RUTH 1: A painful providence

Ruth 1:1-22

Ruth 1:15-22 – 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. 19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Today we begin a journey through one of my favourite books in the Old Testament, the book of Ruth. I have always loved the book of Ruth. It has all the elements that make a great story. It has tragedy, loss, despair, hope, romance, loyalty, and most importantly, a happy ending. So guys, throughout this series, you do not need to take your wife or girlfriend or potential girlfriend to watch a chick flick. Just bring them to RSI and it will suffice. RSI will be a dating hot spot throughout this series. I was going to name this series, “Finding your Boaz” or “Finding your Ruth”, and hope that many singles would show up at RSI. And I think that’s how we often read the book of Ruth. We treat it as a feel-good love story between Ruth and Boaz. If you do not know those names, they are the names of two of the three main characters in the story. So people like me would say, “Single girls, be like Ruth, and you will meet your Boaz. Single guys, be like Boaz, and you will meet your Ruth.” And I don’t think that’s wrong. One of the many things I want to see God do through this series is that he would raise many Boaz and Ruth in RSI. The church needs more men like Boaz and more women like Ruth. But there is so much more to the story than that. This story is not just about Ruth and Boaz. This story is a story of providence.

Before I give you the definition of providence, let me try to explain what I mean first. Every action has a consequence. We are who we are today because of the decision that we made yesterday. You are in church right now because you made the decision a few hours ago to take shower, put on some clothes, and made your way to ROCK Centre. Every decision we make has its consequence. But it is wrong to think that our lives are simply the consequences of our decisions. The book of Ruth will show us that there is a mysterious X-factor that guides everything from behind the scenes. There is a God who is at work directing our decisions and every event for his good purposes. We might not always see the hand of God at work in our lives, but his hand is always the defining element of our lives. Listen to how John Piper defines it. “The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.” I love these two words: purposeful sovereignty. It means that there is no such thing as a random occurrence in the lives of Christians. Even during the worst of times, God is absolutely sovereign and in control, and he is working to accomplish his good and glorious purpose. His work may not always be visible to us, but he is always at work behind the scenes.

The book of Ruth gives us a glimpse of God’s hidden works during the worst of times. If I can sum up this sermon in one sentence, it would be this. When we think that we are at our lowest, when we think that God no longer cares for us, the truth is that God is preparing us to witness his faithfulness to us. In the book of Ruth, all the characters have no idea what God is accomplishing in their lives. There is no miracle, no dream or vision, nothing supernatural, but ordinary people trying their best to live their ordinary lives. And yet, there is no such thing as ordinary lives. God moves in mysterious ways. Without their knowledge, God is weaving their stories together into one amazing story. And what God is doing in their stories is far greater than what they could have realized during their lifetime. This is what we mean by providence. And the book of Ruth is a story of God’s providence.

Let me first give you the context of the book of Ruth. The story of Ruth happens in the days when the judges ruled. If you have read the book of Judges, then you know that the book of Judges is not a pleasant book. There is a repetitive cycle that happens in the book of Judges. The cycle goes like this. First, the people of Israel sin against God. They worship other gods and neglect the one true God. Second, God judges the people of Israel by giving them up to their enemies. Third, the people of Israel cry out to God for help. And fourth, God listens to their cry and raises a judge to deliver the people of Israel from their enemies. And you would think that the people of Israel have learnt their lesson. But they haven’t. So, they sin against God again and the whole cycle is repeated. And the book of Judges ends with this verse. Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is a very bleak statement. It tells us that the context of the book of Ruth is Israel at her lowest. It happens during one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. And if we understand the context, then we know that the book of Ruth cannot simply be a holy chick flick. So why would God put this story in the Bible? Let me rephrase the question. What is it that God tries to teach the people of Israel and us through the book of Ruth? Why would God suddenly zoom in into this love story when Israel is at her lowest?

And let me tell you, we will not find the answer until we reach the end of the book. Whoever the author of the book is, he or she is brilliant. This book has a surprising ending. When we think that we know what the book of Ruth is all about, the author will shock us. So here is what we are going to do. Today, we are going to focus on chapter 1 only. And let me warn you, it is going to end with a cliff hanger. In fact, every chapter, except for the last one, ends with a cliff hanger. You are going to be left hanging today. And unlike Netflix, the next episode will not play automatically in the next 5 seconds. You must wait for a week or two for the next sermon. And I want to encourage you not to read ahead. This is probably the only time you hear a pastor tells you not to read the Bible more. The reason for it is I want us to feel the tension in the story. I want us to feel the weight of despair without softening it by clicking the next episode button. There is so much for us to learn in each chapter, and I don’t want us to gloss over it because we know how the story is going to end. So, resist the temptation to read ahead. With that said, I am sure some of you will still read ahead tonight when you get home. If you do, no spoiler please. Besides, the story of Ruth might not mean what you think it means.

Let’s get into the story. I separate this chapter into four parts. The crisis; The choice; The return; The providence.

The crisis

Ruth 1:1-5 – In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

The story begins with a famine in the land. And this famine is not an accident. God has told the people of Israel that he would bless them with plenty of food if they obeyed his commandments, and he would curse them with famine if they disobeyed his commandments. And in the days of Judges, Israel disobeys God again and again. So, famine is God’s judgement for their disobedience. It is God calling his people to repent from their sin and turn to God. And there is a little irony and play on word in the opening line of this book. The word Bethlehem means the house of bread. We would expect that if there is any place that has food in the days of famine, it would be Bethlehem. But the author tells us that there is no bread in the house of bread. It means that the famine is massive. Most of us have no idea what famine is. We have no idea what it means to have no food. One of the sentences that I say almost every Sunday night after RSI is, “I am starving.” If you hear me say that, it means, “Guys, it’s time to go home because your pastor is hungry.” But let me tell you, I have no idea what it means to be literally starving.

So, amid this famine, one family decides to leave Bethlehem for Moab. This is a strange decision. Moab is the enemy of Israel. Israel has a bad history with the Moabites. There was one time where the Moabites women seduced the people of Israel to worship false gods. And because of it, God judged the Israelites, and 24,000 people were killed. For an Israelite to move to Moab is shameful. It is like turning your back on God. But due to massive famine, Elimelech decides to take his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and moves to Moab. Is this the right choice? Possibly not. How do we know? Because in just three verses, the author tells us the 10 years of nightmares that this family experienced in Moab. What happened? First, Elimelech died. Second, his two sons married Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth. Third, both Mahlon and Chilion died. And fourth, which we will find out soon, their wife has no children. So in three quick verses, we have 10 years’ worth of tragedy. No detail, no story, no explanation, just tragedy after tragedy. To the point that the author intentionally refers to Naomi as the woman, as if she has lost her identity.

Think about Naomi for a bit. She came to Moab because of her husband’s decision. She is not there by choice. And in Moab, her world came crashing down. She lost her husband and her two sons. She is a stranger in a strange land. At this time, she is already old. She can’t get married again because she can’t produce any more child. She has no one to take care of her in Moab. She has lost everything. Her family, her security, her provider, her hope. And all she has are childless foreign daughters-in-law. By the way, barrenness is the curse of all curses in the Old Testament. What future does Naomi have in Moab? But when everything seems lost, suddenly there is a glimmer of hope.

Ruth 1:6 – Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. Don’t miss it. This is one of the only two times where the name of the Lord appears in the book as a subject of a verb. Amid her hopelessness in Moab, Naomi hears a glimpse of good news. God has blessed his people with food. Famine in Israel is over. The house of bread is now filled with bread again. It means that the people of Israel have repented from their sin and turn back to God. And God has provided food for his people again. So, Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem.

When we read this story, it is very easy for us to judge Elimelech for his decision. After all, Elimelech should have known better. Elimelech’s name means God is my king. Elimelech should have known that moving to Moab is to turn his back on God. He should have stayed in Bethlehem. There is nothing good that will come out of Moab. But I want to argue with you that we continue to make the same mistake as Elimelech today. When life turns sour, we look at the grass elsewhere. And the grass on the other side always looks greener than our grass. Every day we are given a choice: do we want to live in the land of God’s promise? Or do we want to live in Moab? And let me tell you, Moab always look more appealing on the surface. Moab promises us food. Moab promises us wealth, comfort, security, satisfaction. And turning your back on God always feel satisfying at first. Let’s be honest. Sin feels good. If sin doesn’t feel good, you are not doing it right. Sin does give some satisfaction. But listen carefully to what I’m going to say next. I don’t want you to think that I’m a heretic pastor that promotes sin. I can’t afford to be fired from this job. I need to pay my mortgage. Sin does feel satisfying. But it does not last long. Sin excites us for a season. It’s like sky-diving. It feels free when we first jump. Until we realise, we don’t have a parachute on us.

When we move to Moab, there is a season where everything seems to go our way. But when that season is over, tragedy after tragedy continues to hit us and knock us out. And not all of them might be our fault. The story seems to suggest that moving to Moab is Elimelech’s decision and not Naomi. But one thing we do know is that sin will always drag us to the lowest point of our lives. Sin never delivers on its promises. Sin always promises us one million dollars, but only delivers us one cent. And yet we continue to choose Moab over Bethlehem. And some of us might experience what Naomi experiences right now. You might be at rock bottom. Things could not go any worse for you. If that’s you, I have good news for you. There is bread in Bethlehem. You don’t have to stay in Moab. God is calling you to come back home tonight. You might have lost everything in Moab but that is not the end of your story. Moab is not God’s last word for you. Grace is always God’s last word.

The choice

Ruth 1:7-14 – So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

When I first read this, I thought, “What a rude old lady. Naomi should be grateful that her daughters-in-law chose to stick with her. That would not have happened today.” Am I right? If you are married, and everyone in your family died, except your mother-in-law, would you stick with her? Don’t answer it loudly. But here Naomi is trying to convince her daughters-in-law to leave her. And if we pay careful attention to what she says, Naomi is actually not being rude; she is expressing kindness to them. Because Naomi literally has nothing to offer them. Here is what Naomi is saying. “My daughters, I have nothing to offer you. Your life would be much better if you stay in Moab. If you stay in Moab, you still have your parents’ family. You have land and food. And you are still young enough to find another husband and have kids. It is not too late for you. You can still find your happily ever after in Moab. But if you come with me to Israel, you will have nothing. You will be foreigners in a strange land. And not only foreigners but Moabites in Israel. That’s not going to go well. You will find no one who wants to marry you. And the custom of Israel is for you to marry my other son and have a child through him. But I don’t have another son. I am too old to marry again and have another son. But let’s say I do find someone, and we get married today and conceive sons tonight. Will you wait till my son are old enough to marry? By then it would be too late. You would be too old to marry and have a son of your own. So, if you come with me, you will be lonely and have no children. It is far better for you if you stay in Moab. You have too much to lose by sticking with me.” Can you see what Naomi is doing? Naomi is telling them that they have everything to lose and nothing to gain if they go with her to Bethlehem.

But it doesn’t stop there. Listen to what she says at the end of verse 13. Ruth 1:13b – No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me. This is her main argument. Naomi has decided that God is against her. Because of all the tragedy that she experienced in Moab, she concluded that God is against her. Therefore, when she returns to Bethlehem, she expects nothing from God. She is saying to the girls, “My God is against me. If you stick with me, God’s hand will also be against you. There is only more disaster ahead of us. And I don’t want you to experience what I experienced. So for your own sake, you should leave me on my own.” Naomi is so embittered by what happened in her life. And Orpah decides to leave. I mean, can you blame her? Orpah does the math. She counts the cost. And she concludes that there is nothing for her in Israel. Orpah decides to leave, and we never heard of her anymore. So, Naomi succeeds in getting rid of one daughter-in-law. Her problem now is with the other daughter-in-law. And this one is extremely tough to crack. Listen to what happens next. It is staggering.


Ruth 1:15-18 – 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Did you hear what Ruth say? “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Where you die, Ill die.” Does it sound familiar? Where do we often hear that? In a wedding. Right? So, when we hear the bride or the groom made this vow, we tear up. What a wonderful picture of commitment. But this is not a word between a husband and a wife. This is Ruth’s word to Naomi. Do you know who loves these verses? Every mother-in-law. Do you know who hates these verses? Every daughter-in-law. I have never seen a bride making this vow to her future mother-in-law at a wedding. It’s usually the other way around. The bride says to her mother-in-law, “Where you stay, I will not stay. Where you go, I will not go.” But Ruth is committed to her mother-in-law. And this commitment is radical. Because by committing her life to Naomi, Ruth is leaving behind her family and country. Ruth is committed to the possibility of being a widow and childless for the rest of her life. She is committed to moving to an unknown country with new people, custom and language for the sake of her mother-in-law. And if you are a mother-in-law, you are smiling big right now. And you are already planning to send the YouTube link of this sermon to your daughter-in-law. But listen. These verses are not about how to be a good daughter-in-law. There is something far deeper happening in these verses.

Here is the most important part. Ruth says that Naomi’s God will be her God and where Naomi die, there also she will die. In other words, Ruth’s commitment is not only to Naomi but also to Naomi’s God. Even after the death of Naomi, Ruth is saying, “I am not going anywhere. The God of Naomi is my God. I am not going back to Moab. I am going to die in the land where Naomi died. I have committed my life to the God of Israel. There is no turning back.” Wow. What a commitment. Ruth chooses the hard road over the easy road of human’s wisdom. When people move to a new country, they always do so in the hope of a better life. No one move to a new country hoping for a worse life. That’s what happened with Orpah. But Ruth is different. Ruth is essentially given two choices. God + nothing in Bethlehem or everything – God in Moab. That is the choice. And that is the choice that every follower of Christ must decide.

Many Christians follow God to have a better life but not Ruth. Ruth is willing to leave everything behind to have a worse life. She chooses to forsake worldly security and embrace God’s call upon her life. That’s a commitment. There is a difference between involvement and commitment. Let me put it this way. One of my favourite breakfast is bacon and egg. I love it. And they are the perfect picture of the difference between involvement and commitment. Egg speaks of involvement. The chicken was involved in giving me an egg. But that’s about it. The chicken contributed an egg. That’s involvement. But bacon, that’s a whole different story. The pig was in it all the way to the point of death. The pig had to die for me to have bacon. That’s a commitment. And that’s the kind of woman Ruth is. Ruth is bacon. I originally had, “Ruth is a pig” on my first draft but it can mean a totally different thing from what I intended to say so I changed it to bacon. Ruth is committed to God. What a woman. I pray that God will raise many Ruth in RSI. At this time, we expect that Naomi would be touched by what Ruth has just said. But her response is silence. No tears, no joy, no Instagram story, nothing. So, they continue to make their way to Bethlehem.

The return

Ruth 1:19-21 – 19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

When they get to Bethlehem, some of the people recognize Naomi. They say, “Naomi, is that you? I haven’t seen you for 10 years. What’s up girl?” She replies, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” which means bitter. What kind of answer is that? It’s like you see me for the first time in many years and you say, “Whats up Yos?” And I reply, “Don’t call me Yosi. Call me Yucky.” “Dude, chill out…” But that’s the condition of Naomi. Naomi is extremely bitter at life. And Naomi leaves us no doubt as to whom she holds accountable for all the tragedy that she experienced. She says “The Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. The Almighty has brought calamity upon me.” In other words, Naomi blames God for all her losses.

Here is where I want us to pause and think. Who is actually responsible for all the tragedy that Naomi experienced? Don’t answer too quickly. Many people are quick to say that Naomi is wrong in saying that God has inflicted her with all the losses. They say that what happened to Naomi is the consequence of her action and has nothing to do with God. It is because they decided to leave for Moab and married foreign wives. It makes sense. And I will not argue with that. Every action has a consequence. But I am going to argue that there is more to this story than a simple formula of action and consequence. God is too majestic, too infinitely wise, for his providence to be reduced to a simple formula of action and consequence. As to the story itself, the author is very careful in making sure not to make a direct connection between Naomi’s suffering and a particular sin in her life. Why? Let me tell you why.

I want you to pay attention to Naomi’s theology. Naomi refers to God using two different words: The Almighty and the Lord. The word Almighty comes from the word “El Shaddai,” which means that God is all-powerful. God is sovereign and he is always in control. And this is the picture of God that we see throughout the Bible. The God of the Bible is the God who is in absolute control of all things. He is not only in control of all the good things, but he is in control of famine, war, diseases, hurricane, flood and all the bad things in life. There is not a single detail that happens in the universe because of chance. Therefore, when Naomi says that God has afflicted her, she is not wrong. Naomi knows who her God is. He is the Almighty. He is a great God. But Naomi also calls him the Lord, which comes from the word YHWH, the God of the covenant. In other words, Naomi also knows that God is the God who is faithful to all his promises and he is good. So here is Naomi’s theology in a nutshell: God is great, and God is good. Naomi understands that every action has a consequence, but she also knows that nothing happens outside the permission of the great and good God. God is not an ambulance driver who arrives on the scene trying to fix broken things. God is always in absolute control over every little detail of life, and he is always faithful. This is the God of the Bible.

The problem with Naomi is not her theology. The problem with Naomi is she does not have the eye to see God’s providence. Because of the pain she went through, she is blind to what God is currently doing in her life. How do we know? Listen to what she says. Naomi says, “I went away full, and God has brought me back empty.” But Naomi is not empty. Naomi is blind to the presence of a woman who committed her life and death to Naomi. Naomi has Ruth with her. Can you see what happened? Naomi has an agenda of what she thought God should do in her life. But she did not see it come to pass and she became bitter. And her bitterness causes her to be blind toward God’s goodness in her life. Naomi does not realize that the Moabite woman standing next to her is the proof of God’s faithfulness to her. Little does she know what God is about to accomplish in her life through the life of Ruth.

Listen. I have no idea what kind of pain God allows to happen in your life. Maybe some of you are struggling with barrenness. You have tried again and again, and you are still childless. Maybe some of you are struggling with loneliness. Maybe you lost someone you dearly loved recently, and it deeply affected you. Maybe some of you are struggling with that diagnosis from the doctor. Or maybe some of you are struggling with your family or work. And tonight, you ask, “Where is God in my pain?” You feel empty. You feel bitter. But I am here to tell you that God is intimately aware of what you are going through and he is in absolute control over it. He is never caught unaware. God is too wise and too kind to make mistake. How do we know? Look at what happens next.

The providence

Ruth 1:22 – 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Look at the providence of God for Naomi. First, she has Ruth the Moabite with her. Second, they come to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Why is this important? Because God is about to weave together stories of different individuals and turn Naomi’s bitterness into blessings through barley harvest. Naomi has no idea of the hand of God’s mercy that is at work in her life. She thinks that God is against her because of all the pain she went through. She is about to find out that God is never against his people. God is always working for the good of his people, even when life is extremely painful. God’s providence is his purposeful sovereignty. And that’s where we are going to end today. I did warn you that we will end with a cliff hanger.

So let me sums up chapter one for us. Just because we cannot see God’s providence, it does not mean that God is not working. God’s providence is always the defining element of our lives. Whether we are in pain because of the consequences of our own actions or we suffer from no explainable reasons, pain is never easy. And like Naomi, we are often blind to God’s work in our life in the midst of pain. We are too busy complaining to God about our emptiness that we forget that God emptied our hands in order to give us something much better. We mourn at our losses, but we forget that we have Ruth next to us. What Naomi and we need to see is the fact that we are not empty; we have Ruth. When Ruth commits her life to Naomi, Ruth knows that Naomi will die without her. There is nothing that Naomi can do. She needs someone else to help her and provide for her. Ruth knows that if she chooses to keep her own life, Naomi will lose hers. But if she gives her life away, Naomi will get hers. So, Ruth makes the hard choice. Ruth gives up everything she has. Ruth gives up her own father, mother, wealth, land, family, in order for Naomi to have hers. Amid Naomi’s bitter experiences, she receives Ruth’s loyalty. Ruth is the sign of God’s faithfulness toward Naomi.

Do we realize that we have someone even better than Ruth in our life? Naomi has Ruth; We have Jesus. Just like Ruth, Jesus knew that the only way for us to keep our life was for him to surrender his life. And Jesus made that radical commitment. Jesus gave up all he had. He left the glory to heaven and he clung to us. He committed to us. Ruth said that where Naomi die, she will die. Jesus said, “I die so you don’t have to.” Jesus is so committed to us that even death cannot separate us from his love. In our pain today, we might feel like we are empty, but we are not. We have Jesus with us. And he is the proof that God is forever working to accomplish his good purposes. We may have no idea what God is up to but we have Jesus with us. And understand this. When we have Jesus with us, we can have the confidence that pain will not have the last word over our life; Grace will have the last word.

Let me close with a lyric from an old hymn called, “God moves in a mysterious way.” “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. Deep in unsearchable mines of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust him for his grace. Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.” Let’s pray.

Discussion questions:

  1. In your own words, describe what providence is.
  2. Considering the context of the book of Ruth (in the days when the judges ruled), what do you think is the purpose of the book?
  3. Explain why Moab seems more appealing than Bethlehem and why is it a wrong decision? Can you see the same pattern in your own life? Explain.
  4. Read Ruth 1:15-18. What strikes you the most about Ruth’s words?
  5. Explain Naomi’s theology. Why is it not wrong for her to say that the Lord has afflicted her?
  6. How does having the eye for God’s providence enable us to stand firm amid painful circumstances? 
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