“The hand of the LORD has gone out against me”

The account of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi has a special message for us in encouraging us to see the ‘bigger picture’ of life, the picture as God sees it. Because of a severe famine Naomi with her husband and two sons move from Bethlehem to Moab. Some years pass but then her husband dies and she “was left with her two sons” (1:3). The sons marry Moabite women and “they lived there about ten years” (verse 4) but then her sons die.

Naomi then decides to return to her home town of Bethlehem and one of her daughters-in-law insists on coming with her declaring, “Your people shall be my people and your God my God” (verse 16). Naomi, at first, feels it would be better if Ruth stayed in Moab and states, “it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me” (verse 13). As events unfold, we begin to see the bigger picture. God sees the end from the beginning. In Isaiah’s chapter today we see God is challenging those who worship idols, “Let them declare what is to come” (44:7) as the Lord does. In chapter 46 we will read, “I am God and there is no other … there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (verses 9,10).

Naomi starts to perceive that “the hand of the LORD” weaves together events in a longer time frame in the outworking of his purposes; this is more than we mortals can normally comprehend, but we can catch some perception of it as we look back. Thus we see how Ruth became the grandmother of Jesse the father of David. The time came when David was being hunted by Saul and David saw the need to protect his parents from the probability of Saul’s vengeance and 1 Samuel 22:3,4 tells us he went to Moab and “said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and mother stay with you’”. It is evident why he trusted this king. This gives us a glimpse of how, under God’s oversight, “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).

So, in this twenty-first century we eagerly watch to see how God will fulfil his word through Isaiah that we have read today in chapter 44 for “The LORD … will be glorified in Israel” (verse 22), and this nation is now a focus of attention in a the world that now largely believes in the ‘god of evolution’! But God declares, “I am the LORD who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself … who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (verses 24,25). Let us all search God’s word to see more evidence of his “hand” at work!