Summary: I believe Naomi must have learned something; that even in the midst of the greatest suffering and adversity; God is good, and kind, and full of mercy.
Title: Ruth and Naomi
Theme: Messages from the Book of Ruth.
Text: But Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth I: 16).
Bible Reading: Ruth 1:1-18 (Living)
1,2 Long ago when judges ruled in Israel, a man named Elimelech, from Bethlehem, left the country because of a famine and moved to the land of Moab. With him were his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.
3 During the time of their residence there, Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons.
4,5 These young men, Mahlon and Chilion, married girls of Moab, Orpah and Ruth. But later, both men died, so that Naomi was left alone, without her husband or sons.
6,7 She decided to return to Israel with her daughters-in-law, for she had heard that the Lord had blessed his people by giving them good crops again.
8 But after they had begun their homeward journey, she changed her mind and said to her two daughters-in-law, "Why don't you return to your parents' homes instead of coming with me? And may the Lord reward you for your faithfulness to your husbands and to me.
9 And may he bless you with another happy marriage." Then she kissed them, and they all broke down and cried.
10 "No," they said. "We want to go with you to your people."
11 But Naomi replied, "It is better for you to return to your own people. Do I have younger sons who could grow up to be your husbands?
12 No, my daughters, return to your parents' homes, for I am too old to have a husband. And even if that were possible, and I became pregnant tonight, and bore sons
13 would you wait for them to grow up? No, of course not, my daughters; oh, how I grieve for you that the Lord has punished me in a way that injures you."
14 And again they cried together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, and returned to her childhood home; but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi.
15 "See," Naomi said to her, "your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; you should do the same."
16 But Ruth replied, "Don't make me leave you, for I want to go wherever you go and to live wherever you live; your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God;
17 I want to die where you die and be buried there. May the Lord do terrible things to me if I allow anything but death to separate us."
18 And when Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind and could not be persuaded otherwise, she stopped urging her.
The book of Ruth opens with the crystal-clear statement that the events recorded there took place in the days when the judges ruled; which was around 1200 B.C.
I have heard it said that the little book of Ruth is the greatest love story ever written, and I believe there is something very important and wonderful for us there.
The passage I read tells us that once upon a time, long ago and far away, in the small village of Bethlehem, there lived a man named Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.
Elimelech owned a small plot of land, where he grew barley, and around the border of his plot olive and almond trees grew.
Then one winter the life-sustaining rains failed to fall.
Without them, crops failed, and springs and even the deepest wells dried up.
Panic struck the area.
A man could not feed four hungry adults, so Elimelech and his family gathered up their meager belongings, and like a hundred million refugees before and since, made their way to another land.
The text doesn’t say that God intended for Elimelech to leave his home in Bethlehem.
It was a decision that Elimelech made by himself.
Hundreds of years earlier, God told Abraham to leave his homeland, but that wasn’t the case with Elimelech.
Elimelech and Naomi sinned when they left Judah for enemy country.
They should have stayed and waited out the famine, because it is better to be hungry and in the will of God than to have a full stomach and be out of His will.
The family traveled east, down the steep hills of Judea, and across the Jordan River to Moab.
The Moabites were not friendly toward the Israelites; throughout Israel’s history the Moabites often antagonized the Israelites.
Imagine that family making their sad trek into a foreign land, where the people practiced polygamy and idol worship.