THE SWEET BITTER PROVIDENCE OF GODS PERFECT TIMING PART THREE
There is something we see here in the closing of chapter two that is overlooked by many in the church when tragedy strikes. And that is God’s goodness softening the heart of someone who is bitter, confused, angry and broken. See, it’s hard to see goodness in anything when life is throwing you so many curve balls. Its so much harder to see God’s goodness in the dark valleys? It’s hard because the goodness of God is not based on circumstances or our emotions; it resides in the character of our Holy God. It resides in the safety and assurance of His ultimate will, despite our limited earthly understanding. That grasp of God’s firm love that can never let us go should, in turn, cause this goodness to overflow within us.
That is why Paul labels it a “Fruit of the Spirit.” Gal 5:22. Jesus said the same thing about God’s goodness shining through you. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:16. God’s goodness is our testimony of the cross, of His love, and of His continual redemption. This lens of God’s goodness makes us view the hard things a bit differently. This means the struggles and letdowns in life seen through God’s goodness, mold us to love Him and to see His providential care that He has over us. A biblical definition of “Goodness” means “virtue and holiness in action. It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and a desire to be a blessing. It’s a moral characteristic of a Spirit-filled person. The Greek word translated “goodness,” is defined as "uprightness of heart and life." Goodness for the benefit of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous. The goodness of God is one of the attributes of God, as well as a description of His very essence.
We need to understand that…..
GOD’S GOODNESS IS PART OF HIS CHARACTER……. “Good and upright is the LORD…” Psalm 25:8. Nahum writes, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble...” Nahum 1:7
GOD’S GOODNESS IS DECLARED RICH TO THE UNREGENERATE…. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” Rom 2:4-5
GOD’S GOODNESS IS DECLARED AS ABUNDANT…. “The earth is full of the goodness of God.” Psalm 33:5
GOD’S GOODNESS IS DECLARED TO BE SATISFYING… “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” Psalm 65:4
GOD’S GOODNESS IS DECLARED TO BE ENDURING… “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6
WHAT’S EVEN MORE AMAZING IS THAT GOD’S GOODNESS IS DECLARED TO BE UNIVERSAL. “The LORD is good to all” Psalm 145:9. Jesus said this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt 5:43-45
He makes His sun to rise upon the evil and good, and sends rain, without distinction, on the just and unjust. It’s this goodness that you and I are to display to our enemies as God goodness falls on the just and unjust.
Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17. God, by nature, is inherently good, and we see that in the closing of this chapter. What is revealed here is God’s goodness at work in the heart of a woman who is bitter.
A Heart Softened By God’s Covenant Faithfulness. (v19-v23)
Boaz gives Ruth all she can eat for lunch and she takes the rest home to share with Naomi. Ruth works hard until sundown and she returns with the leftover food and abundance of supplies to share with her mother-in-law. (v17) She tells Naomi what happened with Boaz because at this point Naomi is a different person. Here is where we see a heart being softened to understand that God was not out to get her. She began to recognize that, contrary to what she had earlier thought, the Lord had not stopped showing His covenant faithfulness.
Because Naomi says, “whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (v20) It would seem her theology of God’s sovereignty served her well as remembrance because she says, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (v20) As a side note, this is first time Naomi has included Ruth as part of her life since returning to Moab. “Living” is plural encompassing both Naomi and Ruth. The question could be asked, “Whose kindness is she praising? Boaz or God’s?” We know Boaz has only begun to show them great kindness so far. And since Boaz has no history of dealing with Naomi, keeping in context it surely has to be the LORD whom Naomi is speaking of. Remember who stopped the famine and made it possible for a harvest. Remember it was the Lord who bound Ruth to Naomi in love. Remember it was the Lord who preserved Boaz for Ruth. Naomi perhaps had been too quick with her bitterness; Ruth went out empty but came home full. The LORD was able to and willing to provide for their physical needs in spite of her history of sin and rebellion.
For the first time you can sense the excitement in Naomi’s voice when she asked Ruth these questions? (v19) Who showed you so much grace? Who showed you so much kindness Ruth? Ruth responds (v19b) and Naomi responds with these sound words of wisdom in (v20) “Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” And in (v22-v23) she says, “And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.” Here we see Naomi who searched for greener grass in Moab, now tells Ruth to stay here, and close to Boaz, and his workers. It is almost like Naomi is warning Ruth not to repeat her own pattern of sin. “Stay here and don’t wonder off” It fitting to understand the time of year, so that we can see God’s goodness and providential plan in bring these lady’s home.
In the background of the Book of Ruth a clock is ticking. We may not hear it because our ears are not attuned to God’s calendar of redemptive history.
We know that they arrived at the time of the barley harvest. (1:22) This means they came home at the time of the Feast of Passover, when grain harvest began. Deut 16: This is a time for fresh starts by God’s grace and what better time to exodus the pagan lands of Moab to the Promise Land. By the end of this chapter… the end of the barley season had arrived. (2:23) Seven weeks has passed by and now it was the time for the festival of first fruits, which was part of the feast of weeks or as they called in the Old Testament Pentecost. Lev 23:15-16. Ruth and Naomi have experienced the first fruits of God’s deliverance in the gift of Boaz’s grain, but they haven’t seen what God has for them next. In the fullness of time, Pentecost, which was the harvest festival par excellence in Israel, was the day that God chose to pour out His Spirit on Jews and Gentiles alike, bringing them together into the one new people of God. Acts 2:1-39. One Theologian wrote, “Like other Jewish feasts, the Feast of Weeks is important in that it foreshadows the coming Messiah and His ministry. Each and every one of the seven Jewish Feasts signifies an important aspect of God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. On the Day of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, the “firstfruits” of the church were gathered by Christ as some 3,000 people heard Peter present the gospel after the Holy Spirit had empowered and indwelt the disciples as promised. With the promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the first fruits of God’s spiritual harvest under the New Covenant began. Today that harvest continues as people continue to be saved.
Ruth’s foreshadows a much greater harvest that God one day would reap among the Gentiles as His grace extended more fully to the nations. This is the goodness of God in redemption despite our circumstance or situation.
David said, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness (complete) of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
As the Psalmist wrote in Ps 147:11 “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11
Naomi who was bitter and empty was now being filled with joyful hope…this is a prime example of God’s sweet bitter providence. Naomi says “he has not forsaken His mercy and grace to the living (her and Ruth) and the dead (Elimelech and their two sons)” Naomi began to understand God’s sovereign working……His covenant promise…His grace, and mercy, to her and Ruth, despite the terrible past they just came from. Naomi was pleasant and filled once again with the hope of confidence! Naomi is pleasant because it was Boaz’s field Ruth gleaned. And that he is able or has the right to preserve the name of the dead by redeeming them and marrying Ruth according to Levitical Law. A close relative “our redeemer” it’s the Hebrew word ‘go-el’ used for the first time here in the book of Ruth (It gives the idea of kinsmen redemption or deliverance.)
See according to Moses law this kinsmen redeemer could redeem:
A family member sold into slavery. (Lev 25:47-49)
Land that was sold under economic hardship. (Lev 25:23-28)
A family name alive by virtue of a Levitical marriage. (Deut 25:5-10)
Isn’t this what Jesus Christ did for us?
He has redeemed us from the penalty and bondage of sin. Rom 6
He has purchased and ransomed us from the slave market. 1 Cor 6:20
He has taken my place at the seat of God’s wrath. 1 Peter 2:23-25
He has filled us with eternal life though the gospel. John 5:24
That what a redeemer does! Someone who come to the rescue, to pick you up from the fire, and carries you into His glory and presence! The Lord Jesus Christ or redeemer as Job said “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,” Job 19:25-26. God’s goodness leads to satisfaction. When Jesus is over your life…. you are always perfectly satisfied whether you have much or nothing. What does that look for you today! There was a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked. “Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman. “Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked. “What would I do with them?” “You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.” The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” “You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist. “What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked peacefully out to sea.
You can always find complete satisfaction in the living God of the bible. Why do I say that? Look at society, read the billboards or watch the commercials on TV, look at your social media apps. Most advertisers are telling you to try their products because you won’t find satisfaction with anyone else other than them. "You only go around once, so reach for all the gusto you can." "It doesn't get any better than this!"
If I am completely satisfied from having one, why are they so addictive! They are lying to you because you need more and more of their product in order to get satisfied. That’s the opposite of what it means to be satisfied as these two women are! Think about that statement for a moment in the light of Hollywood, the music and social media icons. They have achieved "the high life" to the ultimate according to their peers and fans……But are they happy? If so, why are so many of them plagued by drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, mental breakdowns, early deaths, and suicide? Is that really a satisfying life? We hold the key to complete satisfaction, a hope that has eternal meanings not temporal happiness. When we have hope in a Risen Saviour we can without a shadow of doubt find complete satisfaction in the goodness of God. As Moses wrote in Psalm 90:14 “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Psalm 90:14. Moses knew that God was to be the first; and he knew that in order to have true satisfaction it starts with God. Naomi reminded Ruth that they have been blessed by this gift of grace and for the first time in a long time Naomi is satisfied and reminded of God’s goodness.
As God’s children we should daily see the constant faithfulness and glorious grace of God even more so than Naomi did. The Scriptures have written down for us the rich history of God’s long-suffering with His rebellious children. We know according to the Scriptures that the Father stand with open arms, an open heart, scanning the horizon for the returning prodigal son or daughter. Like Ruth, He doesn’t just allow us grudgingly admission to glean His fields, He invites us to His table to partake of His feast.
This is solely on the grounds of the finished
work found in Christ alone.
What can we learn from Naomi’s life and heart change?
We know it ends in blessing because it comes to us from our Redeemer’s nail-scarred hands. Jesus commits Himself to be with us in the midst of our trials, because He knows what it is to suffer. Its this truth found in the gospel that He is able to be our refuge in the storm. The One under whose wings we may take shelter under. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, from and through all kinds of difficulties as we walk this life into eternity. Remember as Jeremiah penned, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Lam 3:22-26