Jae Myeong Hwang, one of our MTh students, shared a message about God’s providence from Ruth 2.1-23. Ruth is a book in which the name of God appears some twenty-three times within the span of the book’s eighty-five verses. However, the narrative does not describe God as acting directly in the affairs of men. God is “invisible”, as Jae Myeong reminded us, and God’s “invisible hand” was guiding the events described in the narrative according to His divine purpose for the good of His people. This is seen in three ways.
First, the “invisible hand” of God is seen in the apparent “coincidences” of life (vs 1-4): Ruth gleaning the leftover grain in the field; Ruth gleaning in the field of Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer; Boaz returning from Jerusalem and passing through his field at precisely the moment when Ruth was there; the encounter between Boaz and Ruth. All these might appear as coincidences in the eyes of men, but as Jae Myeong puts it, “in the work of God there are no accidents.” Everything happens according to the perfect arrangement of God for the good of His people. God’s divine arrangement for Boaz to act for Ruth in the capacity of a kinsman-redeemer is a major turning point in the book of Ruth. It also looks forward to God’s redeeming work in Christ. Just as God arranged for the redemption of Ruth through Boaz, God has arranged for the redemption of His people through the sacrifice of Christ.
Second, the “invisible hand” of God is seen in the recognition that Boaz accorded to Ruth. In verse 10, we read that Boaz took notice of Ruth and that Ruth was conscious of having found favor with Boaz. Not only did God answer the desire of Ruth (see v 2) by such recognition, He graciously included her as a participant in His promise to Abraham concerning the blessing to the nations that Abraham’s seed will bring (Gen 12:1-3). If men’s recognition of us can be of such significance, how much more is God’s recognition of us!
Third, the “invisible hand” of God is seen in God’s provision for Ruth (vv 14-23). As a recipient of Boaz’s generosity, Ruth was able to glean in the field with a sense of security. She did not have to worry about being harassed or hindered by others. She had food when she was hungry, drink when she was thirsty and a place of rest when she was weary. Such provision flows from the “kindness” (v20) of God who keeps His covenant with His people. Like Ruth, believers, on whom the kindness of God rest, need not be plagued by worries.
The message of Ruth 2:1-23 is a message that brings a deep sense of stability to God’s people in times of uncertainty and change. Be it BGST’s big move from Tanjong Pagar to Jalan Pemimpin, or the uncertainties of our own lives, we can all take comfort in the truth that the “invisible hand” of God will never fail to bring about God’s good and perfect will for His people. Above all, we can take confidence in our “kinsman-redeemer”, the Lord Jesus, who has provided us “precious and very great promises” (2 Pet 1:4) which can never fail!