I was born in 1973 . . . in America . . . I am a boy . . . therefore, I love Star Wars. I grew up with wookies on my lunchbox, AT-ATs on my wallpaper, and a bedroom floor covered with tiny action figures from the original 3 movies. I have kept my love for this iconic movie franchise as I have grown older. In fact, just yesterday I found myself googling for the release date of the Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray. (Fall 2011 if anyone is interested). I love these movies.
As someone who has been a fan of Star Wars from the beginning, I sometimes laugh at the mocking derision of the newer three movies by old timers like myself. Sure, Jar Jar was a terrible idea, but overall the last 3 movies are on par with the first 3 in most respects. I particularly take issue with purists who talk about the poor writing of the last 3 movies. This is a laughable criticism . . . as if ANYONE went to these movies AT ANY TIME for the Shakespearean style rhetoric. These movies take simple stories better scripted by Sooner Scandals acts, and then tell them in beautiful and highly entertaining ways.
Take the first movie, for instance: “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Flash back in your mind to that movie. Now quick, who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? How can you tell? Luke Skywalker is clearly the protagonist, right? Like hero cowboys from cinema past, he wore white and was a pure, innocent boy. Darth Vader is the villain, right? Like villains from Saturday morning cartoons, Vader wore all black and was more machine than man. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (though father and son) were caricatures of themselves . . . their personas somewhat of moral way-finding signs to point the way toward who we should be cheering for. In literary terms, these men were types of a larger group.
Types are not something that George Lucas invented. In fact, types are everywhere in literature, and there are even types in the Scripture. God, the master storyteller, uses past historical figures as types to tell His story. Now, this does not mean that the historical figures mentioned in Scripture are not real, but it does mean that in certain cases, God is teaching lessons through the categories biblical characters represent. To put it more crudely, sometimes biblical characters wear white or black in order to illustrate a point.
Take the book of Ruth for instance. The three dominant characters in the book of Ruth are types of larger truths. The book of Ruth talks about the story of a woman named Naomi, her daughter-in-law Ruth, and a distant relative of Namoi’s named Boaz.
Naomi is a woman who journeys to the land of Moab with her husband Elimelech and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. While in Moab, Naomi’s two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. After some time, all the men died, leaving Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah widowed. In the ancient middle-east culture, this would have left these three women poor and without prospects for future provision. In this situation, normally another relative would welcome the women in as their wives, however, no near relative existed, so the women were simply out of luck. Given this situation, Naomi decides to return to Israel, and Ruth decides to go with her. After returning to Israel, Ruth sovereignly meets a distant and wealthy relative of Naomi’s named Boaz who decides to marry Ruth, thus redeeming her and bringing hope to Naomi and others.
Most Bible scholars who study this book see Naomi as a “type” of the nation of Israel during their time of rebellion against God. Because of their rebellion, they are seemingly cut off from the blessing of God and in a state of great need. During this time of rebellion, a new hope emerges as the non-Jew Ruth enters into a saving relationship with Boaz. This sets Ruth up as a type of the Gentile Church. More than a thousand years before the Church was actually created, God uses the true story of Ruth as a type of the fact that one day the rebellion of the Jewish people would open the door for the Gentile Church age. Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, is clearly a type of Jesus Christ. He is the One with all the righteous riches and chooses to use those riches to save one in need. Interestingly, seeing these people as types helps us to find hope for both Gentiles AND Jews. The Gentile Ruth was saved during a period of Jewish rebellion, but eventually, the Jewish Naomi is blessed through the same kinsman redeemer who saved Ruth! The story of Ruth is a type, not of war, but of hope where the star is ultimately Christ Himself.
This Christmas, as you read the Christmas story, look carefully at the details. The story of Ruth lets us know that God is so sovereign that He can use the details of true historical events to communicate promises to His people. Like Ruth, we have been redeemed by the Savior who chose to cover us with His righteousness and pay the price so we could be with Him. If you have a chance, read the book of Ruth today with these types in mind. The baby in Bethlehem wants to tell you His story through them.