As the book of Ruth comes to a close, all language of grief and death is replaced by words of joy and life, as Naomi – who has experienced emptiness like no one else – has become full in the Lord. But the ending of Ruth leaves some major questions: what does hope look like for us? How does God work to create hope for those of us who might never experience the fullness that Naomi experienced? What about those of us who don’t have the sort of loving friendship that Ruth gave to Naomi? In this talk, Philip reveals how God is always at work in the shadows to create hope for his people – a hope that cannot be lost; will never be grieved. A great talk for anyone experiencing the loss of hope as this year comes to an end.
We all imagine ourselves as the hero from time to time. Yet for God’s plan to succeed in this world we the “main character” must sit in the shade while God sends his redeemer to work on our behalf to rescue us, secure a new life for us, and bring hope to all people. For we see that it’s in Boaz, and ultimately in Jesus Christ, that love truly triumphs.
“Redemption” is something that we often hear associated with God, but we can sometimes think of it in purely spiritual terms. Yet, in the majority of uses in the Old Testament, the word spoke about people practically and physically working to redeem one another. In this passage, Boaz sacrifices, takes ownership of the problem, and follows through. And in this, we see a picture of the God who gives everything to redeem his people, ultimately in the Lord Jesus.
In their culture, Ruth was the lowest class of all people: a foreign woman. Yet, Boaz sees how vulnerable she is, and he shows her special favour, by handing her his grain–effectively handing her a half-a-month’s salary from his wallet–until she has an abundance. This is the kind of love that God has for those who are vulnerable and far-off. Once, we were all foreigners to the household of God. But now, through the blood of Christ, God makes us one.
When we are faced with suffering, it can be tempting to give in to bitterness, or cynicism. But in these verses, we return to Bethlehem with Naomi and Ruth, and we are reminded of two reasons not to give up: God has an unwavering love for his people (a small part of which we can see in Ruth). And with God, there is always hope around the corner.
In this talk, we see Naomi confronted with hesed love: an unbreakable, covenantal love. And in the face of that love, she laments. Of the two women with her, Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye, “but Ruth clung to her.” In Ruth we can see deep, selfless love for her mourning mother-in-law. But more than that, we can catch a glimpse of the unbreakable, covenantal love that God has for his people in Christ.
Sometimes when we are in the crucible of suffering, our first instinct is to run as far from it as possible. But in this talk, the first in our series on Ruth, Sam McGeown explores another way: that it’s in this crucible that God works most powerfully in us, and that when we are faced with suffering, our ego dies, and our capacity to love sacrificially grows.