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July 13, 2021 4:00 am
The no doubt when you do, it's easy to get swept up in the emotional plot of the story. But how does that affect the way we should interpret this book today on Truth for Life.
Alister Beck begins a new series reaching the gospel helps us see how a right understanding of the gospel will influence the way every passage we read in Scripture. The book of Ruth is arguably one of the loveliest short stories ever written here in these four short chapters. Not very many verses we have literary art and theological insight at its very finest and what makes the book of Ruth sparkle so much is the background against which it is set in the same way that when you go to the jewelers. They always bring out that velvet cloth as part of their stake in order to try make a tiny diamond look as though it's really a little better than it once, but against the background of the period of the judges, the book of Ruth shines because the story of judges as you will know was at the very least, a time of instability.
If there had been blogs in those days than they would've been filled with reports of civil unrest off. I kind of moral decay, religious declension and unchecked corruption and I do read all the way through and we find that is the book of Judges finishes it says, and in those days Israel had no king and everyone did as he saw fit. And then you turn the page and you discover in the book of Ruth that there is another site to the story that away from all the clamor in the corridors of power we find that God is at work in a very unusual way, in a sequence of events involving a Bethlehem farmer, a foreigner from Moab and a lady who had faced a triple bereavement in the camera as you will notice is trained almost routinely on Naomi, it comes back to her again and again. It's almost as if God is preoccupied with this particular individual. A lonely lady living in a foreign land in her declining years with no children to care for her and no grandchildren to cheer her spirits, who then would ever imagine that her sad predicament wound in the providence of God leads first to the conversion of her daughter-in-law Ruth through that in the lineage of it to the birth of David, the great King of Israel and then turn to the coming of the Messiah know we shouldn't miss and I see this. Parenthetically, we shouldn't miss in studying a book like this the opportunity that it provides in mentioning these things to make clear to the Naomi's of our culture to the Naomi's who are present in our congregation that the God of the Bible is a God who defends the cause of the widow, and a God who cares about their suffering certainly wouldn't be the main emphasis unless of course we were dealing with it in a very short passage at a time, but nevertheless it bears pointing out with all that said, we need to turn to the task at hand.
The assignment that is been given to me. As with my colleagues, is to discover how we might adequately and hopefully effectively preach Christ preach the gospel from these chapters. Learning to do this as I think the journey of a lifetime.
I always like it when I find a quote from James S. Stewart, the late Scottish Presbyterian from the Royal mile when you read, for example, in the heralds of God. His lectures to the theological faculty and student body and Yale in the 1950s and you come along come across a little sentence like this from Stewart of all people. He says no one knows how to preach, is phenomenally encouraging. It's a wonderful encouraging one of the most encouraging sentences that I read in preparing for this.
No one knows how to preach. It is right says to her that the task should humble us wrong that it should paralyze us, so it serves to humble but not to paralyze, and in setting forth the truth of the Lord Jesus to our listeners, our listeners then ought to be able to follow the progression of thought that gives rise to our introducing them to the person and work of Jesus, especially in Old Testament narrative is not just as straightforward as it sounds because some of those that are adept at not allowing our congregation to follow our progression of thought in some cases is because there's not a lot of progression of thought and on their no linear progression in what were doing is full of non sequiturs and so when we finally finally solute with their and you will see that Jesus is over here in verse 17 somebody forwards by wakes up and says how in the world that he possibly get there from there and his wife says I haven't a clue, but we can ask him afterwards. But you know the kind of thing I'm talking about the way it is a sort of formulaic approach to this process where we've been told by somebody that you have to do this, and indeed, you won't get your grade if you failed to do this and so instead of it becoming something that is instinctive. As a result of our comprehensive understanding of the whole historical redemptive approach of the Bible, it becomes a sort of formulaic process and it catches people off guard, including ourselves, sometimes, you know, for example, the story of the Baptist preacher who was totally preoccupied always with the issue of believers baptism and one occasion he gave out his text as Genesis 39 and God said to Adam, where are you and he said my points will be as follows. First of all we will examine where Adam was. Secondly, what item was doing.
Thirdly, why he was there and then finally just a few thoughts on believers baptism and this idea of preaching Christ out of the Old Testament as often. I kind of flavor to it if were not careful. If it becomes formulaic for us and I want to try and help us with this that we come to this with certain assumptions least. I assume we do and I'm going to identify them for us just so that there there on the record, as it were. First of all, we assume that God has acted in human history both to reveal and to redeem also that God has raised up profits in Pro and apostles to provide both the record of God's intervention by way of revelation and redemption to provide both the record of that and the interpretation of that record in holy Scripture itself. Thirdly, it is our assumption that the preacher's message both in its content, and in its aim is in setting forth the Scriptures, and in setting forth the Scriptures that speak of Christ. We then in turn will set forth Christ. Fourthly, it is at least my assumption that the need for the proper Christian use of the Old Testament is an urgent need. The urgency is there because some of us have been scared away from the Old Testament by the extent of scientific and historical criticism, we ought not to be, and others of us have neglected the teaching of the Old Testament have been an edited by certain models of dispensationalism. Fifthly, I am assuming that we will be helped. If we learn as Alec Martinez suggests to read the Bible from back to front, that it will be a tremendous help to us. If we work from the back to the front.
It will be easier to find the tributaries if you like. If we stand in the mouth of the river and then work our way back from their this I think is fairly straightforward. It comes out in all kinds of illustrations that the Bible is like a detective novel where all these various themes are woven together for a period of time until delays denigrate the new mom which make sense of all the interwoven pieces or the Bible is like a two act drama where if you show up for the first and leave before the second you will be left wondering how it concludes if you come late and arrived in the second you will annoy everybody around you by constantly saying who is this person and why are they here BB Warfield use the analogy of the Old Testament as being like a richly furnished but dimly lit room only said when the light is turned on in the person and work of Jesus. Do the contents become clear. So for example we need the book of Hebrews in order to deal with Leviticus. We can make sense of the profits without the Gospels by way of interpretation and the message of Ruth cannot be understood apart from the coming of the Lord Jesus couple more assumptions or observations. Actually, not assumptions.
The Old Testament Scriptures can and should mean more to us than they did to the people of the Old Testament. For we live in the light of their Christian fulfillment and our pattern in this is clearly Christ addressing clear pass.
In Luke chapter 24, and indeed, it is hard to imagine Jesus doing what he did in that incident, leaving out all that is here for us in the richness of this little book the last thing I want to say is that the genre of the text should determine the way in which we accomplish the purpose of proclaiming Christ for something gone badly wrong in our exposition if we are able to preach the exact same kind of sermon. No matter whether we're in Old Testament narrative or in an epistle or working through the gospel in the sense that it must be the genre of Scripture itself, which determines for us the way in which the whole story is unfolded so that when we come to something like the book of Ruth we have to immerse ourselves in if you like the sights and the sounds and the smells and the tastes. These four chapters are sensual in the in a proper use of the word sensual. I don't mean that they arouse any kind of erotic notions, but they are full of the senses and the way in which the story is crafted. It's so wonderful that it introduces little glimpses little intriguing pieces here and there which give to us as the readers sense that there's something more that is beyond this, if we will just read on. In other words, Ruth invites us to feel deeply and it will then be our understanding of the gospel which will prevent ties from making any kind of wrong applications from the book so that we might be able to apply it properly, and indeed the very privilege of dealing with a tiny story like this.
And with this narrative is something that has great appeal in our time.
Stories are wonderful in every generation, and adults. I think in many cases, however, peculiar sense of nostalgia for free is that the Oxford English dictionary says has been used to introduce stories since the 14th century and what is that phrase once upon a time and has finished with the phrase, and they all lived happily ever after. Did you find it interesting. Those of you who read the reviews and perhaps by the books did you find it interesting that Dreyfus and Khalida philosophy professors from Berkeley and from Harvard sought to bring their philosophy down to the level of me and by writing a little book called all things shining where there is the offer to is the idea that in the little glimpses and moments of time, we may be able to find significance, and indeed the subtitle of the book is reading the Western Classics to find meaning in a secular age is one of Elizabeth so you do you tell if he was a I know you been feeling very gloomy lately. I think you should go home and read Moby Dick. There will be fewer feel much better. Have a cup of coffee and read Moby Dick will be much better before you finish the evening butted to the extent that there is something in that here if you like is a way for us to say to people you don't need to read the Western Classics to find meaning in a secular age. I've got a question for you right in the book over, we read this wonderful story actually done that from time to time, especially when I've been traveling I met somebody and they said their name is Ruth, perhaps in a restaurant or a lady that was says somewhere on a plane. I certainly do you know you have a book said no all yes is a great book you should read it short super so here now with all of that in the past we going to have three charcoal sketches right three charcoal sketches afterwards. I'm not up here with all of my patients and all of my Koreans to fill in all of the blanks. If you did art at school as I did and I mean Arctic school school like where you don't know what you're doing and art. I had I don't mean art art I mean like whatever you do when you have to paint or whatever my art teacher at Oakley grammar school was Mr. Walker and I couldn't do anything that he asked for me to do. I was absolutely completely useless and I used to trying lead with a Mr. Walker can show me how I should approach this and he would come and he would take his pencil and I would try and keep them there as long as I possibly could and then he would get wise to me and he would always say the same thing to me. I'll get you started bag, but I'm not going to do it for you and what I want to suggest here is that I'm going to get you started, but I'm not going to do for you, and these are fairly arbitrarily picked as sketches by the at least send us in the right direction.
My first sketch as a title in the title is three women on the road to somewhere three women on the road to somewhere. And of course we read of this point on the road as described there in verse seven with the them sitting out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
It is quite a picture if you were to draw that if you were to painted is self full of all kinds of terms of endearment is not so much a Kodak moment as it is a Kleenex moment you have these three ladies just bawling her eyes out in the middle-of-the-road attempted to say dreadful chauvinist things about that but I want because I can cry as good as any lady in a circumstance like this by the backdrop, the backdrop to the scene on the road is a backdrop of poor choices and sad experiences and deep disappointments so wrapped up in the interweaving of these women's life's.
We need to backfill that and be brought to a certain level of understanding.
God had warned his people that if they were unfaithful to his covenant promises the consequences would be dire. We read of their experience of that in the book the proceeds. This famine now has come as a result of the rebellion of the people of God but because of his lovingkindness because of his Hasid love he has held out to his people the promise of forgiveness and the promise of grace if they would return to him in repentance and faith in this huge drama is played out here in a microcosm as the camera zooms in on the family of a limb electric Ellen Malec's name means the Lord is King. Ironically, he obviously didn't feel them to be king over the circumstances of the famine. Otherwise he would have stayed tooth in Bethlehem. He leaves Bethlehem the house of bread.
Ironically facing famine and off he goes to sojourn in Moab. In a sense, if you like pragmatism wins out over obedient faith and Naomi. By the time you get in verse 13 is able to explain exactly what is really been going on the Lord's hand and she says has gone out against me. I can't explain my life apart from the intervening work of God we made certain decisions, and in light of that, we found ourselves in this place, but of course his kindness, the indication of God's mercy in providing food for his people and the word that reaches Naomi there in Moab. In verse six she had been more of the Lord come to the aid of his people by providing food for them and as a result of his kindness. She now has determined that she will return to the place of her beginnings. I think if we asked her to give her testimony she would've been happy to quote George Herbert or if I stray he does convert and bring my mind and frame and all this, not for my dessert but for his holy name. And now she stands in between more than Bethlehem, urging her to daughters-in-law to go back to the place where they would find security and essentially what she's doing is urging these girls to count the cost cost which Sinclair Ferguson puts as they had to choose between Yahweh plus nothing in Bethlehem or everything, minus Yahweh in Moab and with that choice set before them or far as we know goes by, but Ruth refuses to go back no don't urge me to leave you.
I'm going to go where you go, your God is my God and she's just employing the language that presumably she had learned in the course of time and one of the things that we have the opportunity to do in this section I want to take the opportunity just now is to make sure that we recognize how clear is the call of God to respond to his unerring loving kindness and grace and to urge upon people.
The necessity of their coming to do as Ruth has done and to trust in the score. Some of us here have a hard time with this pressing upon people than necessary city of a decision the necessity of a choice. God does not believe for us.
We believe, and Ruth believed. Do you are you a believer have you turned your back on the substitute. God's of the world in which you live by nature, have you been embraced by the loving kindness of God as it is been manifest to you in so many different ways. Alister begs asking some important questions about those again tomorrow as we continue seeing how the message of the gospel is wrapped up in the story of Ruth will hear part two of Alister's message tomorrow on Truth for Life was Alister just mentioned.
God doesn't believe for us, placing our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior is a decision each of us has to come to on our own when we make that decision.
We quickly realize we have joined in a battle against a formidable enemy. That's why we been recommending a book titled our ancient foe Satan's history activity and ultimate demise. This book explains that each of us is in a relentless battle against our own flesh. The world around us and evil cosmic forces that have had thousands of years of experience destroying God's people. We don't stand a chance in this battle on our own. That's why we need to know how to stand in Christ's power with the armor that God supplies when you read the book our ancient foe begin to grasp the fierceness of the attacks from Satan. More importantly, you'll learn how you can stand confidently on God's promises and in his strength to protect yourself against the devil, we invite you to request your copy of the book our ancient foe.
When you donate today your giving directly supports the distribution of this daily Bible teaching program can give to our mobile app or by visiting Truth for Life.org/donate or you can call 888588788 and Bob Lapine hope you benefited from today's message. We hope you can join us again tomorrow as we learn what a kinsman redeemer is and we see how one man rekindled hope in the life of the widow named Naomi Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life where the learning is prolific