The book of Ruth is one of my favorites. It speaks of a lot things about love, family, God’s plan and the Jewish culture. It greatly speaks of the redeeming factor about God’s love and provision and how people at their time sees it.
The characters are well-known in the Jewish history, their plot is quite eccentric and the culture and timeline far-fetched from the 20th century factor but the lessons it entails far reaches the very core of the generation of today.
Join me as I study Ruth’s life and how God worked mightily in their situation that brought honor and favor in a Moabite’s life. I’ve themed this study:
Ruth’s Faith in the Eyes of Naomi
Ruth 1 shares this story:
In the days when the judges ruled,[a] 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. 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.
Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
To be honest about it, Ruth had a bad start with her journey. Ruth had her share of dilemma, she is married to a lad from a weird people being feared by most Canaanites . She lived with her in-laws for quite sometime before losing her husband after 10 years. It was not the future Ruth had hoped for when she said “yes” to a Jewish man far away from home.
Future was bleak for her, Orpah and Naomi included. It was hard living in meager terms especially that they are all widows in a land filled with drought.
Add to the situation was the reality that there was no man in the house to provide for them.
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. 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.
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. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
But in a bleak situation comes the opportunity to show God’s perfect timing. It’s amazing how the author clearly specified that the Lord came to Israel’s aid by providing food.
This was great news! In the Jewish culture, the house and land of a family is an inheritance and can never be bought even after ten years! Naomi, as the head of the family decided to set off on the journey back to Judah. It’s their only hope for survival, better yet, it’s her only hope for survival.
On the next few verses, Naomi gave her blessing to her daughter-in-laws to return to their families and find another husband among their people.
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
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? 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— 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!”
Simply put, Naomi knew the situation – she has no son or close relative in mind that can marry any of them and knows the challenge of a Moabite woman being in a new place.
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
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.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.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Orpah was convinced to what Naomi had shared that she decided to go back home but Ruth decided to go with Naomi. Consider her first statement –
“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.”
I strongly believe that Ruth knew the situation and what probably can transpire when she arrives in Judah but her concern for Naomi is stronger. Naomi was old, in despair and will travel for days or even months from Moab to Judah.
Ruth found something else –
Your people will be my people and your God my God.Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.
Ruth found faith in the household of Naomi.
She probably learned to pray, listen to great stories of her husbands being told every night on who Jehovah is in the lives of his chosen people. But more importantly, Ruth experienced the goodness of God in the life of Naomi. Can you just imagine her clinging to Naomi’s shoulders and expressing her faith by declaring she’s willing to let go of her identity and become part of God’s chosen people.
She personally witnessed how Naomi and her family honored the Lord even in the midst of great tribulation. Her declaration is also a consideration that she was also expressing her faith to God as she declared her turning away from the gods of the Moabites, her own people.
Lastly, Ruth has made her choice to never return again in the land she grew up.
I’ve read and studied this story a couple of times and it always bring fresh and new understanding. I personally learned that wherever we are in our christian life, our journey never promised a safe and smooth sail but He promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Naomi and Ruth were hopeful of a better future in Moab but the Lord had other plans. Although Naomi lost her husband and sons, God gave her Ruth. God will always bring someone to lift us up and help us go through the situation.
Another lesson here is that it was through the family of Naomi and Elimelech that Ruth found out about this God they serve. Her strong conviction to go with Naomi in Judah clearly speaks of her faith and her determination to help Naomi and live a new life.
How about you? Are you in a tight and difficult situation? How do you see God’s hand in this time of your life?
Whether you’re in Naomi’s shoes in need of help and in despair or Ruth who has open hands to help you through the pain. God has a reason for your dilemma and He always has a lesson tagged along with it.
Always remember, He is God and in control. If God was able to bring provision in Israel at a crucial time in Naomi’s life, He can also turn the bad tides into an opportunity to witness God working mightily in the situation and in our character.