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Mercy, Blessings, and Character (Part 2 of 2)

Ruth 2:1-23
Program

The Old Testament tells the story of Ruth, a widow in a foreign land. Desperate circumstances led her to seek provision from anyone who’d show her favor. Was it coincidence that brought her to Boaz’s fields? Find out on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.

From the Sermon

Mercy, Blessings, and Character

Ruth 2:1-23

Series: Encore 2022

Sermon Includes Transcript 40:12 ID: 0106

Mercy Proclaimed

Mercy Proclaimed

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

God is the God of second chances.

Jonah had responded to God’s call to warn Nineveh of His coming judgment by running off to hide. But when the call came again, he did not drag his feet the second time. Aware of his failure and of God’s grace toward him, he seemed eager to preach to them at the first opportunity. When we finally read of Jonah calling the people to repentance, we can imagine the weight of his own experience as he spoke firsthand about the divine consequences for disobedience. He brought a warning, and with it surely a personal testimony of the fact that God is both willing and able to save sinful people from even the most extreme circumstances. Though he would later prove not to have fully embraced the magnitude and scope of God’s grace (Jonah 4:1-3), the mercy that God had shown Jonah surely pervaded his message to the Ninevites. The one who had been given a second chance through the divine provision of a fish now held out a second chance to a city of men and women who had determinedly turned from the Lord.

Have you grasped that God is the God of second (and third and fourth) chances? Have you grasped that you cannot outrun God’s mercy or plumb the depths of His grace? If you have, then you surely will hold out the gospel message to others. And the way that you do so will reflect the mercy you have received. If Christians sound brittle, heartless, and legalistic as they talk about the faith, their hearts have not yet been softened enough by God’s mercy, grace, and love. If, however, there is a sense of the winning, wooing wonder of God’s mercy in a Christian’s words and deeds, it’s safe to assume that he or she has known such mercy.

The hymn writer Charles Wesley, won over by God’s mercy, readily proclaimed:

Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear? Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace: long provoked Him to His face;
Would not hearken to His calls; grieved Him by a thousand falls…
There for me the Savior stands, shows His wounds and spreads His hands:
God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps, but loves me still.[1] 

Reflect on God’s mercy to you now—in bringing you to faith and then in His ongoing patience with you and forgiveness of you. Let the sense of wonder at His dealings with you permeate the way in which you tell the story of His redeeming love to others. And if there is someone you know whom you have failed to show God’s mercy or to share it with them when you had the opportunity, pray now for a second chance—and then seize it.

head heart hand Going Deeper

Joy Comes with the Morning

A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple.

1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.

3O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.1

4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.2

5For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.3

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

6As for me, I said in my prosperity,

“I shall never be moved.”

7By your favor, O Lord,

you made my mountain stand strong;

you hid your face;

I was dismayed.

8To you, O Lord, I cry,

and to the Lord I plead for mercy:

9“What profit is there in my death,4

if I go down to the pit?5

Will the dust praise you?

Will it tell of your faithfulness?

10Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!

O Lord, be my helper!”

11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;

you have loosed my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness,

12that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

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Footnotes
1 30:3 Or to life, that I should not go down to the pit
2 30:4 Hebrew to the memorial of his holiness (see Exodus 3:15)
3 30:5 Or and in his favor is life
4 30:9 Hebrew in my blood
5 30:9 Or to corruption
Footnotes
1 Charles Wesley, “Depth of Mercy” (1740).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.

Reflections on a Rainbow

Reflections on a Rainbow

The bow is seen in the clouds.

The rainbow, the symbol of the covenant with Noah, foreshadows our Lord Jesus, who is the Lord’s witness to the people. When may we expect to see the token of the covenant? The rainbow is only to be seen painted upon a cloud. When the sinner’s conscience is dark with clouds, when he remembers his past sin and mourns and laments before God, Jesus Christ is revealed to him as the covenant Rainbow, displaying all the glorious hues of the divine character and declaring peace. To the believer, when his trials and temptations surround him, it is sweet to behold the person of our Lord Jesus Christ—to see Him bleeding, living, rising, and pleading for us. God’s rainbow is hung over the cloud of our sins, our sorrows, and our woes, to prophesy deliverance. By itself a cloud does not give a rainbow; there must be the crystal drops to reflect the light of the sun.

So, our sorrows must not only threaten, but they must really fall upon us. There would have been no Christ for us if the vengeance of God had been merely a threatening cloud: Punishment must fall in terrible drops upon Him. Until there is a real anguish in the sinner’s conscience, there is no Christ for him; until the chastisement that he feels becomes grievous, he cannot see Jesus. But there must also be a sun; for clouds and drops of rain do not make rainbows unless the sun shines. Beloved, our God, who is as the sun to us, always shines, but we do not always see Him—clouds hide His face; but no matter what drops may be falling or what clouds may be threatening, if He shines there will be a rainbow at once.

It is said that when we see the rainbow, the shower is over. It is certain that when Christ comes, our troubles withdraw; when we look on Jesus, our sins vanish, and our doubts and fears subside. When Jesus walks upon the waters of the sea, how profound the calm!

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

Hannah's Prayer

1And Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;

my horn is exalted in the Lord.

My mouth derides my enemies,

because I rejoice in your salvation.

2“There is none holy like the Lord:

for there is none besides you;

there is no rock like our God.

3Talk no more so very proudly,

let not arrogance come from your mouth;

for the Lord is a God of knowledge,

and by him actions are weighed.

4The bows of the mighty are broken,

but the feeble bind on strength.

5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,

but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.

The barren has borne seven,

but she who has many children is forlorn.

6The Lord kills and brings to life;

he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

7The Lord makes poor and makes rich;

he brings low and he exalts.

8He raises up the poor from the dust;

he lifts the needy from the ash heap

to make them sit with princes

and inherit a seat of honor.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,

and on them he has set the world.

9“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,

but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,

for not by might shall a man prevail.

10The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;

against them he will thunder in heaven.

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;

he will give strength to his king

and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

11Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy1 was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

Eli's Worthless Sons

12Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.

18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.

21Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.

Eli Rebukes His Sons

22Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

26Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.

The Lord Rejects Eli's Household

27And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then do you scorn2 my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his3 eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants4 of your house shall die by the sword of men.5 34And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests' places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”

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Footnotes
1 2:11 Hebrew na‘ar can be rendered boy (2:11, 18, 21, 26; 3:1, 8), servant (2:13, 15), or young man (2:17), depending on the context
2 2:29 Hebrew kick at
3 2:33 Septuagint; Hebrew your; twice in this verse
4 2:33 Hebrew increase
5 2:33 Septuagint; Hebrew die as men

God's Righteous Judgment

1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking1 and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.

God's Judgment and the Law

12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

17But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded2 as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically3 uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code4 and circumcision but break the law. 28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

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Footnotes
1 2:8 Or contentious
2 2:26 Or counted
3 2:27 Or is by nature
4 2:27 Or the letter

Jeremiah Remains in Judah

1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he took him bound in chains along with all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being exiled to Babylon. 2The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, “The Lord your God pronounced this disaster against this place. 3The Lord has brought it about, and has done as he said. Because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey his voice, this thing has come upon you. 4Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go. 5If you remain,1 then return to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed governor of the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever you think it right to go.” So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance of food and a present, and let him go. 6Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.

7When all the captains of the forces in the open country and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land and had committed to him men, women, and children, those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile to Babylon, 8they went to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan the son of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. 9Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 10As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah, to represent you before the Chaldeans who will come to us. But as for you, gather wine and summer fruits and oil, and store them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.” 11Likewise, when all the Judeans who were in Moab and among the Ammonites and in Edom and in other lands heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as governor over them, 12then all the Judeans returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. And they gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance.

13Now Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam would not believe them. 15Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah at Mizpah, “Please let me go and strike down Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he take your life, so that all the Judeans who are gathered about you would be scattered, and the remnant of Judah would perish?” 16But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you are speaking falsely of Ishmael.”

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Footnotes
1 40:5 Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew phrase is uncertain

Psalm 15

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

A Psalm of David.

1O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?

Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right

and speaks truth in his heart;

3who does not slander with his tongue

and does no evil to his neighbor,

nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4in whose eyes a vile person is despised,

but who honors those who fear the Lord;

who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5who does not put out his money at interest

and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 16

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

A Miktam1 of David.

1Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

2I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

3As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,

in whom is all my delight.2

4The sorrows of those who run after3 another god shall multiply;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names on my lips.

5The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

6The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.4

8I have set the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being5 rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.

10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.6

11You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Footnotes
1 16:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
2 16:3 Or To the saints in the land, the excellent in whom is all my delight, I say:
3 16:4 Or who acquire
4 16:7 Hebrew my kidneys instruct me
5 16:9 Hebrew my glory
6 16:10 Or see the pit
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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