Summary: You are free to choose. You are not free not to choose. You’re not free to choose the consequences of your choice. And, when you make a big choice, you make a lot of other choices right along with it.
Would you find the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament? And, you’ll find it right after the Book of Judges—Judges. And, we’re going to be studying, now, the Book of Ruth for the next four Sundays. The Book of Ruth is a wonderful book. It is a love story, but it is a true love story. It is not a romance novel; it is true.
And, we all love love. We all love love stories. I heard of some girls who were in the college dorm at the Christian college, and they were praying in their dorm. And, they were praying, “Lord, give us pure hearts. Lord, give us clean hearts. Lord, give us sweethearts.” And, all the girls said, “Ah-men.”
We love a love story. And, this is a love story, but it is a unique story—the Book of Ruth. It’s one of two books of the Bible that bear the names of women: the Book of Ruth and the Book of Esther. But, this book is unique because it is devoted primarily to a woman whose name was Ruth. As we’re going to see, Ruth is a picture—in the Old Testament—of the Church. And, she marries a man named Boaz, who was a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, our kinsman Redeemer. Now, we won’t get to that this morning, but it’s there; and, it’s some of the most beautiful teaching in the Bible about the redemption we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, you’re going to love the story of Ruth. And, there is so much to learn about this story, because, you see, Ruth was a pagan. She was from Moab; spiritually, she was from the wrong side of the tracks. And, she comes to Israel, to Bethlehem, and she meets Boaz—very rich, very strong, very kind, very good. And, Boaz, as we’re going to see, was a bachelor; and so, it’s a Cinderella story. The maid from Moab meets the bachelor from Bethlehem, and they get married. It’s a love story, a wonderful story, an intriguing story, with plots and subplots.
Benjamin Franklin—as you know, one of the fathers of our country—was also the ambassador to France. And, when in France, he was a member of a literary society, and they were giving different readings and so forth. Ben Franklin, without letting this agnostic literary society know where he had gotten it, shared with them the love story of Ruth. They were astounded. They said to him, “Dr. Franklin, that is beyond a doubt the most beautiful romance—love story—we’ve ever heard. Would you give us leave, please, that we might have it published and give it broad distribution?” He said, “It is already published, and it already has broad distribution. It is found in the Bible, that book that you profess to despise”—this wonderful story of Ruth that is found here, in the Bible.
Now, the Book of Ruth was written in dark days. It was written, as we’re going to see, in a time of the judges. And, you know that it follows the Book of Judges. And, the last chapter in that Book of Judges—the last verse—says, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Therefore, it was a day of anarchy. It was a day of apostasy. It was a day of apathy. It was a day when sin was rampant. And, it was a dark, dark day. And, right in the midst of that dark, dark day, God gives us this wonderful four-chapter Book of Ruth, which reminds us that God is still alive; He is still on the throne.
I believe we’re living in a dark day, but I refuse to despair, as long as there’s a God in the Glory. And, books like the Book of Ruth tell us that, no matter how dark the day, there is always the star of hope in that dark sky. And, God is the One who pulls back the curtains of night, and pins those curtains with the star of hope, and opens the gates of our lives, and floods it with His life and His glory. And, if you are discouraged today, let me tell you there is hope for you. And, if you will do what Ruth did and yield your heart to the Lord, He will make your life a love story. And, you can be part of a dramatic and wonderful love story, just like Ruth’s life was a part of a dramatic and wonderful love story.
Now, this is bright hope—bright hope for dark days. And, in chapter 1, we’re going to be talking about the choices that people make, because you’re going to see that a man named Elimelech made a bad choice. And then, you’re going to see the choice that Ruth made, which was a wonderful choice. And, our house, very frankly—our lives—are the sum total of our choices. And so, we’re going to think under this heading, “It Is Decision That Determines Destiny.” That’s our title this morning: “It Is Decision That Determines Destiny.” We’re going to learn some things about decision making today— the importance of decisions—because we make decisions every day, whether we like it or not. Or, whether we agree or not, you will be making some decisions.