God’s Everyday Sovereignty in Ruth

Ruth is a precious woman in God’s story of redemptive history. The book of Ruth has quite a fascinating place in the life of a Christian. There are no grand narratives at play. There are no great battles or famous kings (except for the genealogy provided in the final verses). The main narrative of the book of Ruth is a simple beautiful story of God’s faithful invisible hand guiding and providing for His people for the sake of His glory through redemptive history.

We know the story. Ruth, the main character of the storyline, was a young Moabite woman who married into a Jewish family that had been living in her hometown in Moab. Rather suddenly tragedy struck the family and Ruth’s husband, along with all the men in her husband’s family, die leaving Naomi (her mother-in-law) stranded and hopeless in a dangerous foreign country. Ruth rather famously saw Naomi’s predicament and clung to Naomi, vowing to support her and strengthen her despite the great cost to her own future and safety.

“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.”

Ruth 1:16 (ESV

When Naomi decides to move out of Moab and back to Bethlehem in Israel, Ruth becomes an immigrant in a foreign land. These two women must have been an odd sight: Ruth the Moabite immigrant and Naomi marked by her husbands lack of faith, back in the small town of Bethlehem on the outskirts of Israel.

Yet here, in what seems like a hopeless situation God provided over and abundantly. God’s providence is clearly seen in nearly every word throughout the book. We are told in Ruth 2:3 that Ruth when going out to glean (a method within God’s Old Testament law for the poor in the land to find food in order to avoid starvation) she just so happened to walk into Boaz’s section of the fields. Those familiar with the famous movie Casablanca may remember the famous line, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” Truly, what providential circumstance this moment was, for Boaz was not only a Kinsman Redeemer (one who could legally marry Ruth and redeem her story and provide a future once again for both her and Naomi), but he was also a faithful man of God. And of course as we know, this is precisely what happens. What’s more, Ruth – the simple immigrant from Moab, becomes a vital link in the genealogy of Christ.

To those outside of faith in God Ruth’s story as it played out would have looked like sheer luck. Only those with eyes to see would have been able to understand God’s divine invisible hand guiding Ruth to Boaz’s field. Only those who walk closely with the Spirit of God would have been able to understand God’s gentle kindness in the midst of Ruth and Naomi’s suffering. Only those with faith could possibly understand that what seems like evil and darkness in the moment is able to be used for God’s glory and our good in the grand narrative of history.

RC Sproul says the following when commenting on God’s sovereignty.

The basic concept here is that what God creates, He sustains. So, one of the important subdivisions in the doctrine of providence is the concept of divine sustenance. Simply put, this is the classical Christian idea that God is not the great Watchmaker who builds the watch, winds it up, and then steps out of the picture. Instead, what He makes, He preserves and sustains.

R. C. Sproul, Does God Control Everything?, First edition., vol. 14, The Crucial Questions Series (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2012), 15–16.

The temptation to fail to see God’s invisible guiding and sustaining hand in every moment of our life is present still today. The faithless will long for independence from the sovereignty of God, but the faithful will find rest and security in God’s sustaining authority. God’s sovereignty is essential to our great hope because it means that despite our weakness and oftentimes blindness, there is a good God who is guiding. We are not sheep without a shepherd.

Oh God would you open my eyes to enjoy your sovereignty in all things today!

Written by Raef Chenery

I'm a pastor in Chicago at Park Community Church - South Loop. I'm a husband to my beautiful wife Sara and a dad to three sweet girls, Ruth, Joy, and Mira. I'm blessed to be surrounded by a number of men and women who love to think about the ways that our faith interacts with our culture. This blog is as much for me to get my thoughts in order, as it is for those who might benefit from it and engage in the conversations as well. I would love to get your feedback through the comments on each post.

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