Choices, Choices, Choices (Part 2) – Ruth 1:8-22

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Further Application


  1. Do you most often find yourself trusting in the things that you can see, or trusting in God by faith? Why is it so tempting to give the weight of our faith to trusting in only what we can see? How can you prepare yourself to trust God no matter your circumstances?
  2. What are the gods of your past that you left behind when you surrendered your life to Jesus? How did they fail you in the past? How has God provided for you? How may you need to repent and turn away from the gods of your past and turn back to God?
  3. Have you ever suffered from bitter blindness, or are you suffering now? The only cure for bitterness is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is acceptable to discuss your bitterness with God; he already knows anyway. But when you discuss your bitterness with God, be willing to be healed and to see through God’s eyes according to his sovereignty and his plan and not your own. Ask for his mercy and grace to relieve you of your bitterness. Ask God to help you be satisfied with Christ, and not demand an answer that God may not yet be willing to reveal to you. Remember that, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
  4. How can you graciously and patiently help someone who is suffering from bitterness receive the Gospel of redemption?
  5. What do you need to give up to follow Jesus fully in faith so that he can take you where he wants?

Sermon Notes


Main Idea: Choose this day, by faith, to trust in the love and sovereignty of God and receive redemption through Jesus Christ.

Introduction
Last week we began a new series: Redemption’s Love Story from Ruth
Ruth is a Beautiful Love Story… Beyond Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi… Beyond Ruth and her kinsman redeemer Boaz (who we will meet in the narrative next week)
The main story line is not the beautiful coming together of two people

The main story is the glorious, coming together of God and man.
The main character is God, and the main theme is Redemption.

Redemption according to the gracious plan of God.
Redemption by the sovereign hand of God.

The Book of Ruth is a Showcase for God’s Sovereignty
In the theater, there are two types of actors: The Lead/Main Actor and Supporting Actors
-A Supporting Actor is an actor who performs a role in a play or film below that of a lead role, and above that of a bit part. They’re the best friend, the love interest, the sidekick (like Robin in the Batman series). They never upstage the lead/main actor.
-The Lead is the main actor who is the protagonist, or the central, primary personal figure who moves the story along.

Every scene in Ruth makes clear that Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz are all supporting actors in this story. The Lead, or the Primary Mover, of the storyline in Ruth is God. God is in the foreground or background in every scene
For Example:
-Ruth 1:13 – Naomi interprets her suffering as an expression of the sovereignty of God
-Ruth 2:20 – Naomi views the blessing she and Ruth have received as being from God according to his sovereignty

This recognition of the Sovereignty of God would not come as a surprise to the Jewish readers of the Book. They would understand this central tenant of faith:
-God rules over everything
-God is Sovereign

Sovereignty of God
The sovereignty of God is God’s unparalleled and unstoppable rule and authority over the entire universe.
(John MacArthur) “No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God controls everything and rules over everything.”[1] …BECAUSE THAT EVERYTHING INCLUDES YOU.

Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Those who reject God, do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24)

God is absolutely sovereign. He has absolute authority. Because he has decreed it so, he has granted man the freedom to choose. This is a God given freedom that we see from Creation, and there in the Garden of Eden, we see the human heart pervert its God given freedom by choosing to sin – to rebel against the authority of God.

God does not author sin. But God permits it, because he permits our choice. He has given us the freedom to choose. Yet, we are not free from the consequences of our choices.

You are not free from the consequences of your choices. When you have rebelled against the authority of God (c.f. Exodus 20, Ten Commandments; James 2:20, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.) you have chosen to abandon the loving, wise, life-giving God, just as did Adam and Eve. And just like them, when you rebelled against God’s authority you may have thought you were liberating yourself, but what you did was turn from loving liberty and chose the prison of sin and the graveyard of death. In the Garden, when sin first entered the scene, God could have wiped humanity from the earth and began again. But he didn’t. He came to Adam and Eve and showed them grace. When you rebel against God, you have chosen against him; you have abandoned him; you have turned your back on God. And God, as a perfectly holy and perfectly just God, could justly turn his back on you.  He could, but as perfectly holy and just as God is, he also perfectly loves. So instead of destroying you or abandoning you, in his own perfect love, God chose to redeem you to himself.

In his perfect way according to his perfect sovereign care, God has been moving his plan for redemption of men and women through Jesus Christ forward since Creation to now. He has chosen through Jesus to redeem you to himself.

Ruth is the beautiful story of the redeeming of love between God and us through Jesus Christ
Ruth is Redemption’s Love Story

A. Last week – vv1-7
1. We Set the Stage
Dark ages of Israel’s history; Period of the Judges
Where there was:
(a.) Great Depth of Depravity
There was: Spiritual apostasy… Political anarchy… Pervasive rebellion (against God and God’s Word)
(1) Israelites ignoring Law of God for their own law
“Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)
(2) Ignoring Worship of God for their own gods
Taking on the gods of the pagan Canaanites surrounding them

Though we see a Great Depth of Depravity in Judges, in Ruth we witness…
(b.) The Great Depth of God’s Faithfulness
In the middle of a very dark and faithless time of the people of God, there is this story of God’s continued faithfulness to his promise (c.f. Gen 3:15). Judges relates God’s story through the history of Israel as a whole. Ruth chronicles the God’s story through a particular family, their: Experiences… Tribulations… Faith… Rescue/redemption.

With the Stage Set,
2. We see a Series of Choices with a Series of Consequences (v1-4)
APP:
1. You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.
2. The consequences of your decisions very often go beyond you into your family/other relationships

This truth is especially seen in…
(a.) Elimelech’s choice to move to Moab, not just to sojourn (v1) but to stay (v2)
There was a famine in Bethlehem, but instead of entrusting himself into the hands of our wise, loving, sovereign God, Elimelech took matters into his own hands.
When Elimelech moved away from God (God didn’t move):
1. Elimelech abandoned the land God had given him
2. He abandoned the fellowship of the people of God
3. He abandoned his place of worship
4. He abandoned the authority of God

(b.) Great Irony:
Elimelech moved to avoid death, but after he moved, he died. Not only did Elimelech die, his sons “Weak, sterile” and “Pining, wasting away” (i.e. Mahlon, Chilion) also died.

With this Series of Choices, came compounding consequences, and compounding sorrows…
3. We saw the Suffering of a Family (vv2-7)
(a.) The family was suffering.
Naomi, Orpah, Ruth

(b.) What was in particular focus was Naomi’s suffering…
1. Endured famine
2. Moved to another country – a hostile country
3. Moved to a place with a different language and the worship of different gods
4. Husband died in this strange land
5. Sons married but she was without her husband
6. Ten childless years – no husband & no grandchildren
7. Ten childless years, no grandchildren, and then Naomi went through the nightmare of losing both of her children
8. Living among enemies of the people of God
9. Left with no means of support

(c.) Naomi was Bereaved, Socially & Economically Bankrupt, and Broken (v6)
As we continue to read, this is God’s sovereign plan working its way out. This is God delivered brokenness in the life of Naomi. Naomi is bereaved, bankrupt, and broken, and in verse 6, she determines in her mind, at least physically, to return from the Land of Moab back to Bethlehem. Then in verse 7, “So she departed from the place where she was…”
APP:
If you are going to return to the Lord, you have to depart from where you are.

So let’s pick the story up again beginning in verse 8. Today I want you to take note of 7 key applications from our text, and they’re under these headings: Short-sighted Command; Steadfast Commitment; Serious Choice.

v6 – famine ended
v7 – Naomi and her daughter’s-in-law began journey back to Bethlehem
B. Short-sighted Command – vv8, 11-13, 19-21
SHORTSIGHTED COMMAND because of LIMITED PERCEPTION
1. Naomi’s Shortsighted command to Orpah & Ruth (v8)
“Return to Moab”
At first this may seem gracious. Naomi had nothing for them – no money, no sons, no means of support, no kinsman redeemer that she could fathom (vv11-13). But what she did have was the one, true, living God – the God of Israel. If Naomi could offer nothing else to Orpah and Ruth but faith in God, that would have been enough, and eternally priceless. But she had become blind to that truth.

APP (1):
Often with PAIN AND DIFFICULT SITUATIONS, we can fall victim to a LIMITED PERCEPTION. Naomi didn’t denounce God but she DOUBTED HIM in self-pity. She couldn’t see or fathom God working through the situation. She became convinced that the hand of God was against her. This is MANY PEOPLE’S DEFAULT POSITION in a time of deep trouble. They’re left with THE SAME DEBILITATING RESULT – NO HOPE
APP (2):
Our hope in trying times is NOT WHAT WE CAN DO TO ALLEVIATE OUR TRIALS, but WHAT GOD CAN DO through our trials.

For Naomi, for more than 10 years, she had been trying to go it alone. She thought she was showing graciousness in her bitterness BUT she was encouraging Orpah and Ruth to return to paganism, telling them to “take care of yourselves.” It was a shortsighted command because of a limited perception – because of a bitter blindness that stemmed from a bitter belief.

2. Bitter Blindness from Naomi’s Bitter Belief ( vv19-21)
Naomi describes herself as bitter when she returned to Bethlehem. No longer “Naomi” (pleasant, sweet) but now “Mara” (bitter). She doesn’t conceal her emotion or belief; she says she is bitter and it was all God’s fault. She was raw and honest, and she blamed God.

Naomi’s bitter reaction to her suffering blinded her to certain truths about the nature of God and his purpose in her suffering.

(a.) Blind to God’s provision
In Bethlehem, God was going to provide abundantly for Naomi and Ruth

APP (3):
We can never see the future but God can so we can confidently trust him

(b.) Blind to God’s personal caring relation
Naomi was right to profess God’s sovereignty but wrong to look at God as her adversary. God is in control AND God loves us. God’s loves us so much that he gave his Son (John 3:16) so that we may be justly reconciled and in relationship with him. Without the love of God, our doctrine of God is distorted and incomplete.

(c.) Blind to God’s providential purpose
Naomi couldn’t see it, but God was working in all the events of her life for HIS GOOD PURPOSE – to bring salvation to the nations

APP (4):
What if you are here today, and you are bitter? We cannot expect to be healed from bitterness until we admit to God that bitterness is there. Confess. God already knows. Confess and ask the Holy Spirit to remove the blinders of bitterness so you can once again see the love of God showering upon you.

APP (5):
We face a choice in our suffering: “God you could have stopped this!” OR “God, I have no idea why you have allowed this but I know you are good, loving, gracious, merciful and wise so I will trust you.” (c.f. Joseph – Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28 “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”)
Pray: “God help us to know you are not simply watching us go through a difficult time, open our eyes so that we know that You are carrying us through a difficult time.”

Shortsighted Command from Naomi and Orpah took her up on her offer (v14) but where we see Naomi’s shortsighted command, we see…
C. Ruth’s Steadfast Commitment – vv15, 16-17
Even after Naomi’s second attempt to send her away (v15)
Ruth’s STEADFAST COMMITMENT because LOVE DOES NOT QUIT
1. Caring commitment – v16: “do not urge me to leave you,” Ruth cared for her aging mother-in-law,
2. Forever commitment – v17: “where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried”
3. Physical commitment – v16a: “go”….“lodge”
4. Social commitment – v16b: “your people, my people,” Not easy, inter-racial & inter-cultural commitment, Jews didn’t like Moabites.
5. Spiritual commitment – v16c: “your God, my God,” Ruth abandoned idol worship of her youth and embraced the one true God and His covenant people. Decided to go against everything: (1.) That she had been taught about Chemosh (2.) That her family and friends believed. RUTH PUT HER FAITH IN GOD, AND BROKE FROM EVERYTHING IN HER PAST.

APP (6):
When we put our faith in God, we put down everything in which we used to trust. (Luke 14:33, Phil 3:7, Hebrews 11:26)
Luke 14:33, Jesus speaking… “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Jesus is saying, “If you’re not willing to give up everything to follow me, then you will not follow me where I want to take you. You will only go where you want to go.”
It is a foolish thing to be unwilling to give up that which we cannot hold on to.

D. You have a Serious Choice

APP (7):
Trust God with your present and future. Choose to trust God. Do not return to the gods of your past. Choose to trust God.

Illustration
Lisa Beamer (9/11 tragedy): “We all have the choice to…become bitter or to become better…I have found …security in a loving heavenly Father… in whom I can trust completely….”
With that statement, Lisa Beamer chose to trust in God. Ruth chose to trust in God. She put her faith in the only loving, wise, sovereign God.
(Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

You have a serious choice, choose this day to trust God in faith.

1. Choices Based on Sight
Take note of the choices based on sight (and not by faith) in Chapter 1 and the consequences of these choices:
Elimelech – deprivation, desolation, death
His sons – barrenness, death
Orpah – certain death at her return to pagan Moab
Even Naomi – bitterness

2. A Choice Based on Faith
Ruth’s choice brought:
New devotion
New determination
New destiny – Deliverance and Redemption

As the Holy Spirit beckons you, you can choose this day:
Whether to walk by sight, OR TO WALK BY FAITH and receive REDEMPTION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

Jesus Christ, his cross at Calvary for you, is Redemption’s Love Story for you.

For a pdf version: Choices (Part 2)-Ruth 1_8-22-Redemptions Love Story Series


[1] John MacArthur, “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” (Grace to You, 2015), Accessed February 2015, http://www.gty.org/resources/Articles/A167/Gods-Absolute-Sovereignty.

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