Summary: Ever want to start over your life?
This morning, I invite your attention to the book of Ruth. This book is a great love story and throughout it, it demonstrates Gods providential care for mankind. We are not for sure who wrote the book of Ruth, although some have given Samuel the credit for such writing. In accordance with Jewish tradition this book was read and sung at the feast of harvest or day of Pentecost because much of the setting dealt with the harvest. Ruth lived the same time Eli was the high priest in the land of Judah, sometime during the 12th century.
Before we study our text out this morning, I would like for us to close our eyes and just for a few minutes, let’s let Gods word come alive here within our congregation this morning. The story begins with a famine in Bethlehem, which, ironically, in Hebrew means "house of bread". So the land of promise is beset by a famine. The House of bread is without any bread. So the story starts badly and it goes downhill from there. Elimelech and his wife Naomi leave the land of Judah for a pagan land called Moab bringing with them their two sons. (Show Map)
Now things may have been bad in Judah, but in Moab they’d be far worse. The people of Moab were pagans who had made it clear over the centuries that they had little love for the people of Israel. And the feeling was mutual. The book of Deuteronomy declared in 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
The Moabites were a cursed people, a people with whom the Israelites were forbidden to seek a treaty of friendship. So It’s not a good strategic move for Elimelech to take his wife and two teenage sons to Moab, even if there is a famine in Judah. After having establishing themselves in the land of Moab, Elimelech died. We are not told how, but soon after his death, his two sons marry two Moab tresses. We are not told about the time lapse, but soon we are told that these to children to Elimelech and Naomi die, leaving all three of these women husbandless.
Naomi receives word that God has provided food again in Judah and soon she decides to journey back to Bethlehem. Realizing that bringing her two daughters-in-law back with her would not be a good idea, due to the fact that they would not be accepted back in Israel. While reading these few verses that open up the stage for us. You can almost feel the pain that was on Naomi’s heart. She tells them that she is to old to bear other children and even if she did, it wouldn’t make sense for them to wait on that child to be of the age of marriage. So she tells them to go back to their old way of life that they new before this family came into the picture.
As they get ready to leave their separate ways, only Ruth clings to Naomi. Ruth was told to go back to her people and go back to the gods that she grew up knowing, and even go back to the culture that she was raised in, but she wouldn’t budge. Having come to this point in our narrative, I had to as my self the question… Why? Why did she not want to go back to her old way of life? After all this nation was a nation that served Idols, there was no order, and in the sight of the Israelites this pagan nation was nothing more than just a bunch of heathens that God needed to wipe of the face of the earth. So as we read our text lets, just for a little while let God open our hearts and our minds as we open His word and let Him speak to us. (Read Text)