Walking by Faith
Last month we made it through the first chapter of the book of Ruth. We looked at how we can stay committed through times of sorrow. Naomi gave us different examples of why we shouldn’t run away from our problems, why we shouldn’t try and hide our mistakes and why we shouldn’t blame God for the unfortunate circumstances that we find ourselves in.
Now we are moving on to Chapter 2… Chapter 2 is all about “staying committed - through times of service”… Our focus is shifting from Naomi to Ruth and within these first few verses, we are going to see how Ruth exemplified “Walking by Faith”.
I am sure that most of you are familiar with the popular poem entitled, “Footprints in the Sand”. What a great picture of how Christ carries us through some of the hardships of life… There is another poem, that I found, that kind of goes along with it. It is a bit humorous and I believe has some truth in it… Now, I do not necessarily like the phrase “I got tired and fed up”, because I don’t believe that Christ ever gets fed up with us… However, I believe that the principle that is represented is accurate… here is the poem...
One night, I had a wondrous dream;
One set of footprints there was seen.
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
"Those prints are large and round and neat,
But, Lord, they are too big for feet."
"My child," He said in sombre tones.
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.
You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk-of-faith you would not know.
So I got tired and fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt,
Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."… …
This is entitled “Buttprints in the Sand” and when we stop and think about it, there are times that we act like children, naughty children, ungrateful, disrespectful, impatient… children… When we are acting that way, we are no longer walking by faith, but leaning on our own understandings. And we will end up sitting in our own mess of stubbornness and unfaithfulness, until we realize that we can do nothing apart from Christ.
Within our passage today, I see 4 different areas in which Ruth exemplified her commitment to walk by faith… Lets look at it together… (Read vv. 1-3)
Ruth Showed Faith In...
Ruth Showed Faith In...
I realize that we are not getting very far into this chapter today. But, like I said before, I see 4 different areas in which Ruth showed her Faith in God… and because God is an unchanging God, if we are going to stay committed to Him, then we need to have faith in these same areas as well...
1. God’s Law
1. God’s Law
Some of you may look at these few verses and think… “Pastor, how do you get the fact that Ruth is showing faith in God’s Law??” … I am so glad that you asked… Turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 24:18-22… After 40 years of wilderness wandering, Moses’ life is coming to an end and a new generation is ready to enter the promised land. Moses gathers them and delivers one final message.
During his final message, Moses makes sure to cover the Law that was given directly to him, by God… (Read vv. 18-22)… What this means is… Whenever they reaped a harvest, God’s people were to consider the poor and leave gleanings for them. After all, God gave the harvest, and He had every right to tell the people how to use it.
Gleanings were - pieces of grain or crops that are left behind by harvesters. It was the custom in some districts, after the main crop of grapes had been gathered, to remove the watchman and allow free access to the vineyards for gleaning the last grapes. The existence of this law was proof of God’s concern for the poor among His people. The nation was instructed to treat the poor with equity and generosity.
Fast forward to 2021… The old Levitical law no longer holds in the land, but the custom of allowing the poor to glean in the grain fields and vineyards is still practised by generous landlords in Syria.
The fact that Ruth knew this part of the Law is evidence of her knowledge of God and growth in her personal relationship with Him… This is also evident in the other areas in which she showed her Faith… … Secondly, Ruth had faith in...
2. God’s Guidance
2. God’s Guidance
In v. 2 she says to Naomi… “...Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.”
This was completely an act of faith because, being a stranger, she had no idea who owned what fields. There were boundary markers for each parcel, but no fences or family name signs as seen on our farms today.… she is just hoping that she would find one, that belongs to a generous man, who would allow her to pick up some of the scraps.
V. 3 says… “Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.”
She just HAPPENED to stumble on to Boaz’s field??… The literal translation here is… “Her chance chanced upon” Boaz’s field… I am not sure about you, but I am a firm believer in the fact that nothing happens by chance. I believe that God wisely orders small events, even those that seem altogether accidental, in order to further His plans.
The verse says that Ruth “happened” to come to this portion of the field, but believe me... it was no accident. Her steps were guided by God, because she was walking by faith. It is God who orders events and guides His willing children. “Lean not on your own understandings and He will direct your paths”
If Ruth had not gone to Boaz's field Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. If Jesus was not born in Bethlehem then that prophecy would not have been fulfilled. If that prophecy was not fulfilled then everything that we believe is a lie! But I am glad to report that God had a plan and His plan came to fruition. And part of that plan involved Ruth's Faith in God’s Guidance.
God promises to give us guidance, but the fulfillment of that promise is based on our obedience to the Lord. We must trust Him with all our hearts and obey Him in all our ways... This is what it means to “Stay Totally Committed” to Him...
Ruth had faith in God’s Guidance… She also had faith in...
3. God’s Protection
3. God’s Protection
As a widowed woman and an outsider, she was especially vulnerable, and she had to be careful where she went. The loss of a husband in ancient Israel was normally a social and economic tragedy. In a generally patriarchal culture, the death of a husband usually meant a type of cultural death as well.
A widows crisis was increased greatly if she had no able-bodied children to help her work the land of her dead spouse. The tasks of providing for her children, maintaining the estate, and continuing to make payments on debts accrued by her husband, imposed severe burdens to the life of a widow. Since widows were in an extremely vulnerable economic position, they became the prime target of exploitation.
As a widow and a stranger who owned no land, Ruth would have been vulnerable to physical and sexual attacks as well. If anything were to happen to her, she couldn’t afford any legal representation and not very many people would care about what happens to a foreign widow anyways…
For her to go out, by herself, to glean in these fields, was an amazing step of Faith. The Nation of Israel had just recovered from a devastating famine and now that there is food in the land, here comes this foreigner to take advantage of their practices… I am sure that if Ruth would’ve stepped into the wrong field, she would have been criticized, driven away and possibly even attacked. But she had faith in God’s Law, God’s Guidance, God’s Protection… and lastly…
4. God’s Provision
4. God’s Provision
I am not sure if the ladies of that day got together and had a “Ladies Tora Study”, but it would seem that Ruth has been learning the teachings of God from somewhere. She had faith in God’s promises and knew that He would provide for her and Naomi.
Deut. 10:18 says… (SLIDE)
18 “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
4. God’s Provision
4. God’s Provision
Ruth was not only a poor widow, but she was also an alien. Therefore, her only real option, was to look to God for His help and provision… … It is during these times in our lives, times when we have nowhere else to turn but God, it is during these times that, I believe, we grow the most. It is during these times that we realize who God really is and how we had foolishly been leaning on our own understandings.
Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor had complete trust in God's faithfulness. In his journal he wrote:
Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning... He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all... Depend on it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.
I want you to notice that Ruth didn’t just sit around and wait for God to knock on the door with provisions. She put her faith into action… It is one thing to “say” that you have faith… and it is another to act on it… Ruth acted on her faith…
Chuck Swindoll says, “To walk by faith does not mean that we stop thinking. To trust God does not imply becoming slovenly or lazy or apathetic. What a distortion of biblical faith! You and I need to trust God for our finances, but that is no license to spend foolishly. You and I ought to trust God for safety in the car, but we’re not wise to pass in a blind curve. We trust God for our health, but that doesn’t mean we can chain smoke, stay up half the night, and subsist on potato chips and Twinkies without consequences. …Faith and careful planning go hand-in-hand. They always have.”
Along the same lines, an article from Christianity today reads...
“Faith and works should travel side-by-side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”
This is how we walk by faith… Ruth put this principle into practice and showed her Faith in God… The question for you this morning...
Do you have that kind of Faith in God’s Word, in God’s Promises, in God’s provision? Ruth did!... and as we get further into our study, through this book, we will see that God blesses her greatly because of it.
Like Ruth you may find yourself in a desperate situation today. Maybe you are living life without any peace, hope or joy. You feel all alone and it seems that no one cares. Like Ruth, maybe you have been on a diligent search for help and assistance, but your search has left you wanting! I am here to tell you.. the problem is that you have been looking in all the wrong places.
The answer to your problem will not be found at the bottom of a bottle, in a pill, a needle or any other substance. The answer will not be found in a psychiatrists office or in a self help book. Finding "the right woman" or "the right man" is not the answer. The only hope that you have, is to look to the very source of hope, and His name is Jesus Christ.
The reality is that all of the "problems" that you are experiencing are actually only symptoms of your greatest problem and that is the fact that you are lost in your sins. Jesus is the only One who can solve that issue.
The good news is, He has already done all that is necessary, and all you have to do is put your faith in Him and His finished work on the Cross.
As we continue through this study, I am confident that you will see… It was not a coincidence that Ruth found herself in Boaz's field. God led her to the right place at the right time. It truly was a divine appointment.
Today may be a divine appointment in your life. God has orchestrated the events of your life so that you would be here today. He knew each and every individual that would walk though our doors this morning… For those that may be listening online… He knew exactly when you would click on the link...
He worked out the events in my life so that I would preach this very message, on this very day, at this very time to the very people who are assembled in this place.
Furthermore, You will see that Ruth had nothing to offer Boaz. There was no way that she could have earned his love. But He was qualified, he was able and he was willing to perform the function of the "kinsman redeemer".
Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. He became a "kinsman" to us, so that He might redeem us from our sins.
Romans 10:13 says “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This is a promise that is available for all who will trust Christ and call upon His name. You may be in a desperate condition, and you may have been on a diligent search for some time. My friend this may be the day that you have a divine appointment with the grace of God.
If you will humbly surrender to Jesus, then you too can start to walk by Faith...