The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado.
We’re continuing through the Book of Ruth, a powerful little love story that ministers a message of hope to any who feel hopeless, helpless, and hurting. We’ve finished up chapter one, and got all the way through chapter 2, verse 1 last week!
Let’s pick up where we left off last time…and for the sake of context I’ll start at the beginning of chapter 2…
(Ruth 2:1-2)1 “There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.”And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Ruth, although a new follower of the one true God, must know something about Scripture. Notice, this is not Naomi (the woman who was a Hebrew and knew the Lord), it was Ruth (the woman who is a ‘Moabitess’) who is asking/begging to not just sit around and starve, but go out and work for food by gleaning heads of grain.
The Midrach – the Hebrew commentary respected by all biblical historians– declares that Ruth was none other than the daughter of Eglon. Do you know who that is? He was the king of Moab who oppressed the Israelites for eighteen years! He is the only man in the entire Bible referred to as, “a very fat man” (Judges 3:17). This guy was a bad dude! He finally was taken out by a man, that God had raised up, named Ehud. It is absolutely one of the coolest stories in the Bible!
Quickly tell the story from Judges 3…
Anyways… Ruth is this fat guy’s daughter! This is how she was raised! In a totally secular, immoral, anti-God way! And yet, in verse 2 we see her begging Naomi to go out and glean grain. Maybe you think… “So what?” Well, it’s a BIG DEAL, because in the Law of God, God had made another beautifully compassionate provision for the poor which stated that a poor person could go into the fields during the time of harvest and gather whatever was left behind by the reapers.
Deuteronomy 24:18-19– “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing. ‘When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless youin all the work of your hands.”
If you put two-and-two together here, you begin to realize that Ruth,a young woman who was raised in a completely anti-God way, by an evil and immoral father, somehowknows the Word of God well enough that she has to, in a sense, remind her mother-in-law, of what Scripture declares. She begs Naomi to allow her to go and do EXACTLY what Scripture declares she CAN do… and it is going to result in, not only them not starving, but in her meeting the man of her dreams!
Gang, it doesn’t matter where you come from… who your parents were… how awful your upbringing might have been… when God becomes YOUR GOD… diving into reading the Bible is going to end up being awesome for you! We don’t read the Bible, as Christians, because its sort-of this RULE (all good boys and girls read the Bible). No man, we read the Bible because it will benefit US! God wants to bless you! God wants to do things that you can’t even imagine, and the BEST WAY for you to be blessed and to make GOOD CHOICES… is for you to know what God’s will is. The best way for you to know what God’s will is… is to read HIS WORD. Ruth must have read His Word… because she is quoting it perfectly here in verse 2.
(Ruth 2:3)“Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happenedto come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.”
The wording here is very interesting: “she happenedto come to the part of the field belonging…”. I think that is so cool! She just “happened” to wind up in the field belonging to some guy who just happenedto be related to her deceased father-in-law. Listen, Ruth didn’t know that this guy was a close relative… a ‘kinsman’. God was directing her steps!
In this story, Ruth is a picture of you and me. We’re the Bride of Christ… but we didn’t start out that way – just like Ruth didn’t start out being the bride of Boaz.
We were lost. We were hungry… and maybe we didn’t even know it! And then one day we just ‘happened’ to find ourselves in the field of Jesus. One day, someone invited us to church, or to Bible study. Or maybe we just happened to have parents or grandparents, or a friend that introduced us? Or maybe we were clicking thru channels on the TV, or the radio dial… and we just happenedto hear this GOOD NEWS?
However it “just happened”… it was ALL PART OF GOD’S PLAN… that we were allowed to come in contact with our ‘Greater-than-Boaz’, Jesus Christ!
Listen, when we are obedient to God’s Word, as Ruth was, and obedient to His Holy Spirit’s promptingswe can be assured that we are in His covering and in His hands.
Psalm 119:33“Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.”
Proverbs 16:9“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Psalm 37:23(NLT) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.”
Jeremiah 10:23(NLT) “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.”
Turn with me to Genesis 24… this is another love story: Abraham wanted a wife for his son, Isaac… but he wanted her to be from the land of Canaan. So he had his lead servant travel there and find the perfect wife for Isaac. The servant was a little intimidated by this great task, but obeyed his master, Abraham. When he arrived he went to a well, and… you’ll have to read it later to get all the cool details… he ran into this beautiful, young woman named, “Rebekah”. After meeting and talking with her, he knows she’s the one that God has picked for Isaac, and the servant…
Genesis 24:26-27“Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord. And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led meto the house of my master’s brethren.”
Many times, people wonder how God will lead them. “How will I know whether to take that job, get involved in this relationship, or take on a new ministry?” they ask.
The servant says, “As for me, being in the way, the Lord led me…” I think the wording here is super-duper awesome!Centuries after this story took place there would be this Rabbi named, Jesus, and He would have the audacity to declare, “I am the Way” (John 14:6); and did you know that the first group of Christians… the early church… would be called, “the Way” (Acts 19:23)?
When you and I are walking in the Way, if we’re obeying Jesus and walking with Him…living according to His Word, we will end up at the right spot, and at the right time. We never have to waste our time struggling and striving to find God’s will.
Simply walk day by day in the Way, and, as He did Abraham’s servant, and as He did for Ruth… God will lead you.
Maybe you’re listening to me, and you’re thinking;
“Man, how in the world am I supposed to walk in the Way?
You don’t know how hard my life is?
You don’t know the kind of people I work with… or live with?
I don’t think Jesus wants to be anywhere close to where I’m livin’!”
Look at the nextverse in Ruth…
(Ruth 2:4)“Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered him, ‘The Lord bless you!’”
This is pretty cool: Boaz walked among his reapers, saying, ‘The Lord be WITH you’…
Just like Jesus, our ‘Greater-than-Boaz’,is called, ‘EMMANUEL’, which means, “GodWITHus”.
God desperately wants to walk withyou and me. He ALWAYShas:
Genesis 3:8“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the gardenin the cool of the day…”
Deuteronomy 23:14“For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you…”
John 1:14“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory…”
Philippians 2:5-8“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
God has ALWAYS desired to walk WITHus.
But the truth is… man hasn’t always desired to walk with God.
But that is going to change. That passage in Philippians doesn’t end at verse 8…
Philippians 2:9-11“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confessthat Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Every person is… one day… going to see Jesus walking among us.
And like the workers in the field, who saw Boaz and heard Boaz say, “The Lord be withyou!”… responded by saying, “The Lord bless you!”
So too, will every person, not only recognize that the Lord is walking among them… they will bless His name. Everyone. Even the person you may be thinking of right now, that you would NEVER imagine that they’d ever bless the Lord or confess Him… they too will bow their knee and bless the Lord.
Praise the Lord… we know that we can walk with Jesus right now!I use to sing an old hymn that had this line in it: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known!”
For the longest time I just wanted to know who “ANDY” was! But it ain’t ANDY that we’re talking about… it’s JESUS.
We have a great hope! Just like Job had (a guy who had a pretty rough life, by the way):
Job 19:25“For I know that my Redeemerlives, and he shall stand at last on the earth;”
It’s not a coincidence that you are here this morning. God wants you! He wants to walk with you… daily.
He wants to speak to you through His Word.
He wants to direct your paths.
You’re not just “happening” to be hearing this today. God wants you!
Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]