Embracing Hope in Bitterness because of God’s Gracious Provision

Dr. Steve Viars August 11, 2019 Ruth 3-4
Outline

“Retreat or risk? Throughout redemptive history, that question has confronted God’s people. As John Piper references in the pages ahead, it was the decision facing the Israelites on a crucial day at Kadesh Barnea. Standing on the brink of the Promised Land, with the guarantee of God within their grasp, they ran from risk and chose to retreat. Instead of staking their lives on the faithfulness of God, they recoiled in fear. The cost was great, and the Lord left an entire generation to waste away in a wilderness until they died.” David Platt, foreword in Risk is Right by John Piper, p. 7

Philippians 1:20-21 - …according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Ephesians 6:19-20 - …and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

“If you had asked Paul to tell you what the ultimate aim of life is—his life or any unwasted life – I think this is what he would have said. Honoring Christ, magnifying Christ, making much of Christ. That was the meaning of Paul’s life. It should be the meaning of ours. And Paul prays it will be the meaning of his death as well. We live and we die to make much of Christ.” John Piper, Risk is Right, p. 13

3 very important questions

1. Is it true that living for God includes the willingness to take risk (an “action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury – Piper.p. 17)?

2. What is the relationship between avoiding or overcoming bitterness and the willingness to take risk?

3. What are the practical applications of this principle to the specific opportunities before people like you and me right here, right now?

“Bitter (OT – Marah, NT – pikros) – sour, brackish taste, the opposite of sweet. The poisonous, putrid bile from the gall bladder. An inner emotional feeling of deep sorrow, or an outwardly directed anger that cries out to the power that seems to be causing the problem,” Theological Wordbook of the OT – p. 528-529.

“Bitterness is slow burning anger that fuels vengeful desires, thoughts, and actions. It demands satisfaction of one’s personal sense of justice.” Jeff Forrey, “Beating Bitterness with the Beatitudes,” BCC Website

Ruth 1:15 - Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

Ruth 1:16-17 - But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth 1:19-22 - So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. “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?” So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Ruth 2:2 - And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

Ruth 2:12 - May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.

3 ways faithful people are willing to risk

I. The Risk of Courageously Acting on God’s Word

A. The backdrop of the chaos of their culture

Judges 21:25 - In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 14:1-3 - Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”

B. The courage of Ruth and Naomi to cast themselves on the principles of God’s law

Deuteronomy 25:5 - When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

Leviticus 25:25 - If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

Ruth 3:10 - Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.”

Deuteronomy 25:7-10 - But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.” Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, “I do not desire to take her,” then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, “Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” In Israel his name shall be called, “The house of him whose sandal is removed.”

Philippians 2:12-13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Jim Elliot – “…he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

“If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from risk is to waste your life.” John Piper, Rick is Right, p. 17

II. The Risk of Patiently Waiting for God’s Fulfillment to Unfold

Ruth 3:18 - Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”

III. The Risk of Firmly Believing that God’s Plan is Breathtakingly Best

A. The beauty of redemption

Ruth 4:9-10 - Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.

1 Peter 1:18-19 - …knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

B. The beauty of new life

…it is absolutely amazing that Naomi is the one given such prominence and honor at the end of this story…

Ruth 4:14 - Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.”

Ruth 4:17 - The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

C. The beauty of a divine plan

- a couple of years ago John Piper wrote a little book entitled Risk is Right…it’s subtitled – “better to lose your life than waste it and also has a foreword by David Platt…

- in the foreword, Platt says – Retreat or risk? Throughout redemptive history, that question has confronted God’s people. As John Piper references in the pages ahead, it was the decision facing the Israelites on a crucial day at Kadesh Barnea. Standing on the brink of the Promised Land, with the guarantee of God within their grasp, they ran from risk and chose to retreat. Instead of staking their lives on the faithfulness of God, they recoiled in fear. The cost was great, and the Lord left an entire generation to waste away in a wilderness until they died (David Platt, foreword in Risk is Right by John Piper, p. 7)

- Piper then begins the discussion by quoting the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:20–21 - according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

- students of Scripture know that Paul was writing these words during one of the multiple times he was imprisoned for his faith…

- in Hebrews 12 terminology – he was experiencing the fatherly discipline of God…and by that we mean the times God brings difficulty or hardship into our lives as a means of purifying our faith and providing a platform on which his power and glory can be displayed…

- there’s no “bitter root here”…like Hebrews 12 also talks about…

- Paul’s not demanding an immediate helping of red stuff if we wanted to bring the OT story of Esau into this…no, his concern is that he will not be put to shame in anything…

- that’s why in another letter, he asked the Ephesians to…Ephesians 6:19–20 - and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

- those words were written during the same imprisonment – and again, no bitterness…he was praying for courage that he would take whatever risks were necessary to fulfill his God-given purpose…he’s latching onto his birthright – [to use another word picture from the unfortunate life of bitter Esau]…

- Piper then says of Philippians 1:20-21 – If you had asked Paul to tell you what the ultimate aim of life is—his life or any unwasted life – I think this is what he would have said. Honoring Christ, magnifying Christ, making much of Christ. That was the meaning of Paul’s life. It should be the meaning of ours. And Paul prays it will be the meaning of his death as well. We live and we die to make much of Christ (John Piper, Risk is Right, p. 13).

- that raises 3 very important questions this am…

1. Is it true that living for God includes the willingness to take risk (an “action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury – Piper.p. 17)?

2. What is the relationship between avoiding or overcoming bitterness, and the willingness to tale risk?

3. What are the practical applications of this principle to the specific opportunities before people like you and me right here, right now?

- with all of that in mind, please open your Bible to Ruth chapter 3…page 200 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this morning we’re concluding a series we’ve been doing this summer entitled Growing by Overcoming Bitterness

- this is part of our annual theme of Growing What God Has Given

- if you’re brand new with us today, or if you’ve been in and out this summer – we’re ready for you…

- because in your bulletin, along with the typical message outline you’ll find each Sunday…there’s also a supplemental handout that summarizes the major passages and points we’ve tried to make together…

- a little later on we’re going to use the supplemental handout as we try to apply what we’re seeing in the story of Ruth of Naomi…

- by now everyone knows the definitions…

- Bitter is the (OT – Marah, NT – pikros) – sour, brackish taste, the opposite of sweet. The poisonous, putrid bile from the gall bladder. An inner emotional feeling of deep sorrow, or an outwardly directed anger that cries out to the power that seems to be causing the problem (Theological Wordbook of the OT – p. 528-529).

- “Bitterness is slow burning anger that fuels vengeful desires, thoughts, and actions. It demands satisfaction of one’s personal sense of justice” (Jeff Forrey, “Beating Bitterness with the Beatitudes,” BCC Website)

- again, we’ve also listed the key passages on your supplemental handout…

- but we’re landing the plane purposely in the book of Ruth…because there is a very real sense in which this is a test case for everything we’ve been working on together…

- here’s the essence of what we’ve seen thus far…in chapter 1 that a Jewish man named Elimelech from the city of Bethlehem in Judah took his wife Naomi and their two sons to the country of Moab to escape the effects of a famine…

- the Moabites were known for their wickedness to the degree that the OT forbid them from entering the tabernacle…

- while there, Elimelech dies, then the two sons married Moabite women, and then the sons die…

- so you have this Jewish woman, Naomi – and her two daughters in law…

- and when they hear that the Lord has, as the writer put it, “visited His people in giving them food…”, Naomi decides to go back home…but she urges her daughter-on-law to go back to their home towns in Moab…and marry Moabitess men although they undoubtedly would be worshippers of the pagan god Chemosh…

- but Naomi even says after one daughter in law has taken her up on her offer but the other named Ruth won’t…Ruth 1:15 - Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

- in other words, my god – Jehovah [Lord in all capital letters – YahWeH – the god of the Bible]…cannot be trusted…he’s not who he says he is…he’s not merciful and kind…so any old god will do…

- and of course in saying that – she was simply picturing as an individual what Israel was as a nation…because all of this occurred during the time of the judges…when every person did that which was right in his own eyes…

- and in Naomi’s way of thinking – her lack of loyalty to God was justified because of his lack of loyalty to her…

- but amazingly, the hopeful alternative to all of this is this sweet young Moabitess widow…

- because remember – this isn’t the book of Naomi…bitterness is not going to get the last word here…

- so Ruth says -- Ruth 1:16–17 - But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

- there’s a young woman who’s willing to take risks…

- Ruth 1:19–22 - So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. “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?” So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

- in the next chapter…there’s more risk…not from the bitter, complaining one – but from the trusting, hopeful one…

- Ruth 2:2 - And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

- and the rest of the chapter tells the incredible story of God directing Ruth to a field owned by a godly man named Boaz, who just so happens to be a close relative to Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech, and therefore Ruth’s deceased husband Mahlon…

- and Boaz is amazed by Ruth’s sweet faith…

- Ruth 2:12 - “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.

- and Boaz was also willing to be part of the answer to that prayer…by showering Ruth with kindness, mercy, and provision…

- Ruth was right to avoid bitterness and instead believe not only that God was sovereign, but also that He is merciful and kind…

- he’s not just a king…He’s a good king, who is more than worthy of her trust…

- well, now what is it time for?...more risk…and amazingly now it is initiated by Naomi…

- and that my friends is the hope of bitterness…you don’t have to go there…and if you, you don’t have to stay there…

- listen to this plan…

- read selected portions of Ruth 3-4.

- we’re talking this morning about Embracing the Hope in Bitterness because of God’s Provision.

- and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 ways faithful people are willing to risk.

I. The Risk of Courageously Acting on God’s Word

- I realize a fair amount of this may not make any sense at all because it assumes a knowledge of their culture regarding both death and marriage that isn’t commonly known today…

- but please keep in mind – we have some customs in our culture regarding death or weddings that would not make a lot of sense to others either…

- like we give an engagement ring to our fiancé and she wears it on the fourth finger of her left hand…

- well, that’s not exactly where it would have been placed in Bible times…just ask Isaac’s fiancé Rebekah about that in Genesis 24…

- or people in other cultures probably wouldn’t understand why we line up after someone’s wedding and hurl rice at them…or birdseed, or however it works now…

- or tying cans to the back of the car…or everyone making the photographer mad by taking their own pictures

- but let’s break this down and see what was motivating this courageous risk…

A. The backdrop of the chaos of their culture.

- some of you have been reading through the Bible this year using DA Carson’s “For the Love of God

- I didn’t even know this book existed until a friend told me his point man group was using it so I decided to do the same…

- if you’re one of the persons, we’ve been in the book of Judges as part of our reading…that’s the time characterized by the very last verse in the book -- Judges 21:25 - In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

- the evidence of where that lawless path leads is incredible…so one of the better known judges names Samson tells his godly father… Judges 14:1–3 - Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”

- that would have been a good time for his father to give him a Three Stooges like eye-pluck …and told him that it didn’t matter what looked good in his eyes – what mattered was what looked good in God’s eyes…that would have saved everyone an awful amount of heartache…

- but by time you get to the end of the book of Judges…what the Israelites were doing to both preserve their tribes and facilitate marriage was incredibly cruel, and bizarre, and wicked…

- but against that, we have…

B. The courage of Ruth and Naomi to cast themselves on the principles of God’s law.

- in order to make sense of this, you have to understand the principles of levirate marriage and kinsman redeemer…

- Deut 25:5 explains levirate marriage…

- Deuteronomy 25:5 - When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

- now, it doesn’t matter what you and I think about that – it was a provision for God’s chosen people at the time as a means of being gracious to a widow who otherwise might be impoverished and to a family line that might otherwise be extinguished…

- related to that in this story is that of kinsman redeemer (or goel in Hebrew)…

- Leviticus 25:25 - If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

- That was to keep the promise of land made all the way back in the Abrahamic covenant in the family…

- so this is very important to understand this morning…it’s not like Ruth was some desperate female who just had to get married…

- if that was her heart – she would have gone back to Moab and married a worshipper of the god Chemosh…that’s what Naomi in her former bitterness had told her to do…

- Boaz also made that point in chapter 3 verse 10… Ruth 3:10 - Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.

- we have all kinds of single men and women in this church who have strong and godly character and are finding their joy and satisfaction in Christ just like faithful Ruth was…

- well then, what was this?...it was an opportunity for the line of her husband and her father-in-law to be honored and for she and her mother-in-law to be protected…

- and here’s another detail that is very important to understand…there was a guy who was a closer relative…what was his name?...

- we don’t know his name – because unlike Boaz, he was looking at this purely from the perspective of what was in it for him…just like most of the other people in Israel and even Bethlehem at the time…

- but Ruth and Naomi could have forced that guy’s hand…because the OT also had another provision for situations where the nearest relative doesn’t want to fulfill his duty…you know what it was?...

- Deuteronomy 25:7–10 - But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’

- by the way, I think that’s what we ought to do in our culture to deadbeat dads who won’t pay child support, but that is an entirely different issue…

- now here’s the point – bitterness causes you to doubt God’s provisions and to only vlew your circumstances through the lens of what you can see with the naked eye (remember Naomi’s arguments in chapter 1, do I have sons in my womb, do I have a husband, if I had a husband today, do you want to wait 18 years…)

- bitter people will not take risks…because they don’t believe God and His Word can be trusted…

- conversely – look at Ruth…and Naomi version 2.0…

- and this also raises a very important question…does a belief in the sovereignty of God result in passivity and/or fatalism?...

- it’s like Paul said in Philippians 2:12–13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

- these dear women believed God was at work so they got busy doing their part…

- what about you and me today?...

- please look at the ministry brochure in your bulletin today…these were also mailed out to 15,000 homes around our 3 campuses…and we’re doing all sorts of electronic communication as well…

- this is New Year’s (explain…)

- now, here’s my question for you…do you have an opportunity to take a risk?...

- do you agree with what John Piper said?...it’s better to lose your life than to waste it…

- it’s like missionary Jim Elliot – he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

- Piper went on to say – If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from risk is to waste your life (John Piper, Rick is Right, p. 17).

- God may be calling you to take risks at work, in your neighborhood, with your extended family – to function as an ambassador of Christ…are you willing to take him at His Word

- [as time allows – develop other ways God’s people are called upon to take risk…]

II. The Risk of Patiently Waiting for God’s Fulfillment to Unfold

- Ruth 3:18 - Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”

- boy, Naomi 2.0 is sure singing a different tune, isn’t she?...

- she sees the mercy and faithfulness of God in Boaz…he’s a marvelous portrait of our ultimate goel – kinsman redeemer – the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….

- there’s no bitterness left in her…none of this chapter 1 “eyeore-like” – well, this probably won’t work out…Boaz will probably get busy and forget…God is going to let us down again…

- no, my daughter…we can just wait…God’s got this…

- don’t you love the fact that you don’t have to live in Naomi-ville 1.0?...

- there are actually 4 main characters in this story…

- there’s Ruth, there’s Boaz, and there’s Naomi 1.0 and Naomi 2.0…

- and the great thing is – only one of those four characters is bitter…

- now, what question do you think I’m going to ask you?...which person are you like?...

- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if you three good options and one bad option and you picked the bad one?...

- now, please take out the supplemental handout and lets allow it to help us answer that very question…

- the first 2 pages just have some the key verses – I’ll encourage you to review them at another time…

- but this entire series is presenting you and me with a choice…and since we started this with a study of Esau – we’re labeling the choices with terminology from his study…

- so you see the way we defined the options…

- and who are the key examples?...

- and a key issue here is the timing…

- abandoning God and his Word for immediate satisfaction by some false idol is often the first step on the road to bitterness…that’s often where addictions come from…

- there’s also the issue of what you think about God’s plan – your birthright, so to speak --- why God saved you and how He desires to use you…

- Esau despised God’s plan – Joseph embraced it – [Genesis 39:9 was when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him – there’s some immediate gratification for ya – and Joseph said, I can’t sin against God like that…that’s birthright living right there]…

- I also cannot stress enough where Hebrews 12 fits into this…see, where does bitterness come from?...it doesn’t happen on a holiday…when everything is going the way you want…

- it’s when you’re disappointed, hurt in some way…

- and at some point we have to factor the sovereignty of God into all of this…

- discipline in its broadest sense is all that God’s allows into my life so that I can grow and He can be glorified…

- and the way I respond to God’s discipline is either going take me right to Naomiville or keep me as far away as possible…

- the difference is the spiritual condition is stark…

- this occurs in our hearts which is why we have to keep such careful watch over it…

- the characteristics that both Paul and James associate with bitterness ought to make us want to stay as far away as possible…

- and even if we’re not getting what we want or think we deserve right now – be like these two ladies who patiently waited for God to act instead of cultivating a bitter heart and life that ends up looking and sounding like this…

- some of the places to especially evaluate – do you tend the glorify the past?...that’s what the children of Israel did – in their bitterness they concocted the lie that life back in Egypt was good…Naomi did the same thing – I went out full…

- not Joseph – he told his brothers the truth about the past – you meant it for evil…

- bitter people exaggerate the present – God brought us out here to kill us – Naomi said that God brought her back empty…that’s the language of bitterness…

- bitter people plan revenge…you hurt me and I may not get mad but I’m certainly going to get even…

- what about a bitter tongue?...we know what that sounds like, huh?...does your sound that way?...

- there’s the negative impact bitterness will have on us…and look at what it can do to others…it causes trouble and by it many are defiled…

- does that verse have your name on it?...

- listen – I know that repentance and confession are hard…but bitterness has never taken anyone to a good place…

- our sweet Savior stands ready to forgive and cleanse any person who will turn from bitterness and run to the cross [develop]…

- well, where does Naomi’s new-found faith her, and us?

III. The Risk of Firmly Believing that God’s Plan is Breathtakingly Best

- if the ending of this story doesn’t light your fire, as old old-time preacher used to say – your wood is wet…

A. The beauty of redemption

- Boaz explains exactly why he is willing to pay this price…

Ruth 4:9–10 - Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.

- it reminds us of… 1 Peter 1:18–19 - knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

- friend, do you know for sure that there has been a definite time in your life when you’ve been redeemed?....

- Christian friend – don’t you want every person in your sphere of influence to be able to proclaim the same thing?...

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,

No language my rapture can tell;

I know that the light of his presence

With me doth continually dwell

I think of my blessed Redeemer

I think of Him all the day long

I sing, for I cannot be silent;

His love is the theme of my song

I know I shall see in His beauty

The King in whose law I delight;

Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps

And giveth me songs in the night

B. The beauty of new life

- it is absolutely amazing that Naomi is the one given such prominence and honor at the end of this story…

  • Ruth 4:14 - Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.
  • Ruth 4:17 - The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

C. The beauty of a divine plan

- this wasn’t just any baby…this was an ancestor of David…and ultimately of Jesus Christ…

- so a day was coming…when there would be a king in Israel…King David…one of the greatest kinds the nation ever knew…albeit not without significant faults…

- pointing to another day…where someone would be born in this exact same town…the ideal king…the sinless Savior…the perfect lamb of God…the Lord Jesus Christ…

- knowing and rejoicing in Him can keep us out of bitterness…and motivate us to take significant risk so that others can know Him as well…


Dr. Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video