And now for something completely different!
“So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father–in–law, Elimelech.” – Ruth 2:2 NLT
I love how J. Vernon McGee refers to this little book of Ruth: “The Book of Ruth is a pearl in the swine pen of the judges.” After all the stories of rape, murder, dismemberment, and moral decay, we are given, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this unbelievable love story. But it is much more than that. It is a preface to the much greater story of God’s miraculous grace. It takes place during the period of the judges (Ruth 1;1), but gives us a different view of life during that period of time. There are those who are following after God, in spite of all that we read in the book of Judges. There are still those that are following after Yahweh. The book of Ruth also redeems the reputation of Bethlehem, soiled by the stories associated with it in the closing chapters of the book of Judges. It was important to the writer that Bethlehem be presented in a more positive light because it would become the birth place of Israel’s greatest king, who would happen to be a descendant of Boaz and Ruth. So this is more than a love story, it is a picture of God’s sovereign grace in the midst of His peoples’ open rebellion and apostasy. He was in control. Even though the story opens up with the sad news of Naomi losing her husband and her two sons in death, it reveals that God is at work behind the scenes orchestrating His divine plan to perfection. He is in control.
So much of what we see in life appears to be chance or happenstance. We write off much of what happens to us as luck – even as Christians. In reading the story of Ruth, it is easy to do the same thing. But we must keep looking for the hand of God, operating invisibly, but persistently in the lives of these men and women. Even in the face of loss and tragedy, He is there. That Naomi and her husband moved to Moab to escape the famine in the land was not chance. That her boys married two Moabite women, and that one of them was Ruth, was anything but chance. That her boys and her husband each unexpectedly dies is not chance. That Ruth is the one who willingly offers to return to the Promised Land with her widowed mother-in-law is far from luck. And that the field that Ruth should choose to go to to glean grain to feed she and her mother-in-law happened to belong to Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband – is not just happenstance.
All of this is the sovereign hand of God in the lives of these two women. He is directing their path and preparing their way. Naomi ended up in Boaz’s field because God ordained it to be. To Ruth and Naomi it all appeared like good fortune and a positive turn in their otherwise sad affairs. But it was so much more. God was doing so much greater than simply providing a meal for two destitute widows. He was preparing His plan for the future of His people – even though they were living in rebellion and disobedience. What grace! What mercy! What a God!
What is so amazing about our God is His ability to use anyone and anything to accomplish His will. Ruth was a Moabitess, not a Jew. Yet she came to love the people of God and the God of the people. She developed a fond affection for Yahweh. Her position as a Gentile and a pagan did not prevent God from using her to bring about His sovereign plan for His people and, ultimately, for mankind. Ruth, like you and I, was not deserving of God’s grace. She was outside the family of God, but God included her. God used her. God blessed her. And He is doing so with you and me today.
Father, Your grace truly is amazing. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men