When you pursue a prayerful study of the book of Ruth, exciting and wonderful truths unfold. In our last post Goelism #5– Battle of the Goels, we saw how the nearest of kin came to the gate of judgment and had to walk home without his sandal. I would like to explore this event further. I attended a seminar a couple of years ago where the title of one presentation by Dennis Crystal was "Symbol is Greater than Substance." This seminar presentation opened my mind to the significance of symbolism in scripture. I have in my library a booklet that deals specifically with the symbols of the Bible and what each represents. This of course is nothing compared to the beauty of symbolism in the Hebrew language and the built-in symbolic meanings which are written into all of Creation by our Creator. My understanding of symbolism is quite simple, if there is a symbol placed in or tied to a specific event or placed on something this symbol carries with it a meaning which can be greater than the substance upon which the icon is placed.
I grew up in ranch country and one of my most enjoyable events of the spring season was “branding of the calves”. It was the time of roundups, long hours in the saddle and hard yet wonderfully fulfilling work. In the west a brand is the signature of ownership. Each ranch has it’s brand to distinguish whose cattle are whose. Many western movies have plots which include cattle rustling and re-branding stolen livestock whether horse or cattle. To this day brands are a significant part of a cowhand’s yearly cycle. A Bible symbol is like a brand. Once a symbol is attached to an event you must study the symbol to get the full meaning of the story, thus our topic today.
When Boaz’s older brother refused to purchase the land of Naomi he had to give his sandal to Boaz as a part of the official deal before the jury at the gate. As a result he had to walk home without a sandal on one foot. As the people would see this man limping along he would declare to all the city that he had shirked his duty. Now a sandal does an interesting thing for an individual. I don’t know if you like sandals but I enjoy the covering and protection sandals provide. The traditional sandal was constructed of the hide of an animal. Remember the first physical event after the introduction of sin to the human family? Genesis 3:21
Unto Adam also and to his wife did Elohim make coats of skins, and clothed them.
This event provided protection and covering for Adam and his wife, unlike the fig leaves, and we must expect that there were sandals included in this covering as our Creator would not leave us unprotected when He provides the clothing. This covering is not only physical but spiritual as outlined in Ephesians chapter 6:10-18:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in , and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of Elohim,that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of Elohim, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of : praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
When you realize that a Divine spiritual current flows from the book of Genesis through Revelation one needs to connect the events with the symbols utilized rather than the substance of the event. Both are important and neither can be ignored. This is how you can read the first book of the Bible and have connections with it and the last book of the Bible. When Yahushua commissioned his disciples to go out to minister he commanded them saying in Mark 6:7-13:
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
This is not just coincidental but providential. The sandal of Boaz’s older brother being removed was used as a sign against him just as the disciples were to take their sandal’s off and shake off the dust for a testimony against the house which would not receive them. This was a most serious event as it goes on in the Gospel of Mark to say that the people in Sodom and Gomorrah would be better off than the house which rejected the disciples who were coming in the name of their Master. When Boaz’s brother refused to fulfill his duty he received the same judgment as would those who rejected the disciples of Yahushua. One could say, “Well, this is interesting but it really does not relate to us today.” However, I would like to challenge that thought.
When the Anointed One (Messiah) shared the last supper with His disciples he performed an act which all had to partake of. No servant was provided at this last supper, just like there had been no servant at the feast of Simon’s house earlier in the week Luke 7:36-44. Unlike Simon, Yahushua takes a towel and washes the feet of each of the disciples, but Peter refuses realizing the significance of WHO Yahushua is, yet Yahushua tells Peter he must have his feet washed. Yahushua also said that though they were all washed there was one who was still dirty. One finds this wonderful account recorded in John chapter 13. The dust which was to be shaken off if a house rejected the disciples was the same dust Boaz’s brother must walk in all the way home. This is the same dust the serpent must crawl in for it’s whole existence as a result of the curse in Genesis 3:14. Dust symbolized the dirtiness of sin and the condemnation and judgment which went along with the spiritual uncleanness which Judas possessed at the last supper with Yahushua. The final washing which will cleanse this earth of sin will not just be a symbolic washing of the feet –shaking off of the sandals or washing the world by a flood, but one where the very elements will be cleansed by fire in the final cleansing of this earth when the elements shall melt with fervent heat 2 Peter 3:12 . One cannot overlook the significance of who gives this prophetic account as the one who at one time had refused to have the Master wash his feet.
One can see that it is essential to take off the sandal, not as a result of judgment whereby one is shamed because of one’s unwillingness to fulfill one’s obligation, but to take the sandal off to have one’s feet washed by another. Unless we allow Yahushua to wash our feet of sin here on earth we will not be able to partake of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven. No one will come to that table unwashed. Boaz was willing to provide covering for Naomi and give of himself that which he alone was willing to provide. Likewise, Yahushua wants to cover you and I as He did Adam and his wife in the garden. Not only cover us but to dwell WITHIN us. It was the indwelling presence of Boaz in Ruth which produced the little baby boy which was seed raised up for deceased Elimelech. If you are in a fellowship or church where the ordinance of foot washing is not practiced you may want to introduce it as part of the communion experience. One must be washed, not only in baptism but in an ongoing washing as was administered to the disciples by our Messiah, Yahushua, to have the dust and contamination of sin removed!