To Preach a Book: Sermon 5 – Chance of a Lifetime

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Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
~ 2 Timothy 4:2
Follow one preacher’s journey preaching through a book.

[T]he fifth sermon covered Ruth 2:1-7, which is the middle portion of Scene 2. The scene progresses from the opening at the end of Chapter 1 to the turning point of the scene in this passage. This scene turns on the actions of Boaz who happens to arrive in the field at the right time to see and inquire after Ruth. Scene 2 begins with emptiness and ends with fullness and this turning point is crucial to reach that resolution.

Sermon Introduction

I reviewed the opening image of Scene 2 covered in the previous sermon. Naomi was established as an archetypal sufferer, which gives a certain perspective to providence. The archetypal sufferer is literarily an innocent sufferer, though not innocent in absolute terms. The sufferer is in a place of frowning providence where events beyond her control have affected her negatively. The sufferer views providence in terms of unexpected negative events.

This part of Scene 2 shows a turn in providence to the unexpected blessings side, which is the dominant view of providence through the rest of the book. Boaz, the third main character in the story, is introduced in this part of the scene. The providential subtext in this passage is thick as coincidences pile up and bring Ruth and Boaz to the point of meeting.

Verses 1-3 Ruth’s Chance

Boaz is introduced in the first verse and his introduction is given in such a way as to highlight his qualifications as a potential redeemer. He is introduced in connection to Naomi, his standing as a wealthy man, and his connection to the family of Elimelech. He is introduced as a wisdom character and acts honorably with covenant faithfulness throughout the story.

The focus shifts back to Naomi and Ruth, highlighting the reality of their still difficult situation. They are poor widows and Ruth is a foreigner. Naomi’s presence in this part of the scene continues to show her as hopeless. They must rely on the covenant law allowing for gleaning in the fields. This is no guarantee as this is the time of the judges, a time when Israel was not known for covenant faithfulness.

Ruth’s chance comes when she goes out to glean in a field. The author goes to great lengths to show that Ruth came to the field of Boaz purely by God’s providence. There was no human intent or contrivance to get her there. To Ruth, one field must have seemed very much like the next. She was likely more determined to glean wherever she gained permission rather than trying to pick the perfect spot.

Verses 4-7 Boaz’ Chance

The author continues the providential theme as Boaz comes to the field at just the right time. Note the aspects of Boaz’ character revealed in these verses. He is presented as good man and a faithful man. He noticed Ruth and inquired after. The field supervisor answers Boaz and praises Ruth’s character. Both Ruth and Boaz are shown as wisdom characters, so besides the qualifications of Boaz as a redeemer, we are shown compatibility between the two. We have strong foreshadowing here of the redemption to come.

Sermon Conclusion

This passage heavily emphasizes providence. The choices and actions of the characters are shown as being faithful in response to providential events, even though they didn’t yet recognize the significance of those events. Obviously, we learn God’s sovereign control of all things. He is always at work and events happen that may seem good or bad to us. His purposes in events are hidden from us, but our responsibility lies in what he has made known in his word.


You can listen to the fifth sermon here.

Up Next

Next will be the sixth sermon in the series.

This post is part a of series. To read the entire series from the beginning, go here.

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