Summary: This is the 1st study in the study "God Is On The Job". This is a study from the book of Ruth and this study looks at God’s presence even when we don’t realize it.
It is hard to see that God is working in our lives sometimes. In fact it seems sometimes as if God is not there at all. How could God allow bad things to happen to good people? How is it that evil people seem to prosper? The devil is a master at focusing us on the negative and causes us to even doubt that God cares; but I want to assure you that God provides and cares for us even when we don’t know it. See, often times God is growing us and teaching us through difficult circumstances.
Just A Thought
What difficult situation is God using in your life to grow you? Do you feel like God has abandoned you?
Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons. The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years. But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband.
The book of Ruth takes place during the days of the judges. These were dark days for the Nation of Israel. Everyone did their own thing. Everyone decided what was right and what was wrong.
Because of this we find an on-going cycle of sin, divine judgment, petitioning God for help, divine deliverance, and then a return to more sin. This is the time in which our story takes place.
Elimelech moved his family from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. While there, Elimelech died; but his family continued to stay in Moab. His two sons Mahlon and Chilion got married to women from Moab. After about 10 years the two sons died and only three women were left: Elimelech’s wife, Naomi; Mahlon’s wife, Orpah; and Chilion’s wife, Ruth. Now Mahlon and Chilion had not done wrong by marrying Moabites because God did not forbid the marrying of Israelites to Moabites; but Moabites were not allowed to enter into the assembly of the lord until the 10th generation.
These women now faced a serious problem. In this era of time, women without husbands, (especially young widows) did not have much hope. In those days, it was very important that women were married and had children. If they were widows or could not have children they were considered to be cursed by God. To make matters worse for Orpah and Ruth, tradition would have it that if your husband died you were to marry their nearest of kin. Usually the dead husband’s brother would take his brother’s wife to be his wife; but Naomi had no more sons.
At a time when it seemed that they were all cursed by God and He was no where around, each of these three women had to make a decision. There comes certain times in life when although we would like to procrastinate on making a decision, that we must make that decision now. Many times the results of our decisions follow us for the rest of our lives and we will find that the decisions made by these three women had huge affects upon their lives.
What is very interesting about these three different decisions made by Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth is that these same three decisions are the same options that we have to choose from when we are faced with a decision today.
I want us to notice these three options and then ask yourself which option you tend to use when you have to make difficult decisions.
Option #1: Give Up
On the surface, Naomi seems to be a very unselfish and caring person because she gave her daughter-in-laws a way out; or did she? One must read the entire chapter to see that Naomi was experiencing what we call in year 2003, clinical depression. The only reason she was going back to Bethlehem was because the famine that God had placed upon Bethlehem due to their disobedience had been lifted and there was now food available. Apparently, Naomi could have gone back to Bethlehem after her husband died, but she stayed with her sons and daughter-in-laws. She let them take care of her. I can just imagine that they had to often hear how unfair God had been to her for taking her husband. Now that her sons had died, she felt like there was not anyone, including God, who cared about her even a little. Her plan was to go back to Bethlehem alone and just finish her life out as quickly as possible. She had given up.
Although, I’m sure Naomi did love her daughter-in-laws; she was so focused on how sorry and terrible her life was that she didn’t even consider the fact that not only was she telling her daughter-in-laws to go back to their homes and maybe find a husband, but worse she was telling them to go back to their old gods and forsake Jehovah God. Instead of her leading her family to God she was telling them to give up on God and do something else.