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A Ministry of Comfort Inspired by the Heart of Ruth

Finding reconciliation in "Boaz"

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16 Oct 2020
A Ministry of Comfort Inspired by the Heart of Ruth

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was founded in September 1980 with a clear calling from Scripture to be a ministry of comfort and blessing to the restored nation of Israel and the Jewish people. This biblical mandate is drawn from the book of Isaiah.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1–2)

After their many long centuries of exile among the nations, the Jewish people have finally returned to their ancient homeland, just as the Hebrew prophets foretold. These same prophets also foresaw gentile believers one day assisting the Jews in this time of restoration. This is a recurring theme, especially in Isaiah (e.g., Isaiah 40:1–2, 49:22–23, and 60:10–11).

The Bible contains many other prophetic passages on this future restoration of Israel with gentile assistance, including the inspiring book of Ruth.

The Kindness of Ruth

The book of Ruth opens with an Israelite woman, Naomi, who left her home in Bethlehem with her family to escape a famine. They found refuge in Moab, but life was hard over time as she lost her husband and two sons. When the famine finally lifted, Naomi returned home in poverty. But her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, nevertheless decided to journey alongside Naomi, declaring: “Wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:16–17a).

In this prophetic story, Naomi is a picture of Israel returning from exile with few possessions left. She had nothing to offer her daughter-in-law Ruth, as she now had no male heir left to reclaim her family property. But Ruth saw something great in the God whom Naomi served, and thus refused to leave her side.

God soon led them to the fields of Boaz, a close relative of Naomi whom she realized could help her regain her family’s lands. As Ruth labored during the barley harvest to provide for her mother-in-law, Boaz noticed all her kindnesses to Naomi and blessed her with gifts of extra grain. Boaz eventually married Ruth, which restored Naomi’s land inheritance. The newlyweds then gave birth to Obed, King David’s grandfather, thus making Ruth part of Jesus’ lineage (Matthew 1:5).

Ruth is a prophetic depiction of a gentile church that fully identifies with the wearied people of Israel returning from exile because they are in awe of the God of Israel. Ruth wins the notice and favor of Boaz, a kinsman redeemer, because of her caring heart for Naomi. Boaz even told her: “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before” (Ruth 2:11).

The beauty of the story is how Naomi and Ruth each sought something precious to them, but journeyed together. Naomi wanted her land back, while Ruth wanted a husband, and they both received the desire of their heart in one person—Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer and type of Messiah.

So Israel and the “Ruth church” are on a journey together that will end with them gloriously reconciled together in the Messiah. Until that day, the story of Ruth teaches us that gentiles can gain the attention and blessing of God by comforting and caring for Israel in real, practical ways—just as God promised Abraham: “I will bless those who bless thee” (Genesis 12:3).

A Firm Commitment

For the past 40 years, the ICEJ has been blessing and comforting Israel based on the inspiration of Ruth and other biblical passages that encourage gentiles to show mercy and kindness to the Jewish people. The Christian Embassy made a firm commitment four decades ago to come alongside Israel and help this nation no matter what it might go through along the way. Israel’s journey home has not been easy, and even though the nation is restored and prospering, it still faces many threats and challenges. And the ICEJ is determined to continue standing by the people of Israel until they reach their redemptive destiny in God, restored to their full land inheritance and safe in the arms of their kinsman redeemer.

 

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