The following is a VERY LONG sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado, as part of a thru-the-Bible teaching on the Book of Ruth. (I could have easily made this a two-parter, but I choose not to… thus, I had to skip a lot of what is written here when I preached it live… here, you get to read all the juicy parts I had to leave out for sake of time 😉
Blessed to have our third, and youngest, son, Caleb and his beautiful wife, Jocelyn, here with us today. They both are full time, on staff with a wonderful ministry called Revolution 5, based out of Colorado Springs. They’ve devoted their lives to Jesus, and serving Him with everything they have. They are headed to Nepal later this Summer, in order to scout out the land (much like Joshua and Caleb did in Numbers 14).They are feeling the Lord call them to move there and serve as missionaries, which is completely scary… and completely awesome. This Dad and Mom… are very proud.
(3 John 1:4) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
I’ve been thinking a lot, this week, about what it means to “walk in truth”. I think the answer is pretty simple, really. I know that Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in John 14:6… and so I think ‘walking in truth’ is simply walking ‘in Jesus’. Walking in such a way that He is in control… He is in charge… He is calling the shots – not my comfort level, not my personal desires, but my life is His… it’s “hidden in Him”, as Colossians 3:3clearly declares, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.This is my prayer. “God… I want my life to be hidden in You. I want to walk with You… not just one day in Heaven… today… now!”
Always remember that the Book of Ruth is way more than just a love story about a respected Jew and a foreign woman. It is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the bride… you and me.
As I was studying in Ruth, the Book we’ve been going through, I find in chapter three, seven steps God’s people must all take if they want to be those that walk in truth, and enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Like we see in Ruth, we must not be satisfied merely with living on leftovers, or even receiving gifts. We must want an intimate relationship with our Redeemer… we must want Him alone, for when we have Him, we also have all that He owns. It’s not the gifts that we should seek, it’s the Giver.
(Ruth 3:1-2) “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 Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.
When the two widows came to Bethlehem, their plan was that Ruth take care of Naomi and both of them eke out an existence the best they could. But now Naomi has a new plan: Ruth is going to marry Boaz, and then all of them can live happily ever after. Naomi could tell that Boaz would be in favor of this, by Ruth’s report in the last chapter… so she begins to set things in motion. In that day, it was the parents who arranged marriages, so Naomi wasn’t out of place in what she is about to do in this chapter.
(Ruth 3:3a) 3 Therefore washyourself …”
Naomi is setting things up for this relationship to happen! And the first thing she instructs Ruth to do, in order to prepare herself to be Boaz’s bride is…
‘Get cleaned up, Ruth’… is what Naomi is saying. I am going to set this thing up and seek security for you… but the first thing you must do is wash yourself… the bride must be washed.
In Ephesians 5:25-26we read, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”. Boaz is a picture of Jesus, the Bridegroom… and Ruth is a picture of you and I, the bride. The apostle Paul is saying in these verses that the bride is to be washed by the water of the Word (Scripture). Therefore, there is nothing more important than keeping in the Word day after week after month after year. There is a ‘washing’ that happens when you and I spend time reading, studying, meditating on… God’s Word.
Hebrews 4:12states, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
(Ruth 3:3) “3 Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself,…”
The second step is…
- Anoint Yourself
Anointing is something that you see all throughout the Bible. From anointing oil being given to new-born babies, to being poured out on kings’ heads, to making something smell good to anointing bodies for burial. Lots of anointing of oil. However, it seems to always be a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 11:13, after describing how a father would never give his child a stone if they asked him for a piece of bread, or how a father would never give his child a snake if they asked him for a fish… Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
So too, if you and I are going to be those who walk in truth, and have a radical relationship with Jesus, we must be those who not only spend time washing in God’s Word… we also must anoint ourselves in God’s Spirit. Jesus said, of the Holy Spirit, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”(John 16:13). For you and I to expect to walk in truth, we must seek the Spirit of truth… and allow Him to guide us.
Zechariah 4:6– “…Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
The third step…
(Ruth 3:3) 3 Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment…”
- Put on your best garment
Ruth was instructed to change her clothes in preparation of her new life with Boaz. So too, are you and I. Isaiah 61talks about how the Messiah will “give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (vs 3).
The psalmist tells us in Psalm 33:1, “Rejoice in the Lord, O your righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.” You and I can make a choice on any given day to be totally blessed by the Lord, by walking in closeness with Him, if we will washourselves in the Word, anointourselves in the Spirit, and praise Himthroughout the day! It is a choice… like choosing to put on a jacket. We choose to remove the heaviness and put on praise. We say, “God, today is all about You! I love You! I think You are awesome! Regardless of my plans, my busy calendar, my stressful agenda… the heavinessI’m feeling… I choose to praiseYou… not because I feel like it, but because You are worthy!”
Fourthly… to be those that walk in truth we must…
(Ruth 3:3) 3 Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment … and go down to the threshing floor;…”
- Go down to the threshing floor
The threshing floor, throughout Scripture, is the place of separation andsacrifice.
In 2 Samuel 24, we read how David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan. After plague had swept the country for three days and thousands had died, David went to Ornan and said, “I want to buy your threshing floor to build an altar of sacrifice to Jehovah”. Ornan offered to just give it to David, but David famously replied, “I will not give to the Lord something that cost me nothing” and so he paid full price.
In Judges chapter6, we read the cool story of how God commissioned a guy named Gideon to be His deliverer, while Gideon was hiding from the Midianites… guess where? A threshing floor.
And in Luke 22, Jesus told Peter that Satan sought to sift him like wheat – an analogy of a threshing floor.
You see, a threshing floor was a cleaned off spot where the workers who pulled up the wheat would lay it down. In the evening time, when the breeze developed, the separated grain and straw was gathered into a pile in the center of the threshing floor. A farmer used a 5-pronged fork called a ‘winnowing fan’ and a spade that was called a ‘winnowing shovel’. The fork was used by placing it into the pile and tossing it up in the air. The wind would blow the straw away, while the heavier grain fell back. When the grain was too small to be picked up by the fork, the shovel was used. The chaff was used to fire the domestic stoves; the straw was collected for the animals, and the remaining grain was kept to be eaten. The grain then had to be purified by sifting. The wheat and barley grains were mixed with all kinds of loose fragments from the threshing floor. Everything was put in large sieves that allowed the grain to pass through but left most of the rubbish behind. It was necessary to remove any darnel grains at this stage. ‘Darnel grains’ were called ‘tares’ or ‘weeds’ in the N.T. It looks identical to wheat until the grain ripens, when it becomes black instead of yellow (Matthew 13:24-30). The grains are bitter and cause dizziness and sickness if eaten.
Used as a pic of how God will judge people (separation of good and bad) in Psalm 1:4and Jeremiah 15:7.
John the Baptist illustrated the work of Jesus in Matthew 3:12“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thouroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”.
When Jesus said Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat in Luke 22:31, He was probably referring to physical shaking of the sieve.
The threshing floor speaks of separationand sacrifice.
Have you and I come to the place where we are not simply in the field gleaning forourselves, but at the threshing floor giving of ourselves?
Romans 12:1states, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”.
Perhaps you are in a ‘threshing floor’ season of life right now… one where you feel like you are getting tossed up in the air and blown away. Whenever we come to times like this, we have an opportunity to be great. They are times that don’t come around every day, but when they do, we can say, “Lord, do whatever You want to do with me. Be glorified somehow through my life and even my pain, and have Your way. My life is Yours. I sacrifice all that I am, it is my reasonable serviceto You. Separate the chaff… all the stuff that is sinful and of me… from the wheat… all that is holy and of You.”
Oftentimes, when all the tossing and separating was done on the threshing floor, the farmer usually stayed with the grain at night, camping out on the threshing floor to ensure that the harvest wasn’t stolen. Like Boaz does in our text.
Jesus also camps out with us… in the midst of our ‘threshing’… He is there!
(Ruth 3:3b-5) 3 “Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.5 And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”
The 5ththing I see Ruth do here… is go along with what Naomi has instructed her to do. I believe this is a key to walking in truth for you and I, as well.
- Submit To God-Given Authorities
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
Paul gets practical in how to apply our beliefs to our lives by challenging us to submit to God-given authorities. For children, this means parents; for adults, this means leaders in government, the workplace, and the church.
Why should we submit?Is it because these leaders are the smartest, most reliable individuals on earth? No. God simply provides us with an authority test. Before we will ever become leaders of integrity, we must learn to follow other leaders, regardless of differences. In fact, the acid test of character comes when we disagree with legitimate authorities. When we refuse to demand our own way and instead submit to others, our hearts are right. This is when God can trust us to lead others.
We never submit to ANY authority when they go against God’s clear Word. Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
(Ruth 3:6-7) 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. 7 And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.
Ruth laid down at Boaz’s feet. This is step number 6…
- Lay at Jesus’ feet
This probably sounds strange to us… but in this culture, this would not have been seen as inappropriate or sensual.
I believe this speaks of humilityand worship. InLuke 10:38-42we read of Mary and Martha. Martha was so busy serving, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Jesus remarked that what Mary was doing was the better thing. In Luke 7, we read of a woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair. And Psalm 51:17declares, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise”.
When I’m full of ‘myself’… full of pride… not humbly approaching the King… I am not going to enjoy intimate relationship with Him. He ‘despises’ it, actually. Lay at Jesus’ feet.
(Ruth 3:8-11) 8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. 9 And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
The phrase, “more kindness at the end than at the beginning” I think refers to her personal devotion and kindness to him being better than her even leaving home and family to be with Naomi.
Boaz calls Ruth a “virtuous woman”, which Scripture tells us is one whose “worth is far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10). One translator defines this statement as, “You are a bride worth winning”. This is honestly the Lord’s heart toward us.
We think He’s stuckwith us, when in actuality He’s in love withus… because He sees us as a bride worth winning.
(Ruth 3:12-13) 12 Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! Lie down until morning.”
We’ll dive more into this “other relative” in our next study in Ruth. Apparently, there is a legal complication, due to the fact that there was another relative who was closer to Ruth than Boaz… this guy actually had the right of “first refusal” in a sense. He could serve as a redeemer, if he so chose.
(Ruth 3:14-18) 14 So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
15 Also he said, “Bring the shawl that is on you and hold it.” And when she held it, he measured six ephahs of barley, and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “Is that you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her. 17 And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’18 Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”
There is a lot of good stuff here, but for sake of time… the last stepI see that we must take to walk in truth…
- We must wait.
When Naomi heard all that had taken place, she told Ruth to “sit still”and wait for the outcome of this complex sequence of events.
I think there is a hidden message here that Boaz is sending to Naomi through Ruth. I don’t think Ruth got it, probably because she was knew to this whole “Jehovah/One God” thing. But Naomi got the message loud and clear! What message? Boaz gave Ruth 6 measures of barley. The number 6 is the hidden message, I believe.
God created the heavens and the earth in exactly 6 days – Boaz and Naomi would have known this. They also would’ve known that God didn’t rest until the seventh day- when His work was complete. Boaz is sending a message, “I’m going to work and not rest until my work is complete – until she’s my wife.” It was a tricky message that passed right over the head of Ruth, a new convert, but understood by Naomi, as evidenced by her response in verse 18: “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”
This is always the hardest part for us as we are walking in faith. When no more action can be taken and nothing remains but to wait patiently for God to work out His will. It is at this moment that doubts arise and anxiety creeps in.
“Stand still” was the command of Moses to the people of Israel when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. There was no need to panic, for God had the situation well in hand. Then the Lord commanded the people “go forward” (Ex. 14:15), and He led them safely through the sea. There is a time to stand and a time to march, and we must be alert to know which one God wants us to do.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). This is a great antidote for a restless spirit. The Hebrew word translated “be still” means “take your hands off, relax.” It’s so easy for us to get impatient with the Lord and start meddling in matters that we ought to leave alone. He is God, and His hands can accomplish the impossible. Our hands may get in the way and make matters worse.
Boaz was busy working for Ruth, and Naomi was confident that he wouldn’t rest until he had settled the matter. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). It is awesome to know that Jesus is working unceasingly for His people as He intercedes in heaven (Romans 8:34), and that He is working inus, seeking to conformus to His perfect will (Phil 2:12-13).
Am I putting myself at the feet of the Lord of the Harvest, and am I trusting Him to work? One evidence of my trust will be my willingness to be stilland wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31).
May you and I be those who choose to walk closely with Jesus this week… walking in Truth.
May we wash ourselves in His Word…
And anoint ourselves with His Spirit…
And put on the garments of Praise, removing the spirit of heaviness…
And may we go to the Threshing Floor and offer Him our lives as a ‘living sacrifice… separating ourselves from this world.
May we Submit to the God-Given Authorities in our lives…
May we be humble, lying at Jesus’ feet…
And may we be patient… waiting on Him to complete the work He has begun.
[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]