Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Preaching through Ruth

This Sunday I will begin a five week series of sermons through the book of Ruth.

Ruth begins by telling the tragic story of Naomi and the deaths of her husband and sons. It is during the dark days of the Judges and a time of famine. But Ruth is also the story of the love and marriage of two exemplary people: Boaz and Ruth. On one hand, Ruth tells a rather small story about one family. The significance of the commonplace and domestic are affirmed. At the same time, Ruth serves a larger purpose of showing how God uses everything from human love to tragedy, from famine to fullness to display His glory and achieve His merciful plan to redeem His people.

Ruth is the Bible’s most complete love story. Values such as loyalty, faithfulness, and compassion are given both feminine and masculine expressions through the main characters. There is also an unflinching look into the heart-breaking consequences of sin. Ultimately, though, the main character is God who is unalterably faithful to His promises and plans. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Key Doctrines and Themes:
Providence – God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11). What is more, God uses ordinary means and events, both pleasant and painful to accomplish His purposes in His world.
Redemption – The theme of “kinsman redeemer” which foreshadows Christ is most fully explained in Ruth. Also, Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz is in the messianic lineage.
Ethics of Covenant Living – There are clear moral dimensions in Ruth. In the early verses we see the tragic results of unfaithfulness to God. However, through Ruth and Boaz we see how God loves and blesses generosity and kindness toward the marginalized.
Love and marriage are good things – God blesses faithful, romantic love and marriage.

Sermons in this series:
1 – The Road to Nowhere (1:1-5)
2 – Relentless Grace (1:6-22)
3 – God Our Refuge (2:1-23)
4 – There is a Redeemer (3:1-18)
5 – Mission Accomplished (4:1-22)

I encourage you to spend time each week reading and meditating on the passages that I will preach on the coming Sunday. The following are some helpful questions for you to ask as you read Ruth or, for that matter, any passage from the Bible:
• What does this text teach about God?
• What does this text teach about mankind (particularly his need for a Savior)?
• How does this text foreshadow God’s redemptive plan in Christ? – Old Testament
• How does this text reveal or interpret Christ’s work as Redeemer? – New Testament
• Is this text telling me to do something in response?

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