sermonette: Ruth's Prophecy
God alone determines the course of history. His naming of people is significant, and the book of Ruth can be studied through the lens of the characters' names. In this account, a wealthy Israelite named Elimelech (meaning "my God is King") and his wife Naomi (meaning "pleasant and delightful") took their sons, Mahlon (meaning "sick") and Chilion (meaning "coming to an end"), to Moab, a Gentile land. The sons consummated marriages with Gentile women, Orpah (meaning "neck" perhaps with the connotation of "stiff neck") and Ruth (meaning "friend"). In the course of time, Elimelech and his two sons died, leaving Naomi a widow with two daughters-in-law who initially expressed the desire to accompany her back to Bethlehem. Naomi explained the difficulties of returning to the homeland as unmarried dependents. Ruth, who counted the cost, returned with Naomi to the homeland where Boaz (meaning "in Strength"), a type as well as an ancestor of Christ, consummated the marriage with her—symbolically grafting in the Gentiles into Israel. Understanding that the Bible contains multiple parallels, we can see a similar pattern in the establishment, break-up and diaspora of the Greater Church of God. God called Herbert W. Armstrong, a wealthy businessman, to provide nourishment for a famine-stricken church. His two sons both died before God righted His church. One could say he also had two other sons in the ministry (Joseph Tkach and Joseph Tkach, Jr.) who collaborated to lead about 30% of the people into antinomian paganism, reminiscent of Orpah, who could not follow the demands of the way. Ruth resembles the 30% of the splinters following Naomi (resembling the Greater Church of God) back to Boaz—resembling the Bridegroom of the Israel of God.