Alistair Begg: From a Foreigner to King Jesus #TGC11

Alistair Begg spoke next on preaching Christ from the Book of Ruth (Ruth 1-4).

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

A few of my notes follow:


What makes Ruth sparkle so much is the background in which it’s set. The time of the Judges at the very least was a time of instability. But in that you see God at work through a wealthy man, foreign worker, and a thrice bereaved widow.

Who could ever imagine that Naomi’s predicament would lead first to the conversion of her daughter-in-law, the birth of David and ultimately the coming of Christ.

How can we effectively preach Christ from these chapters? Learning to do this is the journey of a lifetime. But our listeners should be able to follow the progress of our thought that leads them to Jesus, especially in the Old Testament narrative. We come to the text with certain assumptions, [among them]:

  1. God has provided both the record of redemption and the interpretation in Holy Scripture.
  2. The proper Christian use of the Old Testament is an urgent need.
  3. We will be helped if we read the Bible from back to front. It will be easier to find the tributaries if we start at the mouth of the river and move our way back from there.
  4. The message of Ruth cannot be understood without the coming of Jesus.
  5. The Old Testament Scriptures can and should mean more to us than they did to the people of the Old Testament for we live in light of their Christian fulfillment.
  6. The genre of the text should determine the way in which we illustrate the coming of Christ. The way in which the story is crafted is so wonderful in that it gives the sense that there is something more to this if we’ll just read further.

Three charcoal sketches:

  1. Three women on the road to somewhere. It starts out with three women on the road back to Judah. The backdrop is one of poor choices and judgment. And on this road, we see Ruth’s conversion. When Orpah turns and goes back to Moab and Ruth stays, what motivates it? She believed. God does not believe for us. We believe. And Ruth believed. She entered through the narrow gate.
  2. The title of a man. At this point, the author introduces a new character, Boaz. In chapter 2, Ruth has been learning the Law of God, and she knows that God provides for the poor. “Let me go into the fields,” she says, “behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” The word “favor” points us in the direction we need to go. And it so happened that she found herself in the field of Boaz who happens to be of the clan of Elimelech. And a short while later, we see Naomi up to her tricks. “Did you know that Boaz is our kinsmen redeemer…?” Boaz as the redeemer has the right to intervene in the circumstances of Naomi and Ruth. He has the right, the prerogative, to take on their needs and all their troubles, to take them on and bear them as if they were his very own. Paul points us to the mystery of Christ and the Church, where He takes on the troubles and needs of His bride, and makes them His own.
  3. Look at that little bundle. We might want to talk about the birth of David’s grandfather or that the hills where they stood and it would be where the shepherds would stand and hear angels sing at the coming of Christ; and we might focus on the images of grain and punch right through to Luke 15, where we see that fellow who says, “In my Father’s house there is bread to spare, and yet I go hungry. I shall arise and go to him.” These nudges are to point us to the provision of God. The author keeps pointing out that Ruth was a Moabitess, and that she was naturally excluded from the covenant. But God in His mercy, extended His blessing and brought her into covenant with Himself.

Book Review: A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper

Title: A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Crossway Books

With it’s themes of sex, romance, culture and the unseen hand of God, the Old Testament book of Ruth is perhaps one of the most gripping short stories ever written—one with a great deal to teach us.

That’s why I was so glad to read A Sweet & Bitter Providence by John Piper as he illustrates how the story of Naomi, Ruth & Boaz teaches us to suffer well for the glory of God, recognizing that all things occur according to His sovereign rule.

God Reigns—But Do We See It?

Piper begins with the “bitter” providence of God in Naomi’s life. Seeking to find respite from the famine that has struck Israel, Her husband, Elimelech, moves Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon & Chilion, to Moab. There, instead of finding relief, the family finds only despair. Elimelech dies, her sons marry two Moabite women and die as well, childless. Naomi sees that “the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). Of this, Piper writes,

I would take Naomi’s theology any day over the sentimental views of God that permeate so many churches today. Endless excuses are made for God’s sovereignty. Naomi is unshaken and sure about three things: God exists, God is sovereign, and God has afflicted her. (pp. 37-38)

Piper wants readers to catch a larger vision of God, one that the Bible itself displays. A God who is much bigger than He appears based on what we hear in many sermons and read in a lot of books. He is real. He is sovereign and, yes, He has afflicted her. But all of these things happen not because He is capricious and mean, but because He is using them to further His plans for the salvation of the world. [Read more…]