Summary: This sermon continues the story of Ruth and Naomi as they return home to Bethlehem brokenhearted and uncertain of the future.

The Journey Back to Bethlehem

Ruth 1:6-22

[6] Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.

[7] Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

[8] And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each to her mother's house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

[9] The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

[10] And they said to her, "Surely we will return with you to your people." [11] But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

[12] Turn back, my daughters, go--for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons,

[13] would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!"

[14] Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

[15] And she said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law."

[16] But Ruth said:"Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

[17] Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."

[18] When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.

[19] Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, "Is this Naomi?"

[20] But she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

[21] I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

[22] So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Let me begin today with a question.

How close to Jesus are you?

It is possible to know God and yet be far from Him.

Have you ever felt yourself drifting away from God?

Maybe somewhere along the way, you made some wrong choices,

and one day you woke up to find God was far away from you.

That can happen no matter who you are.

Some people have been raised in a Christian home

only to grow up and reject their heritage.

Some people have been deeply hurt

by someone who claimed to be a Christian

and that deep hurt has kept them from coming close to God.

Some people made a decision that led them in the wrong direction,

and now they find yourself a long way from home.

Something like that happened to Naomi.

Ten years have passed since she

and her husband and their two sons left Bethlehem for Moab.

They left because of the famine

intending to stay for a while until it ended.

Then they would go back home.

Their intentions were good,

but nothing worked out as they intended.

Naomi’s husband Elimelech died.

Then her 2 sons died.

What do you do when life leaves you with a broken heart?

We find the answer in today’s Bible passage.

The original Hebrew text contains a word

that appears many times in this passage.

It’s a word meaning “turn” or “return.”

When that word is used,

it could mean to literally turn like when we are driving.

That word can also be applied to a “spiritual turning”.

When Naomi starts her journey back to Bethlehem,

she is traveling the road she and Elimelech took 10 years earlier.

She is also turning her life around in a spiritual sense.

After living in a pagan land for 10 years,

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