(RUTH, CHAPTER 1)
The beautiful prophetic account opens with this statement: "Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled [judged, margin], that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons." (1:1) The period of the judges was about four hundred and fifty years. "And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that, he gave unto them judges, about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet." — Acts 13:19, 20.
This corresponds with and corroborates the latter part of the book of Ruth and shows that the book was written after the four-hundred-and-fifty-year period of the judges, and after David had become king, and after he had become famous as the Lord's anointed. This opening of the book of Ruth suggests that the fulfilment of the prophecy of the book would be in the time of judgment which begins when Jehovah's Messenger, Christ Jesus, appears at the temple for judgment work. (Mal. 3:1-5) It is difficult to know just when the prophetic events recorded in
the book of Ruth took place, but it seems quite probable it was at the time of Judge Gideon, It is also reasonably possible that these things came to pass shortly after the death of Joshua and during the time of the judgeship of Othniel or of Ehud and Shamgar. — Judg. 1:12,13; 3:8-11,15,31.
The book of Genesis shows that during the time the heathen exclusively occupied the land of Canaan it was not unusual for the people there to be afflicted with famine (Gen. 12:10; 26:1; 42: 5; 47: 4,13); but at the time of the events recorded in the book of Ruth God's covenant people, the Israelites, occupied the land. Hence we must conclude that the famine mentioned in the first verse must have: been sent by the Lord God according to the terms announced to the Israelites and which are set forth in the law of God given to the Israelites. (See Leviticus 26:18-20; Deuteronomy 28:15-18,23,24.) It seems quite probable that this famine occurred during the eighteen years that the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab, because they 'again did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord'. — Judg. 3:12-14.
From knowing that these things were written aforetime for the benefit of the remnant, that famine seems to well represent or picture the condition of scarcity that came upon the Lord's covenant people on the earth between the years 1914 to 1918. The same thing is pictured in the prophecy of Ezekiel by Ezekiel's being obliged to live on scant fare, the explanation of which is found in Vindication, Book One, pages 55
and 56. Jehovah was then King over the earth by reason of the fact that he had placed his beloved One, Christ Jesus, his Chief Executive upon his throne on his holy hill of Zion. (Ps. 2: 6) This corresponds to the fact that Jehovah was the King of Israel at the time of the coming to pass of the events mentioned in the book of Ruth.
The man first brought to the attention of the reader is "a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah". The suffix "Judah" mentioned is doubtless for the purpose of distinguishing the place from the Bethlehem near the town of Nazareth and which belonged to the tribe of Zebulun. (Josh. 19:15,16) Furthermore it more particularly shows that it pertains to that company of people that give praise to the name of Jehovah. The meaning of the name "Beth-lehem-judah" is "the house of bread in the land of praise to Jehovah". In Jacob's time it was known as Ephrath. "And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died,) that she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day." —Gen. 35:18-20.
It is certain that Jehovah intervened through Boaz and Ruth to preserve in the divine record the name of this "certain man of Beth-lehem-judah" and that the name of that one must be vindicated. The two sons of that "certain man" had died without issue. That "certain man" had also died, and his widow did not remarry to
raise up seed unto the dead. It is important to know that this "certain man" was of the tribe of Judah, through whom Shiloh, the Law-giver, must come. Boaz was of the same tribe, was personally acquainted with that "certain man", and was, in fact, related to him. That "certain man" went to sojourn in the country of Moab, but his near kinsman Boaz remained at Bethlehem-Judah. If, as it seems probable, this was during the time of Eglon the king of Moab it would have made no difference whether Elimelech had remained in Bethlehem-Judah or sojourned in Moab. In either case he and his family would have been under the rule of the king of Moab. The country of Moab lay east of the Bead sea. To reach that country it was necessary for that "certain man" to cross the Jordan river, and it is probable that he crossed at the point near Jericho where the Israelites crossed under Joshua. "And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab, on this side Jordan by Jericho." — Num. 22:1.
"Moab" means "from my father; seed of [mother's] father; from her [the mother's] father". Moab was the son of Lot by Lot's eldest daughter, and hence Moab was the grand-nephew of Abraham the Hebrew. Doubtless the languages of the Moabites and the Jews were similar. The Moabites had been very unfriendly to the Israelites when the latter were on their journey to the land of Canaan, and went so far as to hire Balaam the unfaithful prophet to curse the Israelites. (Deut. 23:3,4; Num. 22:
3-41; Mic. 6:5) The Moabites practiced the devil religion, their national god being Chemosh. (1 Ki. 11:7) On a number of occasions the Moabites oppressed and assaulted the Israelites. Sanballat the Moabite later tried to prevent the rebuilding of the wall of the city of Jerusalem. (Neh. 2:19) The Moabites therefore pictured a self-centered, boastful, arrogant class of people, relying upon military power and indulging in war, and the haters of those who served Jehovah God. For this reason the Lord God condemned them to complete overthrow. — Ezek. 25:8-11.
In the land called "Christendom", at the beginning of the World War, in 1914, there was just such a class, and which class still exists, and who rely upon their own wisdom, are advocates of evolution, children of the Devil, claiming to be able to bring themselves up out of difficulties to perfection, and to make the world a desirable place in which to live. It seems that the land of Moab was not affected by the famine that prevailed in the land of Canaan. Likewise, during the World War, the modern Moabites, namely, the rich and influential people of "Christendom" and the ones well favored by the Devil's organization, had plenty of food and raiment and lived at ease. At the same time those who served God were 'hated of all nations for Christ's sake' and suffered much inconvenience and oppression at the hands of the modern Moabites. This "certain man" of Bethlehem could not hope to escape the hostility and oppression of the Moabites by moving to Moab,
whether there was a famine or not. Likewise those who love and serve Jehovah God, and did so during the World War, had no way of escaping the hostility and oppression of the modern Moabites, whether they lived in one land or in another.
The "certain man", together with his wife and sons, went to Moab, as the record shows, because of the famine. The record is silent, however, as to which one of these four was the prime mover of the transfer of residence from Bethlehem to Moab. It seems, however, that the presumption must be indulged that the husband and head of the house was the one who led the movement or transfer of residence to Moab. The time of the fulfilment of the prophecy corresponds to the closing years of the Elijah work of the church, at which time the Jezebel spirit was rife and when women exercised much influence in the companies of God's consecrated people. (Rev. 2:18-23; see Light, Book One, page 29) This might indicate that Naomi influenced her husband to go into the land of Moab in order that her two sons might be sure of the necessary food, but this conclusion does not seem to be supported by the facts. It has also been said that the fact that the woman lost her husband and her two sons would indicate the Lord's displeasure with her and therefore that the thing that Naomi was trying to prevent really resulted to her sons.
But when we call to mind that the book of Ruth is a part of the Bible, the Word of God, and that these things were written aforetime
for the special benefit of the remnant, then the only reasonable conclusion is that the famine in Canaan came upon the Israelites according to the will of Jehovah. (Lev. 26: 20; 2 Ki. 8:1) The chief purpose was to make a prophetic picture at that time, the meaning of which Jehovah would make known to his remnant people in the last days; hence the going of that "certain man" to Moab, together with his family, must have been a part of the divine drama and, that being true, no blame would attach either to Naomi or to her husband. We have the positive statement of the Scriptures that "all these things happened unto [the Israelites] for ensamples" or typical pictures and that they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come. That being true, we must view the characters that played in that drama as entirely blameless, knowing that they took their respective parts and played them according to the will of God. The part that each one played in the drama foreshadowed something of great importance to come to pass at a later date.
These prophetic pictures made in olden times by Jehovah's using his covenant people Israel manifestly were made for the purpose of showing his faithful covenant people at the end of the world that it was the purpose of Jehovah from the beginning of the deflection in Eden to vindicate his word and his name, and that in his own due time; also to show that Jehovah could put human creatures on the earth that would maintain their integrity toward him and be faithful and true to him, and to show that the
faithful ones taken from amongst men after the coming of Christ would have some part in the work of vindicating Jehovah's name. The historical and genealogical part of this divine drama necessarily appears and is important, but that which is of greater importance is to disclose a vindicator and the work of the vindication of Jehovah's name.
The book of Ruth discloses that Naomi and Ruth in times of stress were preserved by Jehovah, and that this preservation was granted to them because of their love for Jehovah, and that they had to do with the vindication of this "certain man" mentioned in the opening part of the book. This would therefore indicate that the class of people pictured by Naomi and Ruth would be preserved by Jehovah God and that their preservation would come by reason of their loving devotion to Jehovah, and that they would have some part in the vindication of the great name of Jehovah. The time of the fulfilment of the prophecy therefore seems clearly to he in the day of judgment when the great Judge has begun his reign and when the people who give praise to the name of Jehovah find themselves in the enemy's country and are enabled by the light which comes to them from the temple of God to clearly discern the enemy organization and to see the means of preservation and escape. The prophecy also will enable God's covenant people now on earth to have a keener appreciation of the great favor and privilege Jehovah has bestowed upon them by bringing them into his organization and making it possi-
ble for them to dwell for ever in his house. It discloses the wisdom of the course taken by those who seek the house of the Lord and the controlling motive that must induce one to seek to enter into the house of Jehovah.
The opening verse of the book of Ruth does not disclose the name of the "certain man of Beth-lehem-judah" who went and sojourned in Moab, but his name is later disclosed. Manifestly this is for the purpose of emphasizing the importance of the name. The prophetic drama opens with this "certain man" and his family, who were God's covenant people, in an enemy's country and under oppression and in distress. We may conclude that the husband and father was a comfort to his wife and sons and that this has an important bearing upon the matter. While it is true that the book of Ruth gives prominence to the genealogy leading up to David, and therefore to Jesus, whom David foreshadowed, it was pointing to the more important thing, to wit, the building of Jehovah's capital organization that would vindicate his name. This point could not be appreciated until God's time to give his people an understanding of the meaning of his name Jehovah and an understanding of what his chief purpose is concerning creation. Heretofore men have proceeded upon the theory that God was working out a well defined plan that would ultimately result in saving some in heaven and probably some on the earth, and that he permitted evil to exist in order that man might learn the bad results thereof. Now the truth more clearly ap-
pears and it is seen that wickedness in the earth is the result of rebellion, that the wicked one has builded a great organization which has defamed the name and word of Jehovah God; that Jehovah has permitted him to go unhindered in his wickedness; that Jehovah God is building his capital organization or house which in his own time he will use to demonstrate to all creation that his Word is true, and that his name is worthy of all praise, and that no one can get life everlasting anywhere unless he loves and serves Jehovah God as his law provides.
Doubtless God sent the evil famine upon the land of Israel, but that does not at all mean that the "certain man" who went out from Bethlehem-Judah was faithless. The fact that this man is made to boldly appear in the opening verse of the book of Ruth and his name later announced strongly indicates that he was an honorable and God-fearing man, high in the councils of the tribe of Judah, and one whom Jehovah God would use to disclose how he would build his house that in due time would vindicate and honor his name.
Jehovah is the master builder of his house. It is his temple and dwelling place. "Except Jehovah build the house, in vain will its builders have toiled thereon: except Jehovah watch the city, in vain will the watchman have kept awake." (Ps, 127:1, Roth.) Many men have thought they could build the house of the. Lord, and their efforts have been in vain. Jehovah now is making known to his remnant people on the earth that the building of his house has
progressed according to his sovereign will; that only those who have a strong desire to dwell in his house and are willing, yea, even glad, to comply with his rules can even start on the way to his royal house. By the unfolding of his prophecy Jehovah now identifies those who have taken the right course which permits them to enter the house of the Lord and to dwell there for ever. He also shows what each one who attempts to enter that house must do in order to be preserved. We may also be sure that in making prophetic pictures relating to the building of his house Jehovah selected the men or characters used and that these enacted their respective parts in harmony with God's will. The book of Ruth discloses one of such prophetic pictures and identifies the company that dwell in the house of the Lord.
The beginning of the book of Ruth tells of "a certain man" who, together with his family, went to "sojourn in the [land] of Moab", then discloses the name of the "certain man", and the names of his wife and two sons: "And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there." — 1: 2.
The name Elimelech means "God is King" or "God my King", or "God of our [the] king". The name of any creature whom God employs to make a prophetic picture is significant. Israel had no man as king in the day of Ruth, as it is stated in verse one that "it came to pass in the
days when the judges [judged or] ruled". "In those days there was no [human] king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judg. 17: 6) This suggests that the fulfilment of the prophecy of the book of Ruth could not come to pass until the coming of God's kingdom and time of judgment. It was in 1914 that God placed his King upon his holy hill in his organization. (Ps. 2:6) The famine then came upon God's people when the World War brought them into an unhappy condition. This corresponds to the beginning of the events prophetically set forth in the book of Ruth.
Elimelech well represents or pictures the holy spirit acting for Jehovah 'the King Eternal' (Jer. 10:10), in the capacity of comforter, helper, advocate and leader of God's people. Naomi and her boys picture all who were in covenant relationship with the King Eternal by reason of having been begotten or brought forth by the spirit of Jehovah God. Naomi plays more than one part in this drama; and this is not unusual in a prophetic dramatic picture. In addition to picturing those who together with their spiritual "sons" were the begotten sons of God, Naomi pictured those who please God by reason of having responded to the call to the kingdom and who undertake to be obedient to God's commandments. The holy spirit or comforter was sent to the church because Jesus went away to heaven and in order that his followers might not be left as orphans or without help. (John 14:16; 15: 26; 16:7-14; Acts 9: 31) The holy spirit is the power of Jehovah sent forth to
operate for and in behalf of his spirit-begotten ones, to lead, guide, help, advocate for and comfort such. Elimelech was the head and leader of his household; and since he must have gone into Moab according to the will of God, Naomi must have been led there by him and also according to the will of God. Barnabas and Paul were sent forth by the holy spirit, as it is written: "And while they were serving the Lord and fasting, the holy spirit said, 'Separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I called them.' Then having fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them forth. They, therefore, having been sent out by the holy spirit, went down to Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." (Acts 13:2-4, Diag.) This is proof of the leading or guiding of the holy spirit.
There is nothing in the record that would indicate that Elimelech or Naomi was doing or did anything displeasing to God; therefore they must have gone into Moab according to the will of the King Eternal, even as the name Elimelech signifies, "My God is King." Criticism of Elimelech's course would therefore be out of order. God's people found themselves in the midst of Satan's organization and oppressed by military power from the year 1914 to 1918, and surely they were not in that condition because of any displeasure on the part of God towards them, even though some thought so. The spirit of Jehovah God led them into that condition that his purposes might be accomplished. By his spirit, the holy spirit, Jehovah God guides
or leads his people up to a certain point of time, and thus he did until the time when "the comforter" was taken away, which would necessarily occur when Jesus, the Head of his organization, came to the temple and gathered unto himself those whom he found faithful when he, as the great Judge, began his judgment, in 1918.
The proper name "Naomi" is found only in the book of Ruth. It means "pleasant", that is to say, pleasing to Jehovah, as it is written: "A wise son maketh a glad father." (Prov. 10:1) "My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me."(Prov. 27:11) 'God sets the members in the body of Christ according to his pleasure.' (1 Cor. 12:18) "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places: yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Ps. 16:5, 6) Those who are devoted to God please him when dwelling together in peace. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133:1) "The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words." (Prov. 15: 26) "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." (Prov. 3:12,13,17) "Be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being
fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Col. 1:9,10) "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (1 John 3: 22) These scriptures, in harmony with the name of Naomi, strongly indicate that her course was pleasing to Jehovah God.
When God's consecrated and spirit-begotten ones found themselves in the trying conditions by reason of the World War there were then some who remained faithful to the Lord and to his kingdom while enduring many tribulations and persecutions, and these are they whom the Lord upon coming to his temple found faithful and approved, and to whom he said: 'You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.' It was then that the Lord Jesus committed to this class all his goods or kingdom interests and designated such the "faithful and wise servant", and which class is known and designated as the "remnant" or forming a part thereof. Naomi therefore seems clearly to represent those who went through the tribulation of 1917 to 1919 and remained faithful and true to God and his kingdom, and who constituted the original remnant or "faithful servant" class, and who immediately took up the work foreshadowed by the Prophet Elisha. Therefore here appears a close relationship of the books of Esther and Ruth. Naomi and Mordecai pictured the same class of the "faithful servant" found when the Lord appeared at his temple. These faithful ones received the
garments of salvation, are identified as members of God's organization, and, being covered with the robe of righteousness, receive the mark of Jehovah's approval and were thus counted in as a part of God's elect servant in whom he has pleasure or in whom he delights. (Isa. 42:1) Jehovah takes delight in his beloved Son and in those who are faithful members of his body. "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" — Song of Solomon 7: 6.
There is nothing in the record that would warrant any harsh criticism of Elimelech or Naomi. On the contrary, Elimelech was a good man in the land of bread and peace and was one giving praise to Jehovah's name. Naomi, like God's faithful people during the World War days, was placed in a condition of great sorrow, during which she maintained her integrity toward God. The "faithful servant" class, whom she foreshadowed, now says: "He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me." — Ps. 18:17-19.
One of the sons of Naomi bore the name Mahlon, which means "sickly"; being derived from the primitive root meaning "to be rubbed or worn; (hence) to be weak, sick, afflicted; or (causative) to grieve or make sick". The other son was named Chilion, and which name means "pining, destruction", being derived from the primitive root meaning "to end, to cease, to
be finished, perish, to complete, to consume". The two boys, being offspring of Naomi, seem to picture the fruitage of the consecrated, whom Naomi pictured, and which fruitage this class brought forth during the time of the Elijah work of the church and therefore during the time of the advocacy of the holy spirit as a comforter or helper of the church. That was not kingdom fruitage, because neither of these boys lived to return to Beth-lehem-judah or to become possible ancestors of the future king of Israel and of the King who was afterwards born "in the city of David". (Luke 2:11) Neither did either of these sons 'raise up seed to the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off'.
Looking now at the facts it is readily observed that during the Elijah period of the church the fruitage of the consecrated was largely of the "character development" kind, those attempting to bear it expecting by bringing forth such fruitage to make sure of entering into the kingdom and assisting the Lord in ruling the universe. It was like the names of these two sons, or which is suggested by their names, namely, a sickly, weak, self-centered, self-flattering kind, as well as a pining growth, "having men's persons in admiration." During that period of time, and prior to 1918, the Naomi class without a doubt in all good conscience brought into their communion a class of people who grew spiritually sick and pined because they desired quick passage out of the earth and its troubles and to be carried away on flowery beds of ease to a lazy, easy
resting place. It was a fruitage that had a sickly look, always looking for sympathy. If those who thus were brought into communion with the Naomi class were not held in high esteem, given much attention at conventions or meetings of other kinds, and admired and made much over, they pined and wasted away, inducing themselves to believe that they were a sacrifice beneficial to the Lord and that they thus must do in order to be the chief ones in heaven. They "died" young, not, however, because they were good.
The Naomi class, faithful and true to the Lord, labored hard to accomplish what was thought to be "harvest work" and to find and gather wheat into the garner of the Lord, but, like Naomi's two sons, that fruitage amounted to nothing. Frequently a good zealous man or woman would participate in the witness work and return at the end of the day and say, "I have found a wheat head; I have been doing harvest work," and would bring into communion with the class some such who later expected to receive adulation and pity, and, not receiving this, pined away. Paul expressed the matter in these words: "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Gal. 4:19) And again he said: "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:14,15) Those faithful ones whom Naomi pictured did the best they knew, it seems, and the Lord loved
them for their faithfulness even though they did not bring forth the fruit of the kingdom and to the glory of God. The faithful and unselfish devotion to the Lord during that period and up to the time of the Lord's coming to his temple was pleasing to God and to Christ, and the great Judge received and approved them after he appeared at his temple.
Naomi and her sons were Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah. Ephratah was another and earlier name given to the town of Bethlehem. (Gen. 35:19) The name of the place means "fruitfulness", but for some time that became a place of famine, a place of scarcity of food for Naomi and her sons. "The house of bread" wherein the praise of Jehovah was sung became bare and a place of sorrow by reason of the famine, which evidently God had called upon the land. So it was with the Naomi class; in the period of time from 1917 to 1918 there was a scarcity of meat because of the doubt and misgivings concerning the will of God which these had. (John 4: 34) The Lord's consecrated people were then in perplexity about what should be done to carry forward the Lord's work. It was indeed a condition well represented by famine, and the consecrated were sad.
Naomi and her sons "came into the country of Moab, and continued there". Moab represented Satan's organization. The Naomi class and the spiritual "children" of such came in touch with the Devil's organization during the World War and their way was a hard one. Concerning this Naomi said: "The hand of the Lord
is gone out against me. . . . The Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me." This does not indicate unfaithfulness on the part of Naomi or that she was afflicted because of wrongdoing. When the Lord's people came into a hard and famine condition during the World War, that was a trying period for them; it could hardly be said that this condition came upon them by reason of their unfaithfulness. There was a cessation of the work in the name of the Lord, and for this reason it appears that the consecrated believed that the Lord was angry with them; and when they learned that his anger was turned away they rejoiced and became more active, even as God through the prophet Isaiah indicates. —Isa. 12:1.
The part that Naomi played in the prophetic drama was without a doubt according to the will of God, and she was therefore blameless. On the contrary, she was pleasing to the Lord. Likewise the testing time that came upon the Naomi class in 1917 and 1918 was not because of faithlessness, but it came in harmony with the will of God, that his purposes might be accomplished; and those who remained faithful and true to him during these trying times maintained their integrity toward God and were pleasing to him. There is no evidence whatsoever that Naomi at any time became unfaithful to Jehovah God, nor is there any evidence that the Naomi class while undergoing that trying experience of the World War time were unfaithful to God. It was because of their faithfulness during that period that the Lord approved them
when he appeared at the temple for judgment. Had these been unfaithful the Lord would not have approved them, nor would he have told them that they had been faithful over a few things and for that reason he would increase their privileges and give them many more opportunities of serving Jehovah God and proving their love to him.
Jehovah is the husband of his organization. (Isa. 54:5) Christ Jesus is the Head of the church. The man or husband is the head of his wife, and therefore her helper, guide and comforter. (Deut. 24:5) "For a husband is the wife's head, even as the Anointed One is Plead of the congregation; he is a Preserver of the body. But even as the congregation is subjected to the Anointed One, so also the wives to their husbands in everything." (Eph. 5: 23, 24, Diag.) When Jesus was with his disciples he was their helper, guide and comforter. When he was about to be taken away he said to them: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." — John 14:16-18.
The holy spirit was given to the church at Pentecost to perform the office of comforter, advocate and helper of and for the spirit-be-
gotten ones during the absence of Christ Jesus. "But when he may come, the spirit of truth, he will lead you into all the truth; for he will not speak from himself; he will speak whatever he may hear; and declare to you the coming things. He will glorify me; because he will take of mine, and declare to you. All things that the Father has are mine; on account of this I said, That out of mine he takes, and will declare to you." — John 16:13-15, Diag.
These texts show that the holy spirit would and did perform the office of helper, advocate and comforter of those who responded to the call to the kingdom, and until the coming of Christ Jesus and the gathering unto himself of his own. Furthermore it is written that when Christ Jesus appears at the temple for judgment he is attended by his holy angels. (Matt. 25:31) When Christ Jesus gathers his faithful unto himself he uses his angels for this very purpose, as he stated: "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matt. 24: 31) Christ also uses his holy angels to gather out those who have responded to the call to the kingdom but who have not been faithful. (Matt. 13:41) If the holy spirit were still operating or performing the office of advocate and helper there would be no necessity for Christ's employing his holy angels in the work mentioned in the foregoing text. Furthermore, since Christ Jesus is the Head or Husband to his church when he appears at the temple of
Jehovah for judgment, and gathers his own to himself, there would be no necessity for a substitute for Christ Jesus, such as the holy spirit; therefore the office of the holy spirit as an advocate, comforter and helper would cease. The angels of Christ Jesus forming his retinue of servants at the temple, invisible indeed to man, are given charge over members of the temple company yet on the earth. "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." — Ps. 91:11.
The third verse of the first chapter of Ruth reads: "And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons." Elimelech, the helper and comforter of Naomi, died and was therefore taken away or removed. In the prophetic drama this pictures the cessation or ending of Jehovah's relationship towards his people on earth by means of the office of the holy spirit as advocate, helper and comforter. The Lord Jesus came to his temple in 1918, and that would mark the time of the cessation of the work of the holy spirit as an advocate, helper and comforter of the members of the church on earth. There the holy spirit was taken away, which was foreshadowed by the death of Elimelech. When Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her sons, it was a time of sorrow for them, and this sorrow continued upon Naomi until Ruth is brought into the family of Boaz. Likewise when the Lord came to his temple, in 1918, and the holy spirit as advocate, helper and comforter was removed, there was sorrow upon the church, and it continued until the faithful
learned that Christ Jesus was at his temple and that the time of rejoicing had come, and then they began to rejoice. They then learned that there was much work for the faithful yet to do, and with joy they went forth to do it. When her husband was taken away doubtless Naomi said, "The Lord hath forgotten me"; and that well corresponds with what the words of the prophet of God say: "Zion [represented by the members of the Naomi class on earth] said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me." (Isa. 49:14-16) But the Lord had not forsaken Zion; neither had the Lord forsaken or forgotten Naomi, nor the Naomi class.
At this point Ruth enters upon the stage of the prophetic drama and plays an important part. She was devoted to Naomi, and Naomi loved Ruth very dearly. The two sons of Naomi married, one of them to a Moabitish woman named Orpah, and the other to Ruth. "And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth; and they dwelled there about ten years." (1:4) These two sons here also seem to picture a class that is not faithful and obedient to God. The law of Jehovah governing the marital relationship of the Israelites with those of other nations, and by which law the sons were bound, reads: "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter
shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." (Deut. 7: 3,4), "Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice. And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." — Ex. 34:15,16.
Naomi, however, would not be responsible for the acts of her sons who were of marriageable age, nor could fault be found with her because her sons had taken wives outside of Israel. Surely no blame could be put upon the young women whom these boys married, but the young women would be responsible for the part or course of action taken by them after they became the wives of the two young men of Israel. Naomi had now acquired by the law of marriage two daughters, and hence they are called her daughters-in-law. These two daughters-in-law and the two sons at this point collectively picture a class that became associated with the Naomi class shortly before the coming of the Lord to the temple for judgment. From the time that Ruth elected to stay with Naomi she particularly pictured those chosen after 1918.
Chilion, one of the sons of Naomi, married Orpah. "The name of the one was Orpah." Her name means "mane", and is the feminine of the word meaning "nape" or "back of the neck".
This name suggests a "stiff-necked or stubborn, slothful" class who were brought in contact with the truth. "It is a stiff-necked [or, stiff-of-the-neck] people." (Ex. 32: 9) "They have turned unto me the back [margin, the neck], and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction." (Jer. 32:33) Those who disregard God's Word are rebellious and are properly called "stiff of neck" and they turn the back of the neck to the Lord. "For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death!" (Deut. 31: 27) "He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Prov. 29:1) Upon the authorities here cited it may well be said that Orpah played the part picturing the class that came in contact with the truth, and was associated with the Naomi class after the taking away of the holy spirit in the capacity of comforter or helper, and that afterwards turned their faces away and turned their back to the Lord.
The other young Moabitish woman became the wife of Mahlon, as it is written: "And the name of the other [was] Ruth." At this point of the drama there appears a beautiful woman, a stranger to the nation of Israel, and who became famous among that people, and who was greatly honored by Jehovah God. The name Ruth means "friend" or "female associate". She must have been a lovable creature and one with a
pure heart. Her devotion to her female associate Naomi, her mother-in-law, shows her as a true friend. "A friend loveth at all times." (Prov. 17:17; 22:11, Leeser; 27:9, Leeser) Not only did Ruth become the associate of her mother-in-law, Naomi, but she was a true and faithful friend, and this is proven by the fact that she loved Naomi all the time and that Naomi loved Ruth. They were unselfishly undertaking to serve each other, which is proof that they loved each other at all times. Naomi remained faithful and true to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and was without doubt a witness unto Ruth regarding Jehovah as the only true God. The testimony of Naomi concerning Jehovah had the proper effect upon Ruth and led her to devote herself to Jehovah and to go on with his covenant people, forsaking everything behind.
Similarly the Naomi class remained true and faithful unto God during the time of stress, and their testimony to others concerning God and his kingdom has had to do with others' seeing and serving Jehovah and his righteous cause since 1919. Thus Ruth particularly pictures a class coining to a knowledge of God and serving him from and after the coining of the Lord to his temple.
The judgment of the Lord at the temple began with those in covenant with God and who therefore had agreed to do the will of God. "Judgment must begin at the. house of God." (1 Pet. 4:17) It is to be expected that the judgment
would be adverse to some who were in line for a place in that house, and the physical facts fully support that expectation. About 1918 and thereafter there were those amongst the company of God's people on earth who because of their selfishness refused to work according to God's appointed way and therefore became the workers of iniquity or lawless ones; furthermore they set traps and snares to draw others away with them and to catch them, and thereby they became offenders, within the meaning of the words of Jesus, and were for that reason gathered out. (Matt. 13:41) "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." — Matt. 7: 23.
The two sons of Naomi pictured the offenders and workers of iniquity. They pictured those that pined, were spiritually sick and wasted away and died. "And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband." (1:5) Both of these boys failed to uphold or perpetuate the name of their father Elimelech, whose name means "God is King". By reason of their death they failed to "raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance". — 4:10.
These two sons represent a class that were unfaithful to the Lord, became rebellious, failed and refused to bear the fruits of the kingdom and were cut off when the Lord came to his temple. It must have been a sad time for Naomi. She saw the offspring of her body taken away from her by the enemy death. It so affected her that she said: "The Almighty hath dealt very
bitterly with me." Likewise when judgment began at the house of God the Naomi class saw those to whom they had ministered, nourished and tried to help along toward the kingdom, taken away by the influence of the cruel enemy and cut off from all prospects of a place in the kingdom. The death of these two boys seems well to correspond with the death of the wife of Ezekiel and pictures the same thing, and therefore pictures those who "died" in the dark period when judgment began at the house of God. — See Vindication, Book One, page 332.
Naomi was now too old to marry and bear sons who might be forefathers of the king of the coming government. Except for the mercy of Jehovah and his intervention Naomi could have no connection with the fruit of the kingdom. Naomi did not at first seem to have expectation that God would make provision through one of her daughters-in-law, because she insisted that both should return to their native people and to their gods and marry amongst that heathen people. The wisdom of Jehovah is past the understanding of humankind. He was then making a prophetic picture of things to come to pass in future days, and therefore he caused the drama to progress.
Naomi was in the midst of the land of the enemies of Israel and now, together with her two daughters-in-law, she prepared to return to the land of promise. "Then she arose, with her daughters in law, that she might return
from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread." (1:6) For eighteen years Eglon the king of Moab had compelled the Israelites to serve him and he had sorely oppressed them. The Lord raised up from the tribe of Benjamin the left-handed Ehud who made himself a two-edged knife about eighteen inches in length, and at the opportune time drove its sharp edges even beyond the haft into the pot-belly of King Eglon, and therefore by the hand of Ehud Jehovah delivered his people from the heel of the Moabitish oppressor. It is probable that shortly after that time Naomi, with her daughters-in-law, prepared to go to Bethlehem. It is quite likely that Ehud was then serving as the vindicator and judge of Israel. It was not the famine for material bread that caused Naomi to forsake Moab. At that time there was bread in both lands, for God had visited his people in Bethlehem and given them bread. The real motive impelling Naomi to return was her desire to be with her own people, whom God had raised up and restored to his favor by delivering them from the hand of Eglon's oppressive rule. The time was opportune for Naomi to return, and it was God's time to proceed with the prophetic drama. The occasion of Naomi's leaving Moab corresponds with the admonitions given to the covenant people of God to leave Satan's organization and to associate themselves wholly and entirely with God's organization. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:17,18) The Naomi class, as the Prophet Isaiah had foretold, realized prior to 1919 that they were dwelling in the midst of an unclean people and therefore they must take a forward step, devote themselves entirely to the Lord and enter his service. — Isa. 6:5.
The class of spirit-begotten ones on earth whom Naomi pictured at this point came to a realization that Christ Jesus the great Judge had come to the temple, of Jehovah and that the famine had ended, and that God had lifted the 'rod of the wicked from the lot of the righteous', and now they must busy themselves with the kingdom work and henceforth hold themselves entirely aloof and separate from the wicked. (Ps. 125: 3) The Naomi class saw that 'the Lord had come to his temple', and that Jehovah had turned his face toward his people, and, like Zacharias, they said: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people." (Luke 1:68) Jehovah's visiting his people at the time Naomi moved out of Moab resulted in taking out from amongst the Gentiles a woman for his name, to wit, Ruth; and in due time God again visited the Gentiles "to take out of them a people for his name". — Acts 15:14.
"The Lord had visited his people in giving them bread" and there was again plenty in the land of Israel. Jehovah had brought showers
of blessings upon the tribe of Judah. "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds [margin, lightnings], and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the Lord of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle." (Zech. 10: 1,3) The faithful of the Jews had evidently now begun to bring all their tithes into the storehouse, and Jehovah had opened the windows of heaven and poured down great blessings upon them, and there was now plenty among his people. (See Malachi 3:10-12.) True to her name, Bethlehem had now become "the house of bread"; and Ephratah had become the place of fruitfulness, and Judah the place of praise to Jehovah's name. Thus is pictured how the people of God, his faithful ones on earth, "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [their] lips, giving thanks to his name." (Heb. 13:15) It is even so with God's people now on earth after the coming of the Lord to the temple of Jehovah.
By his prophet Jehovah had said: "But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth." — Mic. 5:2-4.
After the birth of the nation or kingdom (A.D. 1914) Christ Jesus, the King and Vindicator of Jehovah's name, came to the temple of Jehovah, and from that time forward he girds himself and causes his faithful ones to be at rest while, in the language of the prophet, he stands and feeds' them upon food that is convenient for them. Especially since 1922 has the Lord thus done. Christ Jesus feeds his people in the strength and majesty of Jehovah God; and while they partake of this food God's lightnings continue to flash from his temple, making known to the faithful remnant class the manifold blessings being bestowed upon them, and blessings yet awaiting them if faithful. When these facts are brought to the attention of God's covenant people who really love him they hasten to separate themselves from Satan's organization, pictured by Moab, and hasten to devote themselves entirely to God's organization, the house of fruitfulness and of praise to the name of Jehovah. — See The Watchtower, 1928, pages 371-377.
The returning of Naomi to the "land of bread" therefore well pictures the coming of God's people to a realization that the Lord is at his temple and of the blessings they enjoy and have continued to enjoy feeding at his table from that time forward.
Jehovah never compels or even urges anyone to enter his house. The man who believes that Jehovah is God, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, begins to turn his face toward the house of the Lord. He must exercise such faith before he can even start towards the house of Jehovah. (Heb. 11: 6) It is out of place for one to attempt to persuade or compel another to seek the. house of the Lord and attempt to enter therein. Regardless of how much natural love the parent has for his child, it is not the parent's prerogative or privilege to take his son into the kingdom of God. Many have committed this grievous mistake by thinking the obligation is laid upon them to get their children into the kingdom. God himself is selecting the members of the royal house, and fleshly relationship has nothing to do therewith. It is the duty of the parents to teach their children the truth, and then the children must take the responsibility of the course of action they pursue. It is only after one is spirit-begotten, and has accepted the call to a place in the kingdom or house of the Lord, that it is then proper to urge such a one. to be diligent to make his calling and election sure. "Wherefore the rather, brethren [those who have responded to the call to the kingdom], give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." (2 Pet. 1:10) To those who have been brought into the covenant for the kingdom the apostle appropriately says: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a liv-
ing sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." — Rom. 12:1.
It is of even greater importance that the one called to enter the house of the Lord have the proper motive in so doing. If the motive is merely salvation, he is certain to fail. The desire to enter Jehovah's house must be true and sincere, and the motive must be unselfishness, that is to say, a loving desire to be of the Lord's house that the beauty and glory of the Lord may be seen and that appropriate service may be rendered unto him. As Jehovah's special representative Jesus required his disciples to first prove their faithfulness to and love for him before they were invited into his covenant for the kingdom; even so it is with all who are begotten of the holy spirit. (Luke 22:28-30) Jesus also told his followers that, having once undertaken to enter the house of the Lord by starting in that direction, to then even look back, desiring to return, would prove such a one's unfaithfulness and therefore his unfitness for the kingdom. "And Jesus said unto him, No man. having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." — Luke 9:62.
It clearly follows that for one having been brought into the favor of Jehovah and into his service to then separate himself from that service of the Lord, and to voluntarily seek a place in Satan's organization, such thereby proves himself unworthy of the kingdom. There must be no divided affection. God preserves and brings into his house only those who love him and serve him in spirit and in truth. To dwell
in the house of Jehovah God is the greatest favor that could possibly be bestowed upon any creature. To enjoy that favor one must earnestly and diligently seek after the Lord's house and faithfully comply with the divine requirements. By way of comparison of the blessed privilege of being in the house of the Lord the psalmist wrote: "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." — Ps. 84:10.
ON THE WAY
Naomi now, accompanied by the two other women, began the trek to the land of God's favor. "Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her: and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah." (1:7) It was Naomi's devotion to Jehovah God, and to his covenant people, that induced her to undertake the journey and to travel through that part of the country which was usually infested with thieves and desperate men. What was the moving cause for the two daughters-in-law to accompany her? Necessarily these three widow women would be bowed down with sorrow, and it is probable that their condition was described by the Prophet Jeremiah. As they left Moab they would be weeping because of their contact with the enemy death and of the suffering that they had undergone by the hand of the oppressor, and they would shed tears also of hope that they might soon enjoy better things. "They
shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble; ... Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden." (Jer. 31:9,12) "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten." — Jer. 50:4, 5.
It was about 1919 that God's faithful people began to hurry away from the world, that is, Satan's organization, pictured by Moab, and to return to Zion, which is God's organization. The Lord had begun to build up Zion and also had begun to shine out of Zion. (Ps. 102:16; 50: 2) It was therefore time for the fulfilment of Jehovah's command, to wit: "Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (Ps. 50:5) This divine command had reference to the class pictured by Naomi when she left Moab and which class, as it were, took the highway whereby they might "return and come unto Zion"; and upon reaching God's organization their crying would there cease.
The class pictured by Naomi, to wit, God's faithful covenant people, began this returning "in that day", that is to say, "the day which the Lord [Jehovah] hath made" and which is the time of rejoicing for God's people. (Ps. 118: 24) It is written by the Prophet Isaiah: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left,... And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah [as Naomi was]." (Isa. 11:11,12) "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me [that is, the Naomi class], thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." — Isa. 12:1, 2.
Being of the tribe of Judah Naomi would be reminded of God's promise concerning the king that should come through the tribe of Judah, as it is written: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the. gathering of the people be." (Gen. 49:10) Even so the class whom Naomi represented, and while the oppression was on during the World War and immediately following, was reminded that the King, Christ Jesus, and his kingdom were and are the only hope or expectation of the peoples of the world. There is no other means of relief. Naomi would have her heart set upon
this promise, which she knew could not fail. The fact that the two other women left the land of their nativity to go to Palestine shows that they intended if possible to reach that land and to abide there permanently with the Israelites, God's covenant people. A test must come which would determine what was the real motive that induced them to go.
Shortly following the period of the World War there was a class who started to follow towards the kingdom with those whom Naomi pictured. Probably many of these were spirit-begotten even prior to the World War and were walking with those who proved faithful to God and whom Naomi pictured. How many of these were prompted to take this step toward the kingdom with an unselfish and pure desire to reach the kingdom? How many had selfishness as the real motive, 'holding men's persons in admiration for advantage'? — Jude 16.
After the journey to Bethlehem was begun Naomi seemed to come to the realization that she was assuming considerable responsibility and probably she was the one that was inducing these young women to leave their native land and their own people and go into a strange country. Their respect for her as their mother-in-law would be an inducement to them to go, and therefore Naomi spoke to them, as it is written: "And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye
have dealt with the dead, and with me." (1:8) It was not time to make proselytes of the Gentiles, and Naomi would not attempt to even force her daughters-in-law to become members of the nation which Jehovah had chosen and with which he had made a covenant. She would leave that to Jehovah God, and properly so.
Prior to 1918 the consecrated as represented by Naomi thought to induce by persuasion and enticing words their near relatives at least, and also others, to attempt to enter the house of Jehovah God. Later the faithful ones, pictured now by Naomi on the way to Bethlehem, began to appreciate the truth that God does the selecting of those who shall enter his house. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Cor. 1:9) "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Heb. 5:4) It is not the part or work of the remnant to select anyone to be a member of the house of Jehovah. Each one must act for himself.
The class of consecrated whom Naomi represented at this point had started on the way to Zion, but later realized that no one can take another into the kingdom. As Naomi and her daughters-in-law were on the way the test came to the daughters-in-law, which revealed the motive of each one in going to the land of promise. So likewise when the Lord came to his temple the test came upon those who had responded to the invitation to go to the kingdom, and such test disclosed the. motive of each one who had
responded to that invitation. "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' sope: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." —Mal. 3: 2, 3.
That marked the time for ascertaining the secret purpose of those who had responded to the call for the kingdom. "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:16) "And thus are the secrets of the heart made manifest." (1 Cor. 14:25) The physical facts that have come to pass since 1918 fully prove that this test has been upon God's consecrated people since that date.
The two young women, now widows, had been kind to their husbands. Naomi appreciated this and was desirous that the Lord might likewise deal kindly with her daughters-in-law, and therefore she said to them: "The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me." Completely bereft, and seemingly without friends, Naomi was powerless of herself to reward her daughters-in-law for the goodness they had bestowed upon her. She could only look to Jehovah to give them reward and blessings and she expressed hope that their kind treatment of her and her sons might be preserved as a memorial for Jehovah to consider in his own due time in behalf of these two. The record at Acts 10: 31 is an instance of such
memorial's being preserved and afterwards brought up before Jehovah for consideration.
Continuing to express her love and kindness toward her daughters-in-law Naomi said: "The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept." (1:9) No wonder these three women wept together. They had experienced great sorrow resulting from death and the loss of home. Naomi was a widow with no prospect of again enjoying the pleasures of a home and family of her own. Her hope was that her daughters-in-law would have an easier way, because they were young and might yet obtain husbands and have the pleasures of home and children. Probably this trio of widow women had reached the borderland of Moab, and therefore an appropriate place for their separation. Naomi therefore would dismiss the two others with her blessings and hoped for them that there would be better days in store for them. She would not want for them a day of rest in idleness, but the rest and comfort that comes by reason of having a home and being freed from widowhood and barrenness. She bestowed upon her daughters-in-law affectionate kisses and then together they lifted up their voices and wept aloud.
Comparing this prophetic part of the picture with the facts that have since come to pass, it is noted that from 1918 onward there was a separation going on amongst those who claimed to be devoted to the Lord God and who had started on their way to the kingdom. Since that time
some have wept because others have taken their departure from the Lord's organization, which persons departing were dear to them by ties of flesh or other close relationship. Others of the professed consecrated have wept because their former associates would not forsake the Lord's organization and go another way with them. There has been much weeping amongst those who claimed to be in the way of the Lord, because of such separation. Today, however, by reason of greater shining of God's lightnings upon his Word, those who are born of God's woman, namely, his organization, and who are therefore taught of Jehovah God have received instruction from his Word against such weeping. They understand what the Lord has said to them by his prophet Ezekiel, and, they being taught of God, 'great is their peace' and their weeping has ceased. (Ezek. 24:15-17; Isa. 54:13) Those who are truly devoted to the Lord do not urge others to go on with them, but point out that the privilege of serving Jehovah God is the greatest that could be given to any creature, and that those who do not fully appreciate this should turn back and separate themselves from those who are fully devoted to Jehovah and his kingdom.
The two young women expressed their willingness to continue with Naomi and to return with her unto her people. "And they said unto her, Surely [R.V., Nay, but] we will return with thee unto thy people." (1:10) Naomi's personality and her kindness to them held the young women strongly to her. Likewise in the
tests that have come upon God's people since 1919, the personality of some has strongly held others. These therefore are induced by the admiration of some other person to continue to hang on by their eyelashes and thus they attempt to stay in the truth and stay in the road toward the house of the Lord. Such is a selfish motive and, if such selfish motive is persisted in, will sooner or later result in their turning aside and ceasing to follow on in the way of the Lord. No one can lean upon the arm of flesh and withstand the fire of the enemy. He must trust in the Lord, and not in any man. — Ps. 118:8,9.
The action of Naomi was in keeping with the rule that Jehovah had announced on another occasion, never to urge anyone to enter his organization and to participate in the work toward the vindication of his name. When the Lord was preparing Gideon for battle with his enemies he said to him: "Now, therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return." (Judg. 7:3) Likewise the Lord said to the men in the armies of Israel on another occasion: "What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house." (Deut. 20: 8) The very opposite of fear is love, because perfect love, that is to say, full devotion to God, casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) For these young women who had started to Bethlehem to now turn back for a selfish reason would be conclusive proof that love was not the impelling motive, Addressing the two young women
who had started to walk with her in the way of her God, Naomi continued to say to them: "Turn again, my daughters, why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much, for your sakes, that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me." — 1:11-13.
This being a divine drama we may be sure that Naomi was acting under the guiding hand of Jehovah and therefore she would have her daughters-in-law to clearly understand what it might cost them to go on and become Israelites. It seems quite certain that she had told them prior thereto of the law of God given to Israel concerning levirate marriages; otherwise they could not have understood her speech which appears in the preceding verses. The law of God governing Israel in respect to levirate marriages reads: "If 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. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel."
(Deut. 25:5,6) The questions propounded by Naomi to her two daughters-in-law would impress upon their minds that there would be no more opportunity for them to marry sons of her family because, as she said, '"I am too old to have an husband" and to rear up more sons to take the place of them that have died.' Her argument must have been convincing to these young women upon this point, but to further strengthen her argument she said to them: 'But if I should have a husband, and should bear sons, would you young women wait until they grew to manhood? Would you remain single and unmarried for that length of time?' This argument of Naomi would be very persuasive and convincing to a normal woman of ancient times, and a test upon her that was crucial. This test, in fact, was the crucial one and clearly caused to be manifested the heart condition of each one of these young women, whether that of selfishness or unselfishness. For them to go on to Bethlehem and remain there would be to forget their own people in Moab. Through Naomi God was giving these young women an opportunity to count the cost if they would go, even as the psalmist afterwards wrote: "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house." — Ps. 45:10; Luke 14:28.
The prospect of these young women to marry in Israel, to erect a household, and there in Bethlehem enjoy the pleasures of family and home, would appear to be very remote and hence very uninviting to them. If they should con-
tinue to journey with Naomi and abide with her in the land of Israel, some consideration higher than human marriage and the pleasures of home and children must induce these daughters-in-law to do so. No selfishness could stand the strain of such a severe test. A selfish motive is never the proper inducement to serve Jehovah God, and this test is another proof thereof. If one responds to the call for the kingdom, and does so with a selfish desire of coming into a position of honor and ease and power, he is certain to fail. There can be but one proper motive for serving Jehovah God, and that is an unselfish desire to do the will of God, leaving to him to give whatsoever he may see fit to the one who thus faithfully serves because of love. Those who make a consecration with a condition in mind that they will serve God provided they receive a specific reward could not be pleasing to the Lord, and such consecration could not be acceptable unto God. To be sure, Naomi was not acquainted with the divine rule of consecration and selection of the spiritual house, but she was here playing her part of a drama under the direction of Jehovah God which teaches that rule beyond any question, and which is later confirmed by other scriptures. Nor was Naomi charging God with folly and herself with wrongdoing when she said to her daughters-in-law: 'It grieves me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone against me.' Her acknowledgment was that whatsoever God had done toward her must be right; and it was not grieving her because of herself, but for the
sake of her daughters-in-law. The one who really is devoted to the Lord God complains not against the Lord for any discipline that is received.
The argument of Naomi had uncovered the heart of each one of the two young women, and the decision of each one had been reached. At this point two classes of persons that have started towards the kingdom are clearly marked out, as will appear as this examination progresses. The breaking point had come. The separation must take place, and these three women again lifted up their voices, shedding tears of bitterness. Parting from those we have once loved is not a pleasant thing, even as it was not pleasant on this occasion for these women. "And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law [good-bye], but Ruth clave unto her." (1:14) Orpah's kissing her mother-in-law meant to her good-bye. Probably she said to Naomi in substance: 'Mother, while I do love you, it would be folly for me to sacrifice all my future prospects for a husband, children and home merely to go on with you, and particularly when I see that there never could be a hope for me of having a husband according to the law of your God. I will now go, mother, and return to my native land and to my people.' That meant that she was returning to her gods as well. Orpah therefore here plainly pictures a class once starting to serve God by following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, and who are finally shaken out because of selfishness in the heart. As her name Orpah suggests, she
turned the back of her neck to the Lord, thereby foreshadowing that class who first agree to do the will of God and then rebel against the demands and requirements made upon them by their continued association with the Naomi class, who delight to serve the Lord. It was self-interest that induced Orpah to return, and it is selfishness that leads the class she there pictured to turn the back of their necks to the Lord and to seek and to follow their own selfish ways that their own selfish interests might be conserved. If Chilion, whom Orpah married, was the elder son of the two, then Orpah would logically have been the one to be redeemed by the nearer kinsman and thereby have been the recipient of the royal privilege. She would therefore picture those who were once in line for the kingdom but who because of selfishness draw back.
Orpah went back to her own people, the Moabites, which people hated and oppressed God's covenant people the Israelites; and the class that Orpah pictured do likewise. Jehovah later pronounced judgment against the Moabites and their complete overthrow. Paul, under inspiration, wrote concerning the class that start in the way to the kingdom and then "draw back unto perdition". (Heb. 10:38,39) Peter likewise wrote concerning that same class: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been
better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Pet. 2: 20-22) Orpah went back to a people that practiced Devil religion and who therefore worshiped according to the Devil, and pictured those who, ceasing to be for the Lord, are against him.
A test similar to that presented to Orpah and Ruth came upon Moses. Reared in the lap of luxury, the question was presented to him, would he remain a son of royalty and enjoy honor and power in Satan's organization, or would he cast in his lot with those who loved righteousness? Moses met that test bravely and decided the matter right, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." — Heb. 11:25-27.
A similar test came to the consecrated ones when the Lord appeared at his temple, and many, like Orpah, turned back and ceased to walk with those devoted to God. Then others joined the ranks of the Naomi class and have
shared with their elder brethren the reproaches that come upon those who serve God, as it is written, 'both reproaches and affliction as companions of them that were so used.' —Heb. 10: 33.
But Ruth took the opposite course and insisted on remaining with her female companion Naomi. In so doing she illustrated the truth, which God's people now particularly appreciate, to wit, that brethren in God's organization must stick close together and must 'fight for their brethren'. (Neh. 4:14) They must now dwell together in unity, because Zion is builded up. (Ps. 133:1; 102:16) They must 'fight shoulder to shoulder' against the common enemy and for the righteous cause of their King. (Phil. 1:27, Weym.) They must be at peace with one another and enjoy great peace, because they are children of God and of his woman, his organization, and therefore members of his house. (Isa. 54:13; Ps. 122:7-9) They must put on love, which is the bond of completeness; which means unselfishly standing together. (Col. 3:14, Diag.) They are to be governed by the divinely announced rule, to wit: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." (Heb. 10:25) This does not mean merely to attend a meeting, but does mean that God's people, who are truly devoted to him, will now stand together as a unit, and not be like the Orpah class, who failed to associate themselves with those devoted to the Lord and who turned back and followed their own selfish course.
Orpah had announced her decision and had departed. Turning to Ruth, who remained, Naomi continued her argument: "And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods; return thou after thy sister in law." (1:15) With profit Orpah could have heeded the advice, "Remember Lot's wife," which statement was made by the Lord concerning Orpah's great-grandmother and the grandmother of Moab, but she had forgotten it or ignored it. (Luke 17: 32) Likewise the class whom Orpah pictured had now ignored that same advice given by Moses. — Gen. 19: 23-26, 36, 37.
Paul recorded a similar case when he wrote: "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia." (2 Tim. 4:10) The Orpah class return to the elementary principles they first learned and ignore the commandment of God that applies at the present time. "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God [as Orpah had], or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements [margin, rudiments; elementary principles, Roth.], whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" (Gal. 4: 8, 9) Today the Orpah class reject present truth from God's temple and return to "Tabernacle Shadows" and character building. The words of Naomi addressed to Ruth after the departure of Orpah may well be paraphrased as follows: 'Ruth, if you don't appreciate Jehovah and the
privilege of serving him, then go now, even as your sister has done.' Likewise Jehovah by his Chief Executive Officer now so says to those who do not appreciate the privilege of serving Jehovah. Jesus made a similar statement to his disciples: "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him [like as Ruth had answered], Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." — John 6:68-68.
CHOOSING JEHOVAH'S HOUSE
Comments heretofore written concerning Ruth have dwelt upon the fact of the great love Ruth had for Naomi. It is true that Ruth did love her mother-in-law dearly, as her actions disclosed, and also according to the testimony later recorded in the book. (4:15) Ruth proved to be a companion who was true to her name, a real friend. Hers was a love out of a pure heart, and her words were gracious, and in due time she came to have the King for her friend. (Prov. 22:11, Leeser) She showed herself a friend, and she stuck. (Prov. 18:24) But her love for Naomi was not the reason she stuck. There was a more potent reason. Naomi did not say to Ruth that 'Orpah has left me to go on alone, and you should leave me also', but she did say: 'Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people, and to her gods. Go and do likewise.' This shows that Naomi was not asking something for herself, but she was calling upon
Ruth to decide whether or not she wanted to follow the course of Orpah and go back to the Devil's organization. The people of Moab stood for Satan's organization, which is against God, and the gods of that nation were Satan and those wicked ones ruling with him. The issue now was, Whom will you serve? Ruth had learned of Jehovah God and of his covenant people. Israel, being God's people, stood for his organization or his house.
At this stage the drama shows Ruth being compelled to choose either Satan and his organization or Jehovah God and his organization. On a former occasion a like issue and demand was squarely placed before the Israelites, when Joshua stood before them and said: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." —Josh. 24:15.
Now a woman outside of the covenant people of God, yet one of the human race, and who had learned of the true and almighty God, and who, by reason of her knowledge, was given the opportunity to make a choice as to whom she would serve, was compelled by the circumstances to make the choice. At this point in the prophetic drama Ruth pictures a class of people outside of those who have previously known God by reason of being in the denominational church organization. She there stood for a people who have made no pretense of serving God
but who are brought face to face with a knowledge of Jehovah that he is the only true God and of the privilege that one has, by entering his service and joyfully obeying his commandments. At this particular point she pictures a class of people who had not been contaminated by the religious hypocrisy of "Christendom" but who, coming out of the world, was given the opportunity to know and serve Jehovah God. This class particularly came to a knowledge of the truth about 1922 and thereafter, and had never before made any pretense of serving God.
Ruth chose to serve Jehovah God and to unite herself with his organization and therefore with his people. Responding to the final appeal of Naomi, Ruth said: "Entreat me not 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 my God." (1:16) The marginal reading is "Be not against me"; while Rotherham renders the text, "Do not urge me to leave thee." If Ruth returned to her former gods, that would be against her eternal welfare; and if she left Naomi she would be leaving the people of God and of his organization; and hence to urge her to go back would be against her interests. The pleading words of Ruth, therefore, show that she desired to stand shoulder to shoulder with Naomi, henceforth and forever-more, and to serve the God whom Naomi served.
At this point in the drama Naomi appears in another role. Up to this time she has appeared as the representative of the faithful class,
judged and found faithful by Christ Jesus at the time of his appearing at Jehovah's temple. Now she appears as Zion, God's woman, representing his organization. The words addressed to her by Ruth, which appear in verses sixteen and seventeen, are therefore addressed to God's organization. Ruth had chosen the God of Naomi, the God of Israel, the King of Eternity. She had 'forgotten her own people and her father's house'. She had given herself entirely and without reservation to the Lord Jehovah and had started for his kingdom, represented by Bethlehem, and her faithfulness and devotion from that time forward bespeaks her beauty. It can therefore be truly said that Ruth was a beautiful woman, and that without regard to her physical appearance, which no doubt was comely. The words of the psalmist, written under inspiration thereafter, are appropriately applied to Ruth: "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him." — Ps. 45:11.
Ruth here pictured or represented those who from the depth of the heart say: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." — Ps. 27:4.
Her great desire to serve Jehovah God and to be of his house was the overpowering reason for her choosing to go on with Naomi. She therefore pictures that class that is determined, by Jehovah's grace, to "follow the Lamb whither-
soever he goeth". (Rev. 14:4) The action of Ruth, like her words, had the ring of eloquence and shows devotion to God, and her choice makes appropriate to her, and to the class she here pictures, the words of the psalmist, to wit: "But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy; and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." (Ps. 5:7) These are not words of selfishness, but words of full devotion to Jehovah God.
With the entire situation placed before her Ruth made her choice regardless of any influence exercised by Naomi. Thus is illustrated that since 1922 the members of God's organization, who have come to know him and his purposes, have taken their stand wholly on the side of the Lord without any inducement or influence exercised by others. They have chosen Jehovah God and his house unselfishly, and, continuing in that attitude to the end, are certain to abide in his house for ever. From and after the beginning of the Elisha work the Naomi class of God's people have realized that it is not their duty to urge others to serve Jehovah God, but rather to set before them the beauty of the truth, and the privilege of serving God, and let them exercise their own desires in making a choice. If one does not of his own free will see that it is the greatest privilege one could have to serve Jehovah God, then he does not have the proper appreciation of God's Word and name. If he chooses to enter the Lord's house, moved by a selfish desire, that is to his great detriment. Those who choose wisely choose to remain with
God's organization, even as Ruth said, "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God." Those who withdrew themselves from God's organization clearly showed that they were moved by selfishness and attempted to find some cause for offense and therefore an excuse to turn aside. None of such are of the Ruth class. Ruth represents those to whom Jehovah God and his organization are everything.
Though Ruth was outwardly a Moabitess, by her choice she showed herself to be a 'Jew inwardly, circumcised in the heart'. (Rom. 2: 29) In choosing Jehovah's organization Ruth exhibited the same spirit as did Moses when he took his stand on the side of God's people, preferring to bear the reproaches with them rather than to dwell in luxury and in the tents of wickedness. Rahab the harlot, who became the second mother-in-law of Ruth, showed the same attitude toward God and his organization when she put herself under his protection and trusted wholly in him. The psalmist has expressed the heart sentiments of Ruth and the class of faithful ones whom she represented, in these words: "How amiable are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, 0 Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed
is the man whose strength is in thee: in whose heart are the ways of them." — Ps. 84:1-5.
Those who have kept abreast with the truth since the coming of the Lord to his temple readily testify to the fact that the ones who have gotten into the truth, and into God's organization since that time, and who had the spirit of Ruth, quickly and earnestly entered the Lord's service and put forth their very best endeavors to honor Jehovah's name by publishing his name and his kingdom to others. This they have done regardless of the reproach that attached to their efforts; and as they have gone forth not only have they shown the spirit of determination to serve God, but their course of action has demonstrated that they are born of God's woman Zion and have great peace and joy in his service.
As Naomi pictured the class found faithful upon the Lord's coming to his temple, even as Mordecai likewise pictured the same class, so Ruth pictured the class that came to the Lord after the coming of the Lord to Jehovah's temple, which same class Esther also foreshadowed. There is therefore a beautiful relationship between the books of Esther and Ruth. As the Mordecai class and the Esther class together pictured the remnant of God's people now on earth, even so the classes pictured by Naomi and Ruth are the same, that is to say, God's remnant who now delight to declare his name and his works. It has been the privilege of the Naomi class to minister to those particularly represented by Ruth, even as it was the privilege of the Mordecai class to minister to those par-
ticularly foreshadowed by Esther. Those of the Ruth class do not exalt those of the Naomi class, but do love them devotedly and "know them which labour among [them], and are over [them] in the Lord, and admonish [them]", and the Ruth class esteem them very highly for their work's sake; and all are at peace and labor together. (1 Thess. 5:12,13) While these love one another, as they should, in the Lord, they have not respect of persons, but delight to do good to one another because of recognizing that each one is a member of God's organization. They all bear in mind that they have one God and Father, Jehovah the Most High, and one Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ; that they are of God's organization, born of Zion, God's woman, and are therefore all taught of God and are all one, even as Jehovah and Christ Jesus are one. (Isa. 54:13) They remember no man to whom praise is given, but they do deport themselves according to the rule laid down by the inspired words of the apostle: "Remember them which have the rule [margin, are the guides] over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. [And which give heed to the admonition to] be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines: for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." (Heb. 13: 7-9) None of the Ruth class have any doubt about whether they should associate them-
selves with God's organization on earth, to wit, that which we call The Society, but recognize that God has one people who faithfully and truly put forth their best endeavors to serve him; and these, the class whom Ruth represented, go forward together with the Naomi class in his service.
Ruth had not cast in her lot with Naomi as an experiment from which she expected to withdraw if not pleasing to her. She had burned all the bridges behind her and expressed her determination to go on to the end. Further addressing Naomi she said: "Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." (1:17) This was akin to the expression of willingness of Esther to die with and for God's covenant people, as evidenced by her words: "If I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16) In like manner Elisha expressed himself to Elijah: "And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on." (2 Ki. 2:4-6) By Elijah and
Elisha God pictured his devoted people going forward with his work according to his will. In like manner he used Naomi and Ruth to picture his work. Ruth resolved to be faithful to God unto death, and the class which she foreshadowed today is likewise determined to be obedient to the words of the Master: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
As Naomi and Ruth went on together, devoted to serving the true God, even so now those whom these two women foreshadowed, and who faithfully follow Christ Jesus, say: "Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. The Lord, that made heaven and earth, bless thee out of Zion." — Ps. 134.
These do not exalt the names of men, whether dead or alive, but they do exalt and praise the name of Jehovah God and his kingdom. They manifest their loving devotion to God and he, knowing their hearts, gives his promise that he will preserve them.
Jehovah God fixed the time for the seeding and for harvest. (Gen. 8:22) When he organized his covenant people to take them into the promised land he gave to them his law governing the harvest, and that law foreshadowed greater things to come to pass in future days. As Jehovah fixed the time for the beginning of the barley and wheat harvest, so he. fixed the time for the beginning of the harvest of his covenant people. When that time came the words of Jehovah, spoken by his prophet, were appro-
priate, to wit: "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
Christ Jesus is the Chief Officer of Jehovah and the Chief Reaper of his harvest, because into his hand is committed all power in heaven and in earth. (Matt. 28:18) He carries forward Jehovah's purposes exactly in accord with the will of the Most High. Knowing this, we must be sure that a prophetic picture, which Jehovah caused to be made, would have a fulfilment exactly on time and in accord with his will. That rule clearly holds good in the drama recorded in the book of Ruth. There need be no guessing about the fulfilment of the prophecy. When we see that God has made a prophetic picture, and then observe the physical facts that have come to pass, and which exactly fit the details of that picture, we may know that we have the proper understanding of it according to the will of God. Thus seeing and understanding God's prophecies gives strength and great joy and peace to his remnant people now on the earth. Manifestly this is the reason why these prophetic pictures were made and why they are coming to pass in this day.
The two widow women, mother and daughter-in-law, stood on the border of the promised land and for a time were silent. Ruth in unqualified language had declared her choice. Her great desire was to enter into the house of Jehovah and to dwell there for ever that she might serve the only true and Almighty God. (Ps. 27:4) She was fully determined that by the grace of
God she would go into his house and be one of his people.
Naomi realized that Ruth had settled the matter in her own mind, and therefore Naomi ceased from her speaking to Ruth and remained silent. "When she [Naomi] saw that she [Ruth] was stedfastly minded [margin, that she strengthened herself] to go with her [Naomi], then she [Naomi] left speaking [dissuasively] unto her." (1:18) Doubtless Naomi was pleased that her lovely companion had determined to go on with her, but she would not influence her even by so saying. Ruth had prevailed on Naomi and made her decision final and had therefore put herself under the wings of Jehovah God and her trust wholly and completely in him. Like as Jesus set his face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, so Ruth was steadfastly minded to go to Bethlehem and to the God of Israel. Before Jehovah Ruth had made a solemn oath to be faithful and to serve God. (1:17) This she had done of her own volition and regardless of what the future might bring to her. By her choice and her words Ruth was for ever estopped from thereafter finding fault with Naomi for the consequences of her decision or choice. Naomi had urged Ruth to count the cost and had informed her that she could offer Ruth no hope for an earthly or other reward. — 1:11-13.
Likewise those who are fully devoted to God's organization do not try to lure or persuade others to enter that organization by holding before them present advantages or even future rewards for seeking the house of God. The
faithful ones, represented by Naomi, tell others properly that the greatest privilege a creature can have is that of serving Jehovah God, and that God is "just and faithful", and what he will do for them will always be right. They see it is entirely wrong to encourage one to make a covenant with God upon the condition that they have a place in the heavenly kingdom. They see, that as members of God's organization their duty is to lay the truth before others who are seeking his house and then let each one who starts in the way to enter the house of God take all the responsibility upon himself. They point out to the Ruth class that they must rely upon the Lord, and not upon the arm of any of humankind. The Ruth class must, and those who compose it do, show their attachment and devotion to God and to his King, Christ Jesus, and to his organization. This they must do if they would keep in company and be the companions of those who enter into and abide in the house of Jehovah God.
"So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified
against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?" — 1:19-21.
The two women going on together to Bethlehem pictured two parts of the same class, even as Mordecai and Esther pictured two parts of the same class, to wit, the faithful people of God's organization on earth. It is clearly seen, therefore, that Naomi played two roles and that while she pictured the remnant she also pictured God's organization. There was still grief in Naomi's heart, as evidenced by her saying upon arriving at Bethlehem to those who called her Naomi: "Call me not Naomi, [meaning "pleasant"], call me Mara [meaning "bitter"]."
Naomi was a chastised woman. (Jer. 31: 9-12) She was a widow empty and without fruit of her body and this was a reproach amidst God's covenant people. She was as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, even as God's prophet wrote concerning Zion, God's woman or organization, to wit: "For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God." (Isa. 54:6) Without doubt Naomi then felt that she was refused.
The language of the prophet and the condition Naomi found herself in are further proof that at this point she played the part representing God's organization. What, then, would lift Naomi out of her grief and make her joyful once more? The answer is, Only the bringing forth of an ancestor leading up to God's King; and in this she would represent God's organization bringing forth the fruit kingdomward. The
bearing of a child that would have to do with the fulfilment of God's prophecy concerning a King in Israel would be the height of her joy.
Did not the Apostle Paul have reference to a similar thing when he wrote the words that have long been puzzling to many who have sought earnestly to understand them and which appear below? At the time God pronounced judgment on man in Eden that judgment, among other things, said: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:15) Without doubt the woman there mentioned represented and foreshadowed God's organization that would in due time bear a seed to the vindication of Jehovah's name.
In harmony therewith says the Apostle Paul: "And Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Tim. 2:14,15) From the time of Eden forward until the birth of the kingdom, God's woman, pictured by Eve, was greatly reproached by Satan and all his agencies. Satan reproached Jehovah God and he reproached Jesus, and he has reproached every one that has come into God's family, and for this reason it is written: "For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." — Rom. 15:3.
God's woman Zion, pictured or foreshadowed by Eve, gave birth in 1914 to the manchild, which shall rule all the nations of the world, and she, Zion, God's woman or organization, was saved because of faithfulness and true devotion to Jehovah. That marked the lifting of the burden of reproach from God's organization, and the beginning of joy, song and praise to Jehovah. Evidently Paul had this in mind when he wrote the text above. It was the child-bearing of God's woman that saved her, his organization, and all the facts show that she, God's organization, has continued in faith, love and holiness at all times and therefore shall be a vindication of his name. Likewise that which would lift the burden of reproach from Naomi would be the birth of a seed of the royal line. Jehovah God was causing Naomi to play a part in this drama corroborating other scriptures that show that his organization has been reproached and continues to bear that reproach until God's due time to say to her: "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." — Isa. 54: 7, 8.
Jehovah God had sent the famine on the Israelites, and Jehovah had again provided plenty at Bethlehem and had now directed the feet of Naomi to return to that 'place of bread'. Likewise God overruled the circumstances directing Mary to go to Bethlehem that Jesus the King might be born there. God's holy angels
had attended upon the birth of the babe Jesus at Bethlehem. Doubtless God had sent his angels to guide Naomi and direct the things or events that came to pass when she had returned to Bethlehem. The Lord has caused to be recorded in his Word many instances in which his angels accompany those who are sent on a mission in his cause, and there is every reason to believe that his angels were with Naomi and Ruth when they came into the city of Bethlehem.
When Naomi reached Bethlehem there was a great stir in the city and the question was asked by many: "Is this Naomi?" According to the Revised Version: "The women said, Is this Naomi?" In 1918 the faithful people of God, represented by Naomi, were in much distress and laden with very great reproach. Others who then professed to be followers of Christ Jesus, and who were probably spirit-begotten ones and who had not wholly devoted themselves to God, were stirred by the distress and affliction that came upon the Naomi class, who were the representatives of God's organization on earth during the stress of the World War. These pictured "the women" mentioned in the above text and who expressed their surprise that Naomi found herself in such distress and reproach. Doubtless some of those women were inclined to the opinion that Naomi herself was to blame for her unhappy condition. During 1918 some of the professed followers of Christ Jesus, likened unto the above women, expressed their opinions that those who were suffering reproach, and whom Naomi pictured, were wholly
to blame for their reproach and unhappy condition. It is indeed refreshing to see how the Lord caused many of the minor details to be foreshadowed in his prophetic pictures and now permits his covenant people who are devoted to him to see these pictures and have a deeper appreciation of his loving-kindness.
Replying to this observation of the women Naomi said in substance: 'Why call me Pleasant or Sweet? Call me Bitter, seeing that the Lord hath testified against me and afflicted me.' Naomi said this despite the fact that she knew "that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread". (1:6) She had not yet seen that there was prospect for joy. Likewise when God's people began to be brought out of the condition of suffering and reproach immediately following 1918 those of his organization continued to feel that reproach, because they had not yet entered into the joy of the Lord, nor had they learned then that the 'joy of the Lord is their strength'. (Matt. 25:21; Neh. 8:10) When these faithful ones did learn for the first time that the kingdom was born, and that Christ the King was at his temple, they did greatly rejoice regardless of all reproaches. God's covenant and faithful people who were at Cedar Point in 1922 will not forget the great rejoicing that came to them there and has continued with the faithful ones ever since; and when they afterwards appreciated the meaning of the birth of the nation or kingdom their joy increased. Those who did appreciate that and have kept in touch with the truth since, as the Lord has
revealed it to his people, have continued to rejoice regardless of all reproaches that are cast upon them.
From approximately 1875 forward Christ Jesus, the Chief Executive Officer of Jehovah, was 'preparing the way before the Lord Jehovah'. In 1914 Jehovah placed his royal Son upon his holy hill in Zion, that is to say, made him the capital or head of his organization, and which marks the birth of the kingdom. (Ps. 2:6; Rev. 12: 5) The war in heaven followed and Satan and his wicked crowd were cast out of heaven and down to the earth. Then 'straightway the Lord Jesus came to the temple of Jehovah for judgment' and began the building up of Zion and the building up progressed. (Mal. 3:1-3; Ps. 102:16) That marked the beginning of the harvest time, that is to say, the gathering together unto the Lord those who were in the covenant by sacrifice and who had responded to the call to the kingdom and had been faithful. There could be no harvest before that time.
Naomi and Ruth arrived at Beth-lehem Ephratah, the "house of bread" and the "place of fruitfulness", in the beginning of the barley harvest: "So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest." (1: 22) The barley harvest was earlier than the wheat harvest, but the wheat harvest was also approaching. (Ex. 9:31, 32; Ruth
2: 23) It was a sheaf of barley grain that was offered to the Lord "on the morrow after the sabbath" following the passover. (Lev. 23: 9-12) Barley bread was used particularly by the poorer class of people. (Judg. 7:13; 2 Ki. 4:42; John 6:9) Naomi was one of the Lord's poor, and Ruth her companion was also poor, and therefore they pictured those who are poor in spirit and generally in material things.
The coming of Naomi and Ruth together to Bethlehem at the beginning of the harvest strongly proves that the fulfilment of the prophetic picture set forth in the book of Ruth takes place at the end of the world. This is further proven by the statement of Jesus that "the harvest is the end of the world". (Matt. 13:39) That harvest could not begin until 1914 or thereafter; and since the harvest is the. gathering of God's approved people into the "garner", the temple, that fixes the time of the fulfilment of the prophetic picture particularly as from and after A.D. 1918. The Jewish harvest time was a time for the coronation of their kings. (1 Sam. 12:13-17) In 1918 earth's new King had been crowned and now had come to God's temple and presented himself as King, and it was the time for the harvest and the harvest had come. — Rev. 14:14-16.
When Naomi and Ruth arrived at Bethlehem the passover had just been celebrated and the firstfruits of the barley harvest had been brought before the Lord. Now the firstfruits of Pentecost were drawing nigh. Corresponding to this, centuries later, to wit, at Pentecost of
A.D. 33, the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled when the spirit of the Lord was poured out upon his people. (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16-18) The latter rains had fallen. (Joel 2: 23) In A.D. 33 Joel's prophecy was fulfilled in miniature. There must be and was another and later fulfilment, on a larger scale. These truths strongly support the conclusion that the climax of the prophetic picture of the book of Ruth finds its fulfilment in the outpouring of the holy spirit which "shall come to pass in the last days, saith [the LORD] God". (Acts 2:17) The facts now well known to God's remnant people show that this blessed time came in 1922. Therefore Ruth particularly pictures that class of God's children who were brought into the temple, and hence into God's organization, from and after 1922, and during which time God 'has poured out his spirit upon all flesh', and all his approved ones have received the anointing from the Holy One and have joyfully proceeded to proclaim God's Word of truth concerning him and his kingdom. — 1 John 2:20; Acts 2:17,18.
These time features not only show the time for the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophetic drama of Ruth, but clearly show why that book could not be understood in earlier days. What is said here is not a criticism of anyone who commented on the book of Ruth. Doubtless God has been pleased with those devoted to him making an attempt to find out the meaning of his Word; but no one could give an interpretation of God's prophecy, for the reason that no prophecy is of private interpretation.
When God's due time arrives he causes events to come to pass to fulfil what he has previously caused to be written, and then his people in the temple, receiving the benefit of the flashes of light from the Lord, are enabled to discern and to appreciate the fulfilment of prophecy. There will be those who, although claiming devotion to God, will reject, dispute and oppose what is here said concerning the book of Ruth, and by so doing they will prove that they are not born of God's woman and therefore not taught of God. Those who are taught of God will find peace and joy in marking the fulfilment of this prophetic drama. — Isa. 54:13.