Embracing Hope in Bitterness because of God’s Gracious Provision

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

“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

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

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