Summary: God works is mysterious ways. In chapter 9 we will see that what looks like poor judgement from a lower story perspective is all a part of God's upper story!
• SLIDE #1
• God can use the most unlikely of people and situations for His glory, or to carry out His purpose.
• Today as we come to chapter 9 in The Story, we come to the book of Ruth. I bet you do not hear a lot of sermons on the book of Ruth.
• The book of Ruth records the events surrounding a woman named Naomi who lived in Bethlehem and her daughter-in-law Ruth who is from Moab,
• This is an interesting mix because Moab had been and off and on enemy to Israel!
• As we begin our journey into chapter 9 of The Story, as we will see it looks from the lower story that all is lost, that God had abandoned Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth.
• But as the story unfolds we will see some great themes laid out for us on the pages of the book of Ruth, themes like grace, God’s providence, and the power of faithful love.
• As we journey through our narrative today, I want us to look for those themes. They will show us that God can and will use the most unlikely people to fulfill His purpose!
• Remember, once the fall took place in Genesis, the rest of the bible is about God’s pursuit of us, it is a pursuit of love!
• We all crave and need acceptance.
• God has gone to great lengths and ultimately great expense to allow us to be accepted by Him!
• Let us begin our journey by looking at Ruth 1:1-2
• SLIDE #2
• Ruth 1:1–2 (NIV) 1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon (MAHL LON) and Kilion (KILL LEON). They were Ephrathites (F FRA THIGHTS) from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
• SLIDE #3
I. Three opening observations about the story of Ruth.
• In the opening passages of the Book of Ruth we see three brief opening observations.
A. Ruth’s story takes place during the time of the Judges.
• The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges. Most likely around 1175-1125 BC, this would place her story between the Judges Jephthah and Samson.
• This is important because this is in the period where Israel was running though the cycles of sin to slavery, to repentance to salvation.
• Even though the nations of Israel and Moab had been enemies, but during this time there was an unusual time of peace between the two nations.
• Next we see…
B. The story takes place primarily in Bethlehem of Judah.
• The story of Naomi and her husband Elimelech begins in Bethlehem, then for a short period of time moves to Moab, then back to Bethlehem.
• This makes sense for Elimelech and Naomi because that is their homeland, but for Ruth this was not her homeland.
• The next observation we notice is…
C. In the story God again uses a famine to accomplish his purpose.
• In verse 1 we see there was a famine in the land. Remember we are in the time of the Judges so the nation was be in and out of experiencing God’s blessings. So a famine would not be unusual.
• This famine will cause Elimelech and Naomi to move away from Bethlehem to Moab. This will open the possibility of the two sons to marry Moabite women one of those women will be Ruth and as we will see a little later plays an important role in the family line of Jesus.
• So once again we see God working no matter what the lower story circumstances are!
• As the Story continues we see…
• SLIDE #4
II. Ruth the Moabite returns to Bethlehem with Naomi.
A. The famine in Judah drives Elimelech and his family to Moab.
• From verse 1 we already see that the family moved out of Bethlehem because of a famine.
• We also see from verse 1 that the move was not meant to be permanent, but for a while most likely until the famine ended.
• Verse 4 tells us Naomi was in Moab for 10 years. And during that time their sons did something.
• From the lower story perspective Elimelek moving his family to Moab was a huge mistake because it puts his family right in the middle of pagan worship. But we will see that God’s upper story will triumph through this poor decision.