The place Ruth has in the Cannon of Scripture is often overlooked. Ruth is analogous to pieces in a puzzle as a story and as to it’s role in Biblical literature. It is part of a bigger picture that emerges as more pieces are put in place. We can’t always understand what God is doing… But with The Scripture & His Spirit was can understand what He has DONE. His purposes become clear when we wait for the whole puzzle to be completed
1.In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
- Bethlehem means: ‘house of bread’…they fled the house of bread!
- The term used is ‘sojourn’ which means to go & return
- Going to Moab is odd, no always friendly relations with Israel
- Sons names mean: ‘sickly’ and ‘wasting’
- Elimelek was a man of some standing, the title ‘Ephrathite’
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
- Is this judgement? The picture is unclear at this point… (incomplete puzzle)
- A childless widow is ultra low status & a dangerous position to be in (3 of them)
6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
- Naomi sees the end of the famine in terms of God’s provision
- The desire is to seek God’s provision by returning to Bethlehem
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
- It is Naomi’s concern for her daughters-in-law that she wants them to stay
- The selfish move would have been to compel then to come with
- Naomi recognizes their kindness & asks God honor it (it comes true for Ruth)
- Marriage symbolizes ‘Shalom’ / Rest
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?
- Both say we will go with you, but for Orpah it was merely a gesture
- Namoi points out the apparent foolishness of coming with her
- It is all based on getting remarried and the chances Namoi can provide
12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
- Namoi says: ‘Don’t count on me, God seems to have turned against me.’
- She is not seeing the whole picture of what God is doing
- She, like you and me is always seeing a partial picture…
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye,but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
- More weeping, they get how bad a situation it is
- Orpah bails… Ruth clings…
- Namoi to Ruth; ‘Make the safer choice like Orpah’
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
- Ruth displays unwavering loyalty
- Where does this loyalty come from?
- She is making a statement of ‘surrender’ to Namoi’s God (Yahweh)
- Why does she invoke ‘The Lord’
- By faith Ruth trusts God in adversity
- Namoi does too, but with some bitterness
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem…
What things that have happened in your life cause confusion about God?
Have you ever gone out on a limb because you were seeking God? Why?
Have you seen much loyalty in the Christian community? Why?
How do you respond to adversity in your life? Are they healthy responses?