Summary: Having found refuge under the wings of the God of Israel, Ruth is now hoping to find refuge under the wings of a godly man. She who was once far from God has now become a member of the family of God and becomes a picture for us of salvation and redemptio
Hope on the Threshing Floor - Ruth 3:1-9 - March 10, 2013
Series: From Heartache to Hope – The Redemption of Ruth - #7
This morning we continue in our series on Ruth which I’ve called “From Heartache to Hope – The Redemption of Ruth.” This is the seventh message in our series and, as we’ve begun to see, Ruth’s story is an incredible journey that takes her from the depths of despair to the heights of hope; from the darkness of death to the light of life. Hers is a story of great misery and sorrow, as well as a story of amazing grace and joy and redemption.
Chapter 2 ended with Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, having been richly blessed by the loving kindness of a man named, “Boaz.” Boaz has permitted Ruth to glean in his fields behind the harvesters. He has provided plentifully for her and has invited her to continue gleaning in his fields through to the end of the harvest. And we’ve discovered that Boaz is a man of integrity who seeks to honour God in all he does, and so not only does he provide abundantly for Ruth, but he also acts to ensure her safety in the harvest fields. These are the same fields that Ruth has gone out into hoping to find favor, but where she ends up discovering something even better - amazing grace.
As we start chapter 3, a period of some time has passed between the events of chapter 2 and those we will read of today. The harvest is drawing to a close. Day after day, week after week, Ruth has been going to the fields, working hard from sun up to sun down, and, as each day draws to a close, taking home the bounty of her labours. Life has been difficult, but through it all God has been good. Blessed be the name of the Lord, for in Naomi’s own words, “He has not stopped showing His kindness to the living and the dead.” (Ruth 2:20, NIV)
So let’s open our Bibles to the 3rd chapter of the book of Ruth. Ruth, chapter 3, and we’ll begin reading in verse 1. “One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.”” (Ruth 3:1–9, NIV84)
Now this is perhaps the most difficult passage in the book of Ruth for us to understand because it’s so far removed from our own customs. If we read this from the perspective of our North American mindset, we’re going to be left thinking that Naomi is pimping out her daughter-in-law in return for grain, that Ruth is prostituting herself to get ahead, and that Boaz is a dirty old man taking advantage of the situation. What started out as a beautiful story of love and grace, suddenly appears to become something seedy and scandalous.
Let me assure you that if we approach this passage from the mind set of our own culture, we will miss the point of what is taking place here entirely, and in having done so we will then miss seeing what God is doing. In order to understand these verses rightly, we need to try to understand them in light of the culture of the day.
So let’s start with verse 1. Naomi says to Ruth, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?” Now she’s not trying to find a sugar daddy for Ruth. The word that the NIV translates as “home” is actually a Hebrew word meaning, “rest.” It encompasses ideas such as peace and security and a pause from the constant demands of life. That word “rest” is a word that means “a place to settle down” and call home.