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September 19, 2011 / Daniel

God’s direction in our lives (God’s Sovereignty in the story of Ruth)

The book of Ruth is a story about God’s sovereignty.  God is at work behind the scenes.  He shows providential care for his people.

Here are a few lessons about God’s sovereignty that we can learn from this story.

1.   God directs our lives in spite of our bad decisions.

Elimelech and Naomi make several poor decisions in the opening scenes of the book.  Elimelech decides to leave Israel and head to Moab.  In retrospective, this was clearly a bad move.  Elimelech leaves the land of Israel, because he wants to provide for his family.   However, instead of providing for his family, Elimelech impoverishes his family.  He dies.  His sons die.  As a result, three women are widows and the future royal line faces extinction.

Elimelech also makes a bad move in allowing his sons to marry Moabite women.  This is a direct violation of God’s will as it was expressed in the Torah (Deut 7:3).  But God works through these bad choices.  Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, marries Boaz and becomes the great-grandmother of King David.   Jesus’ family tree runs through the lineage of David.

2.   God directs our lives in the midst of tragedy.

When Naomi’s husband and her two sons die, Naomi believes that God is against her.  She says, “The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21).   In the midst of tragedy, we are often tempted to doubt God’s character.  Is the LORD truly a God of hesed?  Does God show loyal love to his people?

However, even though Naomi doubts God’s goodness, God is working behind the scenes in the book.  He causes all things to work together for good.  Naomi is unaware of how God is doing this.  God’s loyal love for Naomi can be seen in how Ruth shows hesed to Naomi, when she decides to head back to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law.

3.  God directs our lives even through the “random” circumstances in life.

Scripture teaches us that there is no such thing as a coincidence.  Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”   God is in control of even the seemly “random” circumstances of life.   This brings out of the irony of the narrator’s statement in Ruth 2:3.

“So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.”

The narrator’s understatement highlights God’s sovereign care in this situation.  Ruth was unaware that Boaz was Elimelech’s relative.  She just picked a field to work in.   Her choice was random.  From a mere human perspective, it happens by chance.   But from God’s perspective, there was nothing random about Ruth’s selection of Boaz’s field.   This was a divine appointment.

4.  God directs our lives as we seek godly counsel.

Ruth’s midnight encounter with Boaz is the climax of the story.  It’s at this critical moment that Ruth asks Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer.  But this midnight meeting was not Ruth’s idea.  It was Naomi’s.  Naomi advised Ruth to visit Boaz in the middle of night.

When we face critical situations in our lives, it’s important that we seek out the counsel of other believers who are older and wiser than us.

5.  God directs our lives as we pursue His will.

God’s sovereignty is not an excuse for passive living.  No, God’s sovereignty runs hand-in-hand with human responsibility.  We must be proactive in our pursuit of God’s will.   We need to take steps of faith.  We must live out what we know to be true from God’s Word.  Ruth does this in a couple of different ways.

  • Instead of sitting on her hands and waiting for God’s provision, she goes to work in the fields.
  • Instead of waiting for someone to ask for her hand in marriage, she lets Boaz know that she is available for marriage.
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