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Summary: The introduction to a series on the Book of Ruth, looking at Naomi’s courage and hope in the face of tragedy.

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Ruth 1:1-7 – “Doing what needs to be done”

By James Galbraith

First Baptist Church, Port Alberni

June 3, 2007

Text (NIV)

1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and 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 Elimelech, his wife’s name 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.

3 Now Elimelech, 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.

6 When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi 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.

Outline

1-2 Journey to Moab

3-5 Tragedy Strikes

6-7 Returning Home

Narrative

1-2 Journey to Moab

The first two verses of this book convey information that serves to set the stage for the rest of the story.

The first phrase, “when the judges ruled”, puts the story into history during the time just after the people of Israel had moved into the Promised Land.

The great leaders, Moses, Joshua, Caleb and Aaron have all passed away, and without strong central leadership the infant nation soon falls into civil unrest, not a lot different from Palestine today.

The people, unused to living free and in their own land, soon reverted to fighting among the tribes.

This made Israel very vulnerable to attack from the outside,

and the period of the Judges shows several different nations,

including Moab, controlling Israel from time to time.

The priesthood was helpless to defend the nation and it was left to military leaders, called judges, to assume control from time to time.

God would raise up good judges to take back the Kingdom,

but as they passed away their survivors inevitably sank back into disorder.

use overhead to illustrate the period’s chaotic history.

Add to this civil unrest the fact that “there was a famine in the land”,

and you see that the situation was bleak for anyone living in Israel.

It’s ironic that our main characters would hail from Bethlehem, for the meaning of this city’s name is “House of bread” and this Bethlehem was indeed known for the abundance of crops that usually surrounded it.

The bread box was empty, however, and our family of four is forced to move from their home into the neighbouring land of Moab.

Now let’s talk about this family for a minute,

and the move they have to make.

Put on map overhead

There are four of them in total, Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion.

Elimelech means “My God is King”,

so it’s fair to say that he comes from a family faithful to God.


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