1. As we saw this morning, the book of Ruth is the story of Naomi. She left Judah for Moab. Naomi, who lost her husband and two sons in Moab and returned to Judah with Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Naomi, whose life has become bitter, who sees no hope in her life, no future or purpose. Who is struggling with her God.
2. She knows that He is a sovereign God, nothing will happen to her unless He allows it. She also knows that He is a loving God and that He cares for His people. Why then has her life fallen apart? Why Has He turned His hand against her?
3. Bitter and yet, with a slim hope, she returns to find the God whom she knows is there.
4. This morning we compared Naomi's life and our lives to a tapestry or wall hanging. We saw the side that was a tangled mess of loose ends, unravelled knots, and unrelated colours - no purpose, no meaning.
5. Tonight we turn that tapestry around to see if there is any pattern to the threads of Naomi's life and to our lives. We see if God is a faithful provider and if He is, how He does provide for us. We follow her plight through the rest of book of Ruth.
6. As we do so, it becomes evident that Naomi now takes a secondary role in the story. She is placed in the background as the focus seems to shift to Boaz and Ruth. Has God forgotten about her? We will see.
1. In vs. 1 of chapter 2, the author shares a secret with us, a secret that Naomi is either not aware of or has forgotten. Sometimes in the midst of despair, we are so overcome by the despair that we fail to see the hope and the resources that we do have. We are told that Naomi has a relative on her husband's side. A man of wealth whose name is Boaz. Naomi doesn't know but God will use Boaz to work out his plans.
2. God cared for the homeless and the aliens that lived in Israel. In Leviticus 19:9 and 10, God told the people:
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest."
Leave them for the poor and the alien. When crop harvested, some of grain would be left behind by the reapers. Instead of having someone gather this, the owner of the land was to leave it behind for the needy.
3. Ruth asks her mother-in-law if she may go and pick up sone leftover grain for food. As she goes out there seems to be some coincidences. In vs. 3 we read "as it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz". In vs. 4 we read "Just then" Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, and he then noticed Ruth gleaning in his field." The words "as it turned out" and "just then" make it seem like these things are coincidences. But Naomi later sees these things are not coincidences. In vs. 20, after Ruth tells Naomi of the day's events, Naomi says "The Lord has not stopped showing His kindness to the living and the dead."
4. Life is not a game of chance. When we have a problem and someone comes along to help us, it is not a coincidence but God has sent that person our way. We live in a society that believes in luck. Buy a lottery ticket and if you're lucky, you will be an instant millionaire. We are quick to say "Good luck" to people. As Christians, though, we deny God's sovereignty with those words.
5. Boaz asks his foreman who Ruth is and the foreman gives a good report about her. She has worked steadily from morning until noon ,except for a short rest in the shelter. Boaz has heard all about what ruth has done for Naomi - leaving home and family for her. And so Boaz is attracted to Ruth.
6. During harvest, men would cut the grain in the fields and the women would gather the sheaves and tie them together in bundles. Boaz tells Ruth to stay with the girls who are working for him. He tells the men not to touch her. Boaz was obligated to allow Ruth to gather the gleanings, but those who gathered the gleanings were expected to keep their distance from the reapers. Otherwise they might take some of the sheaves that were part of the harvest. Boaz goes beyond what the law requires him to do.
7. He offers her a meal and later he tells his men not to say anything and embarrass Ruth if she would accidently pick up some sheaves that were meant for the harvest. In fact they were to pull some stalks out of the bundles and leave them for her.