December 2, 2001
Ruth and Boaz were expecting a baby, and that was a miracle in itself. But who would have expected that a penniless foreign widow would marry an Israeli farmer and help establish the family line of King David and Jesus? Yet in the immensity of His providence, God orders the very details of every birth, Alistair Begg reminds us. He fashions each of us purposefully, specifically, uniquely and intricately. From the moment of conception, every life is a gift from God. Every life has value. Every life has purpose.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Well, those of you who have been with us in these intermittent studies in Ruth may recall that we ended up last time with a quite wonderful quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It went along these lines. This is not the full quote, but it is part of it. He was reminding his readers,
Marriage is more than your love for each other. … [You’re] placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is [something more than] personal—it is a status, an office … that joins you together in the sight of God and [in the sight of] man.
Now, the reason that we had quoted from Bonhoeffer was because we had come to the point where Boaz stands up in the community of his day and announces the fact that he is the kinsman-redeemer—that is, assuming all of the property that accrues to Naomi. And along with that he is assuming the hand of her daughter-in-law, Ruth, in marriage. And he calls upon the elders of the town to be witnesses to this event. And in verse 11, “Then the elders and all those at the gate said, ‘We are witnesses.’”
Now, the reason we pause was because we recognize that to address the issue of marriage in the contemporary environment is to recognize that a biblical definition of marriage is vastly different from so many of the notions that are part and parcel of the everyday chat amongst our friends and neighbors. And we need to affirm, for the well-being of those who are as yet unmarried, as well as for the continuing instruction of those of us who are married, that there are, according to the Bible, three elements in the covenant of marriage.
First of all, we recognize that there is a promise of committed love which is between the husband and the wife. Obviously, there is love between the man and the woman, and this love is then promised in the marriage ceremony itself: “I take you to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” and so on. That is simply the public expression of this personal, committed love.
The second element is simply the fact that this covenant making in marriage takes place in a public forum, and a new family unit is created for society to see. That is why, traditionally, there has been an elaborate send-off granted to the bride and groom—often, in our experience, accompanied by great hilarity, and sometimes the most distressing accoutrements attached to people’s cars as they get ready to drive off into their married life together, and you see these poor souls, halfway down the freeway, pulled in at a rest stop, trying to disengage all of the claptrap and nonsense that has been attached to their cars. Is this simply custom? Well, it is custom, but the reason for it is because that public recognition of the fact that here in this covenant of marriage, a whole new family unit has been established. So there is a rightness to it. Not, I’m suggesting, all the nonsense, but there is a rightness to the fact that when a marriage takes place, it doesn’t take place in some eloped context, away behind a building. It doesn’t take place in the secrecy of some tiny little chapel in Las Vegas. But it takes place in a public, communal forum, so that the society can say, “There is a single man, and there is a single woman. That single man has fallen in love with that single woman. She is committed in love to that single man, and they have come together in the public forum to declare their commitment of love to one another. And we know now that they’ve gone off on their honeymoon.”
And on their honeymoon, the third element of the marriage covenant will come into place. And in biblical terms, not until their honeymoon will the third element of marriage come into place—namely, the development of the personal communion between the husband and wife, which sexual union symbolizes and deepens—which sexual union symbolizes and deepens. You do not, in biblical terms, have marriage without each of these constituent elements in place. Hearing myself say that calls me to a digression, which I shall resist. Yes I will! It was coming on me again, but I am resisting it right now, as you observe me.
Each of these three elements are present in Boaz’s life: his committed love for Ruth, the public witness of the same on the part of the elders of the community, and then, in verse 13, their sexual union. “So Boaz took Ruth … she became his wife.” And “he went in [to] her”—King James Version. It is a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Now, notice the process.
Incidentally and in passing, again as I hear myself speak, I’m reminded of the fact that I often say to young men in the ministry, “If you will simply expound the Scriptures systematically and consecutively, you will eventually come to every issue that your congregation will face. You won’t need to deal with everything topically. You may, if you choose.” But I say to them, “You know, I can guarantee you that eventually it will all come up and confront you.” And here we are tonight, studying in the book of Ruth. And here in the course of a legitimate approach in exposition, we’re confronted by the issue of marriage. And therefore, I pause, not to conduct a marriage seminar but simply to point out to you these things which are true.
Notice how discreetly the writer covers the account of the consummation of their marriage there in verse 13: “He went [in] to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.” It’s surely a lesson to us, living as we do in a society that knows little if anything of discretion and decorum when it comes to matters of human sexuality. The kind of approach to the physical dimensions of love between man and woman is so abused, so confused, so denigrated, so disregarded, so splashed everywhere, that the average young person almost has to go through some kind of unique process to be decontaminated from all of the filth and innuendo which has been part of their growing teenage years and through their college existence, to try as best they can, unaffected by all of this, to come to the privileges and responsibilities of marriage in a way that is marked by purity and by discretion and by decorum.
There is definitely, as the Bible says, a time to speak, and there is a time to be silent. And there are things about which we may with legitimacy speak, and there are other things which I don’t believe are legitimate within the public forum. And indeed, many of the things that I’ve attended as marriage seminars have left me more than a little distressed in relationship to the kind of discourse that is taken from the front. I’m not sure just where you do it, but I’m not sure it’s in front of a company, you know, of twenty-seven thousand people, who are all running hastily for the exit as a result of the titillation that has taken place under the disguise of some helpful biblical instruction on the matter of sex.
You’re sensible people; you can decide whether I’m just becoming an old man and slightly cranky. Or whether… You say, “Slightly cranky? Don’t do yourself a favor. You are full-blown cranky, and have been for some time!” You must decide whether it is that or whether there is any relevance to what I’m saying. Do you really feel comfortable sitting with your daughters and listening to all of this garbage? And do you feel comfortable in the company of your sons, as they grow, being confronted by people who’ll talk so much about all these things? We have been so warmed up gradually, you know, now we’ve reached a point where we have taken on board so much that an earlier generation would never, ever have regarded as anything other than distasteful. And you don’t need a course on everything, dear ones. You really don’t. And God has put all of the mechanisms together. Trust me.
Now, what is only briefly addressed here in a simple sentence is actually developed throughout the Bible. What is that? Well, simply that this process is not irrelevant—that first there was the expression of desire on the part of the two, then there was the public witness to the fact of their willingness to be committed in marriage, and then physical union, which took place within the context of a committed, loving, publicly known relationship. Now, what we discover here in passing, I say to you again, as you search the Bible, you’ll discover in the Old and the New Testament is made perfectly clear. And that is why to try and isolate the physical dimension of love from the emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual dimensions of a relationship between a man and a woman—to seek to isolate the physical from that context—is actually to make a mockery and a monstrosity of God’s design.
And much of what passes for filial affection in our generation is that upon which the Bible pronounces the most profound and serious judgment. And one of the great challenges for us at this point in our society is whether we as Christian men and women are going to live distinctive lives, and whether we are going to be able to frame our children’s lives, restoring them, reclaiming them, proclaiming for them, guiding them, guarding them, keeping them, securing them along the lines which the Bible makes so clear.
One of my friends in England, a poet, wrote probably the most graphic poem, that I wouldn’t go into. But I’ve never forgotten it since I memorized it, and I wish perhaps I hadn’t, but the opening verse makes my point here—the idea of isolating sexual intercourse from every other part of what’s supposed to take place in a marriage. He wrote these lines:
The Act of Love lies somewhere
between the belly and the mind.
[And] I lost the love sometime ago.
Now I’ve only the act to grind.
That’s it, you see. As soon as you divorce the physicality from all of that dimension which makes marriage marriage, whatever it may be to an individual, it is not what God designed. It is not what God intended. It is a pale, horrible reflection of all the beauty and all the benefit that he has made possible within a framework which is marked by continuity and by reliability and by permanence, by committed love, faithfulness in a monogamous, heterosexual union.
And so you will see that it is in that context that this conception takes place. Because we’re told there that “the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.” Once again, we see the hand of God’s guiding providence. The same hand that had guided her in particular ways as she made rational decisions for herself, now having led her to marriage, also steps in and enables her to conceive. Every conception is a gift from God. (On another occasion, I will deal with the matter of contraception, but not this evening. Tonight, just conception.)
At what point does conception take place? At the point that human life begins. At what point does human life begin? At the point that conception takes place. The Bible is unequivocal on that. At conception, all the human genes are present. And the physicians have pointed out to us that although it takes a little bit of time for the development of the cerebral cortex—or the cerebral cortex—without which the normal processes of human response are impossible, although it takes time for that to be there, nonetheless, in a newly conceived fetus, we find ourselves in the presence of, at the very least, a human person in the process of becoming. We’re not dealing here with womb tissue. We’re not dealing here with extraneous materials. We’re dealing here with a gift from God. “And the Lord enabled her,” and she conceived.
Now, when conception is viewed in biblical terms as a gift from God, then the whole abortion debate changes. The abortion debate for the last years has largely wrapped itself around the question of conflicting rights or of beneficial consequences. But when we understand that conception is a gift from God, then it takes on a far deeper dimension.
And here, my friends, listen carefully: there is a vast difference between a worldview which believes that the origin of life itself is as a result of time plus matter plus chance and a biblical worldview which views life in terms of “In the beginning God…” and which views conception in terms of Psalm 139—that we were intricately wrought in our mother’s womb, that all the days of our lives were ordained before one of them came to be. And do you see, it is at that level of interchange, and it is at that level of debate, that the whole abortion fiasco falters, and where you end up with people simply shouting at one another.
Don’t misunderstand me or where I stand on these issues. I think it should be clear when I tell you this: that I fully understand why my pagan neighbors and friends believe in abortion. They’re logical in relationship to their worldview. They are individuals born without reason. They fight for their place in humanity. They are simply turbo-charged apes. They go through life, and it’s a haphazard existence. And eventually they die without any reason, and they go into oblivion. Well, if that is life, you see, then somebody says, “Well, what does it matter if it begins or if it doesn’t begin? What matters if you end it in the first few weeks, or if you end it after the first few years, or if you end it prematurely because somebody has a dreadful disease?” At least they’re logical in relationship to their worldview.
And that’s why, you see, Christianity has to be very, very clear in dealing with Genesis 1–11. Because if we give up the doctrine of creation, then we have given up the very basis upon which we can argue the legitimacy of our case for a view of human life. Now, people say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter, Genesis 1 to 11, you know. We can set that aside. Let’s just get on to the good stuff about Jesus.” Yes, I understand the good stuff about Jesus, but if the Bible is a book about Jesus, and if Jesus believed the Bible, whatever Jesus believed about the Bible we should believe about the Bible, don’t you think? Right. So if he believed in Noah, so do we. If he believed in Adam and Eve, so do we. If he believed in the fall of man, so do we. Right? So therefore, we have no other place to go. “Well,” you say, “you’re getting off the point.” Well, no, I just wanted to stop there for a moment, on conception, to help you think these issues through.
What a wonderful change has taken place in this girl’s life. She’d shown up as a stranger, back in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. She walks into town friendless, penniless, childless. She’s a stranger. And she’s become the center of an admiring community. Look at what the people say about her in verse 15. This is some daughter-in-law, I would suggest to you. Don’t you agree? “For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given … birth.” Do you think Naomi likes Ruth? Do you think these people think she’s good? “Better … than seven sons.” Is that hyperbole? I think it is. But it’s an expression of the dramatic change that has taken place.
What happened? Well, back in chapter 1, remember, she made that great declaration, in 17, when Naomi was suggesting that she should go back to Moab and to her own people. And there she had professed her devotion to Naomi and to Naomi’s God: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Wherever you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. Your people will be my people, your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried,” and so on. An amazing statement for a young girl! Turning her back on every opportunity that is represented in the familiarity of her homeland, essentially recognizing that to make a commitment to her mother-in-law was to make a commitment to who-knows-what, and to go who-knows-where and off into some strange environment that she didn’t know.
But her commitment is to the God of Israel. Somewhere along the line, she’s discovered that this God may be trusted. And so she commits herself to him. And she commits herself to her mother-in-law, back in chapter 2:10: “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me,” she says, “a foreigner?” speaking to Boaz, who’s to become her husband. And he says, “I’ve been told about what you’ve done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—and I heard how you left your father and your mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.”
Isn’t that interesting? I never thought about it till right now! Did you ever think about Ruth’s own mom and dad? I actually never thought about them till right this minute. She left her own mother and father, in a commitment to her mother-in-law. As a [widow]! Devoted to the God of Israel, devoted to the servant of Israel.
Chapter 3:10, the same thing: “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” Boaz says. “This kindness [that you’ve done] is greater than that which you showed [me] earlier: You [haven’t] run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. [I’ll] do for you all you ask.” In other words, you’ll notice that Ruth, in her sacrifice, is rewarded by God.
Oh, I think some of you, when I prayed for our young friend this evening, probably said to yourself… You moved a little in your seat when I prayed, “And God I want you to reward her for her sacrifice.” Some of you said, “Oh, I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if we can ask God to do that. Somehow or another, ‘we do this, and he does that.’ Where does he get that from?”
Well, from the Bible, of course. Where did you think? You think I made it up? Malachi 3:10: “‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord,” talking about giving—the giving of our resources, the giving of our money, the tithing of our lives. He says, “‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” In other words, he says, “You make the sacrifice, and then see if I don’t reward you.”
We’re so afraid of the health, wealth, and happiness stuff that we’re frightened to say anything about it at all. But God rewards faithfulness on the part of his children. Jesus said it. We saw it in Luke: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus says, “no one who has left father or mother, brother or sister, houses and land, for my sake and for the kingdom, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age and more in the resurrection.” I was very struck by this. I found myself pausing and saying, “God, is there one single thing in my life that speaks of the kind of sacrifice that would be matched by your reward? Do I have any expectation on the basis of my desire to follow you, to trust you, to live for you, that would find me on the receiving end of such an overflow from heaven that I wouldn’t even be able to contain it?” And I was forced to conclude that there is precious little in my life that even holds an inkling of the possibility. And what of us as a church?
She turned her back on it all, and she walked off into who-knows-where with her mother-in-law—and look at her now! Oh, what a lovely conclusion there is to this story, isn’t there? If I was making a movie… and I say that all the time. I never made a movie in my life, and my home movies are absolutely horrible. I suppose there’s some strange thing in the back of my mind, some unfulfilled dream. I’ll die without it ever happening. But anyway, if I were making a movie of this, I would shoot the early part of it in black-and-white. I determined that some time ago. All the tones of famine, all of the pictures of barrenness, all of the sadness and the grays in the faces of both Naomi and Ruth, and all of the emptiness and the funeral scenes, I’d shoot them all in black-and-white. But at some point in the movie, it would change. It would change to brilliant, glorious Technicolor. And suddenly it would dawn on people; there would be a visual image that would come from it, and if it didn’t come before, it would come right here.
The women said to Naomi, “Praise … the Lord, who this day [hasn’t] left you without a kinsman …. [When] your daughter-in-law…” Look at this. And interestingly, Ruth fades from view. She gives birth to a son, and she’s gone. No more Ruth! It goes to verse 22. No more Ruth. The women are back. The women, remember, in 1:19, when Naomi and Ruth showed up in Bethlehem, it was the women who exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi? Look at her. She didn’t look like that when she left.” And the women are back around her now.
First of all, they had welcomed Naomi back; now they’re welcoming Naomi and the baby. Because Naomi has got the baby in her arms. This little boy called Obed, who apparently was brought up by Naomi as if he were even her own child. We’ll say more about that in our final study. “Oh,” you say, “there’s another one! Oh dear!” Well, I don’t want to rush. I love this book; I don’t want to finish it.
Ruth had borne a son who was to be the grandfather of Israel’s greatest king, David. And “wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles,”
Once in royal David’s city,
In a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for a bed:
And Mary was the mother mild,
And Jesus Christ, her little child.
The life of Jesus, in terms of his physical descent, was tied to the story of a girl from Moab, gleaning in a barley field, miles from her home.
Can you imagine if she’d gone to the wrong field? I just said that to give you something to talk about over coffee. It’s a theological question. And Naomi, who wanted to be called Mara, “bitter,” is happy now to be known as Naomi. And if she’d gone through our chorus book, she’d have been happy to say, you know, “I’d like to conclude the service this evening with a song that we don’t often sing.” In fact, she may have been happy to sing it as a solo: “He gave me ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment[s] of praise for [a] spirit of heaviness.’” But that’s enough for now. I don’t want to spoil the climax of the story by rushing.
Instead, I’ll just take a couple of minutes, and I’ll do as I promised—to give you the whole story of Ruth from my children’s book that someone sent to me as a gift. I apologize to whoever sent it that I haven’t written a thank-you note, but I don’t know who you were. So I’m sure you’ll come and tell me now. So close your Bibles, sit back, and here’s the story of Ruth. If this doesn’t create sales in the bookstore, nothing will. And I’m not sure it’s even in the bookstore. It’s called I Love Ruthie: The Story of Ruth and Her One True Love. I think Derek Prime would shoot me for doing this, but that’s okay; he’s not here. It goes like this:
“It can’t be true! I can’t go on!
Oh, everything we had is gone!”
Naomi wept. Poor Ruthie cried.
Naomi’s precious sons had died!
And oh, one
precious, priceless son,
Naomi’s son, that very one,
was Ruthie’s husband!
one true love!
Now, sometimes when it rains it pours,
and this time it would pour for sure!
For evil people ruled the land
as evil people sometimes can
and sometimes will
and sometimes do,
when you and I
allow them to!
From here to there, from there to here,
the food began to disappear!
It filled the people full of fear—
yes, full of fear from ear to ear!
“Orpah! Ruth!” Naomi cried.
“The time has come. We must decide.
We have to leave. We cannot stay.
We cannot stay, not now—no way!”
“From north to south, from west to east,
the men are gone. Extinct. Deceased!
Without a man,” Naomi said,
“WE’RE ALL ABOUT AS GOOD AS DEAD!”
(Now ladies, things were different then,
so don’t get too upset, amen?)
“Just look at me, I’m old and wrinkled,
sagged and bagged and crook’d and crinkled,
crumpled, puckered, nooked and crannied,
Rip-Van-Winkled, grayed and grannied!
Oh, [there is] just no hope in sight
to find another Mister-Right,
or even just a Daffy Duck,
an Elmer Fudd, or Mister Yuck!
The time has come!
The time is now.
The time has come
right now and how!
You must return,
you must, I say,
return, back home,
right now, today!”
Naomi prayed that they would bite
and Orpah knew that she was right.
She packed her bags without a fight
and left for home that very night.
But oh, not Ruth. Not her. No way!
She had a thing or two to say…
“I can’t return.
I want to stay.
I will NOT go
’right now, today!”
“For where you are is where I’ll be.
And when you stay, you’ll stay with me.
And when you die, I’ll die with you.
And THAT is what I’m going to do!
Your God will be MY God and He
will surely care for you and me!”
Oh, what a thing
for Ruth to say.
That kind of thing
can make your day,
and make you shout
They hugged and kissed, then packed up tight
and left for Bethlehem that night.
“Naomi! Is it really true?
What happened, girl? Just look at you!
Your hair! Your clothes! Your shoes! Your toes!
Your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your nose!
You’re looking pale. You’re looking thin.
In fact, if we may say again,
you’re really looking more akin
to something that the cat dragged in!”
(Well, things looked bad, the way things can,
but listen now, God had a plan…)
“Oh Naomi, please don’t cry.
Oh please don’t cry. I’ll tell you why!
I’ll find a farm. I’ll be real nice.
I’ll ask them once or maybe twice
to take our jugs and jars and sacks
and fill them full of treats and snacks.”
“Yes, crumbs and morsels, flakes and flecks,
leftover kernels, crumbs and specks.
A black banana! Bagels! Lox!
Some cheese stuck to a pizza-box!
I’ll beg and plead. I’ll sob and bleat!
I’ll ask them for a tasty treat—
An itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny,
tiny scrap for us to eat!”
So off she went.
She did her thing.
She did it never noticing
that someone had been
fastening his bulging eyes
“Who IS that girl
out in my field
and what’s she doing?”
“Look AT that hair! Look AT those eyes!
Excuse me, just one minute, guys,
I’ve got to go and socialize!”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
He shaved his toes. He licked his lips.
He checked his teeth for cracks and chips.
He combed the bugs out of his hair,
yes, Don Juan double-debonair,
with savoir-faire extraordinaire!
(Now don’t be [too] quick to judge, amen?
Well, don’t think what you’re thinking then!
For Boaz was a gentleman.)
“Please stay with us.
Take what you need.
Take what you need
and more, indeed!”
He loaded up all Ruthie’s sacks
and jugs and jars with treats and snacks.
Yes, it WAS true-love at first sight—
a double thumping-heart delight!
She headed home. Oh, what she’d found!
Her world was turning upside-down.
She ran the whole way back to town
about ten feet above the ground.
“I’m telling you, tonight’s the night,”
Naomi grinned, “and if I’m right,
there’s only one thing left to do
to get that man to say I DO!”
(So do they did. Oh, DID they do…)
They fluffed and puffed. They crimped and curled.
They powdered, sweet-perfumed, and pearled!
They thanked the Lord. They sang His praise!
They marveled at His wondrous ways!
And off she went into the night
to have and hold her Mister Right—
her Mister Shining-Armored Knight—
her straight from heaven-sent delight!
Now, as I’m sure that you supposed
Boaz said “YES!” when Ruth proposed!
Yes, RUTH proposed. That’s what I said.
Just look it up—go right ahead.
They tied the knot and lived to be
quite happy ever-afterly.
And soon God blessed them with a son,
a precious, little baby one!
But wait! This story’s far from done.
Because their son, he was the one
who had a son, who had a kid
known as King David. Yes, he did!
And David was the Great, Great, Great,
Great, Great (times three, times one, plus eight)
Great Grand-dad of a man whose wife
you’ve probably heard of all your life.
A man who’s son, to be precise,
was Jesus. No?! YES! Jesus Christ!
Just take a second, think it through.
Oh, what God will go and do!
For God is love and love is kind,
the kindest that you’ll ever find,
the kindest that you’ll ever see,
that’s something else, don’t you agree?!
Father, we want to thank you that we don’t study a Bible that was put together by a committee who came up with a bright idea for a religion, but we dip into a book that is immense—that you took the lives of real individuals, ordinary people, making their own decisions, facing their own hardships, tackling their own challenges, and in the immensity of your providence, you were ordering the very details in order that out of Israel should come forth one who was the leader of your people Israel.
We don’t read this little children’s book for effect, although it is effective. But we read it because it encapsulates the whole story in such a way that fills us with awe, that finds us saying, “What an amazing God you are!”
And some of us doubt your care. Some of us wonder if you know. Some of us came in here tonight thinking that somehow or another we were just a long number in a computer bank somewhere. And suddenly it dawns on us that you fashioned us purposefully, that you gave us our DNA, that you care when sparrows fall to the ground, and you love us in your Son, the Lord Jesus.
Forgive us for doubting you. Forgive us for minimizing the depth of your love. Forgive us for trying to tell others about the good news in such a way that sounds like some kind of philosophy, rather than sounds like this immense story of redeeming love.
Receive our lives, O God, tonight. For the glory of your Son’s sake we ask it. Amen.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” May 1943, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, new ed. (1953; repr. and abridged, Norfolk, UK: SCM, 2017), 7.
 Ruth 4:11 (NIV 1984).
 Ruth 4:13 (NIV 1984).
 See Ecclesiastes 3:7.
 Roger McGough, “The Act of Love,” in Selected Poems (London: Penguin, 2006).
 Ruth 3:13 (NIV 1984).
 Genesis 1:1 (NIV 1984).
 See Psalm 139:12–16.
 Ruth 1:16–17 (paraphrased).
 Luke 18:29–30 (paraphrased).
 John Williams, Sheldon Harnick, and Jerry Bock, “Miracle of Miracles” (1971).
 Cecil Frances Alexander, “Once in Royal David’s City” (1848). Lyrics lightly altered.
 Isaiah 61:3 (KJV).
 Phil A. Smouse, I Love Ruthie: The Story of Ruth and Her One True Love (1994; repr., Uhrichville, OH: Barbour, 2002).
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.