Summary: The book of Ruth unfolds a beautiful example of the Providence of God in response to sincere faith. This story is also part of God's preparation for the birth of Christ, the promised Messiah.
Your God Will Be Mine
The book of Ruth is one of the shortest in the Bible but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. If you have never read this book I would urge you to do so. It only takes about 15-20 minutes and I feel sure that you will not be disappointed
It is found between the books of Judges and Samuel. These other books are filled with accounts of war, bloodshed and cruelty. But in contrast, the book of Ruth, is filled with a story of peace and love. So we thank God that in the blackest of times we find something of beauty and loveliness. In this book, not one wicked, cruel person makes an appearance. Here we see a beautiful example of the Providence of God in response to ones sincere faith.
Ruth 1:1 – 5. Approximately 3000 years ago there lived in Bethlehem, where Christ was to be born, a man by the name of Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion. We read that there was famine in the land. The rain had failed to fall and the sheep were dying on the bare hillsides.
This famine must have been severe because Elimelech, the husband and father, decided to move the Moab, to the east of Jordan, 120 miles away. For us today that doesn't sound very far but if you had to travel on foot or on the back of a donkey, it would be a different story. Verse 1 implies they did not plan to stay long. Perhaps Naomi's heart was not in the project from the beginning but she followed her husband. But their move seemed to be doomed to disappointment and life in Moab became even harder than it had been in Bethlehem.
First of all Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died and she was left with two sons. They both married girls from the land of Moab – Orpah and Ruth. Then 10 years later the two sons died, leaving Naomi alone with her two daughters in law. So here we have the story of three widows. Two young women with their mother-in-law who is also a widow. In the ancient world, one of the worst predicaments to face, would be to be left a widow. There were no widows allowances and they were often ignored and as a result became poverty-stricken. Older widows were more vulnerable, whereas a younger one might remarry.
Chap 1: 6,7. We often find in life that sorrow as well as joy will turn the heart homeward to the scenes of yesterday. Naomi heard that the famine had ended in Israel and so she decided to return to Bethlehem. At first both of her daughters in law wanted to go with her. But when they came to the river Jordan, the dividing line between the two countries, Naomi in a beautiful unselfish way, reminded her daughters-in-law how life could be hard for them in a strange land. They would be considered foreigners and therefore it would be very difficult for them to find husbands.
Vs 14– 18 After hearing all of this, Oprah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye but Ruth would not leave her. She answered Naomi with these immortal words, among the most beautiful words in the Bible and in fact it all literature. “Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me”( Ruth 1:16, 17).
This is the origin of the familiar affirmation in the marriage ceremony – “till death do us part.” This is in contrast to many commitments being made today.
In fact, according to the latest census figures, there has been a tremendous increase in divorce, common-law marriages, single-parent families and even same-sex marriages. Should this be a cause for concern? Yes, because the family is the basic unit of society. A community, a country is only as strong as the homes that make it up. History teaches us that no civilized nation has ever survived the disintegration of its home and family life.
So Ruth turned her back forever on the people and the hills of Moab and chose the companionship of a poor, much older widow, in a land of strangers. Why did Ruth do this? What motive prompted such a decision. Love, loyalty, faithfulness? Or even deeper? Note verse 16 this could refer to her conversion –“ your God will be my God.” Probably through Naomi's instruction, Ruth had been taught about the one true God, maker of heaven and earth. All other gods are idols, the work of man's hand. God accepts all who worship him in spirit and in truth, regardless of race, sex or nationality.