Summary: This sermon examines how God builds our character through seasons of suffering.
Character in the Crucible
© 2007 Eric Bain
This sermon is available in audio format at www.sanctuary-church.com
Two weeks ago we began a new series in the book of Ruth. We’re going to continue that today. So, grab a Bible – if you don’t have one – and open it to Ruth, Chapter 2.
In case you missed it, let me just fill you in on some important details. In Ruth, Chapter 1, we learned…
• That there was a famine in the land of Israel.
o And one of the things we talked about is how, in Old Testament, God would use things like famines to teach his people about himself.
A lot of people think that’s sort of mean… or weird
But God was communicating in a way that they would understand
In their culture… people associated weather with God’s blessing & judgment
o They would have understood the famine to be a consequence of their sins.
• Then we learned about a guy named Elimelech…
o Elimelech is a lot like me (and maybe you can relate). When things went wrong… when things got bad… Elimelech took matters into his own hands and tried to fix things.
o The only problem was… he didn’t fix things by turning to God… he ran from God!
o Elimelech understood the famine to be a consequence of sin… and rather than dealing with the problem, he thought, “That’s it… I’m out of here!” Then he took his family and moved to Moab.
o Moab was foreign land… it was a Godless place.
• A place where no-one knew of his sin.
• A place where there would seem to be no consequence to his sin.
o The only problem was… he died there… away from God.
o He left behind his wife (Naomi) and his two sons.
o His two sons got married… but they married Moabite women. Women that didn’t worship Yahweh.
o Nonetheless, they soon also died. Leaving behind, two daughters-in-law. One of which is named Ruth the Moabitess.
o In spite of growing up in what we would call a “non-Christian home”… she learned about God. She learned about God through her relationship with her mother-in-law… Naomi.
o And then when tragedy struck… cause her husband died.
o And it would be very easy for her to take matters into her own hands… to just go back to her old home… back to her old forms of religion… and to look for a new husband that could take care of her and give her children (that’s the way that women in that time and culture found their identity & worth)… So, it would be very easy for her to take matters into her own hands and turn back to her old ways of life… but rather…
• She becomes a follower of God
• And she abandons her faith in everything else… And she begins to pursue that voice that she heard calling in the distance (a voice calling her home)… But clearly it’s not her home in the physical sense… it’s a spiritual sense!
• So with what may seem like reckless abandon…
• She leaves her physical home
• She leaves her family
• Leaves her friends
• Everything that was familiar… and goes to Bethlehem. And Bethlehem is found in what was known as the Promised Land…. the Land of Yahweh… the land of God.
• And the plan is to start a new life.
If we think of the story of Ruth in the symbolic sense… I think many of us in this room have been there:
• We’ve given up our homes
• We’ve left our families
• Our friends…
• All to pursue a new life… in relationship with the living God.
Some of you may not understand that… but those of you that do… I would bet that you’re able to relate to Ruth on a very deep level.
(Personal Illustration) Tell the story of me moving from Florida to Michigan…
• I ran with reckless abandon… to a new life!
• I can relate to the story of Ruth
When we left off at the end of Chapter 1… we didn’t know what was going to happen to Ruth.
• I mentioned that it seemed like she’d made the right decision, but life was yet to be lived.
• There was one hint… They arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
• The famine is over!
Ruth, Chapter 2…
RU 2:1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name… was Boaz.
(quick) So, as Chapter 2 begins, we’re introduced to a new character. A man of standing… named, Boaz.