Sometimes when you are in the midst of a difficult situation it's easy to feel that things are out of your control. Events including the ongoing Covid pandemic , global catastrophes and challenging personal circumstances may leave us feeling that perhaps God is not in control.
During our Bible study time this month, John and I have been studying Ruth. A lovely story I hear you say, a story of love and compassion, and yes it is, but we delved more into the prophetic story that underpins the well known events of Ruth.
The story of Ruth took place during the time of the Judges, which was a time when, 'everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes.' The Jewish people had turned away from God and had married into, and taken on, the practices of the non-Jewish people (Gentiles) who lived amongst them. In short, things were a mess and the Jews found themselves far from God, possibly wondering if He was still in control as their lives took turn after turn for the worst.
Enter Naomi, a Jewish woman who found herself with no husband and no sons in the middle of Gentile country. In desperation she decides to return to her homeland with her Moabite daughter-in -law Ruth, who pledges herself to stay with Naomi and care for her. At this difficult time, Naomi may have been wondering if God was still in control.
In the prophetic story, Naomi represents the Jews who had rejected God and Ruth represents the Gentiles. Ruth says, 'Your God will be my God.' Ruth represents us. We are those who were cut off from God but who have been welcomed into God's family through the blood of Christ.
When gleaning in the fields Ruth happens to find herself in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi, and a Godly man. That's a coincidence, or perhaps a God-incidence. Boaz places Ruth under his protection and ensures she has enough food for both herself and Naomi. Although he has no obligation to do so, Boaz shows grace to Ruth.
In the prophetic story Boaz represents Christ. Boaz showed grace to Ruth as Christ has shown grace to us. He has placed us under His protection and provides for us. He bestows on us privileges that we do not deserve.
Boaz invites Ruth to have a meal after a long hot day gleaning in the fields. Just as Ruth was given water to refresh and sustain her, we are given 'Living Water' to refresh and sustain us. Boaz and Ruth shared a meal of bread dipped into sour wine which was a ceremonial act to seal the lifelong promise Boaz made to care for Ruth and Naomi. This meal reflects the events of the last supper when Jesus shared a similar meal with his disciples, a meal which also sealed His promise to us for salvation. This meal is now remembered when we take communion.
Boaz's love for Ruth was all one way. Ruth did not deserve the special treatment she was given and she had nothing to offer. Similarly Christ's love for us is all one way. We have done nothing to deserve His love and have nothing to offer.
Ruth finally becomes Boaz's bride as we, the church, become the bride of Christ. The prophetic story tells how the Gentiles (Non-Jews) will also be brought into God's kingdom.
On the surface the story is a beautiful one but underlying this story is a deeper even more beautiful one of both Jew and Gentile being unified by their faith in God.
Studying the story of Ruth made us realise that God is very much in control in ways that we can see, but also in ways that we cannot possibly imagine. He not only planned and arranged for the actual events of the story of Ruth to happen, boy meets girl etc , but He also orchestrated events in minute detail in order to tell the underlying prophetic story, hundreds of years before Christ was born, of how God's grace would be lavished upon the Gentiles.
Pondering on these things made me imagine God as a master composer and conductor who is conducting a huge orchestra playing a complex symphony called 'Life'. He knows every note, every beat and every rest. He knows every gentle passage and every crescendo as he expertly conducts the symphony to its conclusion.