A Sweet And Bitter Providence
Author JOHN PIPER
Here is a book based on a series of messages preached by John Piper in his home church, Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis. There is a sub-title, Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God. Yes, the author does touch on the first two subjects in the course of his messages and majors a good deal, and well, on the matter of God’s sovereignty in all things as he unfolds this story. As many will know John Piper is a man passionately committed to the doctrines of God’s providence in history. He is often rather dismissively called a ‘Calvinist’, and undoubtedly this is an apt description, but let us be clear, he is a ‘warm’ Calvinist. There is nothing cold about either him or this book. It is a mix of a loose exposition of the Book of Ruth, warm and telling comment as to some of what was taking place in that great romantic story of the Old Testament and a measure of application to male/female relationships and the triumph of grace over the divisions of race. It does not pretend to be an in-depth exposition, nor does it pretend to explore many of the types and figures and applications to Jew and Gentile that some scholars and Bible teachers find hidden in the narrative. Piper succeeds in showing us something of the wonders of God’s ways in the affairs of those who look to Him. God is greater than the mistakes of Naomi and her husband; He incorporates these into His purpose and fills the cup of Naomi, faithful Ruth and the older godly man who becomes her husband Boaz. There is beauty in the way the story unfolds. It is also wonderful to consider the way this woman of a despised and rejected race becomes one of the progenitors of the Saviour Jesus. Piper shows all this in a God glorifying way. In fact, the mix of bitter/sweet found in the book of Ruth is brought out profoundly. A good read.