In Cleveland, Ohio, TLI has a cohort of diaspora church leaders representing seven different countries who participate in our preaching workshops. In our first workshop, we study the book of Ruth, introducing TLI's three hermeneutical questions which we use to understand and faithfully communicate God's word. We also explore Ruth within the overarching story of the Bible and consider how to preach Christ from the Old Testament.
When we came to the lesson on preaching the gospel from Ruth, one of our participants, a pastor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, cautiously expressed concern. He didn't understand how Ruth was connected to the gospel. In his mind, this was a historical book largely disconnected from later New Testament revelation about Jesus.
At that moment, our facilitator asked for clarification, so he explained further. "You can't preach the gospel without repentance, and there's no repentance in Ruth." In response, one of the Ethiopian brothers offered a comment. "Oh, yes, there's repentance in Ruth," he said. Then he pointed us back to our previous lesson from chapter one.
He noted that Ruth's story begins with a "return" to Israel. As we had seen together, chapter one of Ruth repeats the idea of turning and returning. "There it is," he added. "Ruth is repenting. She leaves her family and her gods to follow Naomi and her God." Truly, the seeds of the gospel in a redeemer from David's family–and even a picture of repentance–are right there in Ruth.
This is a dynamic we love in our workshops. Pastors are excited to gather around God's word and study together. And it's wonderful when they can help each other see what God has spoken–and how it all points to Christ.