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Summary: This sermon examines how the Book of Ruth reveals God’s that God’s love for his people is steadfast even in the darkest ot times.

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"BIG IDEA"One family’s story in the Book of Ruth shows us that God’s love for his people is steadfast even in the darkest of times.

NOTE: Also used in preparing this sermon is a chapel message delivered by Dr. Zach Eswine at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis

[BEGIN SERMON SHOWING PICURES OF FAMILY PHOTOS]

You may not recognize the people in these photos but more than likely someone in your family has pictures like these. They may be in a cedar chest at your parent’s house, in a shoe box under your bed, or in the attic of a cousin or uncle you don’t see very often.

Pictures, scrapbooks, and genealogies seldom mean much to people outside a family but they are an important part of keeping a family’s story alive. In the case of my family, pictures like these, and the stories that go with them help me understand how families from Germany, the UK, Native-American tribes converged in Eastern Nebraska where my grandfather, father, and I were born and raised.

The Book of Ruth is like a scrapbook. It tells a small but important part of the story of a Jewish family from the tribe of Judah.

In this story we come across customs that are foreign to us. And yet even though we don’t fully understand these practices—the story allows us to have a sense of what they meant to the people of that time. A time which in some ways is like our own but in other ways is not.

And yet, this book speaks to our lives and to our families because . . . one family’s story in the Book of Ruth shows us that God’s love for His people is steadfast even in the darkest of times.

TRANSITION: The story begins with the passing of years in taking place in the span of a few verses. As the first chapter unfolds the scenes begin to slow to allow us to understand the thoughts of two of the main characters in this story. READ Ruth 1

How do feel when you hear Naomi’s words? They are blunt; they are angry; and accusatory against the Lord. The ten years covered in this chapter leads Naomi to conclude that the Lord is against her!

EXPLANATION: This is expressed not once but twice in this chapter.

First in her words to her daughters-in-law. When her daughters-in-law protest, Naomi tells them again not to come and underscores her words by saying, “No, my daughters, for it is more bitter for me than for you, for the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13b).

You also see the pain and distance from God that Naomi feels even more strongly in her words to the women of Bethlehem. Naomi sees it as an insult to be called “pleasant” after all that has happened to her! She says And to underscore her feelings, her rebuke continues: “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:21).

APPLICATION: Perhaps there are times in our own lives when painful circumstances have made us feel the same way as Naomi. But the book of Ruth as a whole comes to a different conclusion than Naomi, a conclusion suggested Ruth’s actions in this chapter.

This book does not explain the problem of evil; it does not explain why bad things happen to good people. It teaches instead, in the midst of the brokenness, the Lord does not abandon His steadfast love for His covenant children. A message that Naomi is unable to see at this junction.

A ray of the Lord’s steadfast love beams down onto the field of Naomi’s life. Ruth clings to Naomi and says, (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth’s expression of steadfast love parallel’s God’s expression of steadfast love. I’m with you through it all.

In Chapter 1, God reveals His Steadfast Love in the Promise of Ruth.

TRANSITION: As the story continues we are introduced to the third main character in this story. The scene is really a common one if you think about it. People need to eat, Ruth comes up with a plan to address that need. READ 2:1-12

As the chapter begins all we are told about Boaz is that is he a relative. By the end of the chapter we learn much more.

It’s important that we understand what happened during the barley harvesters. Harvesters would walk through the field cutting the stalks and binding them into sheaves. The poor were then allowed to follow behind the harvesters and gather stalks that were lying on the ground.

As we read the text the word “happened” may sound at first as though it was blind chance—it’s exactly the opposite. We know that from the nature of the story as an expression of God’s steadfast love for His people

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