This week, Veritas City Church continued along in our series, Ruth: There is a Redeemer, as we made our way to the scene of the threshing floor in Chapter 3. There is so much to be said about Ruth and particularly about this passage, so it posed some difficulty to me in teaching. It seems that in this chapter, the height of the narrative of redemption is reached as Ruth makes her humble yet audacious approach to her redeemer, Boaz. However, my reflections over the last 24-hours have led me to wonder about another concept we see demonstrated across this narrative; of course, the larger paradigm in Ruth pertains to how God is redeeming his people, yet much is made of Ruth’s experience and responsibility. How do these concepts of God’s Providence, Ruth’s Posture and God’s Provision interrelate?
God’s Providence is a crucial doctrine within our Faith. The concept of providence asserts a true and literal understanding of Psalm 103:19, which states that, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'” God is in complete control over all things, sustains all things, is behind all things and directs all things. The idea that Ruth found in Boaz a sure Redeemer was not apart from God’s sovereign decree. That’s why we see in Ruth and all across Scripture that the effectual and intentional work of God is behind all things and that means that nothing is by mere coincidence. The same is true for you also. As you have found redemption in Christ Jesus, understand that God in his Providence was responsible for it all. Perhaps we need look no further than Galatians 1:15, which says, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace”. The fact that you have entered a Sabbath rest in Christ is no retirement from your hard work, but is instead a reflection of the sovereign work of a Provident God who planned, secured, executed and called you to a redemption before you made even the slightest expression of faith. Does this resign us to fatalism? Absolutely not. In fact, Ruth 3 actually presents a very valuable picture of what faith response ought look like in her humility and submission.
Ruth’s posture to Boaz says everything about the state of her heart. Despite the impetus of her redemption resting in the hands and work of Boaz, Ruth is demonstrated here as a paragon of faith in her humility and submission to him. In Ruth 3:7, it says that Ruth, “came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down” in the middle of the night. Often, this passage is misconstrued as having some sexual connotation and, to be fair, the tone and cadence does certainly seem to support this view. However, this is entirely inconsistent with Ruth’s purpose and character as well as Boaz’s character and intent. What, then, could this peculiar detail mean in the larger story? As one commentator points out, her position at the foot of Boaz’s bed resembles a custom in the ancient near east of a servant sleeping perpendicular at the foot of a master’s bed (1). It represents Ruth’s humility and submission as she recognizes Boaz as her redeemer. So we also can model a way of humility and submission in seeking Christ, our kinsmen redeemer. As James puts into perspective for us, God is abundantly gracious yet he “opposes the proud” (James 4:6). Why? Because pride is a fundamental rejection of our need for a redeemer. Pride blinds the heart to the deficiency sin has produced. The proud are far from God (Psalm 138:6) because he is only near to those who seek him in humility and submission, recognizing Him to be infinitely worthy and themselves to be infinitely unworthy. Yet in our humility and submission, “he gives more grace” (James 4:6). That’s a posture God loves. Posture is important.
And in this interplay of faith declared unto a provident God, we see ourselves move into a peculiar abundance in Him. In the poverty of spirit, our lives were once ruled by darkness (1 Corinthians 6:11) as we were far from God. Now, in Christ, we rest in the safety and care of a God who is able (Proverbs 18:10). He is our Provider (Luke 12:22-31), our Protector (Psalm 91) and our Comforter in trouble (Philippians 4:7). We enter this rest, love and care only by a sovereign God who saves and not by our own effort (Ephesians 2:8-9). God is a God who loves and he is a God who loves lavishly (Ephesians 1:8). Yet, this is not because of a deserving people; it is only because he is gracious. Thereby, not hereby, we are saved. In his providence, he has secured for us a sure and steady redemption in one who gives life (John 10:10) abundantly.
- Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 174). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.