25 Apr RUTH 2: A purposeful providence
Ruth 2:8-13 – 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
When I made the first post on Instagram that we were going to do the book of Ruth, all the excitement that I received came from one particular group of people. The ladies. Especially if their names are Ruth. But I received nothing from the guys. I read an article that said that approximately 0% of pastors invited to speak at a men’s conference would choose the book of Ruth. But if you go to a women’s conference, the book of Ruth would be on the top of the list. The other one would be the book of Esther. They are the two books in the Old Testament that are named after women. And because of that, the book of Ruth is often seen as a sanctified chick flick fit only for women Bible study. And that is a real shame because this book has a lot to teach us. The point of the book of Ruth is less about Ruth. After all, we could easily call the book of Ruth the book of Boaz as he is one of the main characters in the story. But Boaz is also not the main point of the book. This book is not just about Ruth, Boaz or Naomi. The book of Ruth is a story of providence.
What is providence? This is how John Piper describes 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.” And the two words that sum up providence is purposeful sovereignty. It means that for Christians, there is no such thing as luck. So, when we go out to dinner after RSI, and I happen to find a parking spot very close to where we are eating, that’s not luck; that’s providence. Okay, I am stretching it right now. Let me put it this way. Providence is the hidden hand of God that is always at work to accomplish his good purposes for our lives. Nothing happens by chance. Have you ever wondered why we can have two people doing the exact same thing and making the same decisions and yet end up at a very different place? One becomes very successful, and the other becomes poor. What separates the two? The book of Ecclesiastes said it is time and chance. But we know better. Behind time and chance, there is a God who governs all things for his glory and the good of his people.
Before we get into today’s passage, let’s review what happened in chapter 1. Previously, in the book of Ruth, the story began with a time of famine in Bethlehem. Because of it, Elimelech and his family migrated to the land of Moab, which was pretty much a forbidden land. Israel had a bad history with Moab. And when they got to Moab, the two sons married Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth. Then Elimelech and his two sons died unexpectedly. So, Naomi, Elimelech’s wife, was left alone in a foreign land with two Moabite daughters-in-law. Then she heard that God had visited his people and food was available back home, so she decided to return to Bethlehem. She persuaded her daughters-in-law to stay at Moab for their good. She succeeded with Orpah, but she could not get rid of Ruth. Ruth clung to her and said to her mother-in-law, “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, I’ll die.” Ruth is the picture of the perfect daughter-in-law that every mother dreamed of. Or as I put it, Ruth is bacon. So, they went back to Bethlehem and Naomi was bitter. She said that she had lost everything in Moab and came back empty, while Ruth was next to her. But at the end of chapter one, we saw a glimmer of hope because the barley harvest was just beginning in Bethlehem. Naomi had no idea that God is about to weave together wonderful stories of different individuals and turn her bitterness into blessings through a barley harvest. And in this chapter, Naomi is about to find out that God is never against his people. God is always working for the good and joy of his people.
Today, we are going to focus on chapter 2. And let me warn you, just like last time, the story is going to end with a cliff hanger. It will frustrate us because none of us like a cliff hanger. We like resolution. But how many of you realize that most of our lives are filled with cliff hangers? And I think that’s one of the main points of the book. We must get used to living in the here and now. A resolution is good. Knowing that resolution is coming does give hope in the here and now. But we do not live in tomorrow’s resolution. We live in today’s struggle. But the good news for us is that we live in today’s struggle with hope knowing that resolution is coming. God is at work right now in all our struggles to accomplish tomorrow’s resolution. What we need is not to fast forward to tomorrow but to have the eyes of faith to see the hidden hand of God at work today.
Let’s get into the story. I separate this chapter into three parts. The happening; The kindness; The mercy.
Ruth 2:1-7 – Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. 4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
At the beginning of this chapter, we are introduced to a new character by the name of Boaz. And if you like to watch movies, then you know that a good movie always introduces a new character for a reason. A good movie doesn’t introduce a new character and give information on the character for no reason. And the author of the book of Ruth gives us a very important detail about Boaz. First, Boaz is from the same family as Elimelech, Naomi’s husband. At this time, we are still not sure why this information is included. Second, Boaz is a worthy man. The actual Hebrew word is “gibbor hayil” which is very hard to translate into English. It is used in the Old Testament to describe strength, power, capability, wealth etc. But in this context, it seems to suggest that Boaz is a man of character and status. So, the author is saying, “There is this guy out there by the name of Boaz who is from the family of Elimelech. He is a good man. Keep an eye on him.” And the story shifts back to Ruth and Naomi.
At this time, Naomi and Ruth are already back in Bethlehem. And they have two main problems: food and security. Both are widows and they are not loaded. They are broke and starving. So for the rest of the book, the author will zoom in on these two issues. How can these two poor widows find food and security in Bethlehem? And in this chapter, the focus is on food. Before anything else, they need to eat to survive. And God has specifically commanded the people of Israel on providing for the poor. Leviticus 19:9-10 – 9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. This might sound strange to us, but this is God’s provision for the poor. In our culture, we are driven to make as much profit as possible. But not the Israelites. God commanded the Israelites to intentionally make less profit in the season of harvest so that the poor might also find provision from the harvest. God always has a heart for the poor and the marginalised. The problem is that this command is not always practised. Especially during the context of the book of Ruth where there is no king and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
Naomi should have known about this special provision for the poor. But at this time Naomi is very passive. She is inactive, hopeless and in despair. But not Ruth. Ruth is determined to come to Bethlehem to help Naomi survive. She is very active, hopeful, and determined. So, Ruth then takes the initiative to go out to the field and find food for her and Naomi. And she knows that there is no guarantee that the people will let her do that. Especially, because she is a Moabite. She needs the people in the field to show her favour. But she does not remain idle. She steps out in faith and Naomi gives Ruth her permission. But look at what happens next. Ruth 2:3 – So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. Wait? Whose field? Where do we hear that name before? And I love the phrase “she happened to come.” The literal Hebrew translation is “her chance chanced.” Not just chance, but chance chanced. If I can put it in modern translation, we would say, “What a luck.” Or is it? I mean, out of all field that she could have attended, why this field? Why Boaz? Why not Bono, Bobo, or Borat? And in case we forget, the author reminds us again. “The field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” To which we go, “Hmmmm… I smell something fishy here.” And it gets even fishier.
Ruth 2:4 – And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Ha! Not only Ruth happens to glean in the field of Boaz, wouldn’t you know it, Boaz shows up. The word “behold” suggests an abrupt unexpected event. Out of all the time that Boaz could show up, he shows up right when Ruth is gleaning on his field. I mean, what a coincidence. This is just too good to be true. It almost feels as if someone is directing the story from behind the scenes. What a luck! Or is it?
I had a similar experience when I find out that I got leukemia. Few weeks before that, I was in a deep argument with my parents about coming back home. I wanted to continue further theological study in Dallas. I was convinced that it was the right thing to do. But my parents disagreed. They wanted me to go back to Sydney and helped them in ministry before continuing my study. I did not like that idea but I had no choice but to obey. And at the time, I was healthy. No symptom of sickness whatsoever. I came back to Sydney and two weeks later I had my annual blood check, which was kind of weird in the first place. What is the chance of a 23-year-old to do a regular annual blood check? This was something that my mom made me do from few years prior. And they found out that I had leukemia from that blood check. Later the doctor who treated me said that my leukemia was one of the rare types that had no visible symptom and if they found out just a few weeks late, it might have been too late for me. What a luck! Imagine if I did not go back to Sydney and continue my study in Dallas? You might not have Pastor Yosi but Pastor Edrick right now. And when you thought things could not get any better, it did. At that time, it just happened that they were doing some trial for a new drug that would reduce the side effect of chemotherapy. This drug would have cost around $5 grand each and I would need a few of them. But since they were having a trial, I could get it for free. It was a 50/50 chance between getting the real drug or placebo. And behold, I got the drug. Again, what a luck! Or was it? I mean, at any time, the story could have ended differently. What if I didn’t do an annual blood check? What if I continue my study in Dallas? What was the chance of they did a trial for a new drug at that particular time? It feels as if someone had my story rigged. It is just too good to be true. Coincidence after coincidence. Happening after happening. That’s the feeling we get from Ruth’s story. But it does not stop there. Let’s continue the story.
I am sure there are lots of other women in his field. But for whatever reason, Boaz’ eyes are drawn to Ruth. Guys, have you ever watched a romantic comedy movie that maybe your date wanted to watch, and things started happening that were very unrealistic? Like, the guy just happened to be in the right place at the right time again and again and again? And you thought, “This is ridiculous. This only happens in a movie. It will never happen in a real life.” And you turned to say something ridiculous to your date, only to find out that she was in tears. And you like, “Babe, are you serious? Things do not work this way in a real life.” But let me tell you guys, we are wrong. It does work this way in a real life. The God of the universe is orchestrating every detail of our story for our good and his glory. The sovereign God of the Bible does not leave anything to chance.
So Boaz’ eyes are drawn to Ruth. And he asks the young man in charge, “Whose young woman is this?” Note, Boaz does not ask “who is she” but “whose is she?” Boaz is asking, “What family does she belong to?” And the young man answers, “This is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from Moab. She asked if she could glean in your field and she had been working hard from the morning until now.” In other words, Ruth is humble, and she is a hard worker. She does not assume that she could glean in the field. She asks for permission and she works diligently.
So, what we have in the story so far is two people with good characters. We know that Boaz is a man of character because the author tells us so. But we also know from the way he treats his workers. The first thing he says to his workers is, “The Lord be with you.” And the workers reply, “The Lord bless you.” I have never seen a relationship between employer and employee like this. And I work in a church. Ps Sem never greet me saying, “God be with you Yos” and I reply, “God bless you Ps Sem.” But Boaz is a God-saturated man. He is a worthy man. And the author also suggests that Ruth is also a woman of character. Throughout this book, the author never tells us about Ruth’s appearance. But the author tells us a lot about Ruth’s character. When Naomi is too heartbroken to work, Ruth is the one who takes initiative and assumes responsibility. When Ruth gets to the field, she asks for permission to glean in the field. Ruth is depicted as someone selfless, humble and diligent. Think about it. Mom, if your teenager comes up to you and says, “Mom, can you please let me clean up my room and the rest of the house while you rest and watch Netflix?” You might need therapy for a month or two. It is not something you expect. But that’s the kind of person Ruth is. If this is a relationship series, I would say, “Boaz and Ruth are the right people long before they meet the right person.” But this is not a relationship series. That’s for free. And now these two people with good characters are about to have their first interaction with one another.
Ruth 2:8-10 – 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
Right after the young man told him about Ruth, Boaz makes a beeline toward Ruth. He says, “My daughter, do not go to glean in another field. Stay in my field. Don’t go anywhere else. Stick close to my young women. I have commanded my men not to touch you. You have my protection. And when you are thirsty, you can drink freely from the water supply.” This an Old Testament pick up line. And it worked a wonder. Ruth falls on her face and bows to the ground when she heard it. But don’t try it today. “Hey girl, why don’t you stay in my field?” It won’t go well. But it gives us insight into what happened. It seems that when Boaz enters the scene, Ruth is about to leave. It seems that something is done to her that makes her feel uncomfortable. In today’s world, it might be some form of sexual harassment. Remember that Ruth is not an Israelite. The author continues to refer to Ruth as Ruth the Moabite. And it is very common for a foreign woman to be mistreated and insulted. In fact, later Naomi will tell Ruth to stay in Boaz’s field because she might be assaulted in other fields. The Israelites hate the Moabites. And Ruth is a powerless, defenceless foreign widow surrounded by people who hate her nationality. For Ruth to glean on the field is extremely risky. And Boaz knows that she could be hurt. But rather than expressing hatred toward Ruth, Boaz expresses kindness and generosity. Boaz institutes the first anti-sexual harassment policy in Israel. For us, the things that Boaz said might sound normal. But it shocks the original audience. Boaz’s kindness is unheard of. Why would an Israelite man show kindness to a Moabite woman? And not only that, but Boaz tells Ruth that she can drink freely from the water that his men draw. This is a reversal of order. Usually, women would draw water for men, and foreigners for Israelites.
Ruth does not expect this kindness. She falls on her face, bows to the ground, and asks Boaz, “Why do you show me this extravagant kindness?” Ruth understands that she has two strikes against her. First, she is a Moabite, a foreigner. And second, she is a widow. When Ruth set out in the morning, all she could hope for is for someone to show a little favour and allow her to glean on the field. Ruth asked for a little favour, but she receives an abundance of favour. She expects a Honda Jazz, but she receives a Ferrari. And pay attention to what Boaz says next. It is one of the most important lines in the book of Ruth.
Ruth 2:11-13 – 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” So, Boaz has heard of Ruth before. He acknowledges all that Ruth has done. Everything that Ruth has done for Naomi is known to him. Ruth might think that no one sees all the sacrifice she made. Even Naomi is blind to all Ruth’s sacrifices. But someone is always watching. Someone is paying attention. And then Boaz blesses Ruth. May God bless Ruth for everything she has done and may God give her the full reward for taking refuge under the wings of the God of Israel. In other words, Boaz is asking God to reward Ruth with the full blessings of being God’s people. And once again, Ruth responds in humility. For the first time, Ruth experiences kindness in the land of Israel and she is comforted by Boaz’s words. Let’s continue.
Ruth 2:14-17 – 14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” 17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
Here we have the first date in the book of Ruth. Boaz treats Ruth to all you can eat bread. And it is very uncommon for foreigners to eat together with the Israelite. But Boaz continues to extend special privileges to Ruth. Some might say, “It’s because Boaz has a crush on Ruth.” Maybe. But the text never gives us a hint of it. But the text does suggest to us that Boaz does what he does out of kindness. Boaz genuinely wants to help Ruth. And at this moment, Ruth is oblivious to who Boaz is. Boaz knows who Ruth is, but he doesn’t reveal who he is to Ruth. And after providing Ruth with all you can eat lunch, he commands his men to not touch and rebuke Ruth. But rather to intentionally drop some of the harvests for Ruth to glean. Boaz is a man who obeys the law of God and goes above and beyond what is required by the law. Boaz is depicted as a worthy man, a helper and a defender of the poor. Even though Boaz is rich, he does not think about maximizing profit. But he uses his wealth to care for the poor.
So, Ruth goes home that evening with about an ephah of barley. For us, an ephah of barley does not mean anything because we have no idea what it is. But for the original audience, it is shocking. In that culture, poor people work for a day worth of food. They lived on a day-to-day basis. Most of them do not have enough savings on their account for the next month of their life, not even a week. But that evening Ruth goes home with an ephah of barley. I’ll save you the math. But that is more than enough food for both Ruth and Naomi for a week. The biggest challenge for Ruth is not finding food but bringing the food home. And Ruth carries all those food back home on her own. This is how we know that Ruth does CrossFit. She works out a lot. Ruth received extravagant kindness from Boaz, and she has no idea who Boaz is.
Ruth 2:18-23 – 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
When Ruth gets home, Naomi is shocked. She expects Ruth to come home with just enough food for them to survive. She does not expect Ruth to come home with a truck of food. And not only that, but Ruth also took some of the all you can eat bread home for Naomi. Naomi cannot believe what she sees. She asks Ruth, “Where did you glean today? Whoever this man was who took notice of you, God bless him. He must be very generous.” At this time, Naomi could not care less for the name of the man. And this is a brilliant piece of writing. Because we know exactly who the man is. But Naomi and Ruth have yet to put the pieces together. Ruth knows she had been working in the field of Boaz, but Ruth has no idea of the significance of Boaz. Naomi knows the significance of Boaz, but Naomi has no idea that Ruth had been working in the field of Boaz. The author very intentionally leaves the most important information to the very last minute. So, Ruth tells Naomi everything that happened that day. How she could glean, how she met the generous owner, how he showed her kindness and generosity, and how he protected her from harm. And after she tells Naomi everything, she says, “Oh, by the way, his name is Boaz.”
Imagine that scene with me. Can you see the look on Naomi’s face? She might still be eating some of the leftover bread at the time. And when Ruth mentions Boaz’s name, she drops her bread and stands still for few seconds. She cannot believe what she just heard. She probably thinks, “Did I hear the right name? Did she say Bobo? Bono? Borat? I am sure I heard her right. She said Boaz!” Something “click” for Naomi. This is the “Aha!” moment. Naomi starts to put the puzzle together and she erupts in joy. And for the first time in the narrative, Naomi comes alive. Ruth 2:20 – And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” There is ambiguity here. Whose kindness is Naomi referring to? Is it God or Boaz? The answer is both. God is expressing kindness to them through Boaz. Naomi is starting to see that God has not forsaken them. Her perspective begins to change. She is starting to see God’s purposeful providence at work in her life. And Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz is one of their redeemers. What does it mean? We are going to talk about it in the fourth sermon. Basically, Naomi is telling Ruth that Boaz could be the knight in shining armour that solve all their problems. Naomi thought that God does not care about her anymore, but God’s providence begins to melt her heart. She is starting to have hope again.
So, they both agreed that Ruth should not go to other fields. She should remain in Boaz’s field until the end of the harvest season, where she is protected and cared for. It means that Ruth continues to glean in Boaz’s field for another two to three months. So, the problem of food is solved. They don’t have to worry about food anymore. Assuming that Ruth continues to glean the same amount every day, Ruth would have more than enough for both her and Naomi for a year by the end of the harvest. Ruth works for 3 months and has more than enough for two people for a whole year. That is a good-paying job. At this time, the excitement is high. God is at work. But pay attention to how the chapter ends. “And she lived with her mother-in-law.” Wait? What? This is very anti-climax. Why state the obvious? Is it because it is not fun to live with your mother-in-law? I don’t think that’s the point. The author is trying to tell us that there is another big problem that has yet to be solved. The problem of security. The problem of offspring and family line. Even though Ruth worked at Boaz’s field for three months, nothing happened between them. There is no development in their relationship. Naomi said that Boaz might be their knight in shining armour. The problem is that the knight has yet to make his move. To which we go, “Boaz, what are you doing man? She is at your field for three months and you do nothing? What kind of man are you without Ruth anyway? You are Ruth-less.” You guys know that joke will come up somewhere in this series, right? And that’s the end of the chapter. To be continued. It ends with a cliff hanger. We will continue the story next week.
So, what can we learn from this story? We learn that there is nothing that happens in our life by chance or luck. Behind every Christian story, there is the hidden hand of God that is working for our good and his glory. Just because we cannot see it with our physical eyes, does not mean that God is not working. What we need is the eyes of faith to perceive the hidden hand of God. It is very evident in this story that God is in sovereign control over every detail of life. The three characters have no idea what God is up to. Naomi doesn’t know it. Ruth doesn’t know it. Boaz doesn’t know it. And yet God weaves their stories together to write one beautiful story. There are no accidents in this story. There are only happening after happening after happening. God is sovereign even he seems silent. It is easy for us to smile at this story. It only takes us a few minutes to find out what happened. But it took them years of tragedy, months of uncertainty, weeks of sleepless nights, for them to see how the puzzle slowly comes together. And the same can be said about our story. We might have no idea what God is doing right now but we know that the hand of providence is forever guiding our story. We can be confident not because we know exactly what is happening but because we know that what is unknown to us is already known by God. What we need is to train our eyes of faith to see the hidden providences of God.
But how can we be sure that God’s providence is working for our good? Let me rephrase the question. How can a Moabite woman receive the kindness and favour of the God of Israel? Boaz gives us the answer. Ruth 2:12 – The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge! This is the reason that the enemy of God can become a family of God. Ruth receives the kindness and favour of God because she has taken refuge under the wings of God. This metaphor is often used in the Bible to depict a mother bird who protects her babies by spreading her wings over them, protecting the babies from harms. Do you know how the mother bird protects the babies from harms? By putting herself between the babies and harms. She takes it in herself. She becomes the substitute. Do you see what happen? This is what Jesus did. Listen to his words.
Luke 13:34 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you are not willing! This is very powerful. The context of this verse is judgement. Jerusalem will be judged for her sins and wrongdoings. And here we have Jesus longed to protect them like a mother bird protects her hens. Jesus said if they would believe in him, if they would trust him, he would save them from judgement. How? By taking the judgement upon himself. That is how he protects us. Jesus took on the full wrath of God upon himself. He endured the cross for our sake. He took what we deserved and gave us what he deserved. Jesus is the only perfect man ever lived but he died a miserable death for us. Why did he do it? Because he knew that through his suffering, the enemy of God can become the people of God. And when we put our faith in Jesus, we find refuge under the wings of God. And that is why today we can live with confidence that nothing but what is ultimately good will ever happen to those who trust in God. Even when it seems that God is against us, God is for us. The cross of Christ made sure of it. We might not know what God is up to right now but we know that his hand of providence is for us because of what Jesus has done for us. Let’s pray.
- In your own words, how would you define providence?
- “Most of our lives are filled with cliff hangers.” Agree or disagree? Why?
- Have you ever experience “chance chanced”? Share your story.
- What struck you the most about Boaz in this chapter?
- What does it mean to take refuge under God’s wings?
- How does having the eyes of faith for God’s providence help us to live in the here and now?