Summary: Part 2 of series on Ruth How does our concept of luck relate to God's favor and providence?
Luck, Favor, and God’s Providence
Ruth Part 2
Would you consider yourself a lucky person?
I’m not very lucky,
if my wife and I are in some kind of raffle, or door prize drawing,
I never win,
if we win anything its almost always her ticket.
Some of you would say,
Yeah, that’s how I am,
if it wasn’t for bad luck,
I wouldn’t have any luck at all.
You know what’s interesting?
There are about 800,000 words in the Bible,
and over 12,000 different words,
but the words luck or lucky
are never used a single time.
Its as if God doesn’t really believe in luck.
Its as if God really plans everything out,
and has a purpose for it all,
so that luck doesn’t really exist.
The bible doesn’t talk about luck,
but instead it talks about favor.
Instead of blind chance,
the Scriptures describe a personal God
who shows favor to certain people.
Now those people who receive God’s favor
may look to outsiders like they’re really lucky,
that things just always work out in the end for them,
they may look lucky,
but the Bible says its God’s favor, not luck.
So then the question is,
how does God’s favor work?
God obviously doesn’t show favor to everyone,
but does he show favor to all Christians?
And if so,
Does he show favor equally to all Christians,
or are there some who get more favor,
and some who get less.
And if that’s the case,
is there anything I can do,
that will cause me to receive more favor from God?
We’re in the second week of our study
on the Book of Ruth
so if you have a Bible, turn to Ruth chapter 2. [page 179 pew]
In the story this week
we’re going to see what appears to be
a change of luck for Naomi and Ruth.
Their luck appears to go from really bad, to really good,
but as I said, the concept of luck
isn’t even found in the bible,
it’s really God’s favor.
and so I’m going to try to answer this week
those questions I just raised,
about luck and favor.
Now, if you weren’t here last week,
I’ll catch you up on chapter 1, first.
We said last week that,
This true story of Ruth
is one of the most well-written stories
in all of scripture and all of history –
and it takes place in the time of the Judges,
which is over a thousand years before the birth of Jesus.
If you read the Book of Judges in the Bible,
you’ll find that this was a time of sin and rebellion.
It’s one of the darkest periods in the history of God’s people.
And the story tells us that
in the town of Bethlehem,
which is ultimately where Jesus was to be born,
there was a family, a very ordinary family.
They weren’t kings and queens or rich people,
just a normal, average family
headed by a man named Elimelech,
He had a wife named Naomi, whose name means, “Sweet,”
and two sons with cool, sort of Star Trek Klingon names,
named Mahlon and Kilion,
but their names mean “Sick” and “Dying”
so don’t name your kids that.
And what happens is that
a famine comes into the land of Bethlehem,
which is ironic because Bethlehem literally means
House of Bread,
but there’s no bread.
The famine is possibly God’s judgment against his people
for their continued hard-heartedness and sin.
So, Elimelech makes a foolish decision
and decides to relocate his entire family
some 50 miles away to a place called Moab.
But that was a bad move,
that is not where God’s people are supposed to go.
The Moabites were a perverse, pagan people
who worshipped a false god named Chemosh.
Elimelech’s sons grow up,
and marry two Moabite young women, Ruth and Orpah.
What happens then is tragic.
We don’t know the details,
but Elimelech moved there to save his family from the famine,
but tragically, he and then his two sons, all die.
That leaves three women
in destitute and devastated circumstances,
Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah.
Naomi then hears that
God has come to the aid of his people in Bethlehem,
he’s blessing them,
and the famine is over,
and so she decides to return home
to be with God and his people again.
So, she takes her two daughters-in-law
and they begin the journey home.
Along the way, Naomi realizes
she’s got nothing to offer these young women,
and they probably shouldn’t go to Bethlehem with her.
So she stops on the road
and tries to encourage Orpah and Ruth to return home.
Orpah does, because
even though she appears to be a worshipper of God,
she’s really not.
Ruth, though, makes a commitment to the one true God,