Preserving the Name of Jesus
After Boaz discovered Ruth lying at his feet, she told him that she desired him to marry her in order to fulfill the lawful requirement set forth in Deut. 25:5-10. Boaz commended her for this but informed her that the law gave a closer kinsman the right to marry her. Only if that closer relative should refuse her would this right of redemption shift to Boaz himself.
Ruth 3:13, 14 then says,
13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning. 14 So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
Before we continue, the time has come for us to look at the actual law on which this story is based.
The Law of Sonship
Deuteronomy 25:5, 6 says,
5 When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as a wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.
Ruth’s husband had died childless, but perhaps more importantly, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, had lost both of his sons, leaving the family property without an inheritor. With no inheritor, the property would have passed to the nearest relative—the one who had the right of redemption. Theoretically, if a kinsman redeemer were selfish and coveted his brother’s property for himself, he might not want to raise up a son to inherit his brother’s estate. That way he could claim it for himself when the widow died.
The Hebrew word ben (“son”) literally means “builder of the family name.” This is as much a law of inheritance as it is a law of marriage and sonship. As such, this law applies prophetically to the manner in which we, as believers, may secure our inheritance in the Kingdom of God. Remember that “the law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14).
You see, Jesus died childless, and Heb. 2:11, 12 says about Him,
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying [in Psalm 22:22], “I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.”
As sons of God, we are Jesus’ younger brothers. He died childless, and we are called to raise up a son to build His family name, so that He does not lose His inheritance in the earth. In the big picture, Jesus is our Kinsman-redeemer who died to purchase us from the slavery of sin, but in this case we are His brethren, called as His kinsman-redeemers to build His family name.
This is done in three main steps, which the three feasts teach us. Passover begets this son in us; Pentecost matures this son to the point of birth; Tabernacles brings this son to full birth. The symptoms of this spiritual pregnancy begin with faith, progresses to obedience, and ends with agreement. The birth of the son at Tabernacles is then followed by the presentation of the son on the eighth day, according to the law in Exodus 22:29, 30.
Of course, all of the overcomers have had to follow this pattern throughout history. Yet their birth and presentation as sons was postponed to the end of the age in order that they may all form one body, a collective Son, which is made up of all the individual sons of God.
This is the main event and purpose of the feast of Tabernacles when it is fulfilled historically, even as Passover was fulfilled earlier at the crucifixion of Christ and Pentecost in Acts 2.
This son is presented on the eighth day of Tabernacles and then manifested to the world—an event Paul mentioned in Rom. 8:19,
19 For the anxious longing of the creation awaits eagerly for the revealing [apokolupsis, “unveiling, revealing, manifesta-tion”] of the sons of God.
All of creation has a stake in this manifestation, for it too (as a whole) will benefit from the ministry of the sons of God. Even as Jesus was the forerunner for the overcomers, the overcomers are the forerunners of the Church, and the Church is “the first-fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). The first-fruits offering sanctifies the harvest, so when these first-fruits are presented to God, it signals the start of a great harvest until all of creation is reconciled to Him.
On a long-term prophetic level, then, the final harvest of creation properly begins when the eighth day of Tabernacles is fulfilled historically. This is “the anxious longing of creation.” Bringing forth this collective Son, having both a Head (Jesus) and a body (overcomers), is the means by which Christ will inherit the earth, for this son will build His name.
The overcomers are those who are willing to go through the entire feast-day pattern of faith, obedience, and agreement to bring forth the sons of God, and these are the meek who will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5. KJV). The law of God recognizes them as the sons of Jesus Christ, who is our elder Brother, “the first-born of all creation” (Col. 1:15). As such, the sons of God are given the name of their elder Brother who died childless, so that His name is not blotted out from Israel (Deut. 25:6).
Unfortunately, many today know almost nothing about this divine plan. Unbelievers are concerned with their own matters and are not yet eligible by law to be sons of God. But even believers are often ignorant of the law. Although most of them desire to become sons of God, they do not understand the law of sonship. Most have some understanding of Passover, and some of Pentecost, but very few know anything about Tabernacles. Hence, some are content with their faith in Christ as Savior. Others are content to be obedient servants who know Him as Lord through Pentecost. Only a few have caught the vision of going beyond Pentecost into agreement with Him, which is required to fulfill the feast of Tabernacles as overcomers.
Objections to Sonship
The law of sonship continues in Deuteronomy 25:7,
7 But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate of the elders and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.”
The law does not specify any particular reason why the brother would refuse “to perform the duty.” Whatever his reason, it is clear that it is his “duty,” and not merely his “right.” Boaz told Ruth that he had to defer to her nearer kinsman, who had the primary right to take her as his wife. It was his duty, but he also had the right to refuse it. The penalty for refusing this duty was essentially a curse for violating the rights of the widow in question, for we read in Deut. 25:8, 9, 10,
8 Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, “I do not desire to take her,” 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall declare, “Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” 10 And in Israel his name shall be called, “The house of him whose sandal is removed.”
Spitting in one’s face signified shame but did not bring about excommunication, which was to be cut off from among one’s people (example: Lev. 17:4). In other words, one did not lose his inheritance for refusing to perform his duty. Nonetheless, he was rendered unclean for seven days and had to undergo the purification process. So we read in Num. 12:14, 15,
14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” 15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.
When a man or woman is “shut up for seven days outside the camp,” they are not allowed to enter the camp (congregation) during their time of purification. In other words, it causes a delay in church history. Those who refuse to pursue sonship will be delayed “seven days.” That is, they will have to wait until 7,000 years have passed before they can obtain their status in the Kingdom.
Prophetically speaking, this is the time of the general resurrection of the dead after the 7th millennium that is described in Rev. 20:12.
The bottom line is that those who do not fulfill the law of sonship will be hampered in their “walk” with God, having lost a sandal. They will miss the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4, 5, 6), which comes at the end of the sixth day), but at the end of the seventh day they will be reinstated. They will then receive immortality (“life”), at the time the unbelievers are raised for judgment, as Jesus said in John 5:28, 29.
For further study on the difference between these two resurrections, see my book, The Purpose of Resurrection.
Those who have a Greek viewpoint in their understanding of Scripture may not agree, but when we interpret Scripture according to the Hebrew viewpoint through the divine law, we are able to receive a greater revelation of prophetic timing.
Losing the Sandal
Let us not lose our sandal. Paul interprets the sandal in Eph. 6:15,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Removing one’s sandal signifies prophetically that a man is hindered in the area of “the gospel of peace.” What is that gospel? Peace is shalom, which relates directly to the revelation of the peace offerings (Leviticus 2). The sin offerings required blood sacrifice, while the peace offerings were of grain. Sin offerings pictured our justification from sin through the blood of Christ. Peace offerings pictured the reconciliation of God’s enemies, making peace between them and restoring friendship.
The gospel of peace, then, is about reconciling the world. Those who have put on their spiritual shoes (sandals) are those who are preparing their hearts through the study of the word to fulfill their calling that is defined in 2 Cor. 5:18, 19,
18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
In other words, the gospel of peace is “the word of reconciliation.” Those who retain their spiritual sandals are those who have been entrusted to preach and teach this gospel to the rest of the world. What is that gospel? It is the great truth “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
It is the truth of the Restoration of All Things. God has reconciled all to Himself, even while they are yet enemies of Christ in their own hearts (Rom. 5:10). The cross has purchased the entire world, whether they know it or not. This is the good news of the gospel of peace.
The entire creation will benefit from this, Paul says, and so all of creation anxiously awaits the manifestation of the sons of God.
Hence, the law of sonship is not merely about becoming the sons of God; it is also about the message that they bring to the rest of the world. The sons of God are first-fruits, whose presentation will bring about a great harvest until the whole world is “set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).