Sermons on Ruth
Ruth 4 In the final chapter we witness how Ruth’s courageous acts of hesed love propel Boaz to new levels of incalculable risk and joy of covenanted relationship that culminates in a “redemption” that outlasts history!
Ruth 3 As we enter the third chapter of Ruth, we encounter more bold and daring examples of hesed (“unfailing love to the helpless”) that, at first glance, appear dangerous and deceptive—a midnight encounter on the threshing floor that is loaded with sexual overtones and double meanings. Warning bells go off—“Parents Be Warned: Mature Subject Matter.” True, the scene is riddled with sexual tension, but I believe we need to teach our children how God’s people are perpetually confronted with difficult situations and hard choices and how they must decide whether they will be guided by self-interest or hesed. The choices made by Naomi, Ruth and Boaz are exemplary and compel us to constantly re-negotiate the complexities of moral decision making in a world where everyone is in some way threatened or compromised. Carolyn Custis James suggests that this is “one of the most powerful gospel encounters between two people in all of Scripture.” I believe it also gives a radical understanding to what it means “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).
Ruth 2 We are continuing our studies in the book of Ruth, where will discover new dimensions of hesed (“unfailing love for the helpless”). Even though Ruth is a barren widow, poor and an immigrant living in a foreign land, she takes bold and daring initiatives to provide food for her mother-in-law. Her boldness and industry do not go unnoticed by Boaz, who reciprocates her hesed in ways Ruth or Naomi could have never imagined. The text has much to say about the dynamic of God’s grace and human initiative and the importance of crossing social barriers and breaking societal rules to raise the dignity of the marginalized.
Ruth 1 For the last several weeks Bernard Bell has given us the broad sweep of the kingdom of God in heaven through the Daniel’s apocalyptic visions of ravenous wild beasts and destructive empires that rise and fall under God’s sovereign hand. For the next four weeks we will turn our attention to the book of Ruth, examining how God’s kingdom comes to earth in an age of moral deterioration, political disaster and civil war. Ellen Davis observes, “Like the Israelites in the time of the Judges, we are worn down and worn out by ‘great events’ on a national and international scale… and so, perhaps the teaching of this book of Ruth is especially apt now in a time of widespread disorder and personal loss, simple acts of mutual regard—the Hebrew word for that is hesed, the discipline of generosity that binds Israelites to one another and to God—acts of hesed can open up the future God intends.”