Inside: A closer look at Ruth chapter 3
There are also 2 videos that went with the first 2 lessons. If you haven’t watched those yet, you can find them here:
Just a reminder:
- Be prayerful before reading,
- Keep a notepad handy, and
- Take your time!
Without further ado, let’s dive in and read Chapter 3!
Questions to Consider
- Why did Ruth need to cleanse and anoint herself before going to see Boaz?
- Why did she need to uncover his feet and lie down?
- How willing am I to be obedient to God when I don’t fully understand His plan?
- Who am I in light of who Jesus is and what He did for me?
- What does being the bride of Christ mean?
- In what ways is Jesus calling me to rest?
Cleansing and Anointing
At the beginning of this chapter, we see Naomi start to formulate a plan. In her own words, this is her way of taking care of Ruth, who has been such a faithful daughter-in-law. As part of this plan, Naomi tells Ruth to first go wash and anoint herself, put on her best outfit, and go to the threshing floor where Boaz is winnowing barley.
My Bible led me to 2 Samuel 14:2 as a cross-reference, which tells a special bit of information. A woman who is still in mourning will not anoint herself. But by anointing herself with oil, Ruth shows she is no longer in mourning of her deceased husband and is ready to remarry.
But of course, there’s more to it.
This practice is foreshadowing. A glimmer of what’s to come. When we go to Jesus, our spirits are completely cleansed and anointed with the Holy Spirit. We are no longer in mourning. Our spirits are no longer dead but have been risen to life with Jesus, and now we are His bride! This is the point where we enter into our betrothal with Jesus. (More on that as we go along…)
But the practice is also only a glimmer because of course, she had to prepare herself for her betrothal. She cleansed and anointed herself. But we are cleansed and anointed by the One who has taken us in as His own. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
And our “best garment” we get to put on? One fully fashioned by the King–our new identity in Him. (Ephesians 4:24)
An Act of Obedience
We know that after Naomi tells her what to do, Ruth does exactly as she asks. These customs are foreign to her. The law that she asks Boaz to uphold is foreign to her.
But she honors Naomi.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:1-3 (NKJV)
We don’t know how long Ruth lived on earth, but we can assume that God kept His promise to her. We do know that her story lives on in the Word, encouraging and instructing those of us still on earth.
It’s also interesting to note: Ruth is truly an example of the laws of God being written on her heart. She hadn’t been raised knowing what the Jews knew. And yet, she was a woman of virtue who seemed to naturally follow the law (like honoring her mother Naomi).
About the Threshing Floor
Alright, look alive, people! This is when we really start to get into the nitty gritty of this chapter, and some of the concepts can be pretty in-depth. I’ll try my best to make the points clear and concise while still bringing them alive. I pray over all the words here and that God illuminates points of connection for you that I haven’t seen.
Okay, let’s do this!
The threshing floor plays a big role in this chapter. It was a place where the chaff (the unusable part of the wheat) was separated from the good grain. There was a smooth hard floor where wheat was trampled so that it could be cracked open. Then the people used large forks to throw the wheat into the air. The chaff would blow away while the heavier grain would fall to the floor.
Throughout the Bible, this act on the threshing floor is used as a metaphor for judgment. What cannot be used is blown away in the wind while the stuff of substance is left in tact. (Job 21:17-18, Psalm 1:4, Psalm 35:4-6, Isaiah 29:5, Hosea 13:3… just to name a few references)
When considering the threshing floor and judgment within the context of the story and what we already know about who Ruth and Boaz represent, we see ourselves, coming before Jesus and laying at his feet. He’s the only one who can truly judge us–the only one with the authority to do so. And yet, His is the way of mercy.
Let’s keep that in mind when considering the rest of the chapter.
Why Uncover His Feet & Lie Down?
Naomi instructs Ruth to uncover his feet and lie down. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked it up, but there is A LOT of speculation about exactly what this meant. Some even suggest that “feet” was a euphemism for something else. But looking at the character of both Ruth and Boaz, I don’t believe that.
Instead, I tend to side with those who say that the act of uncovering his feet was to wake him. If she hadn’t done it this way, the only other way to wake him up would have been to:
- speak loudly enough to stir him or
- physically touch him
If she had spoken loudly, she could have woken others who were sleeping. And it would have been improper for her to shake him.
I think it also serves three other purposes, all of which point us to Jesus.
A Humble Servant
Uncovering someone’s feet or lying down at their feet is an act of humility toward them and would only have been done by a servant. Feet were usually very unclean. When she uncovers them, there is nothing between her and him. In this act, Ruth is showing humility toward Boaz and even goes on to call herself his maidservant (as we’ll mention again later on).
In Jesus’s life, we see him wash the feet of his disciples. It made them uncomfortable because He was lowering Himself to serve them. He was taking the posture of a slave.
When we come and lay at the feet of Jesus, we are humbling ourselves before Him and acting as servants.
To be Intimately Known
But Ruth was also showing a desire to fully know and be fully known by Boaz.
Like we mentioned, feet were seen as unclean. Her closeness with them could symbolically represent her desire to fully know every part of Boaz, even the unclean ones.
How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 (NKJV)
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…
Ephesians 6:14-15 (NKJV)
In terms of Jesus and the new covenant, feet are often mentioned in conjunction with peace. We can look at Ruth uncovering the feet of Boaz as symbolically removing the veil between the world and God–the ushering in of the covenant of peace.
Who are you?
In the dark of the night (and possibly because he’s been drinking), Boaz asks Ruth, “who are you?”
At least, that’s how I read it with my fleshly eyes. But while reading, the Holy Spirit showed me something else in these words.
When we come and lay at the feet of Jesus, He asks us, “who are you?” Not because He doesn’t know who we are. Not even because He doesn’t know how we’ll respond. But He wants us to examine it for ourselves. How do we respond?
We see here that Ruth calls herself Boaz’s maidservant.
During Jesus’s life, we see his disciples talking about who the people think Jesus is. Then He asks them, “who do YOU say I am?” This question is similar to the one we face here.
Who do we say we are in light of Jesus and who He is?
Under His Wing
Ruth asks for Boaz to take her under his wing. In my Bible, there’s a reference that took me to this verse:
“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 16:8 (NKJV)
By asking Boaz to take her under his wing, Ruth is asking for a betrothal. In biblical times, betrothal was an important step in the marriage process, kind of like engagement today (but even more serious).
Let’s look again at the verse above. This is the literal picture of what is happening here in the story of Ruth and Boaz. Except this time, it’s God talking to us. As Gentiles, we were without covering. But He chose to spread His wing over us. He spoke an oath to us (like we’ll see Boaz does to Ruth) and we became His.
The bride of Christ.
First, like he normally does, Boaz speaks a blessing over Ruth. Then we see him connect with her on a heart level again. He sees into her and speaks of her kindness. Then he tells her, “do not fear.” All very Christ-like thus far.
Then comes the oath. Essentially, Ruth has asked to enter into the covenant of marriage with Boaz. This is the first time though, that we hear about the other relative. There is one man who could redeem Ruth before Boaz, but if he denies, Boaz will do it. We’ll talk more about this relative and his significance in the next chapter.
But for now, we focus on his oath. Aside from a technicality, this is the night Boaz has agreed to take Ruth as his own.
Rest Until Morning
At this point, Boaz tells Ruth to rest until morning. That may seem a little scandalous upon reading.
But consider the story here and how it relates to us and Jesus. Betrothal is a serious matter. Unlike engagement, it could only be ended by divorce, much like the couple was already married. It was a binding contract. Of course, consummation of a marriage would be improper at this point. But as we read, Ruth slept at his feet the entire night. There was no hankie-pankie going on. She only rested under the care of her redeemer until morning.
Even though our marriage to Christ won’t happen until He returns from preparing a place in His Father’s house for us (a part of Jewish tradition), we are considered His bride and as such, enjoy the benefit of our holy betrothal to Him.
And what does He tell us to do?
Work or Rest? What Gives?
In the last chapter, we talked a lot about work. And now we’re seeing rest. How does it line up?
Notice BEFORE Ruth was betrothed to Boaz, her life centered around work. But as soon as he agrees to redeem her, he tells her to rest.
Our lives before Jesus would have been full of striving. But now we’re betrothed to Him, and He tells us to rest.
Does this mean in the literal sense of physically resting? Sometimes. But the rest He really refers to is rest from spiritual work. Rest from trying to earn our righteousness.
The Word says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. None of us are perfect, and if we tell ourselves we haven’t sinned, the truth isn’t in us. On our own, we’re powerless. Only Jesus can instantly perfect our spirits as He joins with us and continue to perfect our souls as we walk with Him.
For more on the distinction between spirit and soul, check out this post:
Now does all of this negate what we said in the last chapter about work? Nope. Work is still something we’re designed to do. It makes our souls feel fed and rejuvenated. However, in the spiritual (concerning our justification before God) there is perfect rest. Jesus paid the price of redemption and is our justification.
The Man Will Not Rest
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.”
Ruth 3:18 (NKJV)
Boaz wouldn’t rest until Ruth’s redemption was secured. Until he knew that she would either become his own wife or the wife of the closer relative.
Hmm… I wonder who that sounds like.
We know that our redeemer now rests at the right hand of the Father. That’s our guarantee. “Our divine receipt”, as I’ve heard it called. Jesus wouldn’t rest until His work was complete, until we became His bride, grafted into the family of God and restored to His glory. We need no more proof than that.
♥ We are no longer in mourning! The Holy Spirit of God anoints us and prepares us for betrothal to Christ.
♥ God has given us a new garment to wear–our new identity in Him.
♥ We come before Jesus as our judge, but His answer is always mercy and redemption.
♥ Our obedience (even when we don’t understand the full plan) leads to powerful elements of our story.
♥ We are betrothed to Jesus, and this covenant is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Right now, Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for us in the home of His Father. When He comes back for us, our marriage and complete union with Him will take place. (Revelation 19:7)
♥ Since our betrothal is as binding as marriage, we have already been redeemed! Our proof is in Jesus resting at the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
For the video that goes with this post, click here:
Until next time,
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