Sermon: The God of Small Details and Perfect Timing (Ruth 2)

The God of Small Details and Perfect Timing

Ruth 2:1-23 (ESV)

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.  [2] And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”  [3] So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.  [4] And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”  [5] Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”  [6] And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  [7] She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

[8] Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  [9] Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”  [10] Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”  [11] But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  [12] The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  [13] Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

[14] And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.  [15] When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.  [16] And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

[17] So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.  [18] And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.  [19] And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”  [20] And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”  [21] And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ”  [22] And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”  [23] So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Introduction

As we continue through this account we are left with a ray of hope at each point along the way.  God is a God of grace.  Even in the midst of struggle and trial, we do not struggle alone but God is with us, leading us home just as He was leading Ruth and Naomi home.

Ruth 1:22 (ESV)

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

God is a God of perfect timing.  They came to the “House of Bread” right when the grain was being harvested.  The Lord is working through these circumstances for His glory and for Ruth and Naomi’s good.

In this account not only do we see a glimmer of hope for this family, we see a glimmer of hope for the human race.  In Boaz we see a type of Christ.  We have pictured for us the redemption that Jesus would accomplish for His people.  Boaz will prove to be a kinsman redeemer and Jesus is our redeemer.  We were just as hopeless and destitute as Naomi and Ruth.  We are from a cursed race of people, we were foreigners, we had nothing to hope in except the Lord.  The Lord has lavished His love upon us.  He has worked out all the details.  It’s important that you place yourselves in the shoes of these folks because we can be reminded quite literally where we were be fore Christ.  The Lord has worked out all the details.

1. The Lord is in All the Details (Ruth 2:1-4)

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

The are not enough good things that could be said about Boaz.  When the writer says that he was a worthy man, he means a strong man of character and valor.  Boaz was highly respected in the community.  He was very wealthy and at the same time very generous.  Boaz took care of his workers and saw to it that justice prevailed.  He was the perfect man for Ruth.

Another important point to make about Boaz was that he was of the clan of Elimelech.

There is now a ray of hope.  When everything looks hopeless we catch another glimpse of grace.  It’s not by accident that the writer tells us this little tidbit of information.  He will mention this just about every time Boaz’s name comes up.

Do you think that in Naomi’s bitterness she had forgotten this very important point?  There existed some relatives.  We also are given hope as we follow the storyline that perhaps the writer brings up this point because, just perhaps, Boaz would be the redeemer that this family so desperately needed.

Last week we learned about God’s provision for families who had lost loved ones.  The principle of the kinsman redeemer is presented for us in Deut 25 and also in Lev 25.  Family members were, basically, to come to the rescue.  If a wife was left a widow she was to be cared for by the dead husband’s brother.  They were to even have children so the family name would continue.  If land was sold during a crisis situation, it was to be bought back by family members.  These acts were to be voluntary by the next of kin.  However, to failure to redeem a widow or an orphan was looked upon with great shame.

When all others failed, Boaz would do the right thing.  During the time of the judges, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes, there was someone who cared what the Lord said.  In the day when rebellion and idol worship flourished, there was a man who was obedient to the Lord.  How brightly Boaz shined in this day of rebellion and sin.

We get a sense of this as we see the respect his workers have for him.

It’s one thing to be a Christian while we are with other Christians; it’s a totally different matter to be a Christian all the time especially while out in the workplace.  This is the picture we get of Boaz.

[4] And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”

Boaz was a Christian business man.  He cared what the Lord thought. That’s a quick biographical sketch of Boaz.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

Ruth and Naomi are still in a bad situation.

Ruth’s attitude is much different from that of Naomi’s.  While Naomi is stewing in her bitterness and self-centeredness, Ruth takes the initiative to go and find food.

[2] And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”  [3] So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.

Verse two is very interesting in its original.  It literally says, And Ruth the unfavorable Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.

The foreigner who comes from the people who have no favor will soon find favor from God.  She must be trusting in God for this favor.  She has no reason to think that anyone would extend a foreigner favor especially in the days of the Judges.

Gleaning was a practice that was set up by God to allow the poor, the foreigners to have food.

We learn a few things about Ruth.  She is humble enough to go and glean.  She is also courageous in the sense that to go in a strange field to glean in a time when sin was running rampant could prove to be a dangerous undertaking.

Deut. 24:19-22 (ESV)

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  [20] When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.  [21] When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.  [22] You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

God reminds the Israelites that the reason they are to not to completely strip the fields bare is that there was a time when God’s people were in Egypt and they were the foreigners and food was scarce for them.  To obey this text was to remember what the Lord had done for His people when they were the poor ones.

For a foreigner, especially a female foreigner to glean all alone was extremely dangerous.

she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.

The writer of the book is using a literary device to show the readers that from Ruth’s vantage point there was nothing out of the ordinary going on.  She went out to glean and she finds herself in the field of Boaz.  If you were to ask Ruth why she was in that particular field she would have had a logical answer.  Perhaps this field was the closest to her home.  Perhaps it had more grain than the other fields…who knows why from a human standpoint she was there but God had everything planned out in advance.  His plan was working perfectly.  From God’s vantage point she didn’t just happen to go to Boaz’s field.

That’s exactly how the Lord works in our lives.

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

The heart of man plans his way,

but the Lord establishes his steps.

The equation looks like this: We think through things and make decisions and plan our way.  The way we plan is already in the realm of God’s providence.  He already has things planned out and they will come to pass.

We know that in God’s plan there is nothing left to chance.

2. Boaz’s Favor (2:5-23)

As we work our way through this text, I want us to see the kindness of Boaz.  I also want us to get a glimpse of the grace of God at work.

[5] Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”  [6] And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  [7] She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Boaz notices Ruth and inquires of the workers who she is.  Boaz is a godly man and a bachelor.  Think with me at what the Lord is doing here in these verses.  He is playing match-maker.  He is working the details out in order that Boaz and Ruth join together as husband and wife.  Why is He doing this?  God has a Savior to bring into the world.  Boaz and Ruth will become the great grandparents of King David.  We know that our Savior, the Lord Jesus, comes from the line of King David.

Ruth is just the type of girl a godly man looks for.  She is committed, caring, and humble.  As a foreigner and as a widow she has the right to walk into a field and begin to glean, however, she doesn’t do things like that.  She humbly asks permission to glean.

‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’

Boaz begins to care for Ruth.  What’s amazing in this story is that up until now, Ruth has no idea that Boaz is a relative of Elimelech.

[8] Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  [9] Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

Ruth experiences the kindness of Boaz and begins to see the type of husband that a godly wife would like to have.

She is overwhelmed by Boaz’s kindness to her.

[10] Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

It’s important that we see this in context.  Ruth tells Naomi that she will go and glean in whatever field that she experiences favor.  By favor we understand this as grace.  It’s like in Genesis when the writer is describing the wickedness of mankind and pauses to declare that Noah has found favor in God’s sight.  God had given Noah grace.  Boaz is now being used as an instrument of God to extend grace to Ruth.

Ruth is given unmerited grace.  Boaz noticed her.

For some reason unknown to us, in Divine election, God has noticed us.  We were foreigners and had no rights to the inheritance.  But God being rich in mercy took notice of us and we found favor in God’s sight.

Boaz is really a picture of the Lord for us.  In this Ruth would become the bride…a match made in heaven.

The tide is changing.  God’s providence is working as it had been all along for Ruth’s good.

When the Lord shows us mercy and grace, He doesn’t just give us a little.  God is not a penny-pincher when it comes to showing His people favor.  He lavishes it upon us.

Ephes. 1:3-8 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

[5] he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

Look with me at how Boaz is lavishing grace upon Ruth…

Boaz speaks kindly to her-

I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.

Ruth is invited in to eat– Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.

She has more than enough– And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.

Boaz purposefully supplies her with food- Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.  [16] And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.

Ruth has abundance-

[17] So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.  [18] And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.  [19] And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”  [20] And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”

As we close out this chapter there is one principle that is important to understand.  Ruth asks Boaz why she should be experiencing such grace from his hands.  As Boaz begins to respond it almost sounds as if she is experiencing grace because of the kindness she has shown her mother-in-law.  But I want for us to see something very important in what Boaz says.

[11] But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  [12] The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

God was caring for Ruth because she had taken refuge under His wings.  She was the only one in the story so far who didn’t try to take matters into her own hands and try to do things her way.  As we said last week, she was the one who ran to God for security.  Now Boaz is being used by God to care for Ruth.  Boaz is the wings in which God is shielding this helpless foreigner.

This truth is for us today.  How does God want to use you as He has used Boaz?  Who is it that you could show kindness to and be that instrument of God for them?

God supplied Ruth food but is was through the kindness of Boaz that He did it.  The Lord can rain manna from heaven when He wants, most of the time He uses His people to meet needs.

How will God use you to meet the needs of His people like He met Ruth’s needs?

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