Summary: Sermon explores the way God worked in Naomi's life in order for Christians to increase their understanding of what God may be doing in their lives. Her end was better than her beginning, although there were trials along the way. At midpoint in the journey
What is God Doing in Your Life?
One way we can discover answers to that question is to study what He did in the lives of people in the Bible. Their stories in many ways, becomes your story. There are consistencies in how God works in people’s lives. On one hand, each life is very unique, as unique as a finger print or a DNA profile. No one can replace you in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. On the other hand, God operates out of principles and integrity. What He has done for others, He will do for you. He is not capricious. He is not impulsive. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.1
I want us to look at God’s work in a woman named Naomi, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our own lives about what God may be doing in your journey. May God open our eyes to His goodness. May we see His hand on us a little more clearly. May we rest in His love and guidance more fully.
Naomi was married to a man named Elimelech. They had two boys: Mahlon and Chilion.2 Life was good in Bethlehem where they lived. It was a peaceful, small village in the suburbs of Jerusalem. Elimelech and Naomi were people of faith; they had lots of friends; and God had blessed them financially. It was a good, comfortable life.
But then something happened that was beyond their control. A crisis came that disrupted everything. It came in the form of a famine that affected everybody in Bethlehem.
I. This Famine was a pivotal point in Naomi’s life.
Follow with me as we read Ruth 1:1-2.
“Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, [this gives us the context of these events. The time of the judges was from about 1350 to 1100 B.C.3 It began with the death of Joshua and ended with the installation of Saul as the first king. As a whole, the days of the judges were bad times for Israel. It was a time marked by confusion, defeat, disunity, idolatry, and violence. Yet during those times there were godly people living in this little town of Bethlehem, serving the Lord faithfully. Naomi was one of those faithful followers of Jehovah. This first phrase connects the book of Ruth with the book of Judges). “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion – Eph-ra-thites of Bethlehem, Judah. [The ancient name of Bethlehem was Eph-rath—hence they are referred to as Ephrathites.4] And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.”5
Verse 3 “Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.”
What do you do when one blow after another hits your life?
Commentaries generally criticize the family for leaving Bethlehem in the first place. Israel was probably on friendly terms with Moab at this particular point in time. But the nations had a long history of conflict. When Israel came out of Egypt and was trying to go into the Promise Land, Moab resisted them. In fact, Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse Israel so he could defeat them. When that didn’t work, Balaam came up with a plan in which the Moabite women would seduce the Israelite men into sexual immorality. That worked and brought God’s judgement on the nation of Israel. Because of that, God told Israel to reject the Moabites and not make any treaties with them.6 So from that perspective, going into Moab was a no-no. Elimelech probably made a mistake when he left Bethlehem and moved his family to Moab.7 Perhaps he should have stayed where he was and trusted God to take care of him in Bethlehem. I don’t think he intended to move to Moab on a permanent basis. He was simply trying to take care of his family during some very hard times. It is difficult to criticize Naomi in all of this. In that patriarchal culture, she most likely just submitted to her husband’s decision.8
Shortly after the move, Elimelech died. Naomi has lost her home in Bethlehem. She has lost her friends and extended family there. Now she has lost her husband. There was a lot of stress coming into Naomi’s life. There was a lot of pain. The losses were mounting.