God's Care and Our Care - Ruth 2 - Pastor Josh
God loves his people with an overabundance of care.
Maybe you’re feeling the weight of the world on your souls or maybe you’re feeling the weight of other changes and trials. But this is why we need to hear from God’s Word… to point us to hope when it feels like hope is almost gone. And that hope is this: God loves his people with an overabundance of care. God gives us, his people, more than we could ever deserve, more than one person, or church or world could ever need. And he does so through his providential care, even when… especially when things are feeling hopeless… when circumstances seem bleak.
But when things are feeling so down, how exactly can we know that God will give us this overabundance of care? Sure, it sounds great… Some of you may even be doubting the words I’m saying right now. And to be honest, I’ve doubted these words at times. But how, even when the world and our lives feel driven into chaos, can we trust that God will intervene and show us and give us hope? Well first is this…
1. God cares for the marginalized (Vv.1-7). Those whom are seen and treated as the least in society, God loves and cares for them deeply. Those who feel like they’re on the outside looking in, the people who are mistreated or left out, God loves you and he cares for you.
The author first begins this section of the story by sharing a seemingly random piece of information: we learn who Boaz is. Yes, he’ll come up later… He sounds like a stand up guy: a relative of Naomi’s late husband… a worthy man – likely well respected amongst his family and community. But what’s weird is we learn who he is before Ruth even meets Boaz, and it happens before Naomi even finds out which field Ruth ends up working in. Ruth doesn’t even find out Boaz is part of the story until the end of the chapter! Seems like there’s a sense of foreboding happening here… At the same time, God seems to hand in it.
So Ruth, being the caring daughter-in-law that she is, again a foreigner that would be hated in Israel because of Moab’s past, asks her mother-in-law if she can go out into the fields and harvest leftover ears of grain. Facing the uncertainty of the lawless times, at the same time willing to endure persecution that could occur because of her ethnicity, Ruth steps out in faith in order to care for Ruth.
Naomi tells her to go then Ruth finds a field belonging to this Boaz. Again this sense of foreboding comes along in verse 3, “…she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz…” Coincidence? Or was it God’s divine providence and care that led Ruth to Boaz’s field? A field, we’ll see later on, that is safe. And Boaz even goes the extra miles to care for Ruth!
Then in verse 4 to 7 we learn more of Boaz and Ruth! We learn that Boaz is a God-fearing man! He checks on his servants and blesses them as he greets them. Then, he goes on to ask his servant who Ruth is and the servant tells Ruth and Naomi’s story… They came from Moab and now Ruth asked to harvest the leftover grain from Boaz’s field, working hard and only having a short rest.
This idea of harvesting leftover grain may sound a bit foreign to us. I didn’t let people come into my backyard growing up so they could harvest leftover persimmons. But this leftover harvesting was God’s way of caring for the marginalized. This was written into Israel’s law. It was one of Israel’s ways of loving their neighbor and treating the vulnerable with justice so that God would bless their work. Even though this was God’s law, Ruth couldn’t assume that everyone upheld it because of the dangerous times. But Boaz and his servants allow it and beyond. This was God’s divine and sovereign care for the marginalized and widowed Ruth and Naomi.
God cared for Ruth and Naomi through the compassion of Boaz. Let us be a people of God who examine the biases of our own hearts, look to the Lord in repentance and take practical steps forward in order to show compassion and care for the marginalized because we have a God who cares for them just as he cares for us.
How else can we trust that God will give us an overabundance of care?
2. God cares for the compassionate (Vv.8-16). God cares for those who care on his behalf… He loves to care for those who care for others. Follow together with me starting in verse 8. At a time of lawlessness, Boaz proved to be an oasis in a dessert. Not only would he keep Ruth safe, but he promises to care for her in allowing her to drink from the water that his servants drew. This was above and beyond what God’s law required. Ruth falls before Boaz and realizes the unmerited and overabundant care and compassion that Boaz is giving her!
Boaz shows Ruth compassion because Ruth shows compassion to her mother-in-law Naomi whom she no longer has any obligations to! And because of her care for Naomi, Boaz pronounces a care for Ruth, that the Lord would repay her for all she’s done. Ruth was once in danger as an immigrant in a foreign land but she now has more than what she could possibly need. Boaz was not binding himself to the requirements of the law but went above and beyond by showing her the type of care that one would show to a member of one’s own family. God’s care for Ruth was taking place through the caring actions of Boaz.
Being under one’s wings is an excellent illustration for this. Mentioned throughout the entire Bible, wings were an illustration of the care and protection that God gives to his people. Celebrated by the psalmist, “ How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” (Ps. 36:7). Verses 14 to 16 only serve to further highlight this care.
Boaz even invites her to join him for a free meal. Truly, this is God’s providential care through the compassionate actions of Boaz towards Ruth. God shows his compassion in the same way towards us. How then are we to respond? Well, when God cares for us then…
3. God deserves the credit. (Vv.17-23). When God cares for us, then of course he should get the glory and the praise. It all belongs to Him. So one response to his care in our lives is to give God the credit for what he has done!
In just one day, Ruth had gathered an ephah of grains, about 2.5 to more than 5 gallons… probably enough to last two women for more than a week!
After hearing where Ruth had gleaned the grains, Naomi only just now realizes that Ruth was gleaning from her husband’s close relative then she turns to praise God for his kindness, his love. And this isn’t just any relative, Boaz is a redeemer at that! So what is a redeemer? A redeemer was somebody who would step-in, in a legal way, to help recover the loss and maintain the dignity of the ones who had lost. In order for the deceased relative’s name and inheritance to be passed on to their family, a living relative needed to step in and marry their widow. So Boaz was their redeemer who could and eventually would help them recover their losses and uphold their dignity.
Why should we note this? Because Boaz’s redeeming of Ruth would lead to Obed who had Jesse who had David who would eventually lead to the birth of Jesus. The deaths of Ruth and Naomi’s husbands would not only lead to their personal redemption but to the redemption of all mankind. This is God’s story of our redemption and his greatest act of care for us in the gospel.
Jesus was God’s intentional plan all along. God planned so that through Ruth’s story the fate of our souls would be left into his good and sovereign care. This is why we can show compassion to others and give God the credit in response… because he first showed his compassion and care towards us.
So let’s love God by caring for our neighbors. God loves us, his people with an overabundance of care. So would we not stand idly by and wait for God to act like the man waiting on his roof in the middle of a raging flood. But let’s take intentional and active steps forward even if they’re awkward at first and there are missteps along the way, all with the motive of love and to be God’s hands of care to our communities. We never know when we will be God’s acting agent and be someone else’s Ruth or Boaz.
Praise Songs: Oceans, God is Able, How Deep the Father's Love For Us, Your Love Never Fails, Doxology