(Disclaimer: I am currently unable to write out the full manuscript of the sermon for this blog so the following is an abbreviation of some of the key points. You should listen to the audio for the full message.)
The Bible teaches and develops theology through stories. Yes, you could define love like Paul does in 1 Corinthians 13 or you could tell a story. Much of the Old Testament theology is developed in through stories. Because many modern believers tend to prefer Paul's way of teaching theology they miss similar lessons taught less directly through beautiful stories.
On this journey for a deeper understanding of what love is, we will be taking a look at the book of Ruth.
Who were the Moabites?
Ruth was from Moab, and in order to appreciate what this meant it is worth reviewing the chart bellow and refreshing your memory.
The Moabites and Israelites did not get along very well. This piece of information helps highlight some of the obstacles love will have to overcome in this story.
The book of Ruth defines and develops the meaning of "hesed." Though there is no English equivalent, we will witness its meaning in the story.
"Hesed is one of those Hebrew words whose meaning cannot be captured in one English word. This is a strong relational term that wraps up in itself an entire cluster of concepts, all the positive attributes of God — love, mercy, grace, kindness, goodness, benevolence, loyalty, covenant faithfulness; in short, that quality that moves a person to act for the benefit of another without respect to the advantage it might bring to the one who expresses it.”
Block, Daniel Isaac. Judges, Ruth. Broadman & Holman, 1999. p605
This quality is expressed fundamentally in action rather than word or emotion. (Block. p606)
Few utterances match Ruth’s speech for sheer poetic beauty, extraordinary courage and incredible spirituality it possesses. (Block, p640)
Nothing but death will part me form you!
In the first chapter of Ruth we encounter love in an unlikely place, between two widows, a woman and her mother-in-law. A love that is not romantic or sexual, but rather a love that refuses to let go. A love that is not self seeking, but a love that blesses.
We begin to better understand God's love from a woman from Moab. Ruth is a fascinating person and we are just getting started!
I recommend you listen to the audio for a fuller experince.