Summary: What began as an intended temporary stay in Moab, turned into ten years of despair and suffering. Upon hearing the Lord had visited His people, Naomi made the wise decision to begin the long journey home. It would prove beneficial.
The Long Road Home
Ruth 1: 19-22
We know that Naomi had left the land of Bethlehem-Judah with her husband to sojourn in the land of Moab. What began as an intended temporary stay turned into ten long years of difficulty and heartache. Now Naomi heard the Lord had visited His people in Bethlehem once again and she has decided to make the long trip home.
This trip would not be an easy one, but it would certainly be a beneficial one. Naomi would have to face the regrets of her past, but she had at least made the decision to go back to the land of her people and her God. She had left with her family and the hope of a better future. Moab delivered no hope and she lost her family in that desolate place. Now she is returning, broken and empty, but at least she is going home.
In this account of Naomi’s life we find many similarities to the parable of the Prodigal Son. Sin is never pretty. It never brings the results we thought it would. Sin always demands a heavy price. But there is hope for those who are wayward and wandering from the ways of God. Those who are far from home can always return. I want to consider the blessed hope that is revealed in the text as we think on: The Long Road Home.
I. The Town of Her Return (19a) – So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a special place. It had much to offer the child of God. Let’s take a moment to examine the atmosphere in Bethlehem. It was:
A. A Place of Exaltation – Bethlehem was located in the land of Judah and was often referred to as Bethlehem-Judah. The word Judah actually means “praise.” This was a place where the Lord was honored. It was a place where He was worshipped. It was a land where God was recognized as the true and living God. Bethlehem was a city where God was praised.
We find no record of a tabernacle in Moab. We find no record of any public worship. In fact it appears Naomi had thought little about the Lord during her time in Moab. This is a picture of the world. The world offers little praise unto the Lord. The world doesn’t recognize Him or desire to serve and worship the Lord. I like to be around those who desire to praise the Lord. I want to be in a place where He is worshiped and honored!
B. A Place of Visitation (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 how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Bethlehem was a place where God visited His people. It was a place where He manifested His presence in their midst. It was a place where men could fellowship with the Lord and experience His glory!
You will never find that in the world. God may come to one who is wayward and backslidden in conviction and rebuke, but He will not visit you with His power and glory. If you desire to experience God in great and mighty ways, you must abide where He dwells!
C. A Place of Provision – Naomi had left Bethlehem because of a famine in the land. She had made her way to the wasteland of Moab. To her disappointment there was no provision in Moab. We cannot look to the world and expect to be fed. Bethlehem means “house of bread.”
If you are interested in being fed of the Lord, and receiving what you need for your soul, you must abide near the Lord. I want to dwell where one can find bread. I want to dwell where praise is offered. I want to dwell where He is!
D. A Place of Association – Bethlehem was a place where the people of God dwelt. We found that He visited His people there. Naomi did not enjoy the fellowship and encouragement of God’s people in Moab. She was not surrounded and supported by those of like faith. She did not have the privilege or the ability to worship at the house of God.
There is something special about God’s people. There is help and encouragement among the church that isn’t found anywhere else. If you are not meeting with God’s people in corporate worship, it won’t be long until you are not meeting with God. Attending worship services and fellowshipping with the saints is essential if we are to maintain a right relationship with God.
II. The Testimony of Her Return (19b-21) – As Naomi returned to Bethlehem, she was recognized. V.19b – And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? As the people gathered around, Naomi spoke of God.