Summary: Through God's providence Ruth and Boaz are brought together and this relationship enables Ruth to be protected from exploitation. A foundation for redemption is being laid.
We live in a world where more and more people do not believe in God.
At the same time, that does not stop our society from believing in the influences of higher forces, or forces beyond our control.
Some people call it fate or luck.
Others call it coincidence or good fortune.
Still others call it a convergence of their stars or karma.
Whatever people call it, there is an admission by many that we are at the mercy of an aspect of life that is beyond our control.
And when we see that is the case there are two different responses we can have.
There are those who will fight against this unseen intrusion. You see the fight happening when people say things like:-
If only we had gone to the doctor sooner, our child would not be in hospital with all those tubes and wires.
If only we had stopped for petrol, we would not have run out in the middle of nowhere and the carload of youths would not have beaten my husband.
If only we had checked the electric blanket before putting it on the bed, then we would not have had the fire.
That is the “fight” mentality.
On the other hand there are those who have “thankfulness” mentality – they are grateful for these unseen movements in life.
If Jane had not been late for the bus we would never have met at the café and we would never have gotten married.
If we had not come back two days early from our holiday Wayne would not have been in time to reply to his new job offer.
If we had our meeting at the usual time, rather than finishing ½ hour early I would have been on the train which had that accident.
You fight it, or you are thankful for it, but there isn’t much you can do about it. Fate. Luck. Coincidence. Karma. Good fortune. Is that what life is about? Just being a cork bobbing about in the sea, tossed by the waves and blown by the wind.
Thankfully it isn’t like that at all.
The Webster Dictionary defines a coincidence as, “The occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection”.
But guess how many times the word coincidence … or any word like it … guess how many times it is used in the Bible? Zero. Not one event in all of Scripture is ever spoken of as having being a result of luck. Things don’t happen “by accident”. Circumstances are not a matter of “fate” or “chance”. Events are never coincidental. Never.
There is a purpose behind everything that happens.
Does that mean we are also locked into a never-ending spiral of pre-determined events?
Are we really no better off than those who believe in fate, luck, coincidence, the stars, karma and good fortune?
Is our life just about fighting against these intrusions … or expressing thankfulness when it falls our way?
It is not like that at all.
Yes, God is in control.
But God does not treat us as mindless pawns, or as pieces in a chess game.
God’s control is all about enhancing the relationship we have with him … no I’ll put that even stronger. God’s control is about strengthening the covenantal relationship that He has made with us since before time. In other words He uses His control to bring us closer to Himself and to bless us as we allow His will to take place in our lives.
And that is what we are going to see in our reading today Ruth 2:1-23
Naomi and Ruth have been experiencing a difficult life together and there has been this on-going tale of tragedy.
But that was back in Moab. Not Naomi and Ruth have returned to Israel.
As soon as the geography changes, so does their circumstances.
Straight away we are introduced to a man called Boaz.
There is something important about this man – he is a relative from the side of Naomi’s husband Elimelech. A man of standing from the same clan and heritage as the men who have died in Moab.
Before anything else happens we are told this fact, so it is very important for the overall story. Boaz and Elimelech have the same family heritage … remember that point.
So what else do we know about Boaz?
Boaz is a man of standing. The word used here gives a clear indication that he is a man of wealth … but his standing is not just wealth. The same Hebrew word is used to describe other men in the period of the Judges:- men like Gideon. In that circumstance it speaks about a “man of valour”. Boaz is not just wealth, he is a man of integrity and character. Boaz had a high reputation and was of influence in the town of Bethlehem.