Term 3 2020

Ecclesiastes: The search for meaning in a world of chaos

In a world where the US President issues health advice based on the opinion of a “doctor” who believes lizards are running the United States Government and the human race has been infected with alien DNA (among many other strange conspiracy theories) how can we find any certainty and meaning? Is life pointless? These are the questions addressed by the book of Ecclesiastes. We take a deep dive into this thoroughly up-to-date book that will demand that we bring humility and teach-ability to the task of searching for meaning in a chaotic world.

Much Ado About Nothing   Ecclesiastes 1   20th September

  1. A friend of yours asks you a hard question about the Bible which you are unsure of answering. How does that make you feel? Do you feel the need to answer the question as fast as you can? Or are you comfortable sitting with the question and not having an answer?
  2. “What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?” How would you answer this for yourself?
  3. How do you feel about someone in the Bible claiming everything is meaningless? Do you agree with the claim ‘everything is meaningless’? Why/why not?
  4. How would a non-Christian define the word ‘wisdom’? How would a Christian define wisdom? What is the difference? Which definition do you most relate to?
  5. “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Can you think of a time in your life when this has been true? When has this not been true?
  6. How is time represented in the passage? Is it a positive or negative view of time?

 

Ruth: Redemption Foreshadowed

We dive in to this classic story of one of the great Old Testament heroes – Ruth, the great, great, great etc. Grandmother of Jesus. God’s surprising provision of redemption for Ruth points us to Jesus our redeemer.

The Line of David   Ruth 4:13-22   13th September

  1. Read the passage in both the NIV and ESV translations. What strikes you about the differences in the translations?
  2. Naomi began the book as bitter and angry at God. Is there evidence in the text to suggest she has forgiven God? Why/why not?
  3. What significance does the genealogy have? Do you recognise any of the names? If you have time, look up their stories in the Bible.
  4. How has God been at work in the book of Ruth? Is it obvious or subtle?
  5. How has God been at work in your life? Is it easy to miss his work?
  6. How was Ruth treated by the townspeople, as an outsider? Why is this significant in the Biblical timeline?
  7. In this time of Covid, who has become an outsider in our churches? Does it feel like we are all outsiders now? How can we encourage our St Anne’s sense of community and belonging? What are the challenges to this we are facing?

The Kinsman Redeemer   Ruth 4:1-12   6th September

  1. Compare and contrast Boaz and the other guardian-redeemer. Why does one decide to fulfil his responsibility as a guardian-redeemer and the other doesn’t?
  2. What would have happened to Ruth and Naomi if neither guardian-redeemer fulfilled their duty?
  3. What can we learn about matters affecting the rights of others?
  4. How do the elders react to the news of Boaz’ marriage? How do they include God in the story?
  5. In what ways does the story show God’s loving kindness to those who trust him?
  6. How is Jesus like a guardian-redeemer?

Surprising Kindness   Ruth 3   30th August

  1. A lot of the time we think of the book of Ruth as a romantic comedy. So far, has it been romantic? Why/why not? Is this the sort of romance we are meant to emulate?
  2. How are Ruth’s actions scandalous? What danger is she putting herself in by following Naomi’s advice? What could have gone wrong?
  3. Why would Naomi give Ruth this advice? Is it wise or unwise, after all there was a happy ending? Would you ever give similar advice to someone?
  4. Have you ever found yourself in a morally questionable situation? What happened? Did you feel as if God was with you as it was happening?
  5. Did Ruth and Boaz act with integrity? Why/why not?
  6. Why is having integrity important as a Christian?
  7. How do we know if we are acting with integrity? What are some strategies you can use to maintain your integrity?

Wings of Refuge   Ruth 2   23rd August

  1. How does what happened in chapter 1 of Ruth influence the events of chapter 2? Retell the story of both chapters in your own words.
  2. Has Naomi’s attitude to God changed since the last chapter? Is she less bitter? How do the events in our lives affect our relationship and attitude to God?
  3. How would you describe the character of Boaz? How is he described by the author of Ruth? Does the description match his actions?
  4. How might the story of Ruth have gone wrong in this chapter? If she had chosen to go to work in another field what might have happened?
  5. What can we learn about God from this chapter?
  6. Can you think of a way to apply this to your life? How might the passage be relevant to you when you are unlikely to experience this situation in your life? Can you think of a modern-day equivalent?
  7. Pray for our church’s link missionaries who are working in a foreign land. Especially considering the effects of Covid on their ministries.

Surprising faithfulness  Ruth 1  16th August

1. At the time the book of Ruth is set, life as a woman was entirely dependent on men. They were unable to work, own land etc. How does this influence the story of Naomi and Ruth in this chapter?
2. Why does Naomi decide to travel back to Bethlehem? Why doesn’t she want her daughters in law to come with her? Why does Orpah stay and Ruth go?
3. Israel and Moab’s relationship with each other was hostile. This is a tension that is happening in the background of the book. What would life have been like for an Israelite living in Moab? What is Ruth facing by going to Bethlehem with Naomi?
4. Naomi asks for her name to be changed to Mara. What motivates this?
5. The story of Ruth is also a story of Naomi grieving the loss of her husband and sons. How can you practically and spiritually support people during this time in their life? Would you recommend this book to someone who is suffering bereavement? Why/why not?
6. What role does God have in this passage? What is Ruth’s attitude towards him, especially as a Moabite woman?
7. Spend sometime praying for people who are dealing with bereavement and grief.