The Book of Ruth - Hope in Hard Times

During our evening services in November, we will be studying the book of Ruth together. It’s a book for our Covid moment: this is a story that opens with difficulty and tragedy. It’s a story about a real family, in a real place, facing really hard times. It’s set in the context of a nation far from God.

But this is a Biblical story. So the question arises, where is God in the midst of difficult and dark days? What is he doing? And can he bring hope and new life amidst very real losses?

Let’s take this opportunity to immerse ourselves into this much-loved Biblical book, and hear what God has to say to us today, through a 3,000 year old story full of loss, love and hope.

Ruth 1: 1-25 - When our world falls apart - David Knowles
Evening Service, Monday, November 2, 2020
The book of Ruth opens with difficulty: there is famine in Israel, causing Elimelek and his wife Naomi to leave the promised land with their two sons in search of food in Moab. They settle. Their sons marry. Then tragedy strikes: Elimelek and their two sons both die. The turning point in the story is the news that “the Lord had come to the aid of his people” (1:6-7), prompting a return to Israel. What do we do when our world falls apart? What can we learn from Naomi & Ruth’s story about who God is in times of difficulty and tragedy? When the troubles of life have driven us far from God, how can we make our way back?
Ruth 2 - Finding favour in unfavourable times - Alex Warren
Evening Service, Sunday, November 8, 2020
Arriving in Bethlehem just as the barley harvest was beginning (1:22), Ruth goes out in search of food – to “pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour” (2:2). By the end of the day, she has returned home overloaded with grain, a guarantee of work for the season and of protection from those who might harm her. The person in whose eyes she has “found favour” is Boaz, who – unbeknown to Ruth – is a close relative of Naomi. And it is in Boaz’s field “as it turned out” (2:3) that Ruth ended up working in. Boaz ascribes to God the blessings that come to Ruth that day, and in the days to come: “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (2:12). Where is God in our times of trouble – is he absent or is he working in the details? As we long for change in our circumstances, where – ultimately- do “favour”, “blessing” and “refuge” come from?
Ruth 3 - Finding Rest in Rest - Christiaan Hofstra
Evening Service, Sunday, November 15, 2020
Naomi waits until the end of the harvest. Her quest, that she might “find rest” (Hebrew of 3:1) for Ruth. But despite a careful plan, and Boaz’s consent to the proposal, there is a risk: another kinsman-redeemer with a stronger claim. Naomi, Ruth and Boaz have to wait. Naomi, as we all do, is looking for rest: for security amidst a risky and uncertain world. How do we balance the need to make plans and act with waiting and trusting God?