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No Such Thing as Chance, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2022 12:00 am

No Such Thing as Chance, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 24, 2022 12:00 am

Ruth didn't just happen to stumble onto a field one day that belonged to a close relative. And Boaz didn't just happen to notice her gleaning and fall in love with her. Nothing just happens! God wrote Ruth and Boaz' story . . . and He has written yours as well!

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The portrait of Boaz is immediately painted with the brush strokes of integrity, certainly godly character. Maybe this was the reason he was still single. Maybe he wasn't all that interesting to the local girls. I mean, they wanted his money, but he just talked about God too much.

He's just too religious. These are the days of the judges when everyone did that which was right in their own eyes. Judges 21, 25. So in a culture marked by decadence, Boaz shines with the dead. Truth didn't just happen to stumble into a field one day belonging to a close relative. And Boaz didn't just happen to notice her gleaning and fall in love with her. With a sovereign God managing the universe, nothing just happens. God wrote the love story between Ruth and Boaz. Why this is important is because the same is true for you.

God is sovereign over your life as well, just like He was for Ruth and Boaz. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey takes us back to Ruth in a lesson called, No Such Thing as Chance. In our last discussion, I began by talking about the medical profession and their brutality. You remember how they don't tell the truth? They say it'll hurt a little bit and they pull out an eight inch needle.

I got a lot of comments about that. We have a lot of medical professionals in our audience, evidently, who took issue that they aren't telling the truth. Well, even if they did, I will give this to them, even if they did tell us the truth, we wouldn't like that either, would we?

In fact, it's interesting, among the comments that I got, one lady sent me an interesting illustration of how we really don't want to hear from them the truth. A man went in to see his doctor for routine physical. The nurse came in to cover the basics.

You know how they all do that, stall for time for the doctor not to get there. She asked the man, how much do you weigh? He said, oh, about 165 pounds. The nurse looked at him and said, would you step up on these digital scales, please? Then she said, hmm, you weigh 197 pounds to be exact. She then asked him, how tall are you? He said, about six feet. She looked at him and then had him step up to the measuring rod by the back wall and said, hmm, you're exactly five feet eight inches tall. She moved on to take his blood pressure and then said in the middle of it, sir, your blood pressure is extremely high. High, he said. What do you expect?

When I came in here, I was tall and lanky and you told me I'm short and fat. Oh well, for those of you in the medical profession, you know, keep telling us the truth. You've got a tough job. We need to hear it. Having finished the first chapter of the book of Ruth, all that we have studied up to this point is really one piece of bad news after another, isn't it?

The truth is brutal. In fact, apart from Ruth's commitment to Naomi, the story is a tragedy that Shakespeare would have appreciated. Two widows returned to Bethlehem. One is a foreigner and the other one an older widow who had once been an upstanding member of the Bethlehem community now destitute and impoverished.

In fact, she's reduced to living on handouts. Chapter two of Ruth is where it all begins to turn around. In fact, all of chapter two takes place in one day. This is one day. It's going to take us 14 sermons to get through, but it all took place in one day. But what a day it will be in the lives of Ruth and Naomi and a bachelor named what? Who?

Boaz. Now, before we dive into the text, you need to keep in mind these are the days of the judges. There's no record of a priest.

In fact, there's no record of a prophet offering counsel in these days. These aren't easy days to be a spiritually minded man or a virtuous woman of character. In fact, by the time you get to the end of chapter two, you might come to the conclusion that these are some amazing coincidences.

It's like a semi-marked good luck has backed into the field and just unloaded on these people. There's no way this could happen in real life. Truth is, it did happen in real life and you have a truth for us believers in any generation that living in any culture for God, there is no such thing as coincidences. In fact, when you leave your choices to God, there is no such thing as chance.

Ruth chapter two will also reveal the invisible hand of God in the midst of ordinary everyday decisions. There are no voices from heaven. There will be no signs or clues. There will be no visitations from angels.

They will experience no visible signs pointing the way. In fact, as I reentered this scene and studied it as if it were for the first time, it struck me that Ruth chapter two is the personification of Proverbs chapter three, verses five and six. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understandings. In all your ways, acknowledge him. Leave your choices to him and he will direct your paths. Literally, he will make your paths straight.

That's exactly what is going to happen here. Now the chapter opens with the author sort of dropping in a hint that hope is on the way, doesn't he? Look at verse one. Now Naomi, Samuel is writing this account more than likely, had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech whose name was Boaz. Now with that brief statement, the author immediately builds anticipation and hope by hinting to us who know about the role of a kinsman redeemer that we've just probably been introduced to the knight in shining armor.

We're given several glimpses into the life of this knight, this man named Boaz in this rather brief biography, but let me point out several things that you can pull from this about him that will actually tell us a lot. First, we're told that Boaz is clearly related to Naomi. The Hebrew word here for kinsman can refer to either a friend, perhaps even an acquaintance, well-known, or a relative. Now we're going to find out later, but you already know it, those of you that have studied through this book, that he was in fact a close relative. In fact, according to rabbinical tradition carried now for several or many centuries, Boaz was believed to be the nephew of Elimelech, Naomi's deceased husband. What we do know is because he is a relative, he is a potential redeemer of Elimelech's estate, which would then rescue, not just Ruth, but Naomi from destitution and poverty.

So already in that one sentence, we're given a hint that hope just might be on the way. Secondly, we're told that Boaz is greatly respected in Bethlehem. Now this phrase here, he was a man of great wealth, is actually a phrase difficult to define. It's translated valiant warrior in Joshua chapter 6 verse 2. It's translated in 2 Samuel 17, 8, a mighty man of war. When the angel of God came to Gideon in Judges 6, he said, the Lord is with you, oh mighty man of valor, same phrase here. The term in fact has such a strong military nuance that some scholars believe that Boaz might have been a veteran soldier. Since Boaz did live in the days of Gideon, some even speculate further, an eligible man to serve, and Gideon called for the faithful men among the tribes to fight with him, that Boaz may very well have been one of Gideon's 300 valiant men, which is the phrase used here. The word, however, or this phrase, means more than a valiant soldier. It's also translated in the Old Testament, a man of great influence, of integrity. In fact the same expression will appear in Ruth chapter 3 verse 11 when Boaz tells Ruth that she is a woman of excellence.

Same word again. Finally the word is used in 2 Kings 15 verse 20 to refer to a man of means, a man of financial wealth. So I guess I say all of that to tell you, any way you want to slice it, Boaz is a powerful man, he is a highly respected man in Bethlehem, he's a man of honor and integrity and influence and more than likely wealth. He owns the fields that Ruth will glean in. All of these attributes are going to be proven throughout the remainder of this little book. Let me point out one more quality to Boaz that could easily be overlooked and yet in my mind cemented my view of this man as a godly man. He was not only closely related to Naomi, he was not only greatly respected in Bethlehem, but thirdly I want you to notice that Boaz was spiritually reassuring to his employees. In fact skip down to verse 4 and we're told what happens when Boaz arrives at the field, so let's just jump ahead for just a moment for the sake of this biography and look at what happens. Now behold Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, may the Lord be with you, and they responded to him, may Yahweh bless you.

Now you might easily skip this, I did the first time through this book, don't miss this. He arrives and immediately shows concern that goes well beyond the normal shalom, peace to you, which was the normal greeting. Boaz's words here are freighted with spiritual truth, he greets them but he gives them hope. He says may the Lord, may Yahweh be with you. In other words Boaz is saying to his employees that he wants them not only to be blessed, but he wants them to recognize that God is with them.

He wants them to have the sense that they are working in the field under the good hand and the observation and the care of God. Can you imagine your boss walking past your desk tomorrow and saying, I just hope you sense God's presence today. He probably would get called to the front office, being a little too religious. Can you imagine those of you who have people working for you, this is certainly convicting for me, can you imagine going by their desk or their cubicle and saying, I hope that you sense the presence of God as you work today. You would probably get some empty stares, maybe some would tear up.

Maybe somebody would say, nobody's ever said that to me before. You say, but this is Boaz, he knows he's going to be in the Bible. No he doesn't. This is not just glib religious jargon, you know, God bless you. No he meant it.

In fact his employees knew he meant it because they responded by saying, may God bless you too. Again, remember the context of the times. Israel's morals are at an all time low. The people have lived spiritually defeated lives now for nearly a decade. They are also raw with physical needs. The famine has just now lifted. But Boaz here cares about more than just a bumper crop. It isn't, hey, you know, God's watching you get to work.

That would be more normal. We better pull in a good load today. It's the first time we've been able to see something grow.

Come on. Let's pray that God will give us the best crop ever. I hope that you sense God's presence in your life today. Highly significant to me.

On the canvas of scripture then the portrait of Boaz is immediately painted with the brush strokes of spiritual depth, integrity, a measure of humility, certainly godly character. And then it struck me as I followed down this train of thought for a while, maybe this was the reason he was still single. Maybe he wasn't all that interesting to the local girls. I mean, they wanted his money, but he just talked about God too much. He's just too religious.

More than likely he wasn't interested in them either because he hasn't at this point settled for anyone. These are the days of the judges when everyone did that which was right in their own eyes. Judges 21, 25. So in a culture marked by moral and spiritual decadence, Boaz shines with depth. Let me stop here and pull out of just this brief biography some principles, two of them, before we move on about character. Number one, even when most people have forgotten God, it's possible to develop godliness. In the middle of this generation, a man named Boaz rides out to his fields and greets everyone in the name of the Lord. And understand his tribesmen were no longer convinced that God would be worth following.

Boaz says to his employees, listen, God is not only worth following implied in this greeting, but I hope you sense him today as you work. Number two, even when your culture around you becomes self-centered, it's possible to be self-sacrificing. This is a time when everyone was doing whatever they wanted to do. It was a dog-eat-dog world these days.

Yet here is a man who cared about people, even people lower down on the ladder on a lower rung in society. Now the law of Moses dictated that a farmer was to leave the corners of his field for the poor. It also dictated they were to allow others to come along and reap what was fallen. In fact, fallen fruit couldn't be gathered by the farmer that was left for the poor. Even though this was dictated, hey, these are tough times. No doubt throughout Israel there were farmers who refused. They forbade gleaners. They would send their own farmhands back into the field to get whatever was left behind. These were tough times. These were not times for the laws of mercy and grace and generosity.

They were for Boaz. He evidently here will care about the needy and the downtrodden. By keeping the law, he will find his wife.

Imagine that. Well, we better move on to verse 2 or they will never meet. And Ruth, the Moabitess, said to Naomi, please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.

And she said to her, go, my daughter. So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimele. In Bible times, reapers, from what I have learned, would grab the stalk with his left hand and with his right, with a short sickle, he'd lop it off near its roots. Once he gathered a handful, he'd lay it down and others would come along or perhaps he, if they didn't have enough employees, and they'd tie those into bundles. And then they'd work their way through the field and someone would collect the bundles. The reapers would work very carefully. There wouldn't be much left over. In fact, gleaning for fallen stalks or grain left behind was tantamount to eking out an existence.

It'd be like somebody in our culture trying to make a living walking along the road collecting aluminum cans. Notice verse three. And she happened to come to that portion of the field belonging to Boaz.

Here Ruth has decided to help out her mother-in-law to survive. She goes to a field. And the Hebrew language in that phrase literally reads, she chanced to chance upon the field belonging to Boaz.

I love that. What looks like a chance, a coincidence, is divine providence. She chanced to chance upon the field belonging to Boaz. Now remember here, for her, this is just an ordinary decision. There are no lights flashing.

There's not a band playing out on Boaz's field. Come this way, Ruth. There are no greeters saying come through this gate, Ruth, and find your destiny.

No help like that. She's just making a decision. She just says, huh, I think I'll go over there.

I see some people gleaning and maybe they'll let me come along too. So she enters into that field and begins to glean to the world. It was blind chance. But you are immediately struck, aren't you, with this being nothing less than the providence of God's direction. This is Proverbs 3, 5, and 6, in living color. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. Is this a coincidence?

Not a chance. Finding out the ways God arranged this initial meeting between Boaz and Ruth, as we'll see, is interesting as it shows the hand of God behind the scenes. In fact, one of the things my wife and I like to find out about people whenever we're with couples is we'll ask them how they met. It's always fascinating to find out how they met one another and eventually went out on that first date and then married.

We heard an interesting story a number of years ago about one couple who attended our church a number of years ago. They were both attending Bible college, getting ready to graduate. Just before this young man graduated, a friend gave him the name and address of a girl her brother had dated. Evidently, this young gal's brother didn't work out and she knew this young man and she said, you know, here's a commendable young lady and she gave him her name and phone number.

And that was it. He put the piece of paper in his wallet and forgot all about it. Two years later, he's now in the ministry and he's preaching and one night he cleaned out his wallet and found in there that little piece of paper with this girl's name and address on it. He wondered if she'd gotten married and on a whim, on a chance, he wrote her a letter asking her if she'd be interested in meeting him sometime. When the letter arrived, it just so happened to be that she was coming back from a conference where she had committed her life to full-time Christian work. She wrote him back and said, I would be willing to meet you if you're ever in town. So eventually, this young man had a couple of preaching opportunities nearby. I'm sure he created them out of nothing to get into town. He arrived in town. On the day he arrived in town, World War II had just ended and as a result, two national holidays were declared by the US government and his meetings ended up being canceled. He had nothing to do for two days and as a result, the girl's father invited him to stay in their home.

He was either wanting to get rid of his daughter or out of his mind, one of the two. Eight weeks later, two months later, Paul and Betty Jane Freed were married. Paul, if you don't know, was the president of Transworld Radio for decades. Both he and Betty Jane were members of our church when we were meeting back at East Cary Middle School and he's now with the Lord and Betty Jane is now living in Florida listening to every sermon I preach. So, hello Betty Jane.

Thank you for the perfect illustration Betty Jane. Guidance from the Lord is promised but it just comes on the heels of ordinary decisions. There are no visions, no writing in the sky, no bands playing. But when your heart says the same thing that Ruth's heart said, the God of Israel will be my God and Boaz evidently had a personal relationship with Yahweh and he wanted people to sense his presence. David said it this way, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, Psalm 37 23. And so now, just a few decisions here and there and Ruth is gleaning in the field that just so happens to belong to Boaz. And wouldn't you know it, Boaz just so happens to decide to come visit that field this very morning. Verse 4. Now behold, I like that.

Now look, if you can believe it, is the idea. Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, may the Lord be with you and they said to him, may the Lord bless you. Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, whose young woman is this? Now, and he says, may Yahweh be with you, may you sense his presence. And they say, may God bless you and that's about when he spots this young lady and everything freezes. He takes a breath and then asks his servant, whose young woman is this?

This is the Hebrew equivalent of a whistle. She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab and she said, please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves. Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now and she's been sitting in that house for a little while.

Now slow down a minute. Verse 8 informs us that Boaz is going to go and meet her. At this moment she's resting. He spotted her in this house.

Could have been a lean to shanty for all we know. So between the greeting and the spotting of her and the servant telling him about her and going to talk to her, there's some elapsed time. In fact, between seeing her and going to talk to her, there's enough time for him to formulate in his mind a plan. There's enough time for him to already tell his employees what to do about her because he'll tell her what he's told them. So we have a little bit of time here where he can engineer this moment, where he can get just the right words.

It's no different then than now, right? So Boaz, he works up this speech. Look at the detail he's put into this. Verse 8. Boaz said to Ruth, listen carefully my daughter.

Do not go to glean in another field. Furthermore, do not go on from this one but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap.

Go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you and when you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw. He has figured everything out. Every conceivable thing to keep Ruth from ever leaving his field. We can't keep going today. We need to pause right here and bring you the conclusion to this lesson on our next broadcast. Here on Wisdom for the Heart, Steven Davey is working through a series from the Book of Ruth.

He's calling this lesson, No Such Thing as Chance. I want to make sure that you're aware this series is available as a book. It's part of our Wisdom Commentary Series and it's simply called Ruth. The Book of Ruth is more than just a great story. It's filled with rich theology regarding redemption.

Steven explores all of that in this book. If you'd like to add it to your library of Christian resources, give us a call today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. Once again, you can reach us at 866-48-BIBLE. This resource is also available in our online store, which you'll find at wisdomonline.org. Join us again tomorrow at this same time, right here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-15 07:10:32 / 2023-04-15 07:20:13 / 10

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