Ruth: Part 1

Ruth  •  26 min. read  •  grade level: 9
“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.” —Lev. 25:2525If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (Leviticus 25:25).
Redemption, as one has said, was no afterthought with our God; it was His purpose from the beginning. By the work of redemption He prepares the richest glory for His own blessed name, and the fullest joy for His creatures. “The morning stars sang together,” it is true, “and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” when the foundations of the earth were laid; but the shootings of grace, when the new creation is finished by the bringing forth of the Head Stone, will be louder still. Never were such music and dancing in the house before, as when the poor prodigal had returned, and been received as one alive from the dead. Never had such affections been awakened within him before. Never had the father's treasures been brought forth till then: till then the fatted calf, the ring, and the best robe had been laid up; and never had the father himself so full a joy in his child as when he fell on his neck and kissed him. And so it is in the wondrous ways of our God. Creation brought forth the resources of His love, and wisdom, and power, and heaven on high was glad through all its order; and earth smiled beneath, the fair witness of his handy-work; but redemption has drawn forth still greater treasures that were lying hid in God; it has awakened still more adoring joy and praise “in the presence of the angels;” and it has given new and diviner affections to the children of men.
And nothing now hinders us from sharing in. these joys of the Father's house but refusal to take the character and place of returned prodigals. “Thou never gavest me a kid,” said one who trusted in himself. He had never tasted of real gladness; no feast of fat things had ever been spread for him, for he drew upon himself as though he were something; for “these many years do I serve thee,” said he in his own sufficiency, “neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments.” He was of those who “trusted in themselves.” And then, and then only, is our joy hindered, when in this pride and vain conceit of our own sufficiency we come not to God as received prodigals. For to come as such is the decreed way of the whole family of God, and so their only spring of joy and triumph. So it is written, “And every creature which is in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”
Everything is to stand in grace. Love was of old, because God is love; and love was therefore made known in the work of creation, and that by communicating goodness and blessing. But love has found a fuller scope for expressing itself in the work of redemption, in bringing grace and sheaving mercy; and this is its new character. (See 1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8).) Grace, the source and power of redemption, is “the glory that excelleth;” the light that shined from heaven in converting grace and power round Saul of Tarsus, was “above the brightness of the sun at mid-day.” Grace is the fullest, and indeed the only worthy, expression of the unsearchable riches of divine love. The heavens will rejoice in grace (Rev. 5:11, 1211And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:11‑12)), and Israel, as representing the joy of the earth, will in the end triumph in it also. (Isa. 40; 1; 61:10; Zeph. 3:14, 1514Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. (Zephaniah 3:14‑15).)
Among the witnesses to this final security and joy of Israel, in the grace of God their Redeemer, the book of Ruth appears to me to have a very distinguished place, presenting as it does an illustration of the duties of the Goel, or Kinsman Redeemer (see Lev. 25:2525If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (Leviticus 25:25); Num. 35:1919The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. (Numbers 35:19); Deut. 25:55If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. (Deuteronomy 25:5)); and thus we shall find furnishing the type of Israel in their sorrows and captivities, down to the time when the Lord their Redeemer will, through the riches of His grace, delight in them again, and their land shall be married.
But in order the better to apprehend this typical character of the book of Ruth, we must use a little diligence in tracing the ways of God with Israel previously to the times of Ruth, and the distinct character of some of the books which introduces us to it.
Deuteronomy exhibits to us the perfecting of the covenant between Jehovah and Israel. After Moses had rehearsed their ways, delivered to them ordinances and commandments again, and warned and encouraged them, he stands before the people of Israel, and says (Deut. 26:16-1916This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 17Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: 18And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; 19And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken. (Deuteronomy 26:16‑19)), “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice; and the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he has promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments, and to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.” This was a formal binding of the Lord and the people in covenant together: and thus the compact is solemnly and duly witnessed by the book of Deuteronomy.
The book of Joshua which follows shows the wonders of Jehovah's outstretched arm in the sight of the nations, and in the behalf of His people: His leading them in triumph from city to city, and subduing kings before them; till Joshua, their captain, had taken the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said unto Moses. For thus is it written (Josh. 11:2323So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war. (Joshua 11:23)): “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes, and the land rested from war.” And again (chap. 21:45), “There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel—all came to pass.” And again, Joshua, when about to go the way of all the earth, could stand before Israel, and say, “Ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof.” (Chap. 23:14.) And thus the book of Joshua abundantly asserts the truth of the Lord and His covenant faithfulness.
The book of Judges follows; and, as the preceding book had been the witness for the Lord that He had fulfilled all His covenant with Israel, so does this book witness against Israel that they had utterly broken their covenant with the Lord. It is true that Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord that. He had done for Israel. But that generation were gathered to their fathers; and as we read that “there arose a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph,” but became unmindful of all the kindness which the Lord had shown for his nation by Joseph, and was turned to be the adversary of Joseph's brethren, so we see another generation now risen in Israel, who, with uncircumcised Egyptian heart, knew not the Lord who had visited and redeemed their fathers.
Throughout these times of the Judges we see their repeated backslidings, and the Lord again and again correcting them by judgments, and turning in mercy to forgive their iniquities, and heal their diseases. Often as a hen gathereth her chickens would he have gathered His erring people; but the closing testimony of this book against them is, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judg. 21:2525In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25).)
Thus we have in Deuteronomy the covenant solemnity settled and entered into; in Joshua the Lord's accomplishment of all His mercies engaged to Israel under that covenant; and in Judges, Israel's utter breach of all their vowed and pledged allegiance. This was the righteous forfeiture of all their blessings. So that the time had now come when the Lord must decide either to lay on judgment, or to bring mercy. He now might swear in His wrath that Israel should not enter His rest; they had been assayed, and were found “reprobate silver.” “Ο Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,” might now be the lamentation over them; but the Lord was about to reply, “-but in me is thine help,” for Jehovah is God and not man: He who in righteousness might now have eased Him of His adversaries, and avenged Him of His enemies, prepares mercies for them, allows mercy to rejoice against judgment, and says, as at this time, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim, how shall I deliver thee, Israel, how shall I make thee as Admah, how shall I set thee as Zeboim!” And therefore in the history of Ruth, the Moabitess, which immediately follows the book of Judges, He gives them a sample, not of final severity for their sins, but of the grace by which they shall be gathered, and the glory into which they shall be brought in the latter day.
The constant respect that is had in scripture to the histories of the people of God in older times, for the illustration of His further and still future ways, either in such an artless and passing manner as may at first be unperceived, or in the more full and distinct interpretation of them as types or allegories, gives us great authority for considering the book of God generally as being of a prophetical character. The scenes in paradise, Cain, Abel, the deluge, and the ruins of Sodom, the times of the patriarchs, the Exodus, Joshua, David, and Solomon, the sufferings and the acts of the prophets—these, with others, are all taken up and treated as typical; and how distinctly does the Spirit give this character to the scripture histories in Psa. 78, where, after announcing that He is about to open His mouth “in a parable,” and to “utter dark sayings,” he details simply the ways of Israel's rebellions and perverseness, and Jehovah's judgments and mercies; thus giving us to know that all this history was a parable also. In like manner when, in 1 Cor. 10, the apostle had traced the manners of Israel in the wilderness, and the consequent judgments of the Lord, he says, “Now all these things happened unto, them for ensamples.” The history of Sarah and Hagar, with their children, is more distinctly announced to be an allegory; Cain, Balaam, and Korah are pointed out as the sign of Christendom's offenses and judgment; and Babylon is revived in spirit, though the name and remnant, and son and nephew, have been cut off from it, and it has itself been swept with the besom of destruction. And I doubt not that the history of Ruth, beautiful and attractive as it is, is designed of the Spirit to be something more than a help to discover the genealogy of the Lord (Matt. 1:55And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (Matthew 1:5)), or than a pleasing moral and affecting scene in domestic life; but that we may also read in it, and vindicate by it, the ways of the Lord of hosts with His loved and still remembered Israel.
I know that the watching of the imagination, that we offend not by it, may be much needed here; but the comfort and edification of the saint in the unfoldings of the ways of God by means of such allegories will witness for them; and, as it is again and again promised, “to him that hath shall more be given,” our delight in the holy oracles, and godly use of them, will enable us, like instructed scribes, to bring forth further treasures. May the Spirit of truth make us such
The book of Ruth opens with a simple scene of domestic sorrow. The family of Elimelech, of Bethlehem, in Judah, is forced by stress of famine to seek a livelihood in the country of Moab. Here he dies; and his two sons form alliances with the daughters of that strange people, and in process of time none was left of this family but the widowed, childless Naomi. “Woe is me for my hurt;” in the words of the daughter of Zion, by the prophet, might she then say, “My wound is grievous; but I said, Truly this is my grief, and I must bear it: my tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken, my children have gone forth of me, and they are not, there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.”
Now here we have at once something to arrest our thoughts. Behold famine in that land which the Lord Jehovah had promised should flow with milk and honey for His chosen people! But this was the sure testimony that that chosen people had been unfaithful; and therefore all this evil estate (the sorrows of the land and the captivity of her children) exhibits Israel as they now are,1 suffering for their unfaithfulness under the righteous displeasure of the Lord. Their cities are wasted, without inhabitant now, as then partially in the days of Naomi, the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed her children far away, and there is a great forsaking in the midst of the land. Famine then was what dispersion is now; for the transgressions of the people must account for both; one reason, and only one, can be given for their sorrows in all periods; the voice in every calamity of Israel is the same— “My God will cast thee away, because they did not hearken unto him.”
The marriages of Mahlon and Chilion, sons of Israel, with the daughters of Moab, show us Israel's present utter loss of their sacred Nazarite character, that the “holy flesh had passed from them,” that they are no longer sanctified and separated unto God, but are mingled with the nations, have learned their works, and are become defiled as sinners of the Gentiles. And Naomi, left of her two sons and her husband, exhibits their destitution, and loss of everything that could wear a trace of their former estate; for though reserved of God as a people to meet the purposes of His future mercy, yet their special character is for the present utterly lost and gone; they have become, in God's judgment, as one of the nations, and “Lo-ammi” is written on them.
But the Lord, as we learn from this history, in due time returned in mercy to Israel; for His constant word to them is, that “he will not contend with them forever.” Though He make a full end of the nations, yet will He not make. a full end of them. He visited and redeemed His people in giving them bread again; and the earliest tidings of this awakens all Naomi's recollections of Israel. As soon as she heard that the land might be dwelt in again, she arose and went forth out of the place where she was; and, though naked and afflicted, and needing everything, she traces her way back to Bethlehem-Judah.
What a mother in Israel is here! She would yield up her daughters-in-law, loving and faithful as they had been to her, and at once surrender all the alliances which she had formed among the Gentiles, and the sources of relief and comfort which had been opened for her there, and return as Mara, empty and afflicted, rather than be any longer a stranger to the land of her fathers! She appears before us as a true Rachel, who now refuses, as we know, to be comforted, and will refuse till her “children shall come again to their own border.” (Jer. 31:15-1715Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 16Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border. (Jeremiah 31:15‑17).) For such is the heart of the children of Israel. Gladly would they come forth from all the advantages and comforts which have been made theirs in the places where they have been scattered, and return, Mara like, to their own land. Let the tidings but reach them which reached Naomi at this time, that the land is open to them, and the ways to Zion which now mourn, and all her gates which are desolate shall rejoice, and speedily again be full of people.
And here the character of Ruth fully and at once develops itself. She is fixed upon being one with Naomi, her mother-in-law. She will forget kindred and father's house. She is tempted, on the one hand by the dreary prospects which Naomi presented as awaiting her if she would still go forward; and she is tempted, on the other, by Orpah's revolt, and return to the more profitable promises of Moab; but all this serves but to manifest and approve her—she stood in the evil day. Like Elisha, in such a case, whom neither the voice of his master, on the one hand, nor the taunts of the sons of the prophets, on the other, could move him to change that word,” As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” (2 Kings 11:44And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the Lord, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the Lord, and showed them the king's son. (2 Kings 11:4).) “Entreat me not,” says she to Naomi, “to leave thee,” or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God shall be my God.” She would leave behind her all recollections of Moab and her people; she would be one with Naomi, though in widowhood and destitution. No longer a daughter of Moab, she was steadily minded to be only of Israel, one with the people of the Lord. Thus is this sinner of the Gentiles found among the children of the kingdom; and from this moment Israel becomes represented in Ruth: therefore, as we shall find, Ruth takes up after Naomi the wondrous tale of God's ways with His people. Their fortunes now become typically set for in hers, for the chosen Israel of God in the latter days will be as this sinner of the Gentiles; Israel shall then be accepted through the same riches of grace that now saves the church, the fullness of the Gentiles, as says the apostle, speaking to the Gentiles, “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief, even so have these also not now believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy, for God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11)
It is on this principle I rest assured that the present call of the Gentiles has no place in the typical history of Ruth. She was, it is true, a Gentile, and this has led some to misinterpret the mystery. But Israel is now as the Gentiles, and as Gentiles will be finally accepted. For as we who are sinners of the Gentiles, and as such were “no people,” but have, through grace, become the people of God; so will Israel, who are now “no people,” be made the people of God in the latter days. Israel shall hereafter be made the vessel of mercy for the making known of the riches of glory, as the church has now been made (see Hos. 1-3; Rom. 9:28-26); and thus the Gentile birth of Ruth was needed to set her forth a fair and perfect type of Israel, who are treated now as strangers, but to be finally gathered with the same mercy as is now gathering us, who were strangers indeed. Blindness in part has now happened to them; but in the day of their covenant their sin shall be taken away.
This suggests (and I would here turn aside to speak of it a little) the very striking exhibition of the dealings of the Lord with Israel, which is mad in the prophet Hosea, and which is similar to that made in Ruth, the Moabitess.
Hosea is presented to us, as under orders to take a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms, and he does so. He takes Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and by her he has a son, whom he is commanded to call Jezreel; then a daughter, whom, as in like manner commanded, he calls Lo-Ruhamah; and then another son, whom he names, still at the bidding of the Lord, Lo-ammi. The first of these children's names signifies the dispersion of Israel; the second, mercy denied to Israel; the third, the Lord's rejection of Israel as His people.
In this action Hosea might say, in the words of another prophet, “Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel,” for in all this the apostasy and judgments of Israel are clearly set forth. The marriage of the prophet with the wife of whoredoms is Jehovah's covenant with faithless Israel, yielding therefore as its fruit judgment upon judgment, till the children of Israel were found, as they now are, reprobate silver, a “Loammi,” a people disclaimed of their God.
But this marriage of the prophet, typical as it was of the sin and judgment of Israel, is grounded on a fact in their history, to which he consequently alludes. Hosea prophesied, as we read, in the days. of Jeroboam, who was of the house of Jehu: and the circumstance that brought that family into the honor of the kingdom, that is, “the blood of Jezreel,” is the sin which called forth the typical marriage of the prophet, and is taken up by him as the pattern of Israel's transgression; and thus the ground of God's dealings with them. We will open the scene to which he thus makes allusion, and we shall find that like Ruth it illustrates the duty of the Goel.
The times of Ahab were corrupt in the extreme. There were none like him whom Jezebel, his queen, stirred up to sell himself to work wickedness and do very abominably in following idols, But in those times Naboth of Jezreel stood as the righteous one in the land. Though it were to please the king, he would not depart from the law of the Lord, and sell his inheritance. He knew that it was the decree of the God of Israel that inheritances were not to remove from tribe to tribe, but that everyone in Israel should keep himself to the inheritance of his fathers. (Num. 36:99Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance. (Numbers 36:9).) But for his righteousness' sake he is called to suffer. Through the subtlety of Jezebel, and by the hand of certain sons of Beliel, his blood is shed in Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1313And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. (1 Kings 21:13)), and his inheritance, the inheritance of his fathers, is usurped by Ahab. For this deed the Lord by His prophet denounces judgment on Ahab and his house; and accordingly, by stroke upon stroke, be makes a full end of them, and the blood of Ahab, and the blood of Joram his son, and the blood of Jezebel, are shed in the portion of Jezreel. Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, is called forth to finish this judgment, to be the avenger of blood, and to cleanse the land that had been thus polluted with it (Num. 35:3333So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. (Numbers 35:33)); and as his reward, the throne of Israel is secured to his family for four generations. (2 Kings 10:3030And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. (2 Kings 10:30).)
But Jehu in all this had himself in view; and while pretending zeal for the Lord, he was really satisfying his own lust. As Ahab had coveted the vineyard of Naboth which was in Jezreel, hard by his palace, and for the sake of it had shed the blood of the righteous, so Jehu loved dominion, and for the sake of it, and not in the spirit of service to Jehovah, did he execute the judgment of God upon the house of Ahab. And therefore in his turn, like Ahab, he is made to answer for the blood of Jezreel; as says the Lord by Hoses, “I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Ahab.” But the prophet adds, “and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel, and it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” (Hos. 1:44And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. (Hosea 1:4).) Thus upon this sin, that is, the blood-shedding at Jezreel, the prophet suspends the final judgment and excision of Israel; and justly so, for the sin of Israel, as I will now show, was as the sin of Ahab, or as the sin of Jehu.
Our blessed Lord was the righteous One of Israel in His day, as Naboth had been. He was properly the heir of all the nation's greatness. He was the Son of David, and claimed to be received as such. (Matt. 21) The vineyard, the inheritance, was His; but the wicked husbandmen, though allowing His title, refused Him possession, and said, “This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” And they did so; they desired that the vineyard might be their own; they loved their “place and nation” under the Romans, and in the spirit of Ahab and of Jehu they caught the Heir, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him. His blood at this moment thus stains their land, it is upon them and upon their children, as the blood of Jezreel, the blood of Naboth, the Jezreelite, was upon the house of Ahab; and for this they are now in the character of the prophet's children, scattered as “Jezreel,” denied mercy at “Lo-Ruhamah,” and disowned of their Lord as “Lo-ammi.” And as Jehovah said of Naboth vineyard, “Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, and I will requite thee [Ahab] in this plot;” so are the wicked husbandmen still to answer blood for blood, that the land may be cleansed (Num. 35:3333So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. (Numbers 35:33)); and that that which is now the Aceldama may become the portion of the righteous again—the vineyard of the Lord of hosts: (Dan. 12:11And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1); Zech. 13:88And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. (Zechariah 13:8); Matt. 4:11Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matthew 4:1).)
Jehu acted in this as the avenger of blood, the kinsman of Israel, and was rewarded, as we have seen, with the kingdom for four generations. And so the true kinsman and avenger of Israel, the blessed and glorified Son of man, shall fall on the rebellious, and grind them to powder, and be brought near before the Ancient of days; and receive dominion and glory, and a kingdom to possess it forever and ever.
But how should we be warned by this, and remember Naboth's vineyard, as we are graciously taught to remember Lot's wife? It was “the stuff in the house” that was lasted after, and has made both of them, as it were, “pillars of salt,” perpetual witnesses to us, that “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Jehu would be religious too, he would be zealous for the Lord, if that could serve himself. The interests of Baal and his worshippers were not one with his; he rather was served by the judgment of Jehovah upon them, and therefore he could break down the image of Baal, and make his house a draft-house unto this day. But it was himself be was serving all the time; he took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord. Oh, brethren, the friendship of the world is enmity with God, nor is it less so though it may clothe itself with zeal for the Lord.
But in the prophet Hosea, as in the type of Ruth (as we shall in the end see), mercy is made to rejoice against judgment. The “woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress,” is received again after many days. (Hos. 3) Jezreel, the dispersed, is gathered; Lo-Ruhamah, who had not obtained mercy, does obtain mercy; the Lo-ammi, who were no people, become again the people of God. For thus saith the Lord by His prophet, “It shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God: then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” (Hos. 1:10, 1110Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:10‑11).) Then shall Jezreel, the whole land and people, be the witness of grace, as it is now of judgment; for as the Lord saith, “I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed, for the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (Joel 3:2121For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion. (Joel 3:21).) The portion in Jezreel shall become the portion of the righteous again, the vineyard and inheritance of the Lord shall be given to a nation (in the latter days) bringing forth the fruits thereof. And so in the kindred types of our Ruth. She that was a sinner of the Gentiles, who came from among the Lo-ammi, is made, as we shall find, the wife of “the mighty man of wealth,” and the mother of a new and honored race in Israel, the fair and perfect pledge of Jehovah's everlasting love. And this typical character of Ruth is indeed afterward distinctly acknowledged, for it is said to her, “The Lord make thee like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel;” which leaves us no liberty to doubt that we read a parable in her history, and that Israel is represented in her. (Ruth 4:22And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. (Ruth 4:2).)