Friday, January 23, 2009


I just happened to bump into so-and-so. Just by chance I called into the butchers. Coincidences, random happenings, chance encounters. What is it you think of when these things happen to you? You might imagine it's the randomness of a random universe. Nothing special or amazing.

We find such an event in Ruth chapter 2. Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi are both widows with no means of support. So Ruth decides to go and glean, to pick up the leavings of the harvest, to survive. Of all the fields around Bethlehem, we read:

'She happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.' (Ruth 2:3 ESV)

Or as other versions say it: 'As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz' (NIV); 'she chanced to light on an allotment of Boaz' (Darby); 'and her chance happeneth' (Young's Literal); 'It just so happened' (New Century Version); and my favourite: 'and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz' (The Authorised Version / King James Version).

To quote a famous line from the movie Casablanca: 'Of all the bars in all the world, she had to walk into mine.' Or perhaps as Boaz would have said, 'Of all the fields around Bethlehem, she had to glean in mine.'

The purpose of these words is clear. This was not just a random chance. Rather, God was in sovereign control to order these events so that Ruth finds herself in her worthy relative's field. The stage is now set for the romance of redemption, which eventually provides Israel with the Davidic line of kings, and ultimately results in the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus.

When we see coincidences, do we take them at face value as pure random chance, or do we look behind them to see the Lord ordering our steps?

'The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.' (Proverbs 16:9)

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