Living by faith is extremely impractical in the eyes of many people. Ruth came back to Bethlehem with no recognisable source of income and no known opportunity for paid employment at a time in history when there were no government schemes to care for the poor. We are thankful for the welfare state and in the UK for the extraordinary government scheme that pays a high proportion of the wages of people laid off temporarily until the lock down regulations are withdrawn. She had no guarantees of any assistance but trusted God to open up a way for her and her aged mother-in-law.
The issue for all of us is this: Will you and will I carry out the big or small task or tasks that the Lord lays on our hearts in coming days? Ruth was determined to take God at His Word. She had no prior expectations of what the Lord could or would do for her, except that she would trust Him to take care of her future and that of Naomi, while at the same time doing all that she could at a practical human level to make that a reality. ‘Work as hard as you can as if everything depends on you’ and ‘pray as hard as you can because everything depends on God’ have been Evangelical slogans down the years and have stood the test of time. Ruth would find out that God would not let her down and we too can experience that for ourselves as we commit our lives to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. What did God do for Ruth? He provided:
God’s Man (Ruth 2:1, 4) Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz (Ruth 2:1). The author of the book of Ruth, in Ruth 2:1, allows us to grasp the key point ahead of schedule, that the man Ruth will meet is a close relative of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech, whose estate on his death passed to Mahlon, Ruth’s late husband on his father’s death. This brief explanation sheds a great deal of light on the remaining parts of the story. It was not luck or chance that this happened. It was God preparing the way to honour this young women. God has not changed. He is ‘Jehovah Jireh’ the God who provides what we need.God’s Place (Ruth 2:2-3) Ruth…said to Naomi Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour. Naomi said to her Go ahead my daughter. So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz who was from the clan of Elimelech.
At the human level some people would say Ruth was lucky that she went to a field where the owner was sympathetic. As Christians we do not believe in luck or chance by contrast to many people in our land we believe in a sovereign God in whose safe hands we entrust our lives. We declare that in spite of our circumstances sometimes not because of them we affirm that there is a purpose to our lives and a plan for us which our loving heavenly Father has prepared. As a Christian community of believers we are here to pray for one another and to support one another through these difficult times, as well as rejoicing with others in our midst who have much to celebrate.
For Ruth and Naomi they had come to an end of their own resources but in the providence of God He was several steps ahead of them in His provision of a place for them. God’s place was back home in Bethlehem. Chapter one verse 22 indicates the wonderful timing of their arrival. It states: that these ladies were arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. May we in our time of need remember the words of Peter in I Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.
God’s Method (Ruth 2:5-7) Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters Whose young woman is that? The foreman replied She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters. She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now except for a short rest in the shelter.
God will not work ‘supernaturally’ when ordinary means are available. At the appointed time soon after dawn before the hottest time of the day had begun Ruth presented herself with other widows and poor people looking for grain at the fields of the farmers engaged in harvesting their crops. Ruth is polite and asks permission to work in this particular field and the foreman agrees to her request.
Ruth was noted as a careful and diligent worker. She was not expecting handouts instead seeking to work to provide for herself and her elderly mother-in-law. Boaz and others present were impressed with the attitude of this young woman. When challenges cross our pathway the Lord expects us to do what we can personally to address the issues we face but can also use other people to be part of the answer to our prayers.
There are occasions when we have a miraculous answer to our prayers yet this is not the normal way issues are resolved in day to day living. However many of us can testify when we were literally at the end of our own resources that we have had some wonderful answers to our prayers.
God’s provision (Ruth 2:8-9) Ruth was noted as a careful and diligent worker. She was not expecting handouts instead seeking to work to provide for herself and her elderly mother-in-law. Boaz and others present were impressed with the attitude of this young woman. When challenges cross our pathway the Lord expects us to do what we can personally to address the issues we face but can also use other people to be part of the answer to our prayers. There are occasions when we have a miraculous answer to our prayers yet this is not the normal way issues are resolved in day to day living. However many of us can testify when we were literally at the end of our own resources that we have had some wonderful answers to our prayers.
God’s Grace (Ruth 2:10-13) At this she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me –a foreigner? Boaz replied I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband –how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.
Ruth recognised that she had no right to presume that this man would demonstrate such kindness to her as a foreigner. She could only hope for his mercy and generosity. Why had Boaz decided to act in this way? Because he had been greatly impressed by what he had seen and heard of Ruth’s conduct first in Moab and then back in Bethlehem towards Naomi. He knew that Naomi had no right to expect Ruth to come with her –once her husband had died she was free to go back to her family and seek another arranged marriage. However Boaz held the view that the Lord honours those people who honour Him even if they are not consciously motivated to recognise their actions within that perspective. God has not changed! Amen
Our song for reflection is: ‘How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord’