I love when God pulls things together in a way that I can understand. All summer I have been working through a Bible study on the book of Ruth. The climax of Ruth’s story in Chapter 3 centers on the threshing floor at the end of harvest season. For six weeks, the workers and Ruth have been gathering the wheat harvest. In chapter three, the action shifts to the threshing floor, a hilltop overlooking the fields where the wheat is brought to be prepared for storage. It is here that Ruth proposes to Boaz. It is here that Boaz tells Ruth to rest as he springs into action to tie up any legal hassles that might prevent a wedding. She trusts him to clear away any obstacles and places her future in his hands. Over the years, this moment has become synonymous with a person placing their trust in Jesus. When we admit that we need Jesus to secure our future and realize that by dying on the cross, He has already taken away any obstacles to our eternal life in His home, we are standing on a symbolic threshing floor where we can offer ourselves as a bride to Jesus, trusting that everything He has already done for us will suffice.
Yeah, it’s kind of a big moment for a Christian.
The last few mornings I have been reading thru the book of 1 Chronicles. Chapters 19-22 tell the dramatic story of how God enabled David to conquer the countries around Israel that had been threatening them. David is a charismatic leader with a brilliant military mind. He is the one that takes the struggling young nation of Israel and makes them into a power to be reckoned with. David is also the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz so I liked that my reading was pulling these generations together for me. After reading of the cultural and symbolic impact of the threshing floor in Ruth, couldn’t help but noticed that a threshing floor figures prominently in David’s story, in fact all of Israel’s story, too.
David’s army has been victorious and he decides that he wants a census taken of the army. He wants to see just how strong his army is. Problem is that God had already instructed Moses about taking a census and David does not follow those instructions. It’s not really about counting the men, it’s the reason he wants to count the men. After all those victories, David is feeling pretty good about himself and seems more inclined to trust in a strong army rather than an all-powerful God. When David realizes that he has disobeyed God, he repents (21:8). But God, being perfectly just, must exact a punishment. God is not being petty. He is teaching David and all Israel that the only way they will survive is through complete faith in Him. When we first meet David back in 1 Samuel 16:7 we learn that God looks at our hearts and is not impressed by outward appearances. David’s heart is not aligned with God at this moment and as king, it will affect the entire country. God moves quickly and decisively. He sends a plague on the land, but just as the angel of death is approaching Jerusalem, He orders His angel to stop (1 Chronicles 21:14-16). David is able to see the angel “standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem.” And the angel wasn’t just on the outskirts of town – he was “standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (v.15).
David is instructed to build an altar there and offer sacrifices. This is the place where God’s justice stopped and His mercy begins. Reading on, we see that David didn’t stop with an altar. He lays the plans for the temple to be built there and begins gathering a staggering amount of supplies. His son Solomon will be the temple builder but it started right here with David’s repentance of his lack of trust in God and his acceptance of what God is offering him. We see the threshing floor as a place where God displays His love for us and we only need to accept and submit. Ruth did it. David did it. So must we.
The threshing floor goes down in history as the place where God’s justice meets His mercy in an earthly setting. But in God’s hands, it goes even further and becomes a place of Grace.
God’s justice – When He gives us sinners what we deserve even though it breaks His heart (Matthew 23:37)
God’s mercy – When He doesn’t give us what we deserve (1 Peter 1:3)
God’s grace – When He give us what we do not deserve – His love given eternally (it’s basically the whole Bible)
Following the example left us from Ruth and David, the only thing we must do is go to the threshing floor – find ourselves in a place where we can finally admit that we need God’s help, admitting that what Jesus did for us, really is enough to transcend this world and lift us into heaven. (Rev 3:20)
Welcome to the threshing floor a place where justice, mercy and grace live eternally.