Summary: This first chapter of Ruth will help us see that there are great possibilities ahead that we are not aware of. God has been working all along in the background even if all around us is full of darkness and despair.
We are going to start a new series today in the Book of Ruth.
What do we know about that Book of Ruth?
For one thing, this short Book consisting of only four chapters and 100 verses is a link between the time of the judges and the kings of Israel.
Remember that during the time of the Judges, everyone did what was evil in their own sight.
They were under bondage due to sin and God allowed a foreign nation to invade them as a punishment.
But once they prayed and repented from their sins, God would send a judge or a deliverer who would rule for a few years.
After the death of that judge, the nation went back to sin and slavery.
Hence, there is this cycle of sin that we talked about - being oppressed by the enemy, repentance by crying to God and ultimately deliverance.
The Book of Judges therefore was like the dark ages of the nation of Israel desperately in need of light and direction.
The next book of Ruth on the other hand is like the sparkle of a light shining during those dark times when the provision of the kinsman-redeemer is introduced.
God has been working all along in the background even if all around us is full of darkness and despair.
God was slowly disclosing his plan for redemption in the unfolding love story of Ruth and Boaz.
This book therefore is a picture of God's providential working in Israel to bring alive the genealogy of the Promised Messiah through the line of David.
Someday, the King will rule in God's Kingdom who will be the Great Deliverer of Israel.
There are only two books in the Bible that are named and devoted for women in the ongoing plan of redemption.
These are the Books of Ruth and Esther.
Esther was a Hebrew woman who married a Gentile king.
God used Esther during a strategic time of Israel history to help preserve the nation of Israel from destruction.
Ruth on the other hand was a Gentile woman (she was a Moabites) who married a Hebrew man living in Moab.
One author called this Book of Ruth as "the greatest piece of literature ever written" because of the clear narrative display of its story.
Another writer called this as "the Cinderella of the Bible" because it is a story of how a poor pagan girl named Ruth came to be part of the covenant of Israel.
So, let's examine this wonderful story of the Book of Ruth.
Chapter one started when Elimelech who lived during the time of the Judges made a wrong decision by taking his family and relocating them to a place of pagan worship, a place of sin and lawlessness called Moab.
The people there were called Moabites and were descendants of a man named Moab.
If you remember, Moab was the son of an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters after they fled the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The land of Moab is located just across the Jordan River, east of the Promised Land.
The people of Moab have been attacking and opposing Israel, seeking to destroy the people of God especially during the Israel wanderings.
It is to this despised and wicked nation that Elimelech relocated or immigrated his family where they experienced various setbacks in life such as hardships, famine and death.
Elimelech was married to Naomi and they had two sons, named Mahlon and Kilion.
However, after some time, Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.
They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.
After they had lived there in Moab for about ten years, another unfortunate thing happened, both Mahlon and Kilion also died.
We were not told in the Bible how Naomi's sons died but it was a recognized fact.
They were left as three poor widows in the land of famine who had to take care of themselves the hard way - Naomi, Orpha and Ruth.
Considering the very difficult situation they were facing, Naomi heard a good news regarding their homeland.
There was food in the land where they came from - Judah.
She then decided to venture and go to back to Judah and hope that life would be better there.
They did not know that in the midst of the overwhelming situations they were going through at that time, God's providence was at work.
The key word of this book is "mercy" which speaks of God's faithfulness borne out of kindness and love.
It is important for us to study this short Old Testament Book because we all go through difficulties and bitter setbacks in life.
Sometimes we don't know what to do when these difficulties come about.