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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Boaz & Ruth

There’s no question that the Bible has a lot to say about families.

Neither is there any question that a lot of families show up in the Bible.

But if you want to know what the Bible says about families in general, then you probably should pick one specific topic or family, study that, and draw whatever applications you can for life today.

Myself, I’d suggest you take a look at the Book of Ruth – it’s short. It’s fairly well-known. And unlike the Book of Proverbs or the Song of Solomon, you won’t be circling back anytime this quarter to take another look at it.

So read the Book of Ruth with your class, and ask these questions:

Chapter One: Why does Naomi think God has cursed her? What is the one bright spot in her life that might keep hope alive? Why is Ruth such an unlikely heroine – and what does this tell you about the way God helps us in rough times?

Chapter Two: Notice how often the word “bless” or “blessing” shows up in this chapter! What are some of the ways in which Ruth blesses Naomi? In which Boaz blesses Ruth? In which Naomi blesses Ruth? What does this tell you about the way God blesses us – and the ways in which we can bless others?

Chapter Three: Why does Naomi try to “push things along” – and what risks does Ruth take in going along with this plan? What does this tell you about Ruth? What does the response of Boaz tell you about him? Why was their experience at the threshing floor such a turning point – and when has God used this kind of “turning points” in your life?

NOTE: a “kinsman-redeemer” was the next-of-kin; as such, he was supposed to look after people such as Naomi and Ruth.

Chapter Four: Why does the “kinsman-redeemer” respond favorably the deal he’s first offered by Boaz – and why does he back out after he finds out more about this “deal”? What does that tell you about him? Notice that, unlike Naomi, Orpah, Ruth, or Boaz, we never learn the name of the “kinsman-redeemer” – why is that (and why is that especially ironic, given the concern he expresses in Ruth 4:6, and the statement Boaz makes in Ruth 4:10)? Compare the statement made to Naomi in Ruth 4:14-15 with the statement she made in Ruth 1:20-21; what has changed, and why? Finally, why is it ironic that Ruth turns out to be such a blessing, not just to Boaz and Naomi, but to the entire nation of Israel? (Hint: read Numbers 25.)

General reflection: Sum-up the character of each person in this story: Naomi, Orpah, Ruth, Boaz, and the anonymous “kinsman-redeemer.” Which of these characters is the most like you? Which is the least like you? What does this story say to your “character” – and what do you need to do about it?

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Simple people do not want to hear about simple things; they want to hear about great things, simply told” – Jane Addams.

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