Today we are looking at extraordinary woman of faith who has no fame, fortune or position of power. Yet this extra-ordinary non-Jewish woman finds her story being told centuries later. She does not perform any miracles in her story, she does not change the course of a nation in her story nor her children, she does become a leader in her nation, she does become a hero of the faith as she helps another person through the process of loss, grief and restoration.
Thesis: Ruth was called a woman of noble and faithful character. The book of Ruth is a romantic drama of the life of a Godly non-Jewish woman who had trust in Jehovah-Jirah. She was also committed to staying with her grieving mother-in-law through the crisis of loss, grief and eventually to the blessing of finding their kinsman redeemer.
Key Verses: Ruth 1:15-18:
15“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16But Ruth replied, “Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
17Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
18When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
The story of Ruth has the following key characteristics: Key Word: Redeem - Key Phrase: Kinsman - Redeemer
I. The crisis of famine, death, poverty and grief (Ruth 1:1-22).
II. The response of the Kinsman Redeemer to compassion, persistence, hard work and faith (Ruth 2:1-3:1).
III. The story ends with a happy ending (3:1-4:22).
This book is taken from the time of the Book of Judges. The nation of Israel is in anarchy, chaos and apostasy. This story happens around the time that Gideon is one of the Judges of Israel. The romantic love story centers in upon a woman named Ruth. Ruth was not Jewish but a Moabite who had married a Jewish man. Her ancestors were from Lot's line. The Moabites were birthed by Lot having an incestuous union with his eldest daughter according to Genesis 19:30-38. The son born out of this sin was "Moab". The Moabites were into the cultic worship of the local deities and practiced Baal worship. The book of Ruth opens up with a tragedy but ends in victory. We see a woman who responds to tragedy with a clear statement about her purpose in life Ruth 1: 16, 17. She commits to staying with her grieving mother-in-law till her death and they set out on a journey to return to Israel. Ruth gives up all she knows for her mother-in-law and finds herself involved in a new romance and in a place where she can bring deliverance and restoration back to her and her mother-in-law. She heeds the instructions of her Mother-in-law and wins the affection of her redeemer Boaz. Through the path of obedience and teach-ability she opens the door for her re-marriage and her and Naomi’s redemption from the loss and grief of their former life.
The story parallels what our Kinsman-Redeemer does for each of us at the point of salvation. That Kinsman –Redeemer is Jesus Christ. He is the one who rescues us from our lives our loss, grief, bondage caused by sin. He is the one who willingly paid the price for our deliverance and restoration.
T. S. - Let's look into this romantic drama of Ruth and learn how to deal with the emotions of grief!
I. The crisis and the grief (Ruth 1:1-2:3)
A. The death of loved ones and the grief, pain and anger.
1. The father-in-law dies crisis one and then about 10 years later so do her 2 sons crisis two.
2. The grief of Naomi is very clear in this story of Ruth
a. Naomi feels hopelessness, helpless and cursed by God.
1.) Remember she grew up knowing about Jehovah.
2.) She loses all that she loves and has cared for and then has to return home in a state of grief, loss and crisis.
b. Don’t forget that Ruth herself is in the process of grief as well! She has lost her husband and part of her family too!
B. This morning I would like to help you understand a little about the emotion of grief: We all need to learn the importance of Good Grief:
1. Dr. H Norman Wright tells this story: My wife and I had just arrived home from vacation, and the phone rang. It was our house painter. He said, “I remembered that your son died. My daughter just lost two of her little boys. Can you help her?” We agreed, so my wife and I made an appointment. This young, mother came in and, as best as she could, told us the story. Her husband had been depressed and even suicidal for some time. He was under the care of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. He had been treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). With medications, but it was discovered later that he was actually bipolar. He had become increasingly depressed a few days earlier. He said that he wanted to take the boys down to the beach and asked his wife to go with him. She said she preferred to stay home with their five-month-old baby. He took his five-and six-year-old sons to the beach, took out a handgun, killed them and attempted to kill himself, which he bungled. Hours later the police came to her home; but it was the media person who broke the news to her holding a microphone in her face, asking “How does it feel to know that your husband killed your children?” How would you feel, and what would you do or say? This was possibly one of the most difficult and painful cases for us to handle. Often after a session, my wife and I would both cry for that woman’s pain and some of our own, which had been activated once again. We spent over two years working with her. The entire community came to her support. The 31 mothers of the preschool where her sons attended provided dinner each night for her and her son for the next year. This was an example of what it means to minister in the name of Jesus (Crisis and Trauma Counseling, pages 14, 15).
2. In this world we hear far too often the stories of loss, crisis and trauma. It makes the headline news every night. I was in the gym the other day and the news was on and it was one awe full story after another. One person turned to me and said, “The news is so depressing anymore, and I just don’t like listening to it anymore!” I agreed with her observation about life today. The news is filled with many grievous and depressing stories. The news likes to spread the “Ugly side of life” because “Bad news” sells.
3. I hear on a weekly basis about daily losses in people’s lives from not just the news but from newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, and word of mouth. It is everywhere and it communicates to us that everyone will have to face some type of crisis and or loss in their lives. It could be a divorce, a spouse who is unfaithful, a crime, an accident, a death, a health issue, a family crisis, a financial crisis, an addiction, a job loss and the list could go on. We all will face crisis and our friends and families will also. Dr. Wright states it this way, “There is no limit to the number of losses and crises that occur in life-some of them are inexplicable traumas that affect an entire family” (15).
C. The question for the church today is how will you handle grief:
1. My question is this “Will you the church, the body of Christ, the hands of Jesus be prepared to help others through the process of grief?”
a. So today I plan on doing something a little different with my message.
b. My goal is to teach each person here and those listening today how you can help someone through a crisis, a loss, or a trauma in life.
c. My goal is to help you to become a person who is used by the Lord to help another person through the process of grief and loss.
d. My mind reflects on this passage of Scripture today:
1.) Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2.) God’s Word and Jesus instructed us that He came to help those who have suffered from loss, crisis and trauma in life. Jesus came to heal, to release, to set free all of those who are burdened in life.
e. When we observe Scripture and the subject of grief we soon discover that the Bible dignifies grief as a natural God-given way to respond to loss, trauma, and crisis.
1.) Therefore we need to learn the process of grief and the best way to help someone through this process. The fact is everyone of us will experience grief and loss in this life. This process of recovery will also be used by God – all the hurt, all the pain, all the crying, all the grief for good. I believe God will teach us through it all to turn around to help others.
D. We must come to understand that Grief is God’s design for helping a person to recover from loss. It is a therapeutic response and it is “Good Grief” it is not evil or bad.
1. Sometimes people want others to get over their grief right away but this is not healthy or the process God has set up for emotional healing. To me it’s a process!
a. Each person progresses through it at their own pace.
2. Quote: Author Edgar Jackson poignantly describes grief: Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work. Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years. Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who had died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life. Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, p. 171. Contributed to Sermon Central by: James Dunn
E. The Bible paints a picture of good grief and its God-given power.
1. Dr. H. Norman Wright lists these observations from the Bible in His Booklet – Helping Others Recover from Losses and Grief pgs. 4-13:
a. God grieves
1.) Genesis 6:6 – The Father grieved over evil in Noah’s Day.
2.) John 11:35-38 – The Son grieves over the death of Lazarus.
3.) Eph. 4:30 – The Spirit grieves over believers’ sin.
b. God responds to our grief
1.) Psalm 56:8 – He records our tears.
2.) Hebrews 4:15, 16 – Sympathizes with our weakness.
3.) Isa. 65:19: Rev. 21:4 - He will eventually end our grief.
c. Grief measures the meaning of our attachments
1.) John 11:36 – Our attachments to friends.
2.) Gen. 50:1 - Our attachments to family.
d. Grief potentially interrupts life’s routines
1.) 2 Sam. 12:17 – Leaving mourners with little appetite.
2.) 2 Sam. 18:33 – Causing mourners to wish for death.
3.) 1 Sam. 4:18-22 – Multiplying mourner’s illness and death.
e. Grief potentially persists over an extended period of time.
1.) Gen. 50:10 – For seven days.
2.) Numbers 20:29 – For thirty days.
3.) Gen. 50:3 – For seventy days.
f. Grief is potentially expressed in a variety of ways.
1.) Matthew 26:37-38 – Before a loss.
2.) Mark 8:31-32 – By shock, numbness, or denial
3.) Job 10:9 – In anger
4.) Isa. 38:1-22 - Through bargaining
5.) 2 Samuel 12:16-18 – With depression
6.) Phil. 1:12, 21-24; 4:11-13 – With acceptance
g. Grief is potentially facilitated by various expressions
1.) 2 Samuel 1:17-27 – Through songs.
2.) Lamentations 1-5 – Through poetry
F. To help someone through the process of grief is to do the following:
1. Ruth had a relationship with Naomi that is why she could help her get through her grief.
a. To help someone through this process requires you having a relationship with them – if there is no relationship with them they will not be open to your help.
2. Ruth understood that their grief was going to be a process and it would not just disappear overnight.
a. They had to walk through the steps of grief to get to the process of healing and redemption.
3. Ruth felt and could relate to her pain, her grief and her hurt.
a. She empathized with Naomi’s situation. She genuinely cared and loved her. She was also dealing with some of the same pain.
4. Ruth accepted her mother-in-law right where she was at.
a. Ruth did not put Naomi down for her grieving instead she honored her and respected her through the process. She even listened to her and sought advice from her!
5. Ruth also showed her mother-in-law respect and gave her value in her bitter condition.
a. Ruth never treated Naomi with disrespect!
b. She honored her mother-in-law and this lead to them both being redeemed in the end.
6. Ruth met Naomi’s needs and cared for her with no expectations in return.
a. Ruth never expected to get something out of her commitment to be with Naomi.
b. She did it out of love.
7. Ruth used the right words with Naomi in the midst of her turmoil, loss and grief.
a. Ruth always seemed to say and do the right thing through this whole process!
b. This helped both of them to be redeemed and renewed.
G. So today we need to understand that grief is of God and Ruth in the midst of her own grief refused to leave Naomi and refused to leave the God of Jehovah whom she now served.
1. Ruth knew that she was called by God to stand by Naomi in the midst of her grief and pain and not to abandon her like her sister-in-law did.
2. She was there by her side until her death and would do everything within her power to see God bring forth the miracle of deliverance for both of them.
3. Ruth shows us how to help someone in grief. Be there for them – understand that they may show anger at you and tell you to go away but don’t!
a. Assure them that you are with them through this ordeal to the end.
H. The crisis was brought on by the famine in the land which was most likely caused by sin and apostasy according to Judges.
1. This famine was caused by Israel's Apostasy. (Deut. 30: 15-20)
a. Famine in some cases is a result of man's apostasy.
b. The many wars in Africa have been the cause of a lot of the famines people have faced or are facing in Africa.
2. The nation of Israel decided to choose the curse rather than the blessing from Deut.
T.S. - Ruth's character and her response to grief, adversity, loss, and stress is noticed by another person. By the way God knows how we deal with these types of situations in our lives!
II. THE RESPONSE OF THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER TO PERSISTENCE, HARD WORK, AND FAITH. (Ruth 2-12)
A. Boaz, the redeemer of Ruth
1. Kinsman - Redeemer
a. Background - This Hebrew term for kinsman is used to imply certain obligations arising out of the relationship, and has for its primary meaning, "coming to the help or rescue of one".
b. The kinsman redeemer among the Hebrews was the nearest living male blood relation, and on him revolved certain duties to his next of kin.
1.) These obligations to next of kin could not be enforced by the community but they were encouraged to help out others in need.
2.) You need to remember that upon the death of Naomi’s sons the women became homeless. There was not social security, there was no food shelves, no social services available and the whole region was in the middle of a great famine.
3.) They were experiencing something harsher than the great depression.
c. Redeemer - It was the duty of a kinsman to redeem the paternal estate which his nearest relative might have sold through poverty. (Ruth 4:4)
1.) He also was obligated as a go-between, in case a person wished to make restitution to a relative.
2.) The idea was they could buy their relative out of slavery.
3.) In Ruth, the kinsman redeemer had the right to redeem the land, which perhaps involved the marrying of the widow of the deceased owner, according to usage.
4.) But the key was is the kinsman willing to pay the price and do something as drastic as this on behalf on another?
B. Boaz was a man of love, persistence, hard work and faith. He placed a high value on these characteristic in a person and looked for it in others.
1. He was loyal to God in the midst of difficulties.
2. He was a man who made application of his relation to God in his relation to his fellow brothers and sisters.
3. He had a compassionate and a heart of love for God and to Ruth.
4. He saw and heard about this women and the sacrifice she made for her mother-in-law! It caught his attention and his affection
T.S. – Ruth and others took note of Ruth’s willingness to take care of her mother-in-law and also her work ethic and these two godly character traits got her noticed and eventually redeemed.
III. The Story ends with a happy ending but that was because Ruth committed to staying with her grieving mother-in-law and with God!
A. Ruth in our story goes from rags to riches because of her faith in God and her loyalty to her mother-in-law.
1. She sacrificed for another and the result was she was blessed in the end.
2. Boaz stated in Ruth 2:11-12: 11Boaz replied, “I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.
12May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
B. God did bless Ruth and her and Boaz hitch up and they lived happily ever after from what I can tell from Scripture.
1. Why, she would not leave God!
2. Why, she would not abandon her mother-in-law!
3. Why, she was willing to serve and provide for Naomi!
4. Why, she was willing to listen and respect Naomi!
5. Why, she was willing to give up all for the benefit of another!
6. She was also blessed with being a Great, Great Grandma of King David.
C. Please pay attention to the response of Ruth to death, loss, trauma and grief.
a. She most importantly trusted God
1.) Remember she grew up not knowing about the true God.
i. Some people do not realize what they have in God she did.
2.) Ruth came to realize that by being a part of Naomi’s family she had found the true God.
i. Therefore she would never turn her back on them or God.
3.) We see from chapter one that she was in a personal relationship with God in this story. Naomi’s God was Ruth’s God and she was committed to both of them through this process of loss, crisis and grief.
b. The Stress Factor Chart
1.) Even though Ruth’s stress level was very severe, she had faith in Jehovah-Jireh.
i. She worked through her grief with the help of the Lord and in the process helped Naomi along her journey of recovery also.
D. How about you this morning?
1. When you face a crisis, a death, a time of grief do you abandon God or draw closer to him for help and assistance?
E. Ruth’s response to their trauma, loss, poverty and grief is what helped them to be delivered – they did not quit or give up they pressed through the ordeal. (Ruth 2: 1-7). They did this with the following ways of coping with grief and loss:
1. Faith in God was and is the key to overcoming these kinds of crisis.
a. In these times of trial and traumas put your faith and trust in God.
1.) Cry out to him for help and comfort. Trust me he will respond!
i. Read this Psalm 116:1-7: (The Psalm of Grief)
1. 1I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.3The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.4Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” 5The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6The LORD protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. 7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
2. Hard work is also a proper response for crisis - in other words they did their part
3. Persistence is a proper response and they never quit pushing forward through the pain and the famine.
4. Ruth modeled humility and she understood that their complete deliverance would come from another person their kinsman redeemer.
5. Ruth’s servant attitude caught the attention of the Kinsman Redeemer – this type of attitude is what God rewards and blesses.
a. Don’t forget this – Bill Hybel’s wrote a great book on this point called “Descending into Greatness.”
6. They did what they had to do to be delivered and they returned to the place where they knew there was hope for deliverance.
a. They went home to Israel and in essence returned to the throne of God for help.
Ruth's trusting in God got her:
A. The reputation of a woman of noble character and one who never abandons another in their time of grief.
B. A story of a girl going from rags to riches.
C. A wonderful Godly husband who was very loving.
D. A part in the birth of King David and the birth of the Messiah.
E. A life that ends with "Happily Ever After".
Closing Video Illustration: Broken
Altar Call: Open up the altars for prayer for those in need today!