Michael Youssef - The Provision of God
In the last message, chapter 1, verses 19, 20, and 21, we saw Naomi experiencing a great deal of embarrassment by her former neighbor and their former relatives in Bethlehem, and she went back, and she said, "Don't call me 'Naomi', pleasant. Call me 'bitter,' Mara". In the second half of verse 3, look at it, and if you have your Bible, underline it, the second half of verse 3, "As it happened", who made it happen? The sovereign God, "Ruth found herself gleaning in the fields of Boaz". Why? Beloved, the Scripture, from cover to cover, affirm the sovereignty of God. Even in the situations that are inexplicable, even in circumstances that do not make any sense to us whatsoever, it makes sense to God.
See, when Paul said in Romans 8:28, which we glibly kind of quote it a lot, you know, this verse from 8:28, "In all things", how many of those things Paul's talkin' about? All things for the believer. That's just for the believer, to those who love him. Make sure you read the rest of the verse. When he says, "all things," he meant just that, all things, not just some things, not just the bits that we like, not just the points that we prefer, not just the areas where we're comfortable, no, no. He says, "all things". How many things? God is cooperating. That's really the literal translation of the word. God is bending things around. He is twisting and doing and working and doing several things or maybe 2,000 fronts, not just one or two, for the good, according to his foreknowledge.
Look with me again at verse 3: "As it turned out, as it turned out..." Who made it turn out? Not as luck would have it, no. The gracious, sovereign, heavenly Father. And that is why the writer for the book of Ruth, he does not wait till chapter 3 to introduce Boaz. He introduces Boaz in chapter 2, very early on. There is wisdom in that. But what is even far, far, far more important than that is that Boaz turned out to be, as we say in the South, a kinfolk. He's a kinfolk. And, my beloved friends, this is the first clear indication that God is working behind the scenes to bring great things out of the pain and the suffering and the trials. Don't ever forget that, in your darkest moment, you are favored by God.
And so, Ruth, who's a Gentile, don't you ever forget that. She's a Gentile, and you know the animosity. She's a Gentile, but she was discipled in the Word of God, in the Old Testament, by her mother-in-law Naomi. Because in that very action of going out and gleaning, there is a knowledge of the Scripture, particularly Leviticus chapter 19, verses 9 and 10, and I'm gonna read it word for word because I don't wanna miss that. It's so important. Listen carefully, God speaking to the landlords, the farmers who own the land, just like Boaz and those before him.
Here's what God is saying: "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not totally reap the corners of the fields, nor shall you gather the gleaning of the harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your God". And so young Ruth followed the Scripture that was taught to her by her mother-in-law, and she goes out as a stranger, as a foreigner, to glean from the field of Boaz. As luck would have it, right? Boaz is a kinsman. What is a kinsman? Well, in the Old Testament, the concept of family is a whole lot more than we now refer to the nuclear family. It's a lot more. It's basically anybody who's your blood relative is a family, and that is why the widows and the orphans will always come under the cover and the protection and the provision of the family, not the government.
The family was the basic unit or Israelites social and kinship relationship. If you read carefully in the book of Joshua, you remember when Joshua took the people into the Promised Land and defeats the Canaanites, and they go in there, and the land, it started being divided? Why is it being divided the way it was divided? And if you read it carefully, it's divided according to families, clans, and tribes, all according, they inherit this family. Why? Because they believed with every ounce of their being that God is the one who owns the land, and he's giving it to them for inheritance. And so, Boaz inquires, "Who's this strange woman"?
Ruth, who is gleaning in his field. And when they told him who she was, he said, in effect, "Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, this is the faithful daughter-in-law of Naomi. Oh, yes, I remember hearing about her selflessness, who sacrificed leaving her family and her home to be a blessing to her mother-in-law. Oh, yes, this is the one I have been hearing about, who has left all to be with her mother-in-law, Naomi". In verses 8, 9, and 10, is where you actually see the engine room of God's grace. You know what I'm talkin about? It's where grace is working. Because it was compassion, it was compassion that motivated Boaz, and meets Ruth at the point of her need. It was compassion that caused Jesus to leave the glories of heaven and come to earth. It was compassion that makes our Lord continuously, constantly meeting us at our point of needs.
There is more. There's a whole lot more. Ruth calls herself a foreigner. That's what she called herself, but Boaz called her a daughter. Did you get that? She calls herself a foreigner. He calls her "daughter". "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". When we're strangers and foreigners from God, he called us his children. When we were at enmity with God, he called us sons and daughters. When we were in a state of rebellion against God, he called you a friend. When you and I were totally unaware of God's love, his love reached out for our hurt and for our pain. Look at how the kinsman-redeemer treated this faithful Ruth. First of all, he sweeps away all of the doubt regarding her being a kinsman.
Then he gives her the run of the field, not just those corners and not just the gleaning, no. The whole field is hers. The he offers her protection. Then he offers her water to drink, not during the break time, just during the break time, but any time she wants to. Oh, but this is just the beginning. This is just a token of the grace. The rest is yet to come, and we're gonna follow the abundance of grace. And, beloved, I am convinced with every ounce of my being as I'm standing here before you that God wants to pour his grace, he wants to pour his blessings upon his children but only if they're faithful. Look with me at verses 11 and 12.
You see, like Abraham, and don't you ever forget, Abraham was a pagan before God appeared to him. He was a pagan worshiper. He was a idol worshiper. Ruth was pagan, Moabite, and like pagan Abraham, in obedience, left home and family to follow God's call. She leaves home and follows Naomi, but she more follow Naomi's God. Ruth chapter 2 is an amazing picture, so I wanna explainify it for you, okay? Okay, I want you to use your imagination because, without using your imagination, you'll miss out on an incredible blessing. Just think of yourself as a temporary worker in a big company or minimum-wage earner. Well, all of us and went through college, we paid for our way, my goodness, I've done all kinds of stuff as a temporary worker for very low wages.
And then, all of a sudden, you hear on the PA system in the company, "John Smith come to the receptionist". "They're calling my name. Why is that"? In this case, it was, "Ruth the Moabite, come to the receptionist". I mean, you're half-worried, and you're half-excited. You don't know why they're calling your name, and you don't know why... have you done anything wrong? Are you gonna get sacked, or what's gonna happen? And so nervously you go and say, "Well, I am John Smith". "I'm Ruth the Moabite". At that point, they tell you that you are invited to have lunch in the executive suite with the CEO of the company. "Huh? Hello". You're speechless. You're stunned. You're almost fainting from feeling giddy and surprised and all of the emotions that goes through inside of you.
This is what happened here in Ruth chapter 2. Wow, Ruth, still basking in this glow of having lunch with the boss, he says to her, "But that's not all. That's not all. Eat all you want, and then you're gonna have a doggie bag for your mother-in-law," except they didn't call it, "doggie bag" then. "You have enough food to eat, and then take as much you can or as much as you want to for Naomi, your mother-in-law. Oh, Ruth, oh, Ruth, but this is just the beginning. The abundant life is coming. The blessing is coming. The doors of heaven have not opened wide yet. The best is yet to come. The abundance of blessings is yet to come. The windows of heaven are yet to be opened wide".
The Bible said that God moves us from one point of glory into another. Can I get an "amen"? Watch this: First, Ruth's faithfulness to Naomi is where it all began. That's where it all began. Then her faith in the Lord God of Israel, the God of Naomi, verse 12, is far more central even in Boaz's thinking. Boaz sought to compensate her abundantly for the losses and the sacrifices that she has made. Oh, but that's only a small deposit. This is just the deposit. This is the tiny deposit in comparison to the abundance that God is about to bring into her life. In chapter 3 and 4 of the book of Ruth, we're gonna see that. We're gonna see that overwhelming abundance of the grace of God, but that's only if I'm not gonna levitate. I mean, I'm excited thinking about it.
Look with me at the amazing provision of God, verse 13, all the way to 23. Ruth's response to Boaz's graciousness is very important. Listen to me. This is a role model for all of us of how we respond to the grace of God. Your response to God's graciousness with you is of vital importance. Jesus tells us that he watches to see when he gives us small blessings, little blessings, small deposits, and he watches how faithful you are with that little that he's given you, how faithful you are, how faithful you are, how faithful you are, and then he says that "Thee who's faithful with little will be faithful in much," so he begins to enlarge your tent. He begins to enlarge your territory. He begins to bless you abundantly.
Beloved, this is a biblical principle. I'm not making it up. It's not my idea. "He who's faithful with little will be faithful with much". I am absolutely amazed when I hear some people say, "Oh, when my ships come to harbor, I will do thus and thus". You kidding me? You've never sent any ships out. How're you gonna expecting ships coming to the harbor? Verse 13, Boaz is moved by Ruth's humility. I believe with all my heart God is moved by humility and gratitude and thankfulness. "She said, 'You're most gracious to me, my Lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I'm not one of your servants.'"
Ruth was happy to settle for a servant-master relationship. She was ready to settle for that, but that's not how God treats us. He said, "I'll no longer call you a servant. I'll call you", what? "Friends". She saw herself as unworthy of the grace that she received. Look with me at Boaz's response to her humility, verses 15 and 16. He goes way beyond what is required by the law of God, to an amazing grace. He goes beyond his duties. Beloved, that's why it's called overwhelming grace. "Amazing grace" mean it is mind-boggling. He has gone beyond the letter of the law, to let love fulfill the law. Hear me right, please. Boaz's overwhelming generosity demonstrated the character of God as he revealed it in Jesus Christ. Can I get an "amen"?
I want you to imagine this. Imagine with me, when Ruth comes home to tell Naomi what happened at work this morning, "Naomi, I can't wait to tell you what happened at work today". Naomi, of course, immediately realizes that Yahweh's hand in working in this marvelous provision. She immediately sees Yahweh's hand. Verse 20, this was a confirmation to Naomi that her God has not despised her, that her God had not forgotten her, that her God had not forsaken her, that her God is rewarding her for coming home. And you heard me talk about that last message. She came home, and God is gonna bless her coming home. God is blessing her for returning home to his people and his land. God wants to bless his children in the community of faith. God wants to bless his children when they belong to the body of Christ. God loves to bless his children if they're separating themselves from the body of believers. God always want to bless his children who expresses their commitment to him and to his church. I can only imagine how Naomi... mind was racing.
Imagine her hearing that story, and her mind was going a million miles, I mean, in a minute. She said, "Boaz? Did you say, 'Boaz'? Did I hear you correctly? His name is Boaz? Is that his name, Boaz"? Verse 20, "Yeah, that's our relative. He's our kinsman-redeemer". "Ruth, you're not only granted provision of food for the rest of the harvest season but for the rest of your life. Ruth, you're not only temporary-blessed, but all of your future is blessed. Ruth, you're not only counted among Boaz's workers, you're a friend. Ruth, you are not only blessed for now, but you will become the human ancestor of the Messiah. Obed, Jesse, David, all gonna come from you, all the way to Jesus".
My beloved, this is God's blessing of salvation. He's not only promised to never leave you nor forsake you, but he promised to guide you all the way home to heaven. God's blessing of salvation is not only to forgive you all of your sins here and now but to keep you safe for all of eternity. God's blessing of salvation not only will make you not longer a stranger, but you'll become a son and a daughter. But not only that, you're gonna inherit everything Jesus inherits. God's blessings for your salvation will keep you protected, and it's gonna keep you protected even from your own foolish decisions. He will keep you protected even if you are prone to wander away from him, will keep you protected from your ingratitude to his grace and blessing. He will keep you protected from being preoccupied with his blessings and ignoring him.
Even when you're focusing on the wrong things, even when you are indifferent toward the Lord, even when your attempts to get out from under his wings and his shadow, his security for you is indisputable. Please hear me right. One thing that's gonna lift you out of the depth of your pain, whatever pain you're going through, one thing that will lift you up from whatever circumstances that are weighing you down is when you realize that you are an imitator of your kinsman-redeemer.
You are an imitator of your kinsman-redeemer, therefore, what you and I need to do and must do, should do, have no option but to do, is to express grace toward somebody else, is to express grace to someone whom we think they're not worthy, to see your blessings as something to be used to bless God and his work, not just for you. Let me conclude by saying the prayer of John Wesley. This is a prayer that John Wesley prayed on a regular basis: "Let me do all the good I can to all the people I can by all means I can as often as I can, for I shall not pass this way again". Be an imitator of your kinsman-redeemer by demonstrating the character of God, the God whom Ruth came to believe in and worship.