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Meeting the Bridegroom

How Does One Prepare for Christ's Return?

By Arlen L. Chitwood

Ruth's preparation for meeting Boaz was carried out in a threefold manner: "Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee..." And, following this preparation, she was to appear in Boaz's presence, on the threshing floor (Ruth 3:3).

The threshing floor was the place where the sheaves of grain were brought to be threshed, followed by winnowing to separate the grain from the chaff. That is, the sheaves of grain were brought to this place and beaten to loosen the grain. The mixture of grain, straw, and chaff were then thrown against the wind to separate the grain from the chaff and stubble. The grain was then stored on the threshing floor and normally guarded during the ensuing night by someone sleeping at the site. Boaz is seen in the Book of Ruth both winnowing and guarding barley the night Ruth appeared.

Events occurring on the threshing floor were used by John the Baptist during the early part of his ministry to illustrate Christ's future judgmental dealings with His people:
"I indeed baptize you with ['in'] water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with ['in'] the Holy Spirit, and with ['in'] fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:11, 12).

The reference can only be to a future judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ. The threshing floor was the place where a separation occurred. The valuable portion (the grain) was separated from the worthless portion (the chaff), which is exactly what will occur at the judgment seat of Christ. The Christians' works will be tried "in fire," and a separation will occur. Works comparable to "gold, silver, precious stones" will endure the fire; but works comparable to "wood, hay, stubble" will be burned by the fire (I Cor. 3:11-15). This is what is meant by John's reference to a separation of the wheat from the chaff, followed by a gathering of the wheat into the granary and a burning of the chaff.

Ruth's preparation for meeting Boaz in the type was connected with three things: 1) events occurring on the threshing floor, 2) a redeemed inheritance, and 3) becoming his wife (Ruth 3:9ff). And this meeting occurred at "midnight" (v. 8), pointing to a time of judgment (in complete keeping with both the first mention of "midnight" in Scripture [Ex. 11:4] and with the overall type in the light of Matt. 3:11, 12).

Ruth's preparation in the type is the same preparation which Christian's must make in the antitype. Ruth prepared herself, after a certain fashion, to meet Boaz on his threshing floor at midnight, with a view to a redeemed inheritance and becoming his wife; and Christians must likewise prepare themselves, after the same fashion, to meet Christ on His threshing floor at midnight, with a view to a redeemed inheritance and becoming His wife.

"Wash Thyself"

"Washing" has to do with cleansing. Within the scope of the ministry of priests in the Old Testament, a complete washing of the body occurred at the point one entered into the priesthood, never to be repeated (Ex. 29:4; 40:12-15). Subsequent washings of parts of the body then occurred at the brazen laver in the courtyard of the tabernacle as the priests ministered between the brazen altar and the Holy Place (Ex. 30:19-21). Their hands and feet became soiled as they carried on their ministry, and the brazen laver had upper and lower basins for washing these parts of the body.

Washings in the Old Testament were thus looked upon in two senses -- a washing of the complete body (a one-time initial cleansing), followed by washings of parts of the body (numerous subsequent cleansings). It was these two types of cleansings which Jesus referred to when speaking to Peter in John 13:8, 10:

"If I wash [Gr. nipto, referring to a part of the body (the Septuagint uses this same word in Ex. 30:19, 21)] thee not, thou hast no part with me [note: 'with me,' not 'in me']...He that is washed [Gr. louo, referring to the entire body (the Septuagint uses this word in Ex. 29:4; 40:12)] needeth not save to wash [nipto] his feet..."

Peter had been washed once (described by the word louo [his complete body]); now he needed continued washings (described by the word nipto [parts of the body]). And, apart from these continued washings, he could have no part "with" Christ (the kingdom and positions with Christ therein were, contextually, in view).

Bringing the typological teachings of the Old Testament and Christ's statement to Peter over into the lives of Christians today, the matter would be thus:

Christians, New Testament priests, received a washing (louo, the entire body) at the time they entered the priesthood, at the time they were saved. Now, as priests ministering for their Lord, because of defilement through contact with the world, they need continued washings (nipto, parts of the body). And, apart from these continued washings, Christians can have no part with Christ in His future kingdom.

All cleansing is accomplished on the basis of Christ's past and present work in relation to His shed blood. Christ died at Calvary, shedding His blood, to effect our redemption. Those appropriating the blood have been washed (louo) and have entered into the priesthood (corresponding in the parallel type to the death of the paschal lambs and the application of the blood in Ex. 12:1ff). The blood of Christ is today on the mercy seat of the heavenly tabernacle; and Christ is ministering, on the basis of His shed blood, on our behalf, in the Holy of Holies to effect continued cleansing (nipto) for the "kings and priests" (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) which He is about to bring forth (this corresponds in the parallel type to the Festival of Unleavened Bread [a period when all defilement was removed from the house] which immediately followed the Passover).

Thus, the Lord has set apart a cleansed (louo) people through which He is accomplishing His plans and purposes. And He has provided a means whereby He can keep those whom He has set apart clean (nipto).

Cleansing through the work of Christ as High Priest though is not something which occurs automatically. Ruth had to act herself. She had to prepare herself for the impending meeting with Boaz on his threshing floor. And Christians must likewise prepare themselves for an impending meeting with Christ on His threshing floor. In Ruth's case, she washed herself. Today, Christ does the washing, but Christians, as Ruth, must act. It is only when we "confess our sins," judging ourselves (I Cor. 11:31, 32), that Christ effects cleansing on our behalf.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

Anoint Thee

"Oil" was used in the Old Testament Scriptures to anoint prophets, priests, and kings; and there was a connection between the use of oil after this fashion and the Holy Spirit coming upon an individual to empower him for duties in the office to which he was being consecrated.

For example, Saul was anointed the first king over Israel (I Sam. 10:1, 6); and, following Saul's refusal to do that which God had commanded concerning Amalek, David was anointed king in Saul's stead (I Sam. 16:13). And "oil" is used in both these passages to symbolize God's Spirit. The Spirit came upon both Saul and David following their anointing, and the Spirit empowered both for the tasks which they were to perform.

The parable of the ten virgins in Matt. 25:1-13 deals centrally with this same overall issue. All of the virgins possessed oil, but only the five wise virgins possessed an extra supply of oil. And when they were called to an accounting -- at "midnight," -- only the five wise virgins were allowed to enter into the marriage festivities with the Bridegroom (vv. 6ff).

That would be to say, in the antitype, All Christians possess the Holy Spirit. He indwells every Christian. But not every Christian has the extra supply of Oil. Not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. And when Christians are called to an accounting -- at "midnight" -- only those filled with the Spirit will be allowed to enter into the marriage festivities with the Bridegroom.

This is what is involved within the symbolism of the second part of Ruth's preparation for meeting Boaz on the threshing floor at midnight. Ruth could not be properly prepared for meeting Boaz apart from anointing herself; the ten virgins, in like fashion, could not be properly prepared for meeting the Bridegroom at midnight apart from each possessing the extra supply of oil; and Christians today cannot be properly prepared for meeting their Lord at midnight apart being filled with the Spirit.

And this will all become evident when the third and last part of Ruth's preparation is viewed, for there is an intimate connection between the two.

Put Thy Raiment Upon Thee

Not only was Ruth to be clean and be anointed with oil but she was also to be properly arrayed. Ruth was going forth to meet the bridegroom. Naomi's words, "put thy raiment upon thee," in the light of that which was involved (events expected to culminate in Ruth's marriage to Boaz), can only refer to special apparel for the occasion. Ruth's apparel, in which she was to clothe herself, would reflect the occasion at hand.

This facet of Ruth's preparation, pointing to present preparation which Christians are to make, is seen in the parable of the marriage feast in Matt. 22:1-14. In this parable, a man appeared, improperly clothed, at the festivities surrounding the marriage of "a certain" King's Son. This man appeared without a wedding garment; and he was not only denied entrance into the festivities but he was cast without, into the darkness.

(A reference to the darkness outside ["the outer darkness"] also appears in the Olivet Discourse parables [Matt. 25:30]. The unfaithful servant in this parable was cast without, into the darkness, as experienced by the man appearing without a wedding garment in Matt. 22:13).

The "certain king" and "his son" in Matt. 22:2 can refer to none other than God the Father and His Son, with the festivities surrounding the "marriage of the Lamb" in view. In Rev. 19:7, 8, the bride is said to have made herself ready by having arrayed herself ('array herself' rather than 'be arrayed' is the correct rendering in v. 8) in "fine linen"; and this "fine linen" is specifically said to be "the righteousness [lit. 'righteous acts'] of the saints."

Christians, as Ruth, must array themselves in the proper apparel for their future meeting with the Bridegroom. Righteous acts, forming the wedding garment, emanate out of faithfulness to one's calling. Works emanate out of faithfulness; and works, in turn, bring faith to its proper goal, while the wedding garment is being formed (cf. Heb. 11:17-19, 31; James 2:14-26; I Peter 1:9).

And it is evident that a Christian not filled with the Spirit -- typified by the second part of Ruth's preparation, anointing herself -- is in no position to perform righteous acts (works) which make up the wedding garment.

Scripture clearly reveals that Christians will appear in the presence of Christ in two fashions. Some will possess wedding garments, and others will not. The words "clothed" and "naked" are used in Scripture to distinguish between the appearance of individuals in these two groups (Rev. 3:17, 18; cf. Rom. 8:35); and Christians within both groups will be dealt with in accordance with Matt. 22:10-13.

Those Christians properly clothed (possessing wedding garments) will be dealt with after one fashion, and those improperly clothed (lacking wedding garments, naked) will be dealt with after an entirely different fashion. Those in the former group will enter into the marriage festivities and become the wife of the Lamb, subsequently occupying positions as co-heirs with Christ when the Lamb's wife reigns as consort queen. Those in the latter group though will be denied entrance into the marriage festivities and all that appertains. They will consequently not be part of the Lamb's wife and will thus have no part as consort queen in Christ's reign over the earth.

Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., Norman, Okla.

©1996 Arlen L. Chitwood, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.