Ruth 2:14 says,
14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain [qaliy], and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
It was customary, both then and even in modern times, to roast or parch the barley grains. Of course, the very fact that they were allowed to eat of this new crop of barley showed that they were harvesting the field after the wave-sheaf offering had been offered in the tabernacle at Shiloh. Leviticus 23:14 forbade anyone to eat of it prior to the wave-sheaf offering, saying,
14 Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain [qaliy] nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
This was the standard protocol for all of the first-fruits offerings: barley at Passover, wheat at Pentecost, and grapes at Tabernacles.
The prophetic significance of Ruth eating roasted barley and bread at Boaz’ table is in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended at the third hour of the day to be presented to the Father as alive from the dead. That was the signal for the harvest to begin, allowing all to partake of the new roasted barley.
Roasted Barley and the Sacrifices
Even the fact that the barley was roasted speaks into this prophecy, for it relates directly to Christ’s death on the cross, by which He could then feed the world with Truth and Life. The roasted barley prophesied in the same manner as the burnt offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings, all of which were place on the fire.
We know that Christ was crucified—not burnt in a literal fire—so the fulfillment of the laws of sacrifice was about satisfying the “fiery law” (Deuteronomy 33:2 KJV). Hence, Jesus took upon Himself the full penalty of the law for sin, not by being burnt in a physical fire but by the judgment of this “fiery law.” In other words, one cannot claim that the penalty for sin is to be burned in a literal fire, for if that were the case, Jesus Himself would have had to undergo such a penalty as well.
Furthermore, if the penalty for sin were eternal fire, as many teach, then Jesus would still be burning in the fire to this day! But such is not true biblical teaching. Paul says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and no one ought to redefine death to mean torture in fire, nor should anyone extend one’s time of death beyond the resurrection into eternity.
The law of God does not permit unending penalties, for all must be set free in the year of Jubilee, regardless of how much debt they still may owe.
Eating Roasted Barley
The first-fruits of the barley represented Christ Himself, and the harvest afterward prophesied of those who would “eat the flesh of the Son of Man” (John 6:53). Hence, we see in this story how God has made provision for all people, regardless of their ethnicity, to be part of the body of Christ by faith in Him and in His work.
The idea of eating Christ’s flesh was a major stumbling block to those who heard Jesus speak these words (John 6:66). Apparently, they did not understand that Jesus was not speaking of literally cannibalizing His flesh but of hearing and assimilating the truth that He spoke. They did not understand that whoever ate roasted barley after the wave-sheaf offering were prophesying a truth that few actually believed. The same was true of the sacrifices in the temple, for unless they believed that Christ was the true Sacrifice for sin, their rituals were not yet applicable to their own sin.
Ruth ate of the roasted barley, and her faith (expressed earlier in Ruth 1:16) meant that she ate the flesh of the Son of Man. The story of Ruth thus establishes the fact that foreigners (Ruth) had an equal right with Judahites (Boaz) to be part of the body of Christ. That is one of the foremost themes of this book, along with the actual law of sonship described later.
Ruth 2:15, 16 continues,
15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult [kalam, “insult, shame, humiliate”] her. 16 And also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke [ga’ar, “rebuke, reprove”] her.”
Boaz was not required by law to give her grain or to “purposely pull out for her some grain.” The law of gleanings only required the servants to leave the corners of the field for the poor and to leave for them any sheaf that had been accidentally overlooked during harvest. The spirit of the law, however, goes beyond the basic minimum requirement. The law of gleanings was a manifestation of God’s benevolence and care for the poor, and in similar manner it gave men opportunity to show their love and to express the heart of God.
Boaz certainly was a type of Christ in his generosity toward Ruth. The fact that he had to tell his servants not to insult or rebuke her shows that he was going beyond the requirement of the law. Ruth would not have had the right to “glean even among the sheaves,” except that Boaz gave her this right.
Divine Measures in Prophecy
Ruth was able to glean more than usual. Ruth 2:17, 18 says,
17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city [Bethlehem], and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Ruth beat out the stalks of barley and took home an ephah of grain (.63 bushels, or 5.9 gallons, or 22 liters). This was quite a lot of grain, and unless she had a cart to haul it, it is doubtful that she could have carried it all by herself.
There were three dry measures in Scripture that are related prophetically to the three feast days: an omer, an ephah, and a homer (or chomer). An ephah was 10 omers, and a homer was 10 ephahs or 100 omers.
At the time of the wave-sheaf offering, the people were required to take an omer of barley, divide it into 50 small piles, and then count the grains each day until the day of Pentecost. This was called “counting the omer.” It prophesied of the seven-week period in which men were supposed to prepare for Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word omer was spelled with three letters: ayin (eye), mem (water), and resh (head). Prophetically speaking, counting the omer signified watching for water on the head—that is, watching for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23, 29), fulfilled in Acts 2:1-3.
The omer was counted daily during the days of barley harvest until the wheat harvest began at Pentecost. Then a greater harvest took place, which is prophesied by the ephah (10 omers). At the end of the year, the grapes were harvested and trodden out, signified by the Day of Atonement, so that the priest could pour out a drink offering of new wine for seven days during the feast of Tabernacles. This greater harvest is pictured by the homer (10 ephahs or 100 omers).
All of this speaks into the prophetic significance of the first-fruits offerings at each of the three occasions where all the men were supposed to appear before God at the Sanctuary (Exodus 34:22, 23, 24).
These prophesy of three occasions where groups of people will be presented to God as first-fruits. The barley company are the overcomers who will be presented to God at the time of the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6) after being winnowed. The wheat company are the believers (church in general), who will be presented to God at the general resurrection (Revelation 20:11, 12) after being threshed (Luke 12:45-48). The grape harvest will be presented to God at the Creation Jubilee after being trodden under foot (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28).
Ruth Gleans an Ephah
An ephah overlays with Pentecost. When Boaz made it possible for her to glean an ephah of barley, it teaches us that Ruth was fully prepared for Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the time of counting the barley. More than that, she had more than enough, and so she was able to give to Naomi as well.
The kindness and generosity of Boaz was at least partly due to his recognition that Ruth was assisting Naomi in her time of loss and poverty (Ruth 2:11). Both Ruth and Boaz were generous, manifesting the benevolence of Christ Himself in His provision for the whole world. As I stated earlier, this was why Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” and was placed in a manger as if He were sent to feed all who would eat His flesh.
God’s generosity is seen in His treatment of the three harvests, which in turn relate to the law of first-fruits. God was to be given the first-fruits of each harvest, but He never intended to leave the rest of the harvest to rot in the field or to burn the field. The first-fruits sanctified the harvest, allowing men to harvest their fields. Likewise, the first-fruits are presented to God with the expectation of a greater harvest yet to come. In the end, the result is “the reconciliation of the world” (Romans 11:15) and all things under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).
So let us reflect the generosity and benevolence of God’s own love. We can best do this by teaching the Restoration of All Things, whereby the entire harvest is brought to God, so that He may have both bread (barley and wheat) and wine for His Communion Table.
This is part 14 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Ruth" To view all parts, click the link below.