Arlen L. Chitwood
On the Threshing Floor
“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.”
And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. (Ruth 3:4-6)
Within the chronology of the type in the book of Ruth, beginning with chapter three, the harvest is over, and Boaz is seen winnowing grain (separating the chaff from the grain) on the threshing floor (3:2). Ruth, in turn, at this point in the type, has worked in Boaz’s field throughout the time of the harvest and has properly prepared herself for meeting Boaz on his threshing floor (2:3-23; 3:3).
The antitype, as it relates to Christ and Christians, is simple and easy to see.
Christians, during the present dispensation, during the time of harvest, are to labor in the field of the One whom Boaz typifies, in Christ’s field. The field is “the world” (Matthew 13:38). And though the world is presently under the control of Satan and his angels, it belongs to Christ — in the same manner as and connected with Christ being “born King,” or presently possessing “all power . . . in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 2:2; 28:18).
But the day when Christ will take control of His field, the world, exercising His kingship and manifesting His power, is yet future. This will occur only following that future time when Satan and his angels have been put down, with the world, at that time, coming under the control of Christ and His co-heirs.
Then, Boaz winnowing grain on his threshing floor foreshadows Christ making the same type of separation — separating that which is of value from that which is worthless — at His judgment seat (cf. Matthew 3:11, 12). And the manner in which Ruth was to prepare herself before appearing in Boaz’s presence, on his threshing floor, can only foreshadow the manner in which Christians are to prepare themselves before appearing in Christ’s presence, at His judgment seat.
This is where the type has taken us in the book of Ruth. It has taken us through the harvest and through Ruth’s preparation for that lying immediately beyond the harvest. That is, the type has taken us through events occurring during the present dispensation, which involve the time of harvest and the time when Christians are to properly prepare themselves for that which lies immediately beyond the harvest. It has taken us through events of the present dispensation to events surrounding Christians appearing at Christ’s judgment seat, anticipating events that lie beyond the judgment seat.
Christians appearing before Christ’s judgment seat would, of necessity, follow their removal from the earth (commonly referred to as “the rapture”) but precede events beginning with the redemption of the inheritance and all that is involved therein. And the redemption of the inheritance is that which occupies the center of attention when Ruth arrives on Boaz’s threshing floor.
As will subsequently be shown in this and the next chapter of this book, the redemption of the inheritance will occur in connection with and during the judgments of the Tribulation (those under the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials [Revelation 6:1ff]). And, with these things in mind, if a proper chronology of events occurring at the end of the dispensation is to be seen (events particularly as they would relate to Christians and the Tribulation, along with the revelation of the bride at the judgment seat and the bride subsequently becoming the Lamb’s wife), that part of the word picture that God has provided through events in the book of Ruth cannot be ignored.
Though previous types present the same chronology — Genesis 5-8; 18, 19, dealing with Enoch’s removal preceding the Flood, and with Lot and his family’s removal preceding the destruction of the cities of the plain — some Bible students have singled out and used these types, apart from other types dealing with the subject, to teach that the Church will go through part or all of the Tribulation. But subsequent types, providing additional details, clearly show that this is an incorrect way to view these types.
When the Old Testament word picture is viewed in its completeness, it can be clearly seen that the types in Genesis 5-8, 18, 19 cannot be used in this manner. Rather, from the complete word picture, one can clearly see that these types must be understood from the same standpoint as seen in the book of Ruth — from the standpoint of the Church being removed preceding any part of the Tribulation.
It is simply not possible to include the book of Ruth in the Old Testament word picture surrounding Christians at the end of the present dispensation and see the Church going through any part of the Tribulation. Bible students viewing matters contrary to this (and many do so) all make the same basic mistake. And a person doesn't have to spend time either listening to or reading their material to know this, for if they were not making this mistake, they would not be dealing with the matter in this erroneous manner. Rather, they would be presenting the matter correctly.
The nature of the mistake being made can be stated and explained in a simple manner. Those making the mistake have not looked at and studied the matter from the standpoint of the way in which God structured His Word when given by the Spirit through Jewish prophets.
That is to say, they have not looked at and studied the complete word picture in the Old Testament (all of the types bearing on the subject, forming the complete word picture), set the complete picture alongside the antitype in the New Testament, and run all the checks and balances.
The most that any of them have done with the Old Testament word picture is to look at part of this picture (part of the types on the subject), leaving them with an incomplete picture. Then they have tried to understand the antitype in the light of that which is incomplete (though many have ignored the types altogether and have viewed a multiplicity of New Testament verses dealing with end-time events rather than the antitype per se, often further complicating the issue since they have failed to begin with the proper foundation).
Thus, it is no wonder that numerous individuals studying Scripture in this manner erroneously conclude that the Church will go through either part or all of the Tribulation. They have not begun with a complete word picture in the Old Testament and properly followed through with the antitype in the New Testament.
And, to carry the matter a step further, this is what’s wrong with any false teaching that one finds within Christendom. The teacher, to be assured of accuracy, must begin at the point where God began and study Scripture after the manner in which God structured His Word. He must begin with a complete Old Testament word picture, exactly as God gave it (in different parts [different types], showing different facets of the picture) and proceed from there. No substitute or other way exists for a proper study of the Word of God.
(For a discussion of the different parts of the complete Old Testament word picture in the light of the antitype, as it pertains to the removal of the Church at the end of the dispensation, refer to the Appendix.)
Then, there is another major positive factor about adding the book of Ruth to the Old Testament word picture. This is a book that covers that which is seen in both the epistles and the book of Revelation in its type-antitype structure. And covering this complete period of time — covering not only the present dispensation but subsequent events surrounding the judgment seat and the Tribulation as well — the book of Ruth, possibly more so than any other book in the Old Testament, shows the proper way in which the whole of the latter part of the New Testament is tied together. This book shows the proper relationship between the epistles and the book of Revelation, along with how certain events throughout the period of time seen in both must be placed in their proper chronological order.
Events on the threshing floor in Ruth chapter three are where events in this book are seen moving from that presented in the New Testament epistles to that presented in the book of Revelation (with seven short epistles seen in Revelation 2, 3, further showing the relationship of this book to the preceding twenty-one epistles). And if that part of the word picture provided by the book of Ruth is ignored, a person reading and studying the book of Revelation will not have a proper foundational guide for a number of things — particularly things presented in the opening five chapters, along with the relationship of the things presented in these chapters to the things presented in subsequent chapters (in chapters 6-20).
Large sections of the Old Testament (particularly parts of Genesis, along with the books of Exodus, Esther, and Daniel) have a direct bearing on a proper understanding of the book of Revelation, with each presenting a different facet of the matter. And the book of Ruth is another vital part of this picture, presenting a different facet yet. The book of Ruth opens up a chronology of events that, in the antitype, begin in the New Testament epistles (chapters 1-3a) and end in the book of Revelation (chapters 3b, 4).
Thus, going back to and studying the book of Ruth, a person can more clearly see and understand the proper relationship between the epistles and the book of Revelation. And this becomes particularly important for properly understanding the opening five chapters of the book of Revelation, seeing and understanding not only how these chapters relate to the preceding epistles but how they relate to the subsequent chapters in the book (where the Tribulation and Messianic Era are in view). Through going back to particularly the book of Ruth, these chapters can be seen exactly as God meant for them to be seen, from His provided guide book, given in the form of a word picture.
With these things in mind, the remainder of this chapter and all of the next chapter will be taken up with a chronology of events revealed in that part of the Old Testament word picture provided by Ruth chapter three. And, as previously seen, this part of the overall type, this part of the complete word picture in the Old Testament, has been given to help open up and explain the antitype in the New Testament, seen in the Book of Revelation.
Events on the Threshing Floor, in Ruth
The scene in Ruth chapter three has to do with events on Boaz’s threshing floor, occurring at midnight (vv. 2, 8). The “threshing floor” was the place where the wheat and chaff were separated, and the previous first use of “midnight” in Scripture (Exodus 11:4, 5) — establishing a first-mention principle — shows “midnight” being used relative to judgment.
Thus, there can be no question about that which is being foreshadowed by the type in Ruth chapter three. Ruth appearing on Boaz’s threshing floor at the end of the harvest, at midnight, can only be viewed as foreshadowing judgment at the end of the time of harvest in the antitype, foreshadowing events surrounding Christ’s judgment seat at the end of the present dispensation (cf. Matthew 3:11, 12; 25:6ff).
However, rather than dealing with a separation of the wheat from the chaff, events in the type move beyond this point. When Ruth appeared in Boaz’s presence, on his threshing floor, the matter at hand had to do with two things: (1) the redemption of a forfeited inheritance, and (2) marriage.
Ruth had been instructed by Naomi concerning proper preparation and that which she was to do once on the threshing floor. Ruth was to first properly prepare herself; then, because of this proper preparation, once on the threshing floor, Ruth could follow a certain course of action, which would result in Boaz having to also follow a certain course of action in response.
The book of Ruth, in this respect, shows a different and particular part of the events that will surround the judgment seat — that resulting from the outcome of the judgment of the faithful rather than their judgment per se. And because of Ruth’s previous actions, this could only be viewed as a natural flow of events in the book. Ruth, during the previous time of harvest, had already separated that which was of value from that which was worthless (2:17), along with properly preparing herself for her appearance before Boaz at the end of the harvest (3:3). Thus, insofar as judgment was concerned, everything had previously been dealt with; and events on the threshing floor — events having to do with judgment per se — could only be of a positive nature and move immediately into the result of these things having previously been dealt with.
Matters would be as stated in Romans 8:1:
There is therefore now no condemnation [Greek: katakrima, “judgment” (with negatives consequences in view)] to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
It is evident from the context that the verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation but with exactly what the context and latter part of the verse state — following the man of spirit rather than the man of flesh. This is what the verses from chapter seven leading into chapter eight deal with, and this is what the verses continuing from verse one in chapter eight deal with.
There is though a possible textual problem in Romans 8:1. The words in the latter part of the verse — “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” — do not appear in many of the manuscripts in our possession, though these words are present in a number of the other manuscripts.
Then, further complicating the issue, Romans 8:1 is invariably thought of by most Bible students as a verse dealing with eternal salvation, which, in the eyes of the translators, could only provide support for viewing the latter part of the verse as spurious. This is undoubtedly the main reason that most of the English versions of Scripture do not include the latter part of Romans 8:1 in the text.
It would probably go without saying that had all of the translators of the versions produced over about the past half century (a period during which most of the present-day translations were introduced) looked upon Romans 8:1 correctly, within context, at least part of them would probably have included the latter part of the verse in the translation. And, correspondingly, this textual problem might have had an origin going back to some of the manuscript copyists themselves, leaving this part out because they didn’t understand how it could be a part of the text.
If the verse is understood in its correct contextual light, the latter part of the verse fits the text perfectly, going on to shed light upon and to help explain the first part of the verse. However, contending for its inclusion is not really necessary, for that part of the verse in question is repeated in verse four, where this same manuscript problem doesn’t exist [a verse in the middle of subsequent verses, continuing to shed light upon and help explain verse one].
The word “condemnation” in verse one (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV) is a translation of katakrima in the Greek text, a compound word — kata and krima. Krima is a form of the regular Greek word for “judgment” (e.g., krima is translated “judgment” earlier in the book [2:2, 3; 3:8; 5:16]). And kata, meaning “down,” is a preposition prefixed to the word, shading and adding to the meaning of the word krima. The prefixed preposition makes the type judgment referred to by krima to be one with negative ramifications, a condemnatory type judgment — thus, the translation, “condemnation.”
In this respect, those appearing at the judgment seat of Christ will fall into two major categories — those prepared (as Ruth in the type), for whom there will be no katakrima, and those unprepared (which the type in the book of Ruth doesn’t deal with beyond chapter one), for which there will be a katakrima.
Since only the properly prepared are in view in the latter part of the book of Ruth — as previously shown through Ruth having separated that which was of value from that which was worthless, along with properly preparing herself — matters can go immediately into and deal with the result of Ruth appearing in this manner, which is exactly what occurs. Ruth is seen making a request, which, because of Jewish law, Boaz could only respond to accordingly. This is what the chapter deals with — Ruth’s request (shown through her actions) and Boaz’s response (shown through his actions).
And it will be exactly the same with faithful Christians appearing properly prepared at the judgment seat. They will have previously separated that which is worthless from that which is of value, along with properly preparing themselves. Then, appearing before Christ at His judgment seat in this manner, there can be no katakrima for them. As in the type, matters for them can, in reality, move immediately into the realm seen in the book of Ruth — the redemption of the inheritance, and Christ taking the prepared bride as His wife.
The bride, as Ruth, because of her preparedness, will be able to make the same request seen in the type (relative to the inheritance and marriage). And Christ, as Boaz, because of that which God has promised in His Word, remaining true to this Word, will respond accordingly, as also seen in the type.
1) Ruth’s Request
Naomi had instructed Ruth concerning that which she was to do once on Boaz’s threshing floor. She was to wait until he had finished eating and drinking and had lain down for the night. Then she was to note the place where he lay, go in, uncover his feet, and lie down by his uncovered feet.
Ruth’s actions had their basis in the Mosaic Law, and they had to do with two things — a request for both redemption and marriage (cf. Deuteronomy 25:5, 6; 27:20; Ezekiel 16:8). And Boaz, seeing that which Ruth had done, would understand her actions in this respect.
Redemption and marriage are not linked in this manner in the Mosaic Law; but over time, as seen in the book of Ruth, they had evidently become closely associated with one another in Jewish life in instances of the nature seen in Ruth’s life. It is evident from the context (particularly from chapter four) that the complete request, seen through Ruth’s actions, clearly involved both.
These were simple actions involving a definite dual request, which was made through the actions themselves. And Ruth was able to make this request because of one thing — her actions prior to her appearance on Boaz’s threshing floor. Ruth’s prior labor in Boaz’s field and her prior preparation for appearing before Boaz on his threshing floor had been in complete accord with instructions that she had received. Thus, she was in a position to request of Boaz that which he alone was in a position to do in its completeness.
2) Boaz’s Response
Boaz knew exactly what Ruth, through her actions, was asking of him. Nothing needed to be said; nothing needed to be explained. She had already stated and explained everything through her actions, and Boaz responded in a completely positive manner.
Boaz, responding to Ruth’s request, said,
“. . . 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.” (3:11b)
Then Boaz, after telling Ruth to remain on the threshing floor with him throughout the remainder of the night, calls attention to the fact that there was a nearer kinsman than he, who must be given the first choice to carry out Ruth’s request (who was later shown to be unable to fulfill all the requirements). And Ruth is assured that if the nearer kinsman will not “do the part of a kinsman,” then Boaz would do as Ruth had requested (3:12, 13).
When morning came, Boaz supplied Ruth with six measures of barley, which she carried in her “shawl.” Ruth then went into the city, to her mother-in-law’s home.
When Ruth came into the home, Naomi asked her what she had accomplished (“Who art thou, my daughter?” [KJV], could be better translated, “What have you accomplished?”) Ruth told and showed Naomi everything that had transpired. Then, Naomi, knowing what had occurred and what Boaz was about to do, 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. (3:18)
The antitype, of course, has to do with prepared Christians at the judgment seat, individuals who will have previously acted in accord with provided instruction, previously acted in accord with the Word of God. They alone, following the separation of the wheat from the chaff, revealing the bride, will be in a position to do as Ruth did in the type — request of the One on the threshing floor both redemption (of the forfeited inheritance) and marriage (the revealed bride becoming the wife of the Lamb).
And Christ, in the antitype of Boaz, will do exactly as seen in the type. He will tell the bride to tarry in a certain place, He will supply that which the bride needs during the interim, and He will set about to complete a required work so that a time of rest can follow.
And Christ will follow this course of action in that coming day for the same reason that Boaz followed the same course of action in the type. A prepared bride will be present, and God must remain true to that which He has promised in His Word concerning faithfulness.
Events on the Threshing Floor, in Revelation
The epistles, preceding the book of Revelation, have been written to instruct Christians concerning labor in the field during the time of harvest, along with how they are to properly prepare themselves for their future appearance before Christ at His judgment seat. Each epistle presents a different facet of the matter, much like different types in the Old Testament presenting different facets of a complete picture, with all of the epistles together presenting the message in its fullness and completeness. In this respect, that seen throughout the epistles would essentially correspond to that seen in Ruth 1-3a, with Ruth and Orpah forming the type and Christians the antitype.
But moving more to the text (Ruth 3b), to show a progression from the epistles into the book of Revelation, note how 1 Thessalonians chapters four and five and Revelation chapter one deal with exactly the same thing, with Revelation chapter one then continuing from that point in subsequent chapters.
The Church is seen being removed at the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter four; and chapter five continues with a reference to individuals in the Lord’s Day (a reference to that which is previously seen, Christians removed from Man’s Day on earth into the Lord’s Day in heaven) and that which awaits both faithful and unfaithful Christians in that day — salvation, or wrath (5:9).
(Note that the Lord’s Day [or Day of the Lord] is presently in existence [cf. Mark 12:27; John 8:56], though not on earth. It is Man’s Day which is presently in existence on earth, and Man’s Day must run its course [lasting until the end of Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy, the end of the Tribulation] before the Lord’s Day can begin on earth.
The reference to the Lord’s Day in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 is, contextually, a reference to Christians being removed from Man’s Day on earth into the Lord’s Day in heaven. The passage has nothing to do with the earth-dwellers remaining on earth during the Tribulation, for they will not be in the Lord’s Day. Rather, they will still be in Man’s Day, with the Lord’s Day not beginning on earth for at least seven more years.)
And that which is seen in 1 Thessalonians chapters four and five is exactly what is seen in the opening chapters of the book of Revelation as well. In the first chapter of this book, after introductory remarks, John states, “I was [‘became’] in the Spirit on [‘in’] the Lord’s day . . . .” (v. 10a); and once in that day (which would have had to involve a removal from earth into heaven — from Man’s Day on earth into the Lord’s Day in heaven), John saw the seven churches of chapters two and three in Christ’s presence (with “seven,” a number showing completeness, depicting the complete Church, all Christians); and Christ is depicted in a judicial role.
In this scene that John was shown, the girdle appears across Christ’s breasts, which is where a judge would wear it; and further descriptions of Christ point to judicial activity (future), not to priestly activity (present). Thus, only events following the present dispensation can possibly be in view, for Christ will continue His work as High Priest for Christians throughout the dispensation, becoming their Judge only after the dispensation has run its course.
But, to introduce the preceding, leaving no doubt that this is the way in which the opening chapter of the book of Revelation is to be understood, paralleling 1 Thessalonians 4b, 5a, note the way in which the book is introduced. The book begins with the statement:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things that must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John. (Revelation 1:1)
This verse introduces the subject matter about to follow — “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Then the next seven verses (vv. 2-8) form commentary material on this verse, with verse nine introducing that part of the book dealing with the previously announced subject matter. And, as is plain from the material that follows, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” begins with the removal of Christians into the Lord’s Day and concludes with events surrounding His return back to the earth at least seven years later.
Thus, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” covers far more than a single event in time. Rather, it covers a broad scope of events during a time lasting at least seven years. In this respect, there are not two comings of Christ, as is often taught (in the air for His Church preceding the Tribulation, and His return to the earth following the Tribulation). Rather, Scripture presents one coming, covering numerous events during time surrounding Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week.
Revelation chapters two and three then continue with commentary material on that which has already been introduced in chapter one — the thought of Christians appearing before Christ’s judgment seat at the end of the present dispensation.
These two chapters consist of seven short epistles, directed to seven existing churches in Asia during John’s day; and, through their structure and appearance at this particular place in the book, they not only move matters from the present dispensation into that future day (in keeping with that introduced in chapter 1) but it is evident that they also present a history of Christendom throughout the dispensation — moving from the church in Ephesus (which left its “first love” [2:4]) to the church in Laodicea (described as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” [3:17]).
Each of these epistles is structured exactly the same way. In each, attention is called to works, certain things are stated about these works, and the whole of the matter is with a view to individual Christians being shown either to have overcome or to have been overcome. And this is exactly what will transpire and be in view at the judgment seat, introduced in chapter one, with chapters two and three simply continuing in this respect from chapter one.
Then chapter four picks up with “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” again at the same place as seen in chapter one — with the removal of the Church into the heavens (vv. 1, 2). The book drops back and begins at the same point in time again, showing the removal of the Church in a dispensational respect — at the end of the dispensation.
But, revealed events now move beyond the actual judgment (previously seen and dealt with) and center on two things: (1) a casting of crowns before God’s throne (chapter 4) and (2) a search for One worthy to redeem the inheritance (chapter 5).
(For information concerning the casting of crowns before God’s throne in Revelation 4:4-11, refer to the Appendix.)
In Revelation chapter five, Christ is revealed as the only One worthy to redeem the inheritance (vv. 4-12). And this chapter forms the antitype to Boaz seen as the one worthy to redeem the inheritance in Ruth chapter three. The actual redemption of the inheritance, with Ruth becoming Boaz’s wife in the type and the revealed bride becoming the Lamb’s wife in the antitype follows in both the book of Ruth and the book of Revelation.
Thus, the import of studying one book in the light of the other becomes apparent. The type has been given to help shed light upon and explain the antitype, which is God’s own structure and design of His revelation to man.
(The next chapter in this book will pick up where this one leaves off, both in the book of Ruth and in the book of Revelation — with redemption and marriage, as seen in both books.)