Summary: After experiencing hardship and heartbreak in Ruth chapter 1, Naomi and Ruth began to experience God's favor in Ruth chapter 2. Their reaction to God's favor is a good example for us to follow.
A. I like the story told of the father wanted to read a magazine one day, but was being interrupted numerous times by his little daughter.
1. Finally, he tore a sheet out of the magazine that had a map of the world printed on it.
2. He tore the picture of the world into small pieces and gave it to his daughter instructing her to go into the other room and see if she could put the picture back together, like a puzzle.
3. The little girl returned a few minutes later with the picture of the map correctly taped together.
4. Her father was so surprised and asked how she had finished putting the picture puzzle together so quickly.
5. The little girl matter-of-factly said: “It was easy daddy, on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. And when I got Jesus in His place, then the world came out all right.”
B. Life can truly be a puzzle and can be very puzzling, but when we get Jesus in His place, then things do come together a lot better.
1. Consider these three illustrations: puzzles, connect-the-dots, and tapestries.
2. Puzzle pieces don’t make sense until all the pieces are put in the right places. Right?
3. Connect-the-dot pictures don’t make any sense until you connect all the dots. Right?
4. If you look at the backside of the tapestry, all you see is chaotic stitching, strings and knots, but the tapestry maker sees the top of the tapestry and is creating a beautiful picture.
5. That’s certainly how it must have felt for Naomi and Ruth – what was happening in their lives seemed like an unfinished puzzle, a connect-the-dot picture, or the back of a tapestry.
C. Last Sunday, we began a new sermon series on the book of Ruth and were introduced to a woman named Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth.
1. Last Sunday, as we worked through chapter 1 of Ruth, we saw how God’s hand fell hard upon Naomi and her family.
a. A famine in Judah caused them to decide to move to Moab, but soon after their move, Naomi’s husband died, then her two sons decided to marry Moabite women, and then her two sons died.
2. One blow after another caused Naomi to say: “the Lord’s hand has turned against me” (1:13), and “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (1:20-21)
3. Naomi had a strong faith in God Almighty and believed that God rules in the national and personal affairs of people.
4. But when Naomi looked at the suffering she had experienced – the hardship and the heartbreak – she had lost hope that God was going to bring anything good out of all that she had suffered.
5. She had forgotten about God’s dealings with Job, or Joseph, or the nation of Israel, and how God often brought blessings out of discipline and hardship.
6. The things that happen in our lives are often a mystery, or a puzzle, or the underside of a tapestry to us, but they aren’t to God.
a. God knows all things and God knows what He is trying to do in our lives, but we have to trust Him and allow Him to work.
b. Ultimately, God wants to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).
D. As we brought the sermon last week to a close, we began to see a glimmer of the hope and the future that God had in mind for Naomi and Ruth.
1. We began to see a glimmer of God’s favor, even though Naomi and Ruth couldn’t see it.
2. God’s favor and provision began to show itself in the lifting of the famine and the upcoming fruitful harvest in Israel.
3. God’s favor is seen in the fact that Ruth would not be dissuaded from returning to Judah with Naomi.
4. God’s favor is seen in their safe return after a long journey fraught with danger.
5. And finally, as we will see today, God’s favor will be seen in a kinsman redeemer named Boaz.
6. Last week, I compared Naomi’s situation to my own mother’s situation when my father died at the age of 31 leaving her with four children and little hope.
a. God’s favor and provision for her and for us began when God brought Hugh Grimsley into our lives about a year after my father died.
b. What Boaz was for Naomi and Ruth, Hugh was for my mom and for us. Thank you, Lord!
E. Chapter 2 of the book of Ruth opens with the words: 1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz. (2:1)