Isaiah's message in today's study is a dramatic contrast to Jeremiah's writings we studied last week. Isaiah's “book” can be divided in half: the first 39 chapters are called “first Isaiah” and the last 27 chapters are called “second Isaiah.” This week's passage marks a profound difference with a word of comfort and hope. Has God changed his mind about these selfish people?
Jerusalem was facing ruin, God's Temple was about to be destroyed, the land could hardly be described as “promised,” and the majority of the Jews were facing exile in a foreign county ruled by a pagan dictator. There comes a time when you have nothing but faith in God, and you pray.
Life is a journey of choices. You cannot control what life places before you every day, but you can decide if you will trust God, live morally and make a difference for others. The book called “Ruth” is a story of human choices and God's grace.
Today's passage is a beautiful story about the impossible becoming possible, nothing like the powerful image of Moses before God on Mt. Sinai, but stunning as God works through seemingly impossible barriers to bring Boaz, a wealthy man of faith, together with a foreign woman who has no reasonable hope for a good life. And yet, if faith in God cannot push barriers aside, transform a life and reveal the true meaning of love, what hope is left for any of us?
This story is about much more than God playing the role of matchmaker. We witness the powerful image of God shaping a man's heart to reflect God's compassion in such a beautiful way it changes one woman's life and even plays a part in bringing Christ into our world!
You are reading through the Old Testament, encountering tumultuous stories about the blessed people of God, and there appears, without warning or logical arrangement, a book named Ruth. What is even stranger is that Ruth is a foreigner from Moab! No complex theological truths are elaborated, no emphasis on God's laws or holy days are taught, and the story line is hope-filled, almost feeling out of place!
People read Jesus' parables in different ways. Some single out and identify every detail as a teaching point. Some draw them to a common focus of “preaching the gospel” or bringing people to salvation. Some discuss the possible omission of details that are lost or left incomplete in the writing down after the telling.
From childhood, my family taught me that responsible choices shape a life for good. Experience taught me the challenges that result from combining the ideas of responsibility and choice. Within the Gospel of Luke, today's parable follows the story of a prodigal son who threw away his family inheritance – both money and standards – but found new life in his father's forgiveness.