So I’ve been hanging out in the time of the Judges lately. You know, the end of Joshua’s life when the people of Israel are in the Promised Land but they haven’t totally claimed it…all the way through Samuel’s time before King Saul and King David. It seems like a coincidence: I didn’t plan to do these studies in this order. In most cases they were assigned to me. But in the last few months, I went through a study of 1 Samuel (which starts during the time of the Judges), I taught a class on Judges for School of Ministry, I reviewed a biblical fiction book that takes place at the very beginning of the book of Judges before the “time of the Judges” really starts, and I did this Bible study: Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness. If you didn’t know, the Book of Ruth in the Bible also takes place during the time of the Judges.
Don’t Judge. =D
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It was a really neat experience to bring all these different studies together and soak up the historical context, build the bridges to our lives today. But of the books I read or studied, this one wasn’t at the top of my list. I’m glad I read it – I learned a lot, and I also learned a lot about what I like and don’t like in a Bible study guide that is helping me as I write my own book. But there were some stylistic and structural things that weren’t the best fit in my opinion.
What I loved about Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness
I think the author did a great job of setting the stage, reminding us of the setting in Judges and getting us to think about how that relates to our world. Judges says it, Ruth refers to it, this author made sure we got the picture: everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Sounds a LOT like our culture today!) I also thought that looking at Ruth through the lens of a dramatic production was both clever and fitting.
What I didn’t love about Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness
Part of the power of story is that it leaves us room to come to our own conclusions, something that can happen in a personal journaling session or REALLY well if you are doing story with a group like my new Bible study is designed to do. Our temptation as pastors, teachers, and small group leaders can be to deposit the conclusion like cash at the bank. Transactional, one way to look at it. With story, though, we need to leave room for our hearers or readers to question, feel, discover. I felt that sometimes the author gave into that temptation and fed us the conclusions too easily. But this might be a matter of personal preference.
Structurally, it wasn’t really clear what we were supposed to do in a “session” as they are called, or how the study should be used. There are some suggestions at the end of the book, but they still left me a little confused as to how I might do it in a group. On my own, I just plowed through. As Bible students we don’t need to be married to the structure of a Bible study guide, especially studying on our own. But I do think there should be some clear way to go through it so that groups have some organization and individuals have a starting place to create their own plans.
Pet Peeves from a Seminarian
Sometimes the author gave commentary before we read the text. It’s good to read background information before you read the text, so you know which century you step into. But someone’s interpretation should come after you and the Holy Spirit have had a chance to talk about it first. Otherwise, you will read the text through the commentator’s interpretation rather than on its own merit.
The other pet peeve: there was at least one word study that left you hanging if you didn’t use the ESV. What do I mean? The question instructed readers to read the verse and select this particular word, and then the follow-up study was based on that English word.
That English word wasn’t in the first three translations I used. I had no idea what she was talking about.
This is a place where we as writers and teachers need to be aware. First, are we grabbing onto something that maybe only exists in one translation? If so, is it really clear from the original language? Yes? Then include the verse text in your book so that if your reader is using a different translation, they know what you are talking about. If not, don’t make that a focal point of your teaching/writing. I have some great tools to go back and do original language study. But your reader might not have that, so she might just stay confused.
Would I recommend Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness?
This is a hard question. For the reasons above, this study wouldn’t be my first choice for Ruth. But there is potential here, and I do think it is a good option. Also, if you’re really into character studies or theater, this might be a great fit for you.
Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness is on tour with Celebrate Lit!
About the Book
Author: Andrea Thom
Genre: Non-Fiction; Bible Study
Release Date: November 2018
An in-depth, gospel-centered bible study on how Christ redeems even the worst forms of darkness lurking within and around us.
RUTH: Redeeming The Darkness uses God`s truth to touch our daily realities:
- Fractured relationships
- Processing feelings of bitterness, confusion, and doubt
- All-in Christianity
- Our response to the faithfulness and sovereignty of God
Have you ever felt like God has left you? Struggled with feelings of bitterness or doubt? Hopelessness? Ruth’s message is not presented as a five-point sermon but as a spectacular, romantic drama. Its story woos us into relationship with its characters and storyline, yet is also true, living history. This workbook-style bible study approach tackles important life topics including fractured relationships, all-in Christianity, God`s faithful devotion, and rightly processing bitterness and doubt.
Ruth is a Different Kind of Book
Ruth is unlike any other book of the Bible because words like love story and theatrical are accurate descriptors of its text alongside being historical, and gospel-centred. She’s small enough in her four chapters to rest as a cute hardback on your coffee table, yet profound enough to explode hope and redemption into your darkest pain and everyday frustrations. It is not only magnificent because of its breath-taking storyline between a man and a woman, but because God sovereignly orchestrated and sealed it within the scriptural canon so that we can experience Him as the ultimate lover of our souls.
Ultimately, Ruth conveys the love story of Christ coming to redeem His people. Christ is coming for you. The host has ripped your ticket for Ruth’s next performance and you’ll be sitting front row centre as His guest of honor. Come expectantly and settle into your seat prayerfully. The orchestra is cued, and the curtain is pulling back for Act 1…
Can God be kind and all-powerful when the world is filled with despair?
Click here to purchase your copy!
To celebrate her tour, Andrea is giving away a grand prize “Loving the Word” theme basket that includes a gorgeous writing journal with Scripture at the bottom of each lined page, 6 stunning magnetic book page markers,“Be still and know that I am God” Bible verse key chain, Highlighter/ Pink post-it note, Old Testament Bible Reading Checklist by LOVE the Word | LIVE the Word, & RUTH-Redeeming The Darkness Bible Memory Companion Sheet!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops at the bottom of this post for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d62b/ruth-redeeming-the-darkness-celebration-tour-giveaway
Andrea Thom is a wife, mom to three great kids, and a therapist. Known for being both deeply reflective yet quick-witted, she`s the parent on the sidelines yelling a little too loud for the home team, but also the one who loves to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea on a rainy day…or any day. She loves. Her family and friends – the whole messy lot of them. She loves unexpected belly laughs. Putting on warm clothes straight from the dryer. The colour blue. Efficiency. Reason. Tidy cupboards. Easter. Quietly gleaning through scripture’s pages at night before exhaustion folds her into her pillow. That`s a special space – it`s just Jesus and her there – – a hallowed, secret union that is theirs alone. She wants to live with eternity in mind and be consumed with what she’ll be enjoying forever – Jesus. That’s why she loves God’s word so much. Jesus is the only trustworthy One to offer real hope and redemption for our eternal futures and everyday realities.
Guest Post from Andrea
The Bible is not a book about God, it is God actually speaking! In fact, throughout history, Scripture is the primary and most trusted way that Christ reveals Himself to the world. Ever notice how our experiences become more powerful when understanding runs alongside the experience? A sports match is more exciting to watch when we know the rules of play. The theatre is more captivating when we comprehend the dialogue. Music can impact us more deeply when the sweep of the notes collide with lyrics that we actually grasp. The power of our experience of Jesus is connected to the depth of our understanding about who He actually is!
No Matter Who You Are…
No matter what you’re like or who you are, the same Jesus who spoke creation to life wants to speak life into your circumstances now through His Word. Pursuing biblical depth is not just reserved for the academically elite who are into that sort of thing. We consume food to survive, but we consume His Word to truly live! So grab some friends to join your Bible study journey because the pursuit of truth through His Word is essential, doable, and awesome. Come – just as you authentically are – and prepare to meet Jesus for who He actually is…
Looking for a new Bible study series with FRESH commentary and RELIABLE gospel-focus?
Have you ever felt like God has left you? Struggled with feelings of bitterness or confusion? Hopelessness? Ruth – Redeeming The Darkness is an in-depth, gospel-centred bible study on how Christ redeems even the ugliest types of darkness that can lurk within and around us. The book is one of the most exquisitely written love stories ever penned. Words like love story, theatrical, and screenplay are accurate descriptors alongside historical, and gospel-centred. It’s small enough in its four chapters to rest as a cute hardback on your coffee table, yet profound enough to explode hope and redemption into your darkest pain and everyday frustrations. The book conveys the love story of Christ coming to redeem His people – now Christ is coming for YOU. The host has ripped your ticket for Ruth’s next performance and you’ll be sitting front row centre as His guest of honor. Come expectantly and settle into your seat prayerfully. The orchestra is cued, and the curtain is pulling back for Act 1…
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“I have completed a lot of bible studies over the years, but few have grabbed my attention as quickly and held it as powerfully as ‘Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness’. Andrea guides the reader through the book of Ruth and takes them straight to the cross. This study will grow your appreciation for the Word of God, increase your competency in handling the Word of God, and bless your heart. It is my joy to recommend ‘Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness’ as a powerful tool to aid you in your study of God’s Word.” Bible study participant
“Using beautifully descriptive, poetic language, Andrea does a masterful job of plumbing the depths of both the historical context and modern-day parallels and applications. Its message is both surprising and incredibly encouraging to those of us who find ourselves much like Ruth – pursuing ordinary lives in the midst of God’s great Love Story.” Bible study participant
“As the vivid picture of Naomi reveals your own feelings of hopelessness, bitterness, and despair, you will be captivated by a love story that becomes your own.” Bible study participant
RUTH’S EASY HOMEMADE HONEY-WHEAT BREAD
(No Bread Machine Required)
2 cups warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp active dry instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3-5 cups all-purpose flour
|Ø Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually.
Ø Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 minutes. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in an oiled bowl. Turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Ø Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans.
Ø Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.
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Real World Bible Study, December 2
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Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3
Moments, December 3
whispering the Word, December 4
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