A Midnight Proposal at the Threshing Floor
Ruth 2:23-3:18; Proverbs 31:10-12, 25, 30-31
March 6, 2016 • Download this sermon (PDF)
Beloved congregation of Christ: In the old days, a man proposes marriage to the woman he loves by just a simple kneel before her plus a beautiful ring on her finger. Today, men think of all kinds of creative ways to propose. Some make their proposal scuba diving, skydiving, or on top of Mount Everest. Others do it by messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
But no other proposal will outdo the marriage proposal in our text today in Chapter 3 of the Book of Ruth. And this was 3,000 years ago! Three features make this proposal unique. First, we know that all proposals are made by men, but in our lesson today, it was Ruth who proposed to Boaz. Second, her proposal was made, of all places, at a threshing floor at the end of harvest time. And third, she proposed not during the day or evening, but at midnight.
Chapter 3 evokes many questions, even from well-meaning pastors and teachers. What was Naomi really thinking when she sent Ruth out to Boaz late at night? What transpired between Ruth and Boaz from midnight till dawn? Did they violate the Seventh Commandment?
Most proposals today actually lead to marriage, but half of these marriages end in divorce. Not so with Ruth and Boaz. The events here in Chapter 3 led to their marriage, and there are temporal and eternal results arising from this “midnight proposal” and subsequent marriage. Today, our theme is, “The Midnight Proposal at the Threshing Floor,” under three headings: first, Proposal Planned: Can’t Wait; second, Proposal Carried Out: Did They?; and third, Proposal Outcome: Can’t Wait.
Proposal Planned: Can’t Wait
The last verse of Chapter 1, where Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem just in time for the barley harvest, is a lead to what follows in Chapter 2. Ruth and Boaz meet in his barley field where Ruth was gleaning. So also the last verse of Chapter 2 is a segue to Chapter 3, “And [Ruth] lived with her mother-in-law.” The verse focuses on Ruth’s lack of a home with a husband. It also implies that Naomi is also thinking about how she will have a child to perpetuate her husband’s line through Ruth.
So in the first four verses of Chapter 3, we find Naomi with a solution to these two problems. She says to Ruth, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?” These are the same words she said to Ruth and Orpah to persuade them to go back to their homes in Moab, “The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” (Ruth 1:9).
When the widows went back to Bethlehem, it was the beginning of the barley harvest after the Passover and First Fruits festivals. The end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest is commemorated at the Feast of Pentecost 50 days later. The wheat harvest lasts another 30-40 days. Verse 23 of Chapter 2 says that Ruth gleaned all through the barley and wheat harvest, about three months. This whole time, Naomi was hoping that Boaz and Ruth would get together, or at least Boaz would propose to be their kinsman-redeemer.
Read the rest of the story here.