BLOG: God’s Orders Falling Out Through Secondary Causes

 

WRITTEN BY MELISSA H. STRAUTMAN, LMT

God’s Orders Falling Out Through Secondary Causes – From Lesson #5 of The Book of Ruth

 In Part 5 of The Book of Ruth series (August 20, 2017 – “Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places”), Pastor Wilson takes the plight of Ruth and Naomi and teaches us about free will (secondary causes) and God’s intentional design for every creature.

It is true that Naomi and Ruth’s present circumstances are really bad.  They arrive in Bethlehem widowed, destitute and very vulnerable.  It is also true when Romans 8:28 says that God is working all those things out in their lives for their good and in accord with His purpose; which He planned before time began.  What we are meant to see in chapter two is God, in His providence, taking care of Ruth and Naomi through secondary causes.

Despite the way immigrants, especially women, would have been treated in this foreign land, Ruth plucks up the courage and makes it a priority to go out and find food for the two women.  She is surely motivated by her respect for Naomi and takes on this obligation of her elder gladly because she is expecting God’s grace to provide.

Ask yourself:  Do I expect God to supply my needs? Am I allowed to expect that?

Grace Comes Through Ordinary Means

Ruth’s expectation of divine grace is evidence of her love for God and her trust in His sufficient provision for His people at all times; as is stated in Philippians 4:19 &  2 Corinthians 9:8.  She also knows that grace always comes through ordinary means such as was provided for in the law stated in Leviticus 19:9-10.  God instructs the landowners to leave uncollected grain/grapes behind on the edges of the fields when harvesting so that the poor and the immigrant/traveler can eat.  This was God’s plan to show favor to the poor.  This form of Biblical welfare shows us that there is dignity to be had through work, even after the fall.  Ruth is willing to do what she can do and leave it in God’s hands to do what only God can do.

Even in Philippians 2:12-18 Paul instructs us to energetically invest ourselves into whatever work we are meant to be doing to receive God’s favor and never grumble.  This is how we can make a difference in a crooked generation.  After all, assisting in the kingdom to come is our cosmic purpose.

This is certainly the example that Ruth was setting.  She does, however, let it be known that she has a desire to be married but she is not pursuing any effort to gain a husband.  She is doing what is right in front of her, the basic things that enable survival; respecting her responsibilities and all the while anticipating the very present promise of God’s favor coming to her.

It just so happened (aka “providence”) that Ruth finds herself in the field of a very worthy and wealthy landowner and relative of Naomi’s.  Imagine that: in need of a husband and a hunky, qualified candidate just appears; or did he?

God’s providence is how we experience God.  It’s a pillow we can rest upon every night.

Ask yourself:  Does providence ever happen to me? Have I ever just thought of it as a coincidence, having nothing to do with God?

Even though God knows all things, orders all things, brings all things, things cannot be changed, cannot be altered and will always be perfect in accord with His will, there are secondary causes that are happening all the time that will happen and function according to the free will of His creatures.  Those are two tracks that if you try to bring them together, you’ll give yourself a headache.  They will collide in your reasoning.  So, I would submit to you to leave them right where God leaves them in the Bible.  We are free creatures making decisions like Ruth, Naomi, the harvester and Boaz; yet never outside of God’s direct providential care and determination.  All things will happen exactly, perfectly, and without change according to His providence.” – Pastor Steve Wilson paraphrasing from the  Westminster Confession of Faith

Ruth is about to benefit from God’s orders falling out through secondary causes.

Ruth made a decision to gather the leftover food from the harvest and is free to do so but never free from God’s sovereign providence because He has gone before her in every situation since before she was born to work and will what is best for her and Naomi.

If you wrestle with the notion of secondary causes, aka ‘free will’, take out your magnifying glass with Pastor John Piper in this illuminating article, A Beginners Guide To ‘Free Will’.

Check back next week in Views From The Pew to find out how hunky Boaz collides with redemptive destiny.  If you’re just dying to know what happens, you can listen ahead by clicking this link: “Why We’re All Single” .


It’s my intention to continue to bring you the best bits and pieces of God’s word taught at Grace Community Church.  Don’t miss out on future issues! Please subscribe to Views From The Pew.

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The Book Of Ruth Series
Part 1 – Resisting Bitternes – Companion blog to 5/21/17: “Repent or Run?
Part 2 – Informing Your Grief – Companion blog to 5/28/17: “Grief”
Part 3 – 6 Depression Defeating Steps For Christians – Companion blog to 6/4/17: “Depression
Part 4 – God’s Grace – Understanding The Flow – Companion blog to 8/13/17:  “Grace”