Discovering your destiny in Christ
How would you describe ‘fate’? Usually as a predetermined course of events beyond human control. People who believe in fate are usually resigned to events — if I can’t change destiny, then why even try to? Whatever happens, happens and we can’t do anything about it. Fatatalism.
But it has no place in Judeo-Christian faith. We do see it in many religions — Hinduism is one. That fatalistic view of life supports India’s caste system — because you have been born poor, you will die poor, and you cannot do anything about it. It is beyond human control. Fate, and it is not Biblical. God is Sovereign over all and man has a free will to choose to submit to God’s plan or not. That’s Biblical — we have been created with the ability to make moral choices and we are responsible for those choices — choice then consequences, not fate. Nothing has changed. God has a wonderful purpose for our lives, this is crystal clear in Scripture. Do things His way and enjoy fellowship with God, or we are free to chart another course, take a different path, live a different way. Our choices will affect many things, and ultimately they will determine our eternal destiny.
So what can we learn from the life of Ruth, in chapter 4? When Ruth arrived in Judah, she did not rely on FATE – the idea that whatever happens, happens. She relied on her FAITH on God and made right decisions to become better and improve her life. In the process, she received more than she had hoped for, and her destiny what changed. *Do you think or imagine such things can happen to you?* Naomi was once bitter and full of resentment because of the loss of her loved ones, who blamed God for all her troubles. Ruth’s example helped her to change her attitude, and she began to dream again that God would take care of things.
Getting past the past means believing that in God’s hand’s He leads us to something better. A very tough ask in some circumstances, but it is still something God asks of us: do you trust Me? Ruth had plenty to get bitter about. Husband: dead. Homeland and family: far, far away. Fatalism would say, “that’s my lot in life, isn’t it! But not lovely Ruth – a woman with godly work ethics, humility and self-sacrifice, who unknowingly impressed people around her. Her godly character inspired life and confidence in the life of Naomi and developed a love romance with Boaz. How we need more people like Ruth in our world.
Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, had great wealth and good reputation among his workers. He is patiently waiting for God’s plans to unfold, instead of trying to engineer and manipulate life. The difference is often quite subtle, but there is a huge difference between believing in fate and believing that God always has a plan bigger than we can now see. Boaz sits at the town gate and waits for the other kinsman redeemer to arrive. Boaz would redeem her in a heartbeat, but his honesty must offer the other man first chance, so it is done in the presence of the town elders. Integrity. Boaz discusses Naomi’s plan to sell the piece of land that belonged to her late husband, Elimelek. The man is interested in land, and he will take it, and redeem the poor widow. Boaz explains there is a bonus — a young woman from Moab, not Hebrew, and the transaction will require him to marry her and take good care of her so that her late husband’s posterity can be assured. The problem, another wife would complicate things, so he suggests that perhaps Boaz might be willing to redeem the situation. So different from today, he removes a sandal and in handing it to Boaz, the deal is formalised, in the presence of witnesses. Boaz has purchased the property of Elimelech, and has acquired Ruth, the Moabite as his wife. The elders all nod in agreement and declare their blessings upon the newly married couple. No engagement, hen party, expensive dress, lavish reception, costly honeymoon. One sandal.
Actually, there probably was a Jewish marriage ceremony later, and after time, Ruth gave birth to a son named Obed who became the father of Jesse, the father of David. In Matthew chapter one, you may clearly see these names in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This was Ruth’s destiny. A pagan woman, who had come to faith, and simply trusted God. This is how God’s providence works. He has an overall plan for our lives and everything can fit in perfectly — but we have to make a choice to submit to His plan which will be revealed to us. Scripture makes this clear in “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
What then is our task? To wait, to be patient and keep on trusting God until what He wants to reveal is done, at the right time. Whatever life troubles you face today, remember everything has a purpose and is part of a larger plan. That’s faith Three things stand out in this fourth chapter of RUTH.
1. THE GUARDIAN REDEEMER REFUSED TO ACCEPT RUTH
(NIV) **5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” 6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”**
Decisions have consequences. His love for his estate, his ongoing wealth, his reputation, pulled more than any sense of doing the right thing to assist a needy relative. God calls us to obedience, to doing the right things, His way, all the time. Our choice. Consequences.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I, in turn, will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you.
Pay attention to what God calls you to do. He has specific, special things for your circumstances, your situation, your willingness, and they are always more important than things like money or reputation.
8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
A very successful pastor and author once found himself in a time when he was simply over-committed. He says he got nervous and tense about it. “I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable. I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter. She wanted to tell me something important from school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I want to tell you something and I’ll tell you really quickly.’ Suddenly realising her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly. I’ll never forget her answer: ‘Then listen slowly.'”
Yes, we need to listen slowly to God.
2.BOAZ AGREED TO REDEEM RUTH
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalising transactions in Israel.) 8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”
Boaz did not just acquire a piece of land, he also gained a virtuous wife of noble character more precious than gold. Houses and riches we might inherit or earn, but a prudent wife is more valuable and is a special gift from the Lord. This was precious treasure that Boaz had been given by God because he was willing to honour the legacy of the dead relative and show kindness to the living who was in great need for assistance. We remember Boaz today, his name is in the genealogy of the Messiah. We do not even know who the other potential redeemer was, and his family is forgotten. Such action of kindness was honoured by God through the genealogy of the Messiah whereby his family was dignified above all the families of Israel. The right kind of character is acquired from our relationship with Christ, our everlasting Redeemer who has shown compassion in spite of our fallen and deplorable state. We have received this from Christ who has redeemed us from the penalty of sin and has given us a heavenly inheritance. Christ is our example for godly living. He is also our Kinsman Redeemer. When Boaz announced his marriage to Ruth, the town elders joined together in a public prayer of blessing. They asked God to make Ruth a blessing to her new family, for Boaz and his leadership position in the town, and that this new couple would be blessed with children and the continuance of their family line. Great things happen when we agree to do things God’s way!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We may not be aware of it but when we agree to do things God’s way, it opens up the door for an entire plan of God’s to start unfolding. That is powerful! This is hard to get our heads around, but it is true. Try it and see. In our small community, in this little Chapel, amongst our tiny group, God has some very, very, awesome plans, just waiting to be unlocked by our willingness.
3. RUTH BECAME BOAZ’S WIFE
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
Ruth has discovered her destiny in the God of Israel. Her godly character, her courage and faith, have yielded incredible dividends, more than she ever imagined. The principle is simple. It is not about fate, it is always about the decision, and decisions we make always have consequences. My way or God’s way is a decision we can make many times a day. Will I respond to this rudeness or ignorance my way or God’s way? Will I deal with this unexpected problem or disappointment my way or God’s way? Will I process this great loss or sadness my way, or God’s way? Will I place my future into God’s hands, or will I continue to chart my own course? The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. It is up to each of us, in this moment, to decide which one it is for us. Who will your serve, yourself, or God?