Summary: As you examine the lives of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, you find a picture of all people. Naomi represents a wayward believer; Orpah pictures one who was exposed and yet refused the gospel; Ruth is a picture of grace in salvation.
Three Widows in Moab
Last week we began our study in the book of Ruth. We discovered that Moab was a place of difficulty and desperation. It is a picture of the world, much like that of Egypt in Scripture. Dwelling in the land of Moab will always result in separation and spiritual compromise.
We need to remember that Moab was a place that despised the Lord and oppressed His people. The ways of God were not regarded in Moab. We find nothing to support any worship of Jehovah God in Moab. This seems an unusual setting for the grace of God to be extended, but that is where the beauty lies. God is gracious and merciful to all who will receive Him.
These verses describe the lives of three women, Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Each of us can relate to one of these women. Their lives paint a picture of all our lives. They made different choices that resulted in vastly different outcomes. I want to examine their lives and the choices they made as we consider: Three Widows in Moab. You are in a position much like one of these women and it is up to you how you choose to respond to God’s grace.
I. Naomi – A Woman of Compromise (8-13) – We found last week that Naomi was the wife of Elimelech. They made an unwise decision to leave Bethlehem-Judah for the land of Moab. Naomi stands as a picture of the wayward Christian, one who has known the Lord and experienced His grace, but made the choice to seek the ways of the world. These verses reveal that this is not a desirable position. Notice:
A. Her Influence (6-7) – 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.  Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. In these verses we find that Naomi had an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of her daughters-in-law. She had lived many years separated from the Lord, but there was something different about Naomi. Ruth and Orpah recognized that she may have suffered pain but her faith was not completely forsaken. She had impacted their lives. Even though her life had not been lived for the Lord, others had noticed.
There is a profound truth we need to understand when considering the life of Naomi. We may stray from the Lord and wander from the path that He has chosen for us, but His Spirit never leaves us. Our lives may not always reflect his holiness, but the Spirit will not depart from a believer. Those around us eventually recognize our relationship with Christ. They are watching our lives. We have the opportunity and obligation to influence those who are unsaved.
B. Her Indifference (8-9) – These are troubling verses. Naomi had the opportunity to be a positive witness to those who did not know truth. She had the opportunity to point them toward the Lord. At that moment they were ready to follow her wherever she chose to go. Sadly we find that Naomi encouraged them to stay in Moab rather than going to Bethlehem to seek the Lord. In her pain and suffering she became indifferent to their needs.
Sin never brings joy. I am convinced those Christians today, content to dwell in their Moab, have lost their zeal for the Lord. They have lost their testimony and are no longer concerned about the needs of the lost. They have met the Lord; they know what it is to experience His grace in salvation, but there is no desire or concern to share that with others.
C. Her Insinuation (10-13) – Here we find that Naomi has resigned to defeat. She has all but given up. She feels as if there is no reason to go on. Notice the state of Naomi’s life:
1. She Lacked Hope (10-13a) – Naomi sought to discourage Ruth and Orpah. She reasoned that she was too old to bear more sons for them to marry, and even if she could, would they be willing to wait all those years for them to grow and mature. Naomi was implying that all hope was gone. Her life has brought nothing but pain and utter devastation. She had resigned to defeat.
This is exactly how the adversary wants each of us to feel. He wants us to believe all hope is gone and there is no reason to live. Sin always brings consequences, many of which we had rather not face, but hope is not lost. God will chastise us for our sin. We may have to face His divine punishment, but we are never forsaken. He stands ready to forgive and to restore!