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Summary: Did the events of Ruth 2 happen because of good luck or divine intervention?

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[To receive free, weekly sermons contact jonrmcleod@yahoo.com; for sermon audio, visit http://jonathan-mcleod.blogspot.com/]

GOOD LUCK?

Choir practice at the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, always began on Wednesday evenings at 7:20. At 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 1950, an explosion demolished the church. The blast was so strong that it forced a nearby radio station off the air and shattered windows in surrounding homes.

But every one of the choir’s fifteen members escaped injury. How? All were late for practice that night.

They supposed rightly that the odds of unanimous tardiness were slim, especially when the reasons were examined. Car trouble delayed two women. The minister and his wife and daughter were delayed by a dress that needed ironing at the last minute. Others were late because they paused to complete homework, finish a letter, or hear the end of a favorite radio show. One awoke late from a nap. Some could think of no special reason; they were just late.

It is impossible to calculate the precise odds for all these events occurring at once. But past performance indicated that each person would be late for practice one time in four—producing a one in a million chance that the entire choir would be late that night. (Source: snopes.com)

What caused every choir member to be late and escape death? Was it just good luck? Or was it divine intervention?

[Current series: The Story of Ruth]

In Ruth 1, Naomi’s life had fallen apart:

• She had no husband.

• She had no sons.

• She had no grandchildren.

• She was alone, except for her daughter-in-law Ruth.

But in Ruth 2, good things start to happen to Naomi and Ruth. On the surface, it appears that their good fortune is due to some lucky coincidences. But the eye of faith can see that God is behind the scenes working out His good plan for Naomi and Ruth.

DEFENDER OF THE WIDOW

Chapter 1 ends with a glimmer of hope: “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning” (1:22). Little did Naomi know that God was going to use Ruth and the barley harvest to bless her in an amazing way.

[Read Ruth 2]

[Reading challenge & trivia question]

LAST WEEK’S TRIVIA QUESTION: In chapter 2, why was Naomi excited that Ruth had met Boaz? ANSWER: Because Boaz was one of their “kinsman-redeemers” (2:20).

And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor” (2:2).

Gleaning was a provision established by God that allowed the POOR to gather leftover grain in the fields. (The poor could also glean in the vineyards and olive orchards.)

The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

God, who is “mighty and awesome,” cares about people like Ruth and Naomi, two poor widows.

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 24:19).

Gleaning was sort of like collecting recyclable bottles and cans.

Boaz said to Ruth (2:8-9):

(1) “Don’t go and glean in another field.”

(2) “And don’t go away from here.”

(3) “Stay here with [stick close to] my servant girls.”

(4) “Watch the field where the men are harvesting.”

(5) “And follow along after the girls.”

(6) “I have told [ordered] the men not to touch you.”

(7) “And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

From these statements, it is possible to conclude:

• That Ruth was leaving the field as Boaz arrived.

• That something done to her by the male reapers had made her uncomfortable enough to leave (perhaps some form of sexual harassment).

• That Ruth’s attempt to get a drink of water had provided the occasion for the harassment.

Two surprises:

• How much grain Ruth had gathered: “an ephah” (2:17).

An ephah equalled about 20 litres—enough for Ruth and Naomi to eat for a little for than a week. According to Deuteronomy 16:9-12, the time period from the beginning of the barley harvest to the end of the wheat harvest was normally seven weeks. If Ruth gathered the same amount of grain each day and worked the entire seven weeks, she would have gleaned enough barley and wheat to feed the two women for more than an entire year.

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