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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Threshing Floor (Ruth 3:1-11)

Many believers are quite content just to be saved and know that when they die, heaven is their home. To them, salvation is no more than a passport to heaven and a fire escape from hell. Their Christianity is just a salvation that takes them to heaven when they die. For many, Christianity doesn’t include a relationship with a Savior who makes heaven real while they live. Many are excited in knowing about the heaven God has prepared. But not many are excited about knowing the God that is preparing heaven. For many there is an interest in golden streets but there is not an intimacy with a glorious Savior.

As we continue looking at Ruth we find that she was not content with just the blessings found in the field of Boaz. She wanted the blessings that were to be found at the feet of Boaz. She wanted more than the blessings. She wanted the Blesser. She wanted to be more than a worker for Boaz. She wanted to be the wife of Boaz. In Ruth 3, she is no longer in the barley field, but is found at the threshing floor. It is a beautiful scene that suggests several lessons about a believer and the process of an intimate relationship with Christ.

[Ruth 3:1-11]

1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?
2 “Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.
3 “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
4 “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”
5 She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.
7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.
8 It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”
10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
11 “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

First, notice with me from the story that we see Ruth:


1. AT HIS FLOOR
               Notice Ruth 3:4-6, “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.” She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”  So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.

Naomi instructs Ruth to go down to the threshing floor where Boaz was threshing the barley. Symbolically, the threshing floor reminds us of a truth that it is involved in an intimate relationship with Christ.

Customarily a threshing floor was located on the top of a hill, which was for the purpose of catching the wind in order the blow away the chaff. Ordinarily it was circular with a clay surface that was packed hard and smooth, with rocks lined around it.

The grain would be cut and carried to the threshing floor. Sheaves of grain would be spread on the floor and trampled by oxen drawing a sled. The people would take a flail to throw the grain up in the air, so that the chaff would be blown away and the good grain fell down on the threshing floor.

It was usually in the afternoon that the breeze would come up, and the people would thresh the wheat until the wind died down, whether that be at sundown or midnight. It was a place that all the families came and camped. There would always be several people present. It was not only a time of threshing the wheat, but also a time of feasting for the abundant harvest. They would sing psalms and give praises to God. When the feast was over, the men would sleep around the grain. They would sleep with their heads toward the grain and their feet pointing away from the grain.

Now understanding the threshing floor, consider with me the threshing floor and it's significance concerning an intimate relationship with Christ.

First, we see that it was a place of:


A. Spiritual Meaning
Threshing floors in the Bible are significant. A good example is the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24). It was there that the judgment of God was stayed in David's day. On that very site, Abraham had offered up Isaac, and years later Solomon would build the Temple. On that same hilltop, Jesus would die on a cross. That threshing floor was a place of sacrifice.

In this case, the threshing floor is a picture of Calvary. At Calvary we see our Lord on God's threshing floor. It was at the threshing floor that Ruth was to claim a relationship with Boaz, and it is at Calvary where we enter into a relationship with our heavenly Boaz—Jesus Christ.

The work of Calvary is the basis of our individual union with Christ and our intimate communion with Christ. We have acceptance on the basis of Christ's work on Calvary. We also have access on the basis of His work on Calvary. Our relationship with Christ and our fellowship with Christ are based on what Jesus did for us at Calvary. Notice this work illustrated in Boaz.

First we see Boaz eating and drinking. We read, “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk..” (3:7). This is descriptive of the feasting and celebration that was involved. We read in John 4:34, Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”  Jesus said that the will of God was to do the work of God that He had been sent to do. That work was Calvary. Jesus ate of that meat and drank of that bitter cup. Jesus went to Calvary, God's threshing floor, and paid the price for sin and that men might have a individual relationship and intimate fellowship with the Father.

We not only see Boaz eating and drinking, we also see him rejoicing. Notice Ruth 3:7, "And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry..."  Hebrews 12:2 says, "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before endured the cross." There was judgment, but there was also joy. One can only imagine the joy of our Savior’s heart as He saw men and women being brought into relationship and fellowship with God.

Boaz was not only eating, drinking, rejoicing, but we also see him sleeping. Notice Ruth 3:7, "And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain."  The day's work was done and now he is resting in that finished work. Jesus finished the work the Father had given Him to do. Jesus cried, "It is finished" (John 19:30), declaring that salvation's plan was complete.

Because of the work Jesus did on God's threshing floor, Calvary is significant to each believer. It is there that we enter into an individual union with Christ and enjoy an intimate communion with Christ. There we see our Heavenly Boaz eating, drinking, rejoicing, and sleeping.

We also see that it was a place of:

B. Specific  Marking
                Notice Ruth 3:4,  “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies…”  Naomi gave Ruth instructions to mark the place where he lay down to rest. The word "notice" means "to know, acquaint yourself." She was telling her to pay close attention and be aware of where Boaz was sleeping.

Christians should mark the place where our Lord lay on God's threshing floor. We should become greatly acquainted with our Lord’s work on the cross. That place should be important to us and meaningful to us. Calvary should be more than a historical event. It should be a personal experience. It should be a place that we focus upon and mark in our heart and life. Calvary should be more than a fact of history. It should be a force in our hearts. It should capture our hearts, control our wills, consume our thoughts and check our walk.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Paul had marked the cross and the work of Christ in his heart. The songwriter marked Calvary in his heart when he wrote:

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross,
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

I will mark it, for there the Savior from heaven died and this sinner going to hell began to live. I will mark it, for there the Savior bowed His head and there I believed in my heart. I will mark it, for there God gave His Son and there I became His son.

After seeing Ruth at his floor, secondly, we see Ruth:

2. AT HIS FEET
         We read in Ruth 3:4-7, “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”  She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”  So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.  When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.

There is nothing immodest or indecent going on here. Ruth, according to Jewish custom, was claiming Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer. She was stating in her actions that she wanted to be the wife of Boaz. Ruth wanted the closest possible relationship she could have with Boaz. I ask you, do you want an intimate relationship with Christ?

Look closer with me at this scene. First, notice:

A. The Privilege Requested
Several times we have already seen references to a kinsman-redeemer (2:1, 2:20, 3:2). The law of the kinsman is a fascinating study in the Bible. It was established by God and revolved around two things.

 First there was the division of land. When God had given Israel the land, it was not like the pioneers going west and staking out their claim. The land was divided and assigned by God. God gave certain sections of the land to each of the 12 tribes. Each family within a tribe had a certain plot of land within that section.

Those plots or tracts of land were to be kept in the families of that tribe and passed on to their heirs. It was not to be sold to members of other tribes, such as the heirs of Jude could not sell their land to the heirs of Reuben. Each plot of land was to stay in each tribe.

Second, it also involved the destitution of life. Let's say that someone found themselves in financial straits. Maybe there was crop failure and there was a need for money. The land could be mortgaged. In so doing, the owner would lose his rights to the land.

There were two ways one could get the land back. There was the year of Jubilee that occurred every 50 years. In the year of Jubilee every mortgage was canceled and the land returned to its original owner. By this law, God kept the land in a family and tribe.

               One could also get their land back by the means of a kinsman-redeemer. A near kinsman (relative) could redeem the land (pay off the mortgage). This law is found in Leviticus 25:23-25, ‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.  ‘Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.   ‘If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

               In the case of a widow, like Naomi and Ruth, the law was even more interesting. We read in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.  “It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

A single brother, or in the case where there were no brothers, the nearest single relative, was obligated to marry the widow to care for her; and in so doing, the land would be kept in the family. Because of this law, the widow had every right to claim the nearest relative as a kinsman.

That is exactly what Ruth is doing. Boaz is a near kinsman of her dead husband. As a widow, when she lay down at his feet, she was saying, "You are a near-kinsman. I am claiming my privilege as a widow." In other words, she was saying, "Boaz, I want you to marry me."  Ruth is expressing a desire for an intimate relationship with Boaz. She was claiming her privilege to have this relationship.

It is the privilege of every believer to have an intimate relationship with Christ. You say, "I would have liked to have been one of the disciples and been as close to Jesus as they were."  You can! That is your privilege.

Secondly, notice:

B. The Promise Received
                  Notice Ruth 3:8, It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.

 Boaz was sleeping with his head toward the threshing floor. Ruth came in softly so as not to wake him up, uncovered his feet, and lay down with her feet next to his. In the night Boaz woke up and was startled (afraid) to find a woman lying at his feet. He asked, "Who are you?" 

I confess to you it would have scared me. I think I would have been somewhat like the fellow walking through the cemetery and fell into an open grave. He tried and tried to get out but could not. He finally just sat down in a corner. In a little while another fellow came along and fell into the grave. He tried and tried to get out, but could not. The first fellow watched him trying to get out and finally said, "It's no use. You can't get out." But he did!

              Notice what Ruth said to him in Ruth 3:9, He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”

She said, "I am claiming you as a kinsman. Spread your cloak over me as an act of acceptance. Show me that you will allow me to be your wife." The word "covering" literally means "wings." She was saying, "Take me under your wings."

               Notice Ruth 3:10-11, Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

              Boaz said in effect, "Oh yes, I have loved you since I first saw you in the field. There is nothing I would like any better than for you to be my wife. Yes, I will be your kinsman-redeemer and make you my own."

Ruth requested her privilege and received the promise that Boaz would do all that was necessary. We not only have the privilege of blessed fellowship with Christ, but He assures us that He will allow us to enjoy that closeness.



Do you want to know Christ intimately? He waits with open arms for such a relationship with you. What a privilege and what a promise. We read in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

      Jesus said in John 14:23,  “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

  He is waiting to spread His covering over you. Will you claim that privilege?

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