Listen to the message:
The story of Ruth takes place around 1100 B.C. during the time of the judges, between the conquest of the promised land and the establishment of the Israelite monarchy in 1050 B.C. The map will give you an idea of where we are in the ancient world.
While Ruth explains the providential ancestry of King David, it also is a powerful story of what it looks like to dream, lose heart, and regain hope. It is a timeless message that will have application for each one of us.
1:1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. 3 Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
JRR Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937. The story follows the unexpected journey of a reluctant Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who is recruited by the wizard Gandalf to assist a group of Dwarves in reclaiming their ancestral mountain home from a monstrous dragon named Smaug.
In the story, Gandalf attempts to lure Bilbo into the journey, calling it an “adventure.”
Gandalf: “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
Bilbo: “I should think so — in these parts! We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t see what anybody sees in them.”
Gandalf: “You’ll have a tale or two when you come back.”
Bilbo: “You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: “No. And if you do, you will not be the same.”
If you know how the story unfolds, you know that Gandalf was right. Biblo would not be the same. The journey changed him. Our journeys change us.
There are times in God’s providence when we all find ourselves on unexpected journeys.
Some are frightening but exciting. Like moving to Dahlonega to start Creekstone! Like having your first baby. Or even just getting married. Journeys that sometimes you couldn’t see coming a year in advance or even months before.
Some unexpected journeys though are crucibles of grief and despair. Sickness. Loss. Sorrow and suffering, fear and loneliness. This is the type of unexpected journey we find in the story of Ruth, especially for Ruth’s mother in law, Naomi. It is a story of devastating loss; but it is also a story of unrelenting hope… granted, a hope slowly realized. Hope that rises like the mountains as you drive across the plains to Denver. Eventually, and ever so slowly, the flat horizon gives way to the beauty of the Rockies.
What I want you to know is that every unexpected journey is like that. In God’s plan and purpose, there is always hope on the horizon — which means that there is hope for the journey.
Listen to the message: