When I look back on my life, I realize that I am where I am today because of the providence of God. In fact, we are all where we are today by God’s providence. What do I mean by this? The providence of God on a grand scale is the divine agreement, which is the Lord’s working in and through His creation and His creatures to bring about what He has planned. On an individual scale it is God working and orchestrating in our lives to accomplish His will in and through us personally.
Now, it is important to understand that God’s providence is always good because there is no evil in God, He is righteous (Psalm 92:15) and when His will is accomplished it is good because He is glorified, and we reap the benefits as we will be forever changed for His glory. However, His divine providence is not always something we enjoy in the moment. When we look at God’s providence on a grand scale, we wonder about things like is the coronavirus part of God’s plan? Are the world events we are currently witnessing something God has planned? Are the stories we read about heinous crimes, abuse and death ever be God’s will? These are very difficult questions to answer briefly, so I am not going to try to answer the question specific question this morning, but hopefully by the end of the message you will have a better understanding.
How about providence on the personal side? How do we respond to God’s providence during the good and the bad times? In my life I have experience many intense moments of joy where God is glorified through the events of my life where his will is accomplished. Some include, for example, my marriage to Carrie, the birth of my children, and His call on my life to ministry. I have also experienced intense heartbreak, disappointment, and hurt. These would include losing loved ones, hurting those who I love more than anything in the world, and being betrayed by individuals whom I thought I could trust and depend. However, the one unifying factor in God’s providence in my life during the joy and the heartbreak is that God worked in and through these situations (good or bad) to shape me and mold me into the person He has called and created me to be.
Last week we began our four-part series in the book of Ruth titled “Redeemer of the Ordinary”. In the introductory message we looked at chapter one. In this chapter the stage is being set for the remainder of the book. Our main female characters Naomi and Ruth both lost their husbands and now Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law) decides to go back to her homeland in Judah. She encourages her Moabite daughters-in-law to stay in Moab so they can start new lives and to let her go back home in bitterness. Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law, seceded, but Ruth pledged loyalty to Naomi, her God, and her people. So, Ruth and Naomi go back to Judah, Naomi is bitter, and Ruth is there to love and care for her mother-in-law during these troubled times. With the stage being set we are privy to God’s involvement in the situation. We read about a woman who feels she is cursed by her God and decides she is not useful anymore, but God has a different plan for her, and it is one that will forever change hers and ruth’s life and ultimately the course of the world.
(Ruth 2:1 – 7)
Vs 1: Enter Boaz… Boaz is a relative to Naomi’s husband. Now there is some discussion as to whether Boaz is an actual relative or as some commentators believe, that he was not necessarily relative but more of a connection through her husband. According to commentator Leon Morris, “Family here denotes a larger group than does a family with us, though a close community is certainly implied. It is rather like a Scottish ‘clan’.” Either way, in the text he is mentioned as a relative.
“He was a prominent man of noble character…”
His prominence is believed to suggest he was a warrior or more akin to a knight. If you recall they were living in tumultuous times and it would not be out of the question that Boaz was a skilled fighter or warrior. It also suggests that he was a powerful landowner. So, the text proposes that he was an upstanding citizen, who was powerful and influential in his community.
Vs. 2 - 3: Ruth informed Naomi that she was going to the field to glean after the reapers. It just so happens that the field she chose was part of Boaz’s land.
The law of gleaning is a Mosaic Law which states that when a person reaps in their fields, they are not to pick their entire crop; instead they are to leave some for the sojourners, widows and orphans to pick for themselves. This was not something that landowners did to be nice or on a whim, it was a law that they were required to adhere. In some ways it was the Jewish food assistance program.
Lev. 19:9, 10: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God.”
Deut. 24:19: “When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Vs: 4 – 7: Ruth gleans from the field and she eventually catches the attention of Boaz. He asked the man in charge of the reapers who she was, to which he responds that she was a Moabite woman who was the daughter-in-law of Naomi and has asked permission to glean in his fields.
(Ruth 2:8 – 13)
Vs 8 – 9: Boaz then talks to Ruth. He tells her that she can glean all she wants and then asks if she would do so in his fields exclusively. Ruth does not understand why he is showing her favor, so she asks why he is being so kind to her.
At dinner Boaz tells Ruth to “See which field they are harvesting, and follow them.” They and them is feminine in form and probably refers Boaz’ female workers. It also indicates that the young women (“they” and “them”) had some function to perform in the reaping. It is probable that in the harvesting the men would cut the crop and the women would tie them into bundles. The women may have also done some reaping. So, it is believed the men and women would have normally worked together at harvest.
Boaz also informs Ruth that he has informed the men of the field to not touch her. This enabled her to work close to the reapers and it would put her in a position that would be especially favorable for gleaning. But it would also expose her to the possibility of rude jests and even inappropriate mishandling from the workmen. However, he tells her that he has guarded against this by giving instructions to the reapers that they were to leave her alone. He was offering her protection and provision.
Vs. 10 – 13: Ruth understands the grace she has been show in this situation. She bows to him and asks again why he is being so kind to her. Ruth understood she was a foreigner in this land, and she did not expect to be put in the place of honor that she was in. Her reaction is genuine thankfulness.
Boaz tells her that he has heard about her loyalty and love for Naomi. He knew about her giving up her family, customs, and gods out of love and loyalty to Naomi.
(Ruth 2:14 – 16)
Vs 14: As they were all eating together Boaz invites Ruth to eat a meal with the reapers. Her place next to the reapers shows that she was now accepted as one of the parties and Boaz’ act in passing the roasted grain was, it would seem, a mark of special favor. However, it was more than a nice gesture, because we are told that Ruth had all she wanted to eat and still had food left over to take back home to Naomi. Boaz gave her more than enough food to eat. This shows that Boaz was starting to take a liking to the Moabite woman.
Vs 15 – 16: After the meal she goes out to glean some more and Boaz instructs his reapers to let her glean as she pleases, in fact he instructs that they let some of the grain fall from their baskets. The law gave the gleaners the right to go over the field after the reapers. They must do so only after the reapers had finished their work and had taken all they wanted from the field. Boaz was showing kindness and grace by now going beyond the legal rights of the gleaners and allowing Ruth to glean before the reapers were through.
(Ruth 2:17 – 23)
When Ruth had finished, she took her gleanings to her mother-in-law and Naomi was excited and then asked where Ruth had gleaned. Naomi realizes that Ruth has been shown a special kindness.
Vs 19 - 20: “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”
Vs 21: Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”
A Redeemer - A relative of the same family. It was the right of the “kinsman” to receive the inheritance of a family without heir (Nu 27:11). He was also obligated to reclaim property of a kinsman who had gone into debt (Lv 25:25–28), especially if it involved someone’s enslavement to a non-Israelite (vv 47–49). In this function the kinsman becomes the kinsman-redeemer  We will talk more specifically about this in Chapter 4.
Vs 22 – 23: Naomi tells Ruth to continue doing what she is doing and to keep close to the young women until the harvest was over. Ruth did all she was told.
As we have been reading through this beautiful account, we are seeing few things come to light. The curtain is opening, and the story is coming together. We now see that this story is more than a Hallmark Channel love story. It is rich with symbolism and truths that are applicable for us today. I find that there are two truths present in this story up to this point that we can “glean”.
BUT I can give A reason… The providence of God. We do not know how or why God works in the ways he does, but Romans 11:34 says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” We are also told in Isaiah 55:8, 9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So, to answer the question as to why it is akin to what we say at work, “It’s above my pay grade.” We can’t always know what God is up to because…
We all know the frustration of going through hardships, heartbreak, and loss. But the mindset I try to have during difficulty is not “God, why are you allowing this to happen to me?” Instead, it is “Lord, I trust you, I may not like it at this moment, but give me the perspective to see beyond my situation or circumstance and to ultimately know you are at work. Thank you Lord for You are teaching, molding, and shaping me in this moment.” Wherever you are in your life today, know that God is at work and He not only knows what is best, but He determines to give you what He knows is best for you, for His glory and our benefit.
 Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference library (786). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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