Embracing Hope in Bitterness because of the Sweet Alternative

Dr. Steve Viars August 4, 2019 Ruth 2-3
Outline

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

Genesis 25-36 – the story of Esau

Exodus 15:23-24 - When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Deuteronomy 29:18 – warning about people who are like a “root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood”

Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Ephesians 4:31-32 - Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

James 3:13-18 - But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…

Hebrews 12:1-17 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

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 1:20-21 - 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?”

Ruth 1:22 - 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.

3 characteristics of faith that overcomes bitterness

I. Sweet Faith Takes God at His Word

A. In the way she trusted the principle of gleaning

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.”

Deuteronomy 24:19 - When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

1. Even as a foreigner

Ruth 2:2 - Ruth the Moabitess…

Ruth 2:6 - …the young Moabite woman…

Ruth 2:10 - …seeing that I am a foreigner…

Ruth 2:11a - …you left your father and mother and the land of your birth…

Ruth 2:11b - …came to a people you did not previously know…

2. Because of the principles and promises of God’s Word

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.

“abandonment to God for mercy, salvation, deliverance, hope, and life. cf. Psa. 2:12, 5:12, 7:1, 16:1, 17:7, 18:3, 31, 25:20, 34:22, 37:40, Nah. 1:7, Zeph. 3:12.” Brandt and Kress, God in Everyday Life, p. 59

B. In the way she honored her mother-in-law

Exodus 20:12 - Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Ruth 1:14 - …but Ruth clung to her…

Ruth 2:11 - Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me…

Ruth 2:18 - …She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

C. In the way she conducted herself with humility and grace

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.”

Ruth 2:7 - And she said, “Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves...”

Ruth 2:10 - Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

Ruth 2:13 - Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

Romans 10:9-10 - …that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:13 - …for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

II. Sweet Faith is Met with God’s Bountiful Providence

A. She just so happened…

Ruth 2:3 - So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

Ruth 2:3 (KJV) - …her hap was to light on a part of a field belonging to Boaz…

The Hebrew phrase literally reads “her hap happened,” or “her chance chanced,” or “she happened to happen upon.” Huey, Jr. F.B., Rith in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1992, pp. 527

B. Of people who love God and rejoice in His lovingkindness

1. The way Boaz spoke about God

Ruth 2:4 - Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

2. The way Boaz spoke to her

Ruth 2:14 - At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”

C. These ladies were “swimming in barley”

Ruth 2:14 - …So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.

Ruth 2:18 - …and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

Ruth 2:17 - So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.

D. Provision of protection

Ruth 2:16 - Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.

E. Pointing directly to even greater provision

John 6:35 - Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”

III. Sweet Faith Acts with Courage and Trust

Ruth 2:20 - Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.”

- If you’ve ever had the privilege of traveling to another country, you’ve probably also had to go through some sort of customs process…

- on quite a few occasions over the years, I’ve found myself in that position alone because the people who were picking me up at the airport have to wait on the other side of customs so you’re essentially on your own until you get through…

- I’m not a particularly fearful person but there are aspects of that experience that make you at least somewhat uncomfortable…

- sometimes there is no heating or air conditioning so I’ve been in situations where I was sure I was going to freeze solid before I got through and other times where I was sure I was going to melt…[and you know I’m a man, so I would never exaggerate my discomfort…]

- then there’s the sheer length of the lines where you have idea how long it will take to get through…

- sometimes there are personnel who don’t speak your language putting documents in your hand that you are supposed to fill out but they are in a different language or ask for information you don’t have…

- then you have a strong police or military presence often with machines guns and trained dogs…and we’re just not used to seeing those kinds of sights at our airports in the US…

- but it’s part of what’s required to go to another country and try to serve them with the Word of God so you do what you have to do to gain entry…

- and after all, it’s not like complaining is going to get you anywhere…there’s no alternative so you just deal with it…or is there an alternative…

- this summer when we went to the Dominican Republic, our friends there had organized for someone to meet us as soon as we got off the plane…

- it’s the same process dignitaries and foreign diplomats enjoy…

- so they have this little sign with your name on it…someone is there to take your luggage and go retrieve any luggage you may have checked on…

- you bypass all the lines….which by this time you’re surrounded by several uniformed officials and all the “regular people” in line are looking over to see who the rock star is…probably hoping to get an autograph of something…

- then they take you to a lounge that has snacks and beverages and big leather couches and chairs…and you sit around and enjoy yourself for a few minutes while someone takes your passport, gives a quick check, pats you on the back and you leave through a separate door in the airport where your car is right outside and off you go…

- now, I have experienced both approaches to getting into another country…and would we all agree – if you had a choice – we would all prefer the alternative…

- up until recently, I didn’t even know there was an alternative…but now that I do…any time I have the chance, I’m going for the second option…

- here’s why I mention that this morning – often in the Word of God we’re given a scenario…a story about the way many people are living…and perhaps even how we are living in some fashion or to some degree…and it’s really not pleasant in any way, shape, or form but we do it because we didn’t think there was an option…

- and then the Lord essentially says…now let me show you the alternative…a different way of doing that…a better way of doing that…then you can decide which option you would prefer…with that in mind, please open your Bible this am to Ruth chapter 2…page 200 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this morning we’re talking about Embracing the Hope in Bitterness because of the Alternative of Sweet Faith

- we’re coming down to the end of this 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

- early on we learned that 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)

- we’ve found ourselves in a number of important places in the Word of God but some of the most crucial are:

  • Genesis 25-36 – the story of Esau [perhaps the poster boy for how bitterness develops]…
  • Exodus 15:23–24 - When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

- what is amazing about that passage is that it follows right after the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea…so within days the people are griping and complaining instead of trusting the hand of their faithful God…

- it’s at that this point in time in the history of Israel that the word Marah becomes connected to the concept of grumbling and questioning God’s covenant loyalty

  • Deuteronomy 29:18 – warning about people who are like a “root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood”

- this was just prior to the children of Israel entering the promised land…so an entire generation had to die in the wilderness because of the faithless report of ten of the twelve spies and the people’s response of bitterly complaining instead of courageously trusting…they were a nation of Esau’s and Moses tells the next generation…don’t let that happen again…be on the lookout for such persons or families…

  • Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

- this is part of what can make this so dangerous…it starts in the crock-pot of our hearts and slowly simmers if we allow it to…

  • Ephesians 4:31–32 - Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

- the importance of this contrast will become very apparent today…and then…

  • James 3:13-18, esp. v. 14 - But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

- and then all of this comes together in…

  • Hebrews 12:1-17, esp. vv. 15–17 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

- hopefully one of our responses will be to simply praise God for giving us clear and compelling truth about how to overcome this terrible and dangerous tendency…

- another response could be – well, how the process of overcoming it look in real life?....

- that’s why we’re in the book of Ruth…it’s a bitterness test case…and that’s really true…

- last week we saw 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…f

- 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…

- that’s what it feels like to be standing in the ordinary customs line in many third-world airports…depressing, and hopeless, and bitter…

- and then the alternative appears… 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.”

- and the obvious question both then and now is – whose faith is yours most like, Naomi’s, or Ruth’s?...

- then they return to Bethlehem and the women of the city say…aren’t you Naomi?...

- and how does she respond?... Ruth 1:20–21 - 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?”

- that’s full-on bitterness…that’s exactly what this series is intended to overcome…

- and you might say – what happens next?...can I suggest that anything happens next is a strong indication that God is far different than what Naomi thinks at the moment?....

- Ruth 1:22 - 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.

- let’s read what happens next, and as I do…please be looking for 3 characteristics of faith that overcomes bitterness.

- read selected portions of Ruth 2:1 – 3:18

- so we’re talking this am about Embracing the Hope in Bitterness because of the Alternative of Sweet Faith…and let’s spend the rest of our time thinking about 3 characteristics of faith that overcomes bitterness.

I. Sweet Faith Takes God at His Word

A. In the way she trusted the principle of gleaning

- practically every verse we just read is amazing in some way…

- including Ruth’s initial request in chapter 2…

- 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.”

- you wonder why Ruth didn’t say – hey Naomi, you’re the Jewish person here – this is your hometown – the cupboards are a bit bare – how about if you go out and try a little gleaning like your OT commands…

- gleaning – which means by the way…following the harvesters and gathering whatever they missed…

- this wasn’t a universally practiced principle…it was provision in the book of Deuteronomy and other places in the Bible for people who were poor and disenfranchised

- Deuteronomy 24:19 - When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

- Ruth was casting herself on the provision of God’s Word and the possibility that He would empower His people to do what He said…

1. Even as a foreigner

- there are strong racial overtones in this story…

- it is amazing how often Ruth’s ethnicity is mentioned…she’s not just Ruth, she’s…

  • 2:2 – Ruth the Moabitess
  • 2:6 – the young Moabite woman
  • 2:10 – seeing that I am a foreigner
  • 2:11a – you left your father and mother and the land of your birth
  • 2:11b – came to a people you did not previously know

2. Because of the principles and promises of God’s Word.

- one of the seminal verses in this passage is…

- 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.

- unlike Naomi, and unlike many Jewish people during the times of the judges…there was a king in Ruth’s heart…and she was going to do what was right in His eyes…

- Naomi may have thought that God was not trustworthy and therefore her bitterness and lack of faith was justified…

- Amazingly, God allowed Ruth to come to an entirely different conclusion…

- as one commentator on this book said, this was “abandonment to God for mercy, salvation, deliverance, hope, and life. cf. Psa. 2:12, 5:12, 7:1, 16:1, 17:7, 18:3, 31, 25:20, 34:22, 37:40, Nah. 1:7, Zeph. 3:12” (Brandt and Kress, God in Everyday Life, p. 59).

- and the lesson here to any of us who might be struggling in the fog of bitterness is – take steps towards obeying what you know of God’s Word even if you have no idea of the outcome…sweet faith is an alternative to putrid bitterness…

B. In the way she honored her mother-in-law

- what’s the first manward commandment…the one that comes with a promise?...

- Exodus 20:12 - Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

- and in this case, Ruth was certainly even treating her mother in law that way…

- you have this multiple use of the word cleave…

- Ruth 1:14 – but Ruth clung to her…

- the same word in Genesis 2 about a husband and wife cleaving to one another…

- so much so that it was the talk of the town…

- Ruth 2:11 - Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me…

- then you have this delightful detail about how Ruth has a marvelous lunch…but what does she think to do?... Ruth 2:18 - …She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

- people who believe in and whose hearts are softened by God’s hesed, his covenant love and loyalty…chose to respond to God and others in a similar way…

- Ruth is being faithful to God’s Word by functioning this way…

- I appreciate the questions some in our church family have posed during this series [develop]…

- two people asked me practically the same question within 24 hours of one another – what about when you called to live with or around a person who’s bitter?...we don’t want to minimize how painful that can be…

- but the answer is right here – don’t get pulled down in the mire with them…choose to obey the clarity of God’s Word in the way you relate to them and see what impact that might have…[develop – that’s the point of Ephesians 4:31-32]…

C. In the way she conducted herself with humility and grace

  • 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.”

- see, there isn’t that entitlement mentality that characterizes so many people who have succumbed to bitterness…

  • Ruth 2:7 - “And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves...’
  • Ruth 2:10 - Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
  • Ruth 2:13 - Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

- the wording there is very important – because Boaz called her “maid”…one of the ladies in my household…she responded back with a different word…you spoke kindly to your “maidservant”…which was a position far lower on the social ladder…and then she said – I’m not even that…

- how do you get out of bitterness – conclude in your heart that God is full of mercy and lovingkindness – even if you can’t see all the evidences of that in your swirling circumstances…

- and then through the eyes of faith…start walking out the truth of the Word of God and see what He chooses to do…

- and the backdrop of this was so stark – and all the readers would have known this…

- time doesn’t allow us to chase this detail – but if you are looking for some extra credit – study Judges chapters 17-18…which tells about the well-known scandal of another man from this same city…a Levite from the town of Bethlehem…who was hired by a man who erected an image of a false god and wanted someone to be his personal priest…so this Levite from Bethlehem did it for money [there was no king in Israel…]

- so the fact that this story has Bethlehem as the backdrop in light of that recent defection is significant…and the fact that Naomi chose the word Marah as her name…the children of Israel knew about that place and that famous example of the people of God complaining about the bitter taste of the water…

- and against all of that…is a far better alternative…

- picture that person in the customs line with a sign with your name on it…ready to take you to a far better approach…

- and the question is – are you like Naomi or are you like Ruth?...

- have you chosen to place your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior because you have concluded He is worthy of your trust and allegiance?...

  • Romans 10:9–10 - that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
  • Romans 10:13 - for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

- Christian friend – which is it – bitterly focusing on your own resources because you’ve concluded God and His Word are not worthy of your trust…

- or sweetly believing in Him even when it’s hard and joyfully following His Word trusting Him for the outcome…

- and what about the outcome?....

II. Sweet Faith is Met with God’s Bountiful Providence

- friend, is God worthy of our trust?...and the language in verse 3 is purposeful irony….

A. She just so happened…

- Ruth 2:3 - So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

- that’s a preacher joke…and its even stronger in the original language…

- if you remember this verse in the KJV, it was translated…2:3 (KJV) – her hap was to light on a part of a field belonging to Boaz

- we don’t talk that way anymore…(if we ever did)…but one commentator points out – The Hebrew phrase literally reads “her hap happened,” or “her chance chanced,” or “she happened to happen upon” (Huey, Jr. F.B., Rith in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1992, pp. 527).

- and the point is clear – when God is the one under whose wings you come to seek refuge – you can be sure that is working behind the scenes in ways that will take your breath away…

- and the lesson is – don’t let bitterness cause you to fail to be at the station of faithfulness when the trainload of God’s bountiful provision arrives in town…

- He is a God of hesed…of covenant loyalty…why would you choose any other king?...

B. Of people who love God and rejoice in His lovingkindness

- a significant part of God’s providence is the provision of a man like Boaz…

- can you imagine the impact when Ruth is standing in this field and the owner comes up and says…

1. The way Boaz spoke about God

- Ruth 2:4 - Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

- that had to be music to Ruth’s ears – here’s a man who believes in God the way I do and he’s not afraid to say it right here in an open field to the people who work for him…

2. The way Boaz spoke to her

- Ruth 2:14 - At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”

- the assumption is that as both a woman and a foreigner – there was no telling what abusive treatment she might have received in this situation…by time this story is over…

C. These ladies were “swimming in barley.”

- there’s no telling how long it had been since Naomi or Ruth had had a full meal…

- that’s why the word satisfied is so delightful…

  • Ruth 2:14 - …So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
  • Ruth 2:18 - …and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

- Boaz allowed her not just to glean…but to glean among the sheaves and he told his workers leave some of their own around as a bonus…

- and so at that end of that day – verse 17 says she had how much?...

  • Ruth 2:17 - So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.

- somewhere between 30-50 pounds…like a big bag of dog-food in our culture…

- two ladies could have survived for several weeks on that amount…and that was just one day…

D. Provision of protection

- Boaz made sure that Ruth was safe and even respected…

  • Ruth 2:16 - Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.

E. Pointing directly to even greater provision

- we’ll study next week, Lord willing, about what it meant for Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer and this marvelous wedding and birth of a child…

- but ultimately this is a biblical laser pointing straight to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ…John 6:35 - Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”

- and in Esau like terminology – we can either scurry after the red stuff…immediate gratification from whatever source seems best at the time…

- a path that inevitably leads to greater hunger…because idols always overpromise and under-deliver…and the end of that road is disappointment and bitterness…

- or we can reach for the birth-right – the reason we were created, to have a relationship with God through trusting the finished work of His Son which provides fulfillment and sustenance and satisfaction…

- the red stuff never satisfies…the Savior always does…

- [could discuss how all of this began around the time of the Passover and ended around the day of Pentecost…]

III. Sweet Faith Acts with Courage and Trust

- what these two ladies eventually did was absolutely amazing…

- and it started with Ruth’s courage to glean in the first place…that was an incredible act of faith…

- but as Naomi watched the events unfold…her bitter heart began to melt…

- she said essentially – I’ve been wrong about Jehovah…it’s not true that any old god will do…when she heard about Boaz and what he has said/done, her response was…

- Ruth 2:20 - Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.”

- surprise, surprise, surprise…

- and by the end of this 2 month period of time – Naomi has warmed up rather nicely to a belief in God’s covenant loyalty…so much so that she devises a marriage proposal that would make most folks blush just a bit…

- but hey, what’s a little risk…since God is who He says He is…

- some specific take-aways for you and me…

1. Have you embraced the alternative?...

- we live in a world that has judged the God of the Bible to be unworthy and as a result is scurrying around for the latest and greatest helping of red stuff…all which invariably disappoints and leads to bitterness…

- God uses a young Moabitess to illustrate the alternative – have you followed in her path?

2. Has God placed you around people who are hungry…or bitter...or broken…

- what would it take for you to be like Ruth, or like Boaz?...

- [develop fall readiness…]

3. Are you looking for godly influences like Ruth and Boaz?...

- small groups, ABF’s, CFN

4. Thank you for being so Boaz-like…

- develop the team serving to prepare the seminary houses…

5. Thank you for being willing to take risks

- discuss special offering for Isaac as he prepares to leave for Japan


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