Summary: This is a Narrative sermon that retells the story or Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.
TITLE: A Love Story
Text: Ruth 1-4
Date: February 17,2008
Location: Sulphur Spring
Introduction: Thursday was Valentines Day, the Day that we traditionally tell our spouses or those we love how much we love and care for them. I was listening to WAY – FM this week and one of the D.J.’s was discussing what he was going to do for his wife. He said that he was going to rent 3-4 ‘chick-flick’s’ for her and then let her watch them while he took care of their two boys. Now for those of you who may not understand what a ‘chick-flick’ is they have also been described by many men as ‘sappy love stories.’ Let me give you a few examples. According to MSN, Movies here are a few of the top 10 chick flicks. Pretty Woman, staring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts came in at #10. “When Harry Met Sally, starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal” came in at #8, and the #1 ‘Chick Flick’ according to MSN was “Gone with the Wind” starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. Now I know those of you under the age of 25 would probably put “The Notebook” in the top 10 but I guess it just hasn’t stood the test of time yet.
The point I’m trying to make here is that love stories have been popular at the Box Office for many, many years. A couple of hundred years ago, before movies were invented books were the main source of entertainment for many people.
When Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, served as the Ambassador to France, he occasionally attended what was called The Infidels Club -- a group that spent most of its time searching for and reading literary masterpieces.
On one occasion Franklin read the book of Ruth to the club, but changed the names in it so it would not be recognized as a story from the Bible. When he finished, the members of the Infidel’s club, many of whom claimed to be atheists, were unanimous in their praise. They told him it was one of the most beautiful short stories that they had ever heard, and demanded that he tell them where he had found such a remarkable work of art. As a God fearing man, Franklin enjoyed telling them that it came from the Bible!
Some of you here this morning may have never read or heard this beautiful love story, which is the main reason I’ve chosen to share it with you this morning. So if you’ll turn in your Bibles to the book of Ruth we are going to read the first 5 verses of chapter 1.
Now before we go any further let me give you some important background information to this story.
Timing: The first verse tells us that these events took place during the time when the judges ruled the land of Israel. This was a dark period of time for the nation of Israel. The book of Judges describes this time period as a time “when everyone did as he saw fit.” Which simply means that sin was running ramped. Consequently God was forced to punish them for their sin and disobedience, which he did by sending a severe famine upon the land. Verse 1 tells us that the reason that Elimelech took his family to Moab in the first place was because of a famine that had come upon the land of Israel. So the people of Israel were suffering the consequences of their sin and disobedience. But instead of repenting of their sins, some of the Israelites including this family tried to get away from the judgment of God by moving to other countries. In this case the country of Moab.
The country of Moab was located in what is today Modern Day Jordan. It was and still is a very fertile region located on the Eastern shore of the Jordan River. Moab was a land known for its rich soil and adequate rainfall so Elimelech traveled to a place where he was sure his crops wouldn’t fail. It would have taken them about a week to travel the hundred miles or so between Bethlehem and Moab. Unfortunately Moab had traditionally been one of Israel’s fiercest enemies, and on at least one occasion had influenced the Israelites into sexual immorality and the worship other gods.
Unfortunately, when they got to Moab things got worse instead of getting better. Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her two sons living in a foreign land. The two sons decided to marry Moabite women and settle down in Moab. They live there for about 10 years before they too died. At this point, Naomi decides enough is enough and makes the decision to return to Bethlehem.
Surprisingly her two grieving Daughter-in-Laws, Ruth and Oprah decide to accompany her back to Israel. During their journey Naomi’s love and concern for Oprah and Ruth motivated her to tell them to turn around and go back home. Look at verse 8 with me.