I hope you’ve been enjoying our series in Leviticus and Numbers which is now drawing to a close. One of the best things about delving deep into the Old Testament is to see the many and varied ways that the gospel is foreshadowed so very long ago through the story of God’s people Israel and his care of them. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).
We’ll be turning our attention to Ruth next; a small book that rests between Judges and 1 Samuel – both of which we’ve also looked at in the last few years. So how can we prepare to learn together from this part of God’s word?
1. Read Ruth!
It sounds simple, but it’s something many of us fail to do. Reading the passage ahead of time allows us to think about it, to begin to ask questions and to chew on things. We get more out of both the sermon and our time together in Growth Group this way. So read through Ruth’s 4 chapters. Watch out for themes you’ve already seen in the Bible, ponder what ideas get carried through the book. Look how the story works; where are the crises or moments of drama? What problems are set up – how are they gospel problems? How are they solved? And then ask yourself the most important question – how is this really all there to help me love and trust Jesus more (2 Timothy 3:15)? Like me, you won’t get all the answers immediately but we’ll at least be closer to them!
2. Get familiar with the context The world of Ruth is a long way away from even the New Testament, let alone Australia in 2023! Here’s how it begins:
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab…RUTH 1:1 (ESV)
But this is not a world that is alien to us. As a church we’ve looked at all the surrounding books of the Bible with sermon series in Numbers and Leviticus, Joshua, Judges and 1 Samuel. We’ve got some sense of what was going on for Israel in those days as they travelled in the wilderness, as God established them in the land and they settled into life amongst the pagan nations. We watched them long for a king like the nations when they already had a divine ruler. But if you need to recap, go back to one of the linked sermon series and listen again!
So even verse 1 of the book becomes fascinating! We know about the days when the judges ruled! We understand that a famine might not just be about weather patterns (hint: Deut. 28). Even in the last week we’ve learned what sort of a place Moab is. Putting even those three facts together can tell us a large amount. And that’s just half of one verse!
Pray for yourself as you come to read and think about God’s word. Pray for your fellow church members that together we would learn great things! Pray for your preachers and Growth Group leaders as they work hard to lead us in these things. Pray for Bible readers as they express these great truths and for our musicians as they help us respond to them!
A lot of work goes into a sermon series and every one of us can be part of that work.
I’m looking forward with you to reaping a harvest of God’s kindness to St John’s as we read through Ruth together. Will you join in the work?
David Ould / Senior Associate Minister
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta
PRAY: Give thanks for the insights we’ve gained from reading the Old Testament. Pray that we would read Ruth with open hearts, finding the truths that deepen our love for Jesus. Pray for our preachers, Growth Group leaders, Bible readers, and musicians as they lead us in this journey.
Join us this Sunday for our Sunday services. We meet at 8am, 9:30am, 11am and 5pm at the Cathedral – and online at 11am. Check out out Sunday services page for more information on our face-to-face services.