A Providential God

December 9, 2016

Good Afternoon Church,

I pray that you have been enjoying our study through the book of Ruth as we have been seeing and learning of the amazing faithfulness of our God even amidst a culture and people of faithlessness. The book and story of Ruth has and will teach us many deep and practical truths that personally connect with all of us. However, the greatest lesson we must learn and embrace from this timeless story is how faithful God is to fulfill His covenantal promises to His people, especially in sovereignly setting the stage for the coming of His Chosen King through the actions of His people. As you begin your holiday preparations and celebrations, I do not want you to miss the inseparable link between the story of Ruth and the Christmas story.[1] Consider how Bethlehem is the geographical centerpiece in both stories,[2] and how the birth of Obed was a foundational precursor to the birth of David, and ultimately King Jesus.[3] Contemplate how God would use two unlikely women to be the conduits of His grace,[4] and two unlikely but godly men to provide for and protect these women[5] who were both destined to be outcasts in society. I love how both Ruth and Mary were declared to be worthy women[6] and how redemption is the scarlet thread that runs through both stories.[7] One even wonders (with sanctified imagination) if Mary and Joseph crossed through the field of Boaz as they entered Bethlehem, and maybe that was where the shepherds were when the angels magnanimously declared the birth of Christ.[8] What a blessing it has been for me to study this story with you during this time of year!

A Providential God

gods-providence

Without question these two stories coalesce at multiple levels, but most specifically they are stories that dramatically display the providential hand of God as He moves people and history to ultimately fulfill His story. God’s providence is a doctrine that so permeates the Scriptures that one writer says “The teaching of the more than five hundred passages might be confirmed, were it necessary, by nearly as many thousands more, showing with what emphasis the Scriptures proclaim the doctrine of divine providence.”[9] As a matter of fact, one could confidently say that God’s providence is one of, if not the most resoundingly proclaimed doctrine declared and or displayed throughout all the Scriptures. God’s providence can be defined as the continuous activity of God whereby He makes all the actions and events of this world, both great and small, to fulfill His ultimate plan and purpose. In many ways God’s providence is a subset, or better yet the means through which God sovereignly rules over all of His creation. Consider God’s providence over the physical universe,[10] over plant and animal life,[11] over the nations,[12] and over all areas of man’s existence.[13]

Now, I bring this up to help further prepare us for the message on Sunday where God’s providence will take center stage as Ruth just “happens” to come into the field of Boaz and he just happens to come at the time when the Moabite widow is gleaning. We will once again see the sovereign grace of God providentially overshadow the lives of Naomi and Ruth through the faithfulness and kindness of a godly man named Boaz. Moreover, growing deeper in one’s understanding and belief in God’s providence is foundational to having stability in the midst of suffering,[14] peace in the midst of pain,[15] focus in the midst of the fear,[16]hope in the midst of hurt,[17] and confidence in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.[18] Because you grow in your understanding and resolve to rest in the goodness and power of God who has promised to and will work out everything for His glory and the good of His people![19]

The story of Ruth and the story of Christmas are both stories of God’s gracious providence in, through, and over His people. I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday as we examine this further and corporately exalt our sovereign God for the great gift of salvation that He has providentially provided in Christ. May the Lord bless you and your family as you prepare to both celebrate God’s goodness on Sunday and throughout this Christmas season!

Praising God for His Providence,

Pastor Matt

 

[1] Mt 1:5-6

[2] Ruth 1:22; Mt 2:1-6

[3] Ruth 4:17-22; Mt 1:5-6

[4] Ruth 2:6; Lk 1:26-34

[5] Ruth 2:1-16; Mt 1:18-19

[6] Ruth 3:11; Lk 1:30

[7] Ruth 4:14; Mt 1:21

[8] Lk 2:8-20

[9] McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia, viii, P. 708

[10] Mt 5:45; Ps 147:18; Job 37-38; 1 Sam 7:10; Ps 148:8; Job 9:5; Acts 14:17

[11] Job 12:10; Jonah 4:6; Mt 6:28-30, 10:29; Ps 104:21-27; 147:9 Jonah 1:17; Mt 17:27

[12] Ps 22:28; Job 12:23; Ps 66:7, 75:7; Dan 2:37-39; 4:25; Acts 17:26; Isa 7:20; 10:5-15; 45:1-4; Rom 13:1

[13] Ps 139:16; Jer 1:5; 1 Sam 16:1; Gal 1:15; Isa 45:5; Esth 4:14; Mt 5:45, 6:25-32; Acts 14:17; Dt 32:49; Jn 21:19; 2 Tim 4:6-8; Ps 75:7; Lk 1:52; 1 Sam 2:6-8; Prov 21:1; Mt 10:29; Prov 16:33; Esth 6:1; 1 Pet 5:7;

Ps 4:8, 5:12, 63:8, 121:3; Phil 4:19; Rom 8:28; Isa 64:4; Ps 73:24; Ps 37:23; Prov 16:1; Jer 10:23; Prov 21:1; Phil 2:13; Ezra 7:27; Phil 2:13; 1 Sam 24:18; Ex 12:36

[14] Rom 5:1-5

[15] Js 1:2-4

[16] 2 Cor 4:16-28

[17] 1 Pet 1:3-9,5:10-11

[18] Mt 6:25-34; Jn 10:27-30, 14:1-6

[19] Isa 40:28-31; 43:1-7; Rom 8:28-39, 11:33-36

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