Summary: The major motif to watch for as you work your way through this story is a movement from emptiness, famine, and death to fullness, plenty, and life.
Opening Statement: As you walk down the red carpet, a frenzied mob
swarms around you, demanding your autograph. The reporters are snapping your picture, nearly blinding you. Every ten feet, a television crew stops you for an interview. Have you just become the hottest newest star? No, you’re at Tinseltown Studios, a new theme park in Anaheim, California. For $45, the studio will treat you as though you really WERE a star. It’s the latest manifestation of our celebrity culture, where "image is everything." At Tinseltown, fighting your way through adoring fans
is just the beginning. The next stop is an auditorium filled with gorgeous models who are dying to have their picture taken with you. Over dinner, you and the other stars-for-a-night can watch videos of the red-carpet treatment you’ve just received. And, for an additional fee, you can go into an editing room and have yourself edited into a scene from a famous
movie. The audience then votes on the best performance. The winners go on stage to accept their awards, and if words fail them, Tinseltown provides them with prepared speeches. Well, maybe it’s harmless to spend $45 for an evening of pretending we’re living the lifestyles of the rich
and famous. There’s one problem with all of this. You have to go home after the theme park closes.
Transition: I’ve talked lately about being heroes/heroines in our culture, not the kind of hero/heroine that you’ll find at Tinseltown, however. I’ve been talking to you about real men and women who have overcome their obstacles and consequently have been able to find their sense of personal identity in God and as a result were used mightily by God. We’ve considered: Daniel - A Hero in a Pagan Culture; Esther - A Heroine in Personal Crisis. Perhaps, you’re feeling like you could never become "a Daniel," a very powerful political statesmen in our nation. Maybe you’re feeling that you could never achieve an "Esther-like status," of saving an entire people group with your trickery and stunning beauty. I’ve got great news. Today, I want us to look at a domestic heroine - a lady who championed the cause of the home.
Title: The Story of Ruth - A Heroine in Search of a Home
Notation: No one ever asked for her autograph. She never had her picture taken. She never had any applause, no speeches to deliver, no red-carpet treatment. She was just a common, ordinary homemaker in search of a place to call home. It is not a story about the great public or national events of the time but about the domestic life of a family in search of a suitable home. What’s interesting is that God shows us how two of his chosen people in the person of Daniel and Esther made it in a foreign land. Now, God is going to show us how a foreigner made it in the promised land.
Theme: The major motif to watch for as you work your way through this story is a movement from emptiness, famine, and death to fullness, plenty, and life.
I. Setting the Stage
A. Background Information: Ruth’s story takes place during one of the darkest times in the history of Israel - the period of the Judges, i.e., apostasy, warfare, moral decay and anarchy (Ruth 1:1). The people had forgotten God and there was a famine in the land of Judah. A man by the name of Elimelech, along with his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, skip town. Some see this as an act of disobedience; he left the land of the redeemed community of God with his family to a foreign land called Moab (Gentile territory; Lot’s descendants from incest). He went from bad (apostasy in God’s land) to worse (complete paganism). While there, his two sons marry Moabite (Gentile) women, Ruth and Orpah, something that was frowned upon and seen as disobedient to the Jewish ideal (Deut.23:3). Things went great for about 10 years when calamity struck. Elimelech dies along with his two sons. Some see this as divine punishment for forsaking God’s covenant community. Naomi was "dead" in the sense of having any offspring or a family and she was in a pagan land. She essentially say’s "Forget this. When I moved here, I was full. But now, I’m empty (see 1:21)." Hungry, without a husband, or sons, Naomi decides to move back home. This presented a major dilemma for the daughter-in-laws. "Do I go with my mother-in-law to Judah or do I stay here in the land of my birth?" This was a major issue because Judah was a land and culture that prized young virgins. Widows would be looked upon as "used goods."