Resting in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God
This week, Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton preached on the Book of Ruth for his sermon entitled, “Resting in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God.” Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton, entitled “Delighting in God’s Word”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
Resting in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God
Have you ever been in a really scary or hard situation? What makes some of these really hard is when they last for a long time. Sometimes you feel like there is no way out. You feel like you will never get through. You may think its all over, wonder if God cares for you, if he can help.
Even times watching the news that you may get scared and wonder what in the world is going on.
Big Idea: God is sovereign over all situations and there is no situation too big for him to redeem.
Sovereign means that he is all powerful. He is in control.
Redeem: To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of: You botched the last job but can redeem yourself on this one.
We are going to read a book of the Bible today. Almost the whole book. It is about a couple ladies who were in a really difficult time. It takes place a long long time ago. Probably 3000 years. Their husbands died and they had no home, no job, and no family to go to. That would be scary. But we are also going to see that God takes care of them.
We are going to read the Book of Ruth. It’s a powerful book of the Bible. Many secular scholars also recognize it as one of the greatest short stories ever written, which is amazing considering the age, the locality, but that is what is so amazing about the Bible!
Ruth 1: Bitter Circumstances
Ruth 1:1-22 ESV
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 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 from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. 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. 7 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.
8 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. 9 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? … 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 bear sons, 13 would you wait till they were grown? Would you 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. 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 if anything but death parts me from you.”
18 … 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. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
They were from Bethlehem. They went to live in Moab. Bethlehem means “house of bread,” but clearly it has no bread. God told the people to be faithful and he would bless them with food. This is a sign that not all is well with God’s people. He brought a famine on them. Rather than return to him they are running away.
Moab is a nation outside Israel. It is not God’s people. Hired Balaam to curse God’s people. They were a constant thorn in the side of the Israelites.
Ruth shows a great commitment to the Lord. She is a Moabite but committed to God. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to Moab and marry. Ruth will not. She will not serve other gods, and she won’t leave God’s people. She is going to serve God no matter the cost. Her commitment to God leads to a commitment to other people.
Naomi. The Lord has dealt bitterly with her (V20). “Naomi” means pleasant, but she wants to be called Mara (which means bitter). She lost her sons and her husband. She is in a precarious position. In this time women didn’t own land. They were dependent on men. Widows were some of the most vulnerable people in the land. No husband, no land, no farm, no job, = no food. They left their family to go live in another land and it didn’t go well. It would be a walk of shame coming back home. Will God provide? Can God provide?
Ruth 2: Begging for Bread
Ruth 2:1-13 ESV
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.” 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.”
Ruth goes to glean in the fields. Ruth left her family to be a part of God’s people. It would have been an easier path to just go back to her people. Boaz has heard of her faith.
Before she goes she prays for God to lead her to one who will show her favor. She happens to come to the part belonging to Boaz. Just “happens” to.
She asked to glean among the fields and she has been doing so from early morning till now with only a short break. She is working hard. She is not having a pity party. She is trusting God, praying hard and working hard. Boaz notices her. Even more, it is clear that God is aware of her.
Boaz is a worthy man. A noble man. The first thing he says to his workers is a blessing.
“The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” v4.
He is a devoted man. In God’s law they were to let those in need come behind harvesters so they could get provisions.
He even encourages/prays for her that the Lord would show her kindness. She is encouraged.
He tells Ruth, “Do not go to another field. Stay here and glean in mine. Get some water from my men when you need some. Drink from the water my men have drawn.“
He protects. “I have commanded the men not to harm you. You mess with her and you mess with me.” That is servant leadership. He’s looking out for a sister. I’m sure Boaz has people expecting things from him, quotas, deadlines, bills, and he keeps that on his shoulders and cares for those in his sphere of influence. God cares for all people, even the lowly, and we should do the same.
*If you want to see how God can use you in the workplace read this passage!*
He tells his men, when you glean, leave behind some sheaves for her. That is provision. That will meet her needs. Do you see that???
*Now let me ask you this. If you are in Ruth’s position how happy would you be with a few sheaves of wheat??? “Is that all? God, can you do a little better than that. I need a house, a car, a bed. I got nothing.” And yet it met her needs. God’s hand is in this.
Don’t begrudge when God gives you sheaves of wheat. You want your problem completely eradicated now. *You want to arrive at your final destination. God says you better enjoy the journey.* It may take time, time to see God provide for you, care for your needs one at a time.
But here is the main thing. Boaz is a redeemer. In the Old Testament there are provisions made for redeeming people who have been sold into slavery or become destitute. Another person would buy them back. They would pay the price of a slave and buy them. A woman who is widowed and left without anything can be redeemed by another man in the family of her husband. The kinsman redeemer must be of the same family because it was to take care of their family and the name of the one in need. Ruth and Naomi have a chance to have land and a family and a future, if someone will redeem them.
There are three things needed for a redeemer. 1) a property or a person who has been lost. 2) a price must be named and paid. 3) a person who is of the family that is willing to pay the price.
Ruth 3: A Proposal
Naomi tells Ruth to get dressed up and to go and basically propose to Boaz.
Ruth goes to the threshing floor where Boaz is at. This chapter gives interpreters some challenges. I won’t get into all that in our time this morning. She lies down at the feet of Boaz. This can be taken in different ways. v13 Boaz knows it would be bad if it were heard that a woman stayed at the threshing floor. But Boaz also interprets what she has done as a great act of kindness, and not as scandalous, he says everyone in town knows that she is a noble woman. She is a woman of character. I’m not sure how to interpret some of this. It could be sheer desperation of Ruth and highlighting that Boaz does not take advantage of her.
Boaz tells her:
11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” (Ruth 3:11-13)
Boaz agrees to redeem her if the other man will not redeem her.
Ruth 4: Redemption Accomplished
Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. 3 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” 5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” 6 Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” 7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, …”
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
The closer family member says he will redeem the land, but when he is told that then he will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, he is concerned. He is concerned with preserving his own inheritance/own name. He is concerned with himself and not others. And it is ironic that his name is never mentioned in this passage. Greatness is sacrificing for others, and he misses the opportunity. There is no future for those who do not serve God. It’s not just about being a good person. It is about avoiding destruction.
Boaz Redeems Ruth. He puts her first. Her life was ruined. He sacrifices to purchase her back from abandonment. Boaz is a noble man. He is a true redeemer. It’s a powerful story.
Ruth is a faithful woman, a woman of noble character. We see that she will birth a Son, who will have a son, who will then have a son named David, who will be king in Israel. It would have been scandalous for an Israelite king to have a Moabite for a mother. But Ruth is a better Israelite than many Israelites. God is interested in faithfulness. *God cares more about where your heart is at than where you are from.* Jesus comes from the line of King David. Ruth is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus.
Boaz is a picture of the Savior, who will come to restore the fortunes of his people, who will sacrifice himself for the redemption of his people.
Naomi is restored. She holds a child that she never thought she would. She whose life was once bitter is now called blessed. She could not have imagine what God had in store for her. She was as low as it gets returning to Bethlehem.
God can redeem the worst of situations. When things are bad, he has everything in his hand. He never abandoned Naomi. He never abandons you. He cares for the lowly. No one is too insignificant.
He does call his people to serve and follow him. There are consequences to not following God. People suffer for turning from him. There was no bread for his people. Mahlon and Kilian died for some reason, the Lord’s judgment presumably. But for those who cling to him, trust him, and follow him there is redemption and restoration.
This story points to the greatest redemption story of all, that of Jesus coming to save his people. People had fallen into sin and were completely destitute. No hope, no future. Standing on the auctioning block wondering if anyone cared and anyone would value them. God came in the flesh. He came as one of his people. The wages of sin is death and that is the ransom required. And he paid it in full. He bought back his people, set them free. He gives them a new future, fullness of life now. He demonstrated his great love and his great character in redeeming us, not because he had to, but because he wanted to.
You won’t find this anywhere else. Neither Buddha, Muhammed, nor Joseph Smith ever died for the sins of people. They couldn’t. They had their own sin to deal with. One slave can’t redeem another slave. Only God could do. And he did it.
Ruth becomes Boaz’s possession and resides under his protection and care, and so also through our redemption we become Christ’s possession. We are his, beloved of him.
This is the great romance story of the Bible. God demonstrating his love to us. It is what gives us hope. Whatever your situation, know God is sovereign, know he is good, know that he can redeem your situation, and that he has, in fact, redeemed you.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” (Romans 3:23-25 NIV)
We are seeing our culture angry, anxious, agitated. It’s as though everything is threatening their life. There is no peace, no rest. We have removed God from our lives, and there is nothing we can trust in. No assurance of life beyond this life, no meaning beyond getting what they want now. No love for others who are struggling. As Christians we know we are resting in the wing of God. He holds us and cares for us.
Rest. times in life you have to work really hard, and trust God, just to keep head above water. But don’t think he doesn’t care. Don’t think your circumstances won’t change.