by Lauren Crane
The story of Ruth is the story of all of us, said David Platt.
The Biblical account of Ruth, who was widowed and destitute, is a story that all people can see themselves in, said Platt during a chapel sermon at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on September 9. The pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. , walked chapel-goers through the second chapter of Ruth, in which she meets Boaz, a kinsman of hers, but also a redeemer. The “romance of redemption” is a story of love, not only for Ruth, but for all people, Platt said.
“It is a story within a story,” Platt said. “It’s not just a story about Ruth’s redemption but about our redemption.”
Platt said Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, returned from Moab with no food, no family and nothing but a shred of hope for their future. God used those circumstances, what Platt called sorrow and suffering, to set the stage for satisfaction and sovereignty.
“Nothing happens by accident. Everything happens by appointment,” Platt said. “God is behind the scenes plotting for our good and his glory.”
Platt said there are two main characters in this drama – the redeemer and the redeemed. In the account of Ruth, Boaz is the redeemer who seeks out the destitute as his family. Not only does he seek Ruth out, Platt said, but he saves the destitute, Ruth, from harm.
Looking at chapter two of the book of Ruth, Platt said we can see that Boaz sought to provide and protect Ruth by allowing her to glean wheat in his field more than most gleaned in a month. He abundantly provided for her so that she would be safe from those who sought to do the Moabite widow harm. More than that, he treats her with grace and respect.
“Boaz doesn’t just seat her at the table, he serves her at the table,” Platt said. “Now, she’s enjoying a meal with the lord of the harvest.”
Platt explained that although there was one closer in relation to Naomi and Ruth, he chose not to be the kinsman-redeemer, perhaps because of Ruth’s heritage as a Moabite.
Boaz, despite knowledge of Ruth’s heritage, chose to be her kinsman-redeemer, saying, ‘I will redeem her and bring her into my family,’ Platt said.
This grace that Boaz showered on Ruth to redeem her becomes part of the lineage of Christ. “In Matthew, you’ll find the name of a Moabite woman named Ruth. Why is she there? She is there because of the same reason you and I are here: because she had a redeemer.”
Just as Boaz did for Ruth, Platt said the story shows that Christ now serves his bride – the church – at his table and we have no need to go into any other field looking for our needs. “He will shower us with grace for all of eternity.”
This leaves a couple of implications for those of us who have been redeemed, he said. Because we have been captivated by the mystery of mercy – that is, Christ giving his life for destitute sinners so that they may become his beloved – we are now compelled to a ministry of mercy.
“I was born into a context where I have never had to worry about food or water. I’ve never had to worry about shelter or medical care. I was born into a context where I heard the gospel practically from the day I entered this world, and I had nothing to do with where I was born,” Platt said. “There are billions of people who are born into contexts where they do have to worry about food or water or shelter or medical care. Nearly two billion have little to no access to this gospel and they had nothing to with where they were born.
“So why me? Why you? That’s a mystery. That is mysterious mercy.”
Platt said, “I do not know the answer to ‘why me and why you?’ but I do know this: We who have been captivated by the mystery of mercy are now compelled to the ministry of mercy.”
Believers are compelled to the ministry of mercy, not out of guilt or altruism as many visible humanitarians are, but, “We are compelled because we have been redeemed by the gospel.
“What compels us to press in and press on? It’s the gospel. It’s the fact that we were destitute and he adopted us as sons and daughters,” Platt said. Platt’s church is known as one that is actively pursuing orphan care, on both the local and international levels. Admitting that many of the families have trouble with children who are affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or drug addictions, Platt said, “The only thing that compels at that moment is the gospel of Jesus Christ – the reality that every single one of these parents was once destitute and dead in sin, but has been saved and redeemed.
“In a world where hundreds of millions are physically destitute with no food or water; in a world where close to two billion are spiritually destitute with no gospel, we are compelled then to give our lives and lead our churches in ministries of mercy,” Platt said.“If our lives and our churches are not marked by such ministries of mercy, that begs the question, are we really captivated by gospel mercy?”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.