Man: So, how do you feel now?
Woman: Wow! I feel so light now. It feels so free. It feels empty. I guess I'm just wondering if that bag wasn't me then. Who am I?
Man: Why don't you come over here?
Woman: So, what's in this one?
Woman: Wait... nothing?
Woman: Look, I've got a whole lot of nothing in my life now that I've let go of my past. So, this empty cup is not going to help me.
Man: So let's fill it. Let's start from scratch. Who are you? I know you feel like you've been orphaned by your family, but you're a part of a new family now, with a Father who will never leave you.
Woman: Wow. Okay. But where do I belong?
Man: You can be used wherever you are. All you have to do is listen carefully.
Woman: But what am I good for?
Man: You've got two idle hands. I've got a bunch of dishes that need to be washed and dried.
Woman: Anyone can wash dishes. How is that going to change my life?
Man: It sounds like you've got some doubt in the process. If you just step out in faith and serve the people right in front of you, you'll discover who you truly are.
Woman: Okay. One thing though. How does that work?
Man: When you're focused on serving others, you're not focused on yourself so much. Before you know it, everything you need will be given to you.
Woman: Okay. So, when should I get started?
Man: There's no time like the present.
Woman: Alright. I'll get to it then.
Well, good morning Grace and also those who watch via the internet and our mobile app. We are in a five-week series called "Drink" and this is week number four. For those of you all who are normal or regular attenders here, you know that I always do this. But, at the beginning of every message, especially when we're in a series, I want to make sure that everybody's on the same page. Because, if you're a visitor and you think, "Oh, it's week four of a five-week series. I may not even have any idea what's going on."
Let me put you at ease and put you at rest. I'm going to tell you what we're doing so that everybody's on the same page and even maybe for those that have missed a couple of weeks or whatever. Let's recap. Let's do a summary. Let's lean in here and we'll see what we're doing.
In this series we're looking at how the four cups of the Passover meal represent core transformations that God has for our lives. Now, let me unpack that for a moment so that everybody's on the same page. When I went to Israel, amongst many of the things that I saw and learned, we were in what was possibly the upper room near the temple and I started talking with our leader, a Jewish tour guide, Sheira. We got on the idea of the Passover meal and what I realized in that particular conversation was that there were four cups in the Passover meal.
That was intriguing to me. I'm sure I had read that somewhere along the way, but it just really spoke to me. I was like, "There are four cups? I want to look over this." And so, I spent some time studying this and I came to realize that these four cups that were used by the Jewish people during the Passover meal are really core transformations that God wants to do in our lives. I don't know about you, but I can remember four things.
So, these four cups, the more I studied them the more I realized, "Man, these are major things God wants to do." These cups come out of Exodus 6:6-7 when they would drink a cup during the dinner and then they'd do other things and they'd have a second cup that they would drink, so on and so forth. They made "I will" statements. And these "I will" statements are declaratory promises that God makes to you and me. They're not things that hinge on our obedience. They're things that God says He will do for His people.
And so God says to Moses, "Say therefore to the people of Israel: 'I am the Lord,'" – and this is the first cup. They would say, "I will bring you out."
Drink the cup. "I will bring you out."
"I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."
And the second cup is: "I will deliver you."
"I will deliver you from slavery to them."
The third cup is: "I will redeem you."
What does it mean to be redeemed?
"...with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment."
And fourth: "I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who's brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."
And the more I started looking at these cups, the more I started realizing that that first cup is the cup of deliverance; the cup of salvation. It's God saving us. That's the super important cup. I mean, some people need that. You may be here today and you may think, "You know, I've come to church. I don't know why I'm here, but I sort of think I need something in my life."
You may need to drink of the first cup. You may need to move from lost to found. The second cup is interesting though, because the first cup He says, "I'm going to take you out of Egypt." The second cup He says, "I'm going to get slavery out of you." So it's like God gets us out of Egypt, He saves us and then He has to get Egypt out of us. That's the second cup. He wants to get rid of all of our yesterdays. He wants to bring restoration in our lives. He wants to do great things.
The third cup, though, is the cup of redemption. What does it mean for God to redeem you and me? To do that, we're going to have to understand a little bit of the Old Testament, because we may think of redemption in terms of the New Testament and Paul has terms that he uses for redemption. But, in the Old Testament, when God's talking about redeeming, He's specifically talking about something that the Hebrew people would now. And there's one book in the Bible that deals with the idea of redemption better than any other book in the Bible.
So, in the next 20 minutes, I'm going to teach you a whole book in the Bible. How about that? We're going to have story time telling with Uncle Chip here for a little bit and I'm going to ask you to sit back and enjoy the story. You'll never read the book the same. I promise you that. If you're brand new and you've never read the book at all, I'm going to tell it to you and you'll be able to read it on your own. But, the book that deals with this idea of redemption more than any other book – and it really brings it home – is the book of Ruth.
Now, I would call it the book of Naomi if I were the one that got to decide what the book is because it's really about the redemption of Naomi. But, it's called the book of Ruth. Now, many people feel – and I think there's a good argument for this – that Judges and Ruth were at one time a combined book. I don't have time to get into this, but Judges 19, 20 and 21, which is the end of Judges, deals with a town called Gibeah. That's where Saul came from. And, if you'll go back this week and read Judges 19, 20 and 21, you'll see that Gibeah was a big town, looked fancy and all of this stuff. But, when you go to Gibeah, which they do, it's a retelling of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
You won't miss it. If you read Sodom and Gomorrah and you read the town of Gibeah, it's the same thing going on. That's where Saul came from. It looked like Saul came from a great town, but what was really going on there was not good. Then, in Ruth, we go to Bethlehem, which is where David came from. So, there is a contrast between Saul and David coming out of Judges into the book of Ruth.
So, sit back, enjoy this. I'm going to tell you the story. We're going to go through the whole book. You're going to learn a whole book today in church. How about that? That's pretty good. And then we're going to practical take-homes. I mean, we should take up another offering. Anyway. So, here we go. I'm just kidding. I'm just playing. I like that though. You're clapping. That's good. Here we go. So, let's start here with the book of Ruth.
Ruth 1:1, "In the days when the judges rules, there was a famine in the land."
So, we're coming in to judges are ruling and, if you read the end of Judges 21, you will see that everybody was doing whatever they were doing in their own eyes and whatever they thought was right because there wasn't a leader. There's a longing for a king. Okay? And then there's a famine in the land. Now, if you read the Bible right, every time God's getting ready to do something, He never gives you the facts that support what He's going to do. He always gives you facts that don't look like something He's going to do because He wants to see if you and me are going to trust Him.
Most of the people in the Bible don't. They could've stayed there and said, "God, it doesn't make a difference if there's a famine. You're the God that can provide." But oh, no no no no. When we read famines in the Old Testament, usually somebody's going somewhere. And this is a word for somebody. Listen to me. Oftentimes in our lives, we decide to do what we think is best for ourselves and then try to get God on our train rather than trusting God in the middle of a difficult situation.
That's pretty good. That's for somebody. Okay. So, here we go.
"In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons."
Now, what do you know about Moab? Well, the country of Moab is a descendant from Lot and his daughter. Lot's daughter got him drunk, went in and laid with him, was impregnated and had a child, and that child started Moab. Moab was not regarded as a great place, especially if you were a Jewish person. It was not pretty. They were sexually immoral, they were incestuous and the even offered their children, oftentimes, in sacrifice to the deity.
So this guy, in the middle of a famine, decides to go to Moab. You should be going, "Man, that's not a good choice, man." We should be reading these things going, "Man. Maybe I need to really listen to God sometimes."
So, he goes to Moab, his wife and his two sons. So, they go there and what we find when they're in Moab is the two sons marry two Moabite girls. One's named Ruth and one's named Orpah. And they're there for 10 years. The Bible tells us they're there for 10 years and nobody has a child, which means Ruth is barren and so is the other girl. They're barren. There's no children.
Then what happens? The dad dies and the two sons die. Naomi is left with no way for the lineage of her family to move forward. That's where she's at in Moab. So, she hears that God has provided food back in the promised land and she says to the two girls, "I'm going to go back to Bethlehem where I came from."
And they say, "We're going to come with you."
She says, "No. You don't want to come with me."
She goes, "I'm not going to be able to provide for you a son. And, as old as I am, even if I were to have a child, how long would it take for that child to grow up before you could marry him? Go back to your people. Find a husband."
Orpah goes back, but Ruth clings to Naomi. She says, "No no no. I believe in you. I believe in your God. Wherever you go, I'm going. I'm following you."
So, Ruth and Naomi take an exodus from Moab back to the promised land. Beautiful picture, too. Both a Jew and Gentile taking an exodus back to the promised land. When they get there, everybody runs out, "Naomi!"
Naomi's name in Hebrew means "pleasant." They walk out and they're like, "Naomi, so good to see you."
And she says, "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara, for the almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."
"I have no way to continue my family. Call me Mara." She's referring back. You've got to read your Bible, if you've gone Genesis, Exodus and all the way through, you remember the waters of Mara in Exodus where they come out of the river and three days later they're dehydrated, they're ready to die and they come to these waters? Then they're so thirsty but they can't drink them because they're bitter. It takes a miracle for them to turn sweet. Now, if you're really reading, when you read "Mara" here you should be going, "Hey. Is there a possibility that Naomi's going to move from bitter to sweet? Is that possible that's going to go on?"
So she says, "Don't call me that. I'm bitter. Everything is no good. Everything is terrible."
So she comes back and Ruth, being a Moabite, can go into the fields and glean during the harvesting of the barley. Which is really cool because for her it's like, "Man, I'm a stranger, a foreigner, an immigrant and, in my place, we wouldn't let anybody come in. But, in Israel, God always allows the strangers and the immigrants and He gives them something to eat and He helps them out."
And let me just tell you something: thank God God accepts strangers, because that's who you and I were before we came into the household of God. So it says – that's right. You can clap. That's good. Some of y'all are getting excited. I like it.
Anyway, it happens here that Naomi had a relative of her husband whose name was Boaz. That doesn't really mean a whole lot to you and me in some ways, but it's a very important note to make because, in Israel – listen here; this is important – in the ancient Near East, they had what was called a levirate marriage or what was called a kinsman redeemer. And here's the way it worked: if you were a woman that was married to a man and you didn't have a male child to pass on your lineage, somebody that was a blood-relative could take you as a wife, could give you a child, but that child would be named after your deceased husband so that you could continue the lineage of your family. That's why Naomi is so distraught, because there's no way for her to carry on the lineage.
Except there's a guy named Boaz. And I love in Ruth 2:3 it says, so, Ruth went out into the field and it says, "As it happened, she came to the field of Boaz."
Let me tell you something: there is no "as it happened" in your life. The writer is winking at you. He knows what's going on. And some of you may be here today going, "I'm just here. I don't know. I showed up. I heard you had some cool lights. I heard the pastor was like 5'2. I just wanted to see that."
It's funny. I was out in the Hub on Friday night and the guy's like, "Woah, man. You are short."
I'm like, "I know. I look big on stage, you know?"
Anyway. I came up to his belt buckle. Anyway, the deal is that Ruth goes out into this field and she's gleaning. They're harvesting all the barley and stuff's falling on the ground and she's able to take this stuff back to Naomi. Serving Naomi, loving Naomi, getting food for her and Naomi and Boaz strolls in. And man, he's a dude. He's nice. He's all of these things. He's just a good dude. He's telling everybody blessings and everything and he's like, "Who's the chick?" It doesn't say that in Hebrew. He says, "Who's the girl..." – I'm just keeping you awake here.
He says, "Who's the girl?"
They said, "Well, she's a Moabite."
You know, the women are talking. "You know, that's the incestuous people. That's Lot's people. That's the quarrel of Abraham and Lot."
He says, "Tell me about her."
They tell him about her and he says, "Okay. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to throw some extra on the ground for her so she can get more."
Then he walks over to her and he says, "Hey, listen. You stay here in the fields. Nobody's going to bother you. I told my men to leave you alone. I know you're a Moabite. Leave you alone. You do your thing. You glean. You can drink water out of my pots. You do whatever you want to do."
She's blown away. She doesn't even know what to do. And the Bible records this and says, "She fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should take notice of me? I'm a foreigner."
"How could you even... you have everything you need. I give you nothing and you take notice of me."
Man, thank God our Jesus is like Boaz, who takes notice of strangers.
"So I found favor? How?"
He says, "Listen, I heard what you've done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. It has been fully told to me. I know what you're doing."
And then he says this: "And how you left your father and your mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before."
This is a really important line here, because what Boaz realized is there was another guy that left his father and mother and left his land and went to a land that he didn't know and his name was Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. He sees Abrahamic faith in this lady. He knows that she is one of the covenant people of God and he says to her, "Look, it's all good. I know what's going on here."
He goes, "And I hope that the Lord repays you for what you have done, a full reward."
"You're living out this thing and, if you're living out and you're serving Naomi and you're doing good for her, God's going to repay you. God's going to bless you."
He says, "Because I know that you've come here, under whose wings you have come to take refuge! I know you've come under the wings of God. You've come here following Naomi's God. You're trusting in God."
Great story. I mean, just an awesome story. So, Ruth goes back to Naomi and she's like, "You won't believe this! This guy is letting me glean, he's giving me water, he's awesome."
She's like, "Boaz! He's a redeemer! Bingo! We're going to score here. And here's what you've got to do. Here's what you've got to do. Now listen to me, Ruth. I know that you are for Moab, and I know that everybody knows that when people get drunk, Moab people take advantage of them. So, what's going to happen is this: when the harvest is done, they're going to have a big feast and they're going to drink and Boaz is going to be merry.
“He's going to lay down and, when he goes and lays down and goes to sleep, you're going to go in. You're going to uncover his feet so that his feet get cold and he'll wake up. And when he wakes up, you're not going to be laying next to him like you're trying to take advantage of him. You're going to be laying at the bottom of his feet like an inverted "T." He's going to realize that you're not taking advantage of him and then you're going to ask him to be your redeemer."
So, the Bible says when Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and laid down. I wish my kids would come softly at night. Can anybody amen on that one? Man, my kids uncover my feet, but it ain't soft.
Anyway, she came softly and uncovered his feet and laid down. At midnight, the man was startled. I mean, you know. Feet get cold and you wake up, "Whoa. What's going on?"
"He turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet!"
He's like, "What's going on here?"
And see, if she would've been sort of trying to say something to him, she would've been laying next to him. She wasn't laying next to him. She was laying at his feet.
He says, "Who are you? Who is this?" You know?
She goes, "I'm Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer."
She's like, "Boaz, you remember you told me I came here to be under the wings of God? You can be His instrument to put me under the wings. You're a redeemer. You can change our life forever."
Now, what's awesome is this: Boaz says to her, he goes, "Well, listen: a little bit of a wrinkle here. There's actually somebody that's in line before me and I'm going to have to talk to them."
It's building all kinds of drama in the story if you're reading this right. He says, "I'm going to have to go talk to him tomorrow. But, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to give you six measures of barley. You take it home."
Boaz is thinking, "How do I have her walk out of here and it not look like she's been in here. So, I'm going to give her a bunch of seed so that it looks like she's been gleaning all night."
Now, the beauty of this is this: we don't know how much six measures is. You can read the Bible and you can read scholars. Everybody disagrees. Nobody knows. We don't know the measurements of the Old Testament. We just don't know. It was a long time ago. It may be that she put her big shawl together and carried it on her back. But it may equally be that she put it in her apron and carried it. Now, that would be really cool, wouldn't it? Have a big belly walking in to see Naomi?
See, she went in to lay with Boaz, and Boaz gave her seed. But not in the way that it happened with Lot and his daughter. And this is beautiful too because, 800 years later, God is restoring the quarrel between Lot and Abraham. Because He is a God that restores. So, He sends her on the way. She goes back and they're having a party or whatever. Boaz goes and talks to the guy in the morning. He says, "Hey, listen. There's this Naomi. She's in town. She needs to be redeemed. You're first in line. I'm second in line. Do you want her?"
He goes, "Yeah. I'll redeem her."
He's like, "Well, she also has a Moabite girl."
He's like, "Yeah. Forget that."
You know? And he's like, "Okay. So, I'll take her."
So, he does. And the Bible says, "Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. The the woman said to Naomi, 'Blessed be the Lord, who has not left your his day without a redeemer.'"
Now she's moved from Mara. Bitter to sweet. It says here, "And may his name be renowned in Israel!"
"Naomi, may this child that's going to continue your lineage and your family, may he be renowned in Israel."
And his name was Obed. That's who he was. That's the child they had. Obed. But, Obed had another guy. His name was Jesse. And you might remember Jesse. Jesse had seven sons that walked in front of Samuel, and not one of them was anointed king. But, there was this little rudy-looking boy, this red-faced boy, this little dude that was out shepherding named David that came rolling in and they said, "This is the guy."
Obed had Jesse and Jesse was the father of David. What a story, huh? That's a great story. It's a story of redemption. Now, let's unpack what it means for you and me, this third cup of redemption.
Get out your sheets of paper. We call this the take-homes. This is where you get your sheet out here and you write on the back. Write these three things down that I'm going to give you. If you've got a phone or whatever, write these down. These are important.
First of all, the whole idea of redemption – what does it mean for God to redeem you and me – is moving, or going, from bitter to sweet.
See, God doesn't just want to save you and me. He wants to do that. And He doesn't want to just unpack our yesterdays. He wants to restore us back to fullness. He wants us to be able to be so useful for Him so that we can go do the things that He's called us to do. He wants us to be redeemed. The beauty is this: if you know the story of the Old Testament, when the children of Israel, on the third day, come to the waters of Mara and they can't drink them because they're bitter, it says, "The Lord showed Moses a tree."
He pointed him to a tree. The Hebrew word for "point" or "showed" is a derivative of the word "torah." He "torahed" Moses to a tree. He said, "Take that tree and throw it in the waters."
He throws it in the waters and the waters move from bitter to sweet. Listen to me. There is a tree that Jesus Christ hung on for you and me that moves your life from bitter to sweet. Redemption is bringing it back. Naomi didn't have anything and now she's fully back. The family's there, the lineage is there. God wants to redeem and restore your life.
Secondly, redemption leads us to live a redemptive life, which leads to fulfillment. See, when you understand what God has done for you and you understand the redemption that He's given to you, you want to pour it into others. And, as you pour it into others, God blesses you with fulfillment. The whole book of Ruth, if you will look, Naomi's looking our for Ruth, Ruth is looking our for Naomi, Boaz is looking out for Ruth. Everybody's blessed because everybody's living out a life of redemption. Boaz was so incredibly kind to Ruth because he himself had experienced the kindness of God.
Listen. This is important. Boaz's mom was Rahab the prostitute of Jericho. See, he knew what God's grace was. He knew what God's kindness was. He knew how God reached into a gentile woman and brought her into the royal line of Judah. He knew that. He'd experienced that. And, because he'd experienced full redemption, he was able to give it back to others.
And this is what it looks like in you and I's lives. It looks like this right here: when we understand redemption and we get ahold of what redemption is and we move from bitter to sweet, we start living redemptively. We start pouring into others. And, when we start pouring into others, we start walking in all the blessings and the fulfillment of God.
Listen to me. We don't do First Friday and Women On the Go and all of these things just to do something. We don't do them just so we can build a bigger church. We don't do it just so we get a better name in the community. We do it because, as your pastor, I know if I can get you out pouring into other people, you will see the blessings and the fulfillment of God in your life in a way that you won't know the other way.
And thirdly, redemption is where the future invades the now. So often we've taught in church that redemption is out there. And it is. There will be a day we walk with Jesus fully. But God wants to do redemption now. He wants to restore now. He wants to heal now. He wants to move in your life now. He wants to do those things now.
That's why Jesus says, "Pray that what goes on in heaven will go on on the earth."
Because redemption is the future invading your now. So, here we go. To every one of you all, to those who watch via the internet and mobile app, the offer is on the table. The cup of redemption.
Now, some of you may be here today and you go, "I need the first cup. I've been trying to live my life without Jesus. I need to live my life with Jesus. I see it. I'm feeling it in my heart."
Listen. We want you to do that. We want you to drink the first cup today. And, if you want to do that, you just say, "Hey, Jesus. I want to drink the first cup. I want to get ahold of You. I want You to come into my life."
Find a pastor, find somebody with a name badge, say, "Hey, I've got to get this thing. I've got to figure this thing out."
We will pray with you. We will help you. We will get you in classes. We will help you out. Some of you may be saying, "Hey, I'm in the second cup. That's where I'm at. I'm trying to get rid of my yesterdays."
Leave them here. Just drop that bag here and let it go, because Jesus has taken your yesterdays. But, some of you may need the third cup today. The cup of redemption. To move from bitter to sweet. Let God speak to you. Drink and drink deeply.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come to You right now and I just pause and ask that Your spirit would hover over this congregation and You would start speaking to people's lives. God, You are a God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. You are a God that can do the miraculous. God, I'm asking right now that there would be some people that drink deeply of Your third cup today and move from bitter to sweet, move to restoration, move to redemption in their life. Don't let anybody walk out of here today, Lord, the same way as when they came in. Minster to them, Lord, in Jesus' name.
So, dear Heavenly Father, we love You, we thank You, we honor You. We ask that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet here again. And Lord, I pray that everybody here would drink deeply of the cups that You've offered to us. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."