Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Studies in Ruth Chapter 2 (3)

Enjoying God's Provision
Not only do we see God's providence in the life of Ruth, and then in Boaz do we see our Redeemer's Protection, but we also see our Redeemer's provision.

Here is something that stands out in this chapter. Boaz doesn't just protect, he doesn't just leave her to get on with gleaning in the field. Provision is made for Ruth. Three words describe this provision:

Gracious Provision
Ruth was a foreigner. Boaz was obliged to let her glean by law. But the law said nothing about providing her with water and with lunch. Yet…

9 And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled."

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.

When you become a Christian, you are not left to fend for yourself. God provides graciously, freely. You don't have to earn your salvation. And you don't have to earn his help in daily life. God will provide for you daily freely. That is what the Lord's Supper reminds us of. This isn't just a looking back to a great event when Christ provided for our salvation. This is a looking forward to Monday, when Christ will provide for us again, and again and again.

And when you feel like you don't deserve God's provision, that's exactly true. But it free. It's a gracious provision. You are like Ruth, you are working in his field. And he comes and says here, refresh yourself with this. Strengthen yourself with this.

Loving Provision
It is a love story. You can smell it a mile off. V14 oozes tenderness and love.

At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.

He invites Ruth the outcast into the circle where he sits. He treats her as one of his own. He serves her. This is a loving provision.

What motivates Boaz? Love. What motivates our Redeemer? Love. Note what Boaz offers as well as some of the grain they have been harvesting which they have roasted: "Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." Bread and wine - a sign of his loving provision. Hmm - where have I come across that before?

The Lord's Supper is a loving provision. It is a reminder of past loving provision and a guarantee that further loving provision in the future. And it is personally provided by our saviour for us. And he invites us the outcasts of Heaven to come and sit with him and to eat with him in his kingdom.

Abundant Provision
Gleaning was not a profitable way to get a free meal. Harvesters weren't wasteful. They didn't drop much. This was survival rations. But yet Ruth returns home with 30lbs weight of barley. At a time when workers were paid in barley this equalled somewhere between 3-4 weeks wages. It is a staggering amount. And it explains Naomi's reaction.

19"Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!"

She knew that someone had be generous. Look at Boaz generosity in v 15-16. Better to translate it "Even between the sheaves she may glean, and don't embarrass her." It is permission. To glean in the rich pickings area. Then he adds, "Pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up".

This is sheer grace not just law. This is abundant provision. This is superabundant provision. This is what our saviour does to all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Boaz' generosity borders on the extravagant. Ruth and Naomi need have no fear for the future. When we look at what God has provided for us, his salvation, his righteousness, Heaven, adoption, justification, sanctification, his promises, daily strength. Its abundant provision.

What sort of people then ought we to be? People who hold on to God's faithfulness, facing tomorrow knowing that we have a God who will provide, provide lovingly, provide freely, and provide abundantly for whatever situation he brings us into in his loving providence. He will supply all our needs.

So hold on to God's faithfulness. When all else is bleak, come close to God, and he will supply.

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