Ruth 1:6-12 Two Rays of Hope; Repentance and Prayer
August 30th, 2020

 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the Lord had visited His people in giving them food. 

That she might return

The word shoob doesn’t mean “to leave” it means “to return, to turn back, to restore, revive, repent”.  And this is how it’s used throughout the Old Testament. 

for she had heard in the land of Moab that the Lord had visited His people in giving them food. 

God visited Bethlehem to bless His people, but Naomi wasn’t in Bethlehem to be blessed; she only heard about the blessing, and did not experience it herself.

Instead of just asking God to bless us and bless what we do, sometimes we should be asking God to “make us bless-able”.  That He would change our hearts to line up with His will for our lives, and put us in a place where He can bless us without causing us harm by the way that we react to His blessing.  We must return, turn back, repent,—come back to the place of God’s blessing in our lives, by returning to His will.

Example:  Jacob returned to the place where he had first encountered God, in Bethel, and heard God speak to Him, renewing the promise that He’d given to Abraham; promising to take care of Him; where he had seen that vision of Jacob’s ladder, and when he did this, he was blessed.  In John 1 verse 51, Jesus Identifies Himself as this ladder that bridges the gap between God and man, and it’s by coming to Him, on His terms, repenting, believing in Him as Lord and Savior, and that God has raised Him from the Dead, that we are saved .

 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

This word, describing how the Lord treats people is Hesed.  It’s a difficult word to translate, because it encapsulates so many ideas—mercy, compassion, love, grace and faithfulness. It speaks of how God treats us—with mercy, compassion, love, grace, faithfulness.  When it’s used of a human being, then it means that they’re acting toward others, like God acts toward His people.  It’s the witness that we all should have, and the way that we should act as Christians. 

Although Naomi keeps insisting that she’s in a hopeless situation, and that she’s empty and bereft of everything, somewhere within her it is her faith in who God is that causes her to pray this prayer.  Implicit in her prayer is the knowledge that God knows what we’re going through, and rewards those who act with lovingkindness; caring and compassion and love toward others.  She says that she thinks God has forgotten her, but deep inside she knows enough about who God is to know to pray to Him for lovingkindess—and if that’s not hope, I don’t know what is!  Every prayer in the book of Ruth is answered by God. 

 May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” We’re going to get a lot of details in the book of Ruth about just how God helped Ruth find a good husband.

10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.”

They’re giving up their own happiness and the chance for new husbands and children to help Naomi, and sacrifice their futures to take care of her. 

 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me?

She turns to a rational approach, asking them why, on earth would thy consider going with her?  What do they hope is going to happen? 

 Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying?

Even if she said that she had hope of having a husband and having more sons, Ruth and Orpah would be too old to marry them by the time they were grown up, and that would leave both Ruth and Orpah with no hope, just like Ruth.

 No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.”

She’s saying don’t let the tragedy that has happened to me take you two down too.  You have a way of escape, I don’t.  Ruth didn’t see any hope left for herself. 

There’s always hope in God, no matter what your circumstances.  But you have to turn and seek Him.  Isaiah 55:6-7 6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.    There’s no-one who has sinned so much that God is not willing to forgive them.  He sent His one and only son to die on the cross for this very purpose—to seek those who are lost and to save sinners.  Looking down through the ages, He saw You, right where you are, in the circumstances that you’re in, with all the things that you’ve done, and HE said—“if you are willing, then come to me, and I will give you rest. 

Ruth 1:1-5 When all Seems Lost
August 23rd, 2020

1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.

1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed,

This cycle where Israel sins in worshipping the idols around them, then God allowing Israel to be oppressed, then Israel repents and cries out to God, then God sends a judge to deliver Israel, and Israel remains faithful only as long as that judge lived went on for over 350 years.

that there was a famine in the land.

Given this famine’s close association with the times of the Judges, I think that we can infer that this famine was part of God’s judgement. 

And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn

This “house of bread” in the Land of Plenty, the Promised Land, was failing to feed this man’s family.  This word sojourn means to travel to another land, and live as a resident alien.  They often faced poverty and being social outcasts in the land in which they were sojourning. 

In the Bible, whenever Jewish people leave the land to seek their fortunes somewhere else, trouble for them tends to ensue.  Father Abraham left the Land because of a famine?  Result:  Hagar/Ishmael/fighting.   When Jacob left the land of Israel because of a famine.  Result: Israelites being slaves in the land of Egypt for 400 years.

in the land of Moab

For Israel Moab is a symbol of oppression brought about by seduction, then destruction.  Example: In Numbers 25, when Balak King of Moab’s plan to get Balaam to curse Israel had backfired, and Balaam had blessed Israel instead, it was through seduction of the women of Moab that 24,000 Israelites brought destruction on themselves. 

Similarly, Solomon took foreign wives, including women from Moab, and pursued idolatrous worship of Chemosh, the god of Moab, which turned his heart away from the Lord and cost him his kingdom (1 Kings 11:1, 7, 33).

The name of the man was Elimelech

Elimelech means God is my King.  This is ironic, since he was living in a time when, as it so often says in the book of Judges, “there was no King in Israel”

and the name of his wife, Naomi;

The name Naomi means pleasant, or pleasant one

and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion

The name Mahlon’s meaning is really unknown and Chilion is fairly uncertain too—although many guesses have been made. 

Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah.

Likely descended from Ephrath, the wife of Caleb, whose descendants settled in Bethlehem, according to 1 Chronicles 2:19, 50-51).  This family was probably the most famous in Bethlehem—a family well-known throughout the Country.

Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. 

We actually don’t know how long they remained there.  The implication is that they were now staying for an indefinite period of time, maybe permanently

3Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.

It is important as heads of the household to lead our families spiritually—because one day there’s going to come a time when we will no longer have the opportunity.  It’s in those areas of our lives where we submit to God as our King, and to Jesus as our Lord, that we will leave a good witness for our family. 

If you are a single mother, for whatever reason, God can give you and your children a future and a hope

They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. 

There were probably no Israelite women for them to marry in Moab.  Elimelech was probably concerned that marrying Moabite women would turn his sons away from God and that they would start worshipping the gods of the Moabites.

But after Elimelech died, the boys went ahead and married the Moabite women Ruth and Orpah.  While there may have been some concern about them marrying Moabitesses on the part of Naomi, at least she could look forward to the prospect of grandchildren, and the continuation of her family after her husband had died.

They’ve now put down roots in Moab.  In verse 1b, “they went to sojourn there” in verse 2b“they entered the land and remained there”,  in verse 4b “they settled there and lived there about 10 years.”  So we see this progression of this family becoming more and more “settled” in this land that was not their own

Then [c]both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.

Not only has 10 years of marriage not produced children for either Mahlon or Chilion, but now both Mahlon and Chilion have died.  This is truly the low point of the book of Ruth.  There seems to be no hope left. 

She’s not even called by name in verse 5—it just say’s that “the woman”

You may not be in a situation this bad as these three widows–or maybe you are.  But God’s Holy Spirit and provision for us never runs dry.  It was only after she’d come to the end of her rope, that she remembered that God is Sovereign and that He is in control, and that she could turn to Him.  God in His provision is going to make a way for Naomi, and turn tragedy to triumph.

The Book of Ruth–Introduction
August 16th, 2020

In the book of Ruth, we’re going to see how God provides for us in hard times and in good times, how He can take bleak circumstances and turn them to joy. 

The book of Ruth is a story of love and redemption, which points, over and over again to God’s love for us, despite the way circumstances look, and how He looks for opportunities to bless us, as we return to Him.

  • Who’s who
    • Authors:
      • The Holy Spirit
      • Human Author unknown–likely the prophet Samuel (who also likely wrote Judges).
    • Audience:  Written to the Israelites as a historical narrative of how God had worked in the lineage of King David long before he was born.
    • Main persons in the Narrative
      • God—Mentioned, and working unseen in the narrative.
      • Naomi—“pleasant one”—a Jewish former resident of Bethlehem, wife of Elimilech, and mother of two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.
      • Orpah-“Neck”—wife and widow of Chilion
      • Ruth—”Friendship”—widow of Mahlon, who later marries Boaz
      • Boaz “In him is strength”—a wealthy Bethlehemite land-owner, who was a distant relative of Mahlon, and marries Ruth. 
      • Unnamed Nearest Kinsman
    • Place in God—are they Jews, Gentiles, Saved-Church, Unsaved, Mixed?
      • All are Jewish, except Ruth and Orpah.
    • Passions—what are they excited about.  What are their motivations?
      • Naomi is passionate about family—it’s the continuing of her family that is put in jeopardy at the beginning of the book, and is resolved at the end.
      • Ruth—wants to serve God and serve Naomi, and she wants a husband and a family.
      • Boaz is passionate about helping Ruth and Naomi, and loves and marries Ruth by the end of the story.
    • Perplexities—what are they struggling with?
      • Should Ruth return with Naomi, or stay with her own people?
      • Should Ruth continue to worship the gods of the Moabites, like Chamoth, or should she worship the One True God?
      • What will Ruth and Naomi do to live, since they have no income?
      • How to make Boaz notice Naomi
    • Problems—what are their stated problems?
      • Famine—nothing to eat in Israel
      • Barren–lost only two sons
      • Death of sons/husbands of Naomi and Orpah
      • How is Ruth going to provide for Naomi and herself?
      • Nearer relation wants to redeem the land
  • Where? Places
    • Where written—Likely either Ramah, Samuel’s hometown if written by him, or in Jerusalem, if written by one of the scribes.
    • Location of audience written to:  Israel
    • Places mentioned
      • Moab- Moab was located on a high geographical plateau directly east of the Dead Sea, between Edom and Ammon. Moab was known for its rich pastureland for sheep and other livestock (Numbers 32:1; 2 Kings 3:4).
      • Judges 3:12–31 gives an account of the 18-year oppression of Israel under King Eglon of Moab until God raised Ehud to deliver the people.
    • The city of Bethlehem, located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, is the birthplace of our Savior Jesus Christ. Meaning “house of bread,” Bethlehem was also the renowned City of David. It was there in young David’s hometown that the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
  •  When was it written?
    • Years
      • Ruth was likely written just before the reign of King David (1011 to 971 B.C.). 
    • Historical background.  What else was going on in their world at that time?
      • The book is written from the perspective of looking back to events during the last part of the time of the judges, so about 1,100 BC or so. 
      • We’re going to learn that this was not the brightest of times for the nation of Israel.  The book begins in a time of famine.
  • Why? What was (H)his Purpose
    • Inferred purpose.  What is accomplished, in spiritual terms, by the book of Ruth?
      • David was supposed to be King in Israel—Samuel had been sent by God to anoint David King.  He also knew that Saul wasn’t relinquishing the throne to him as God had intended. 
      • Nowhere else in the Bible is the concept of the kinsman-redeemer illustrated so beautifully.  This concept of a relative who buys back what we could not is used by God in the Old Testament to point us to Jesus as our Kinsman Redeemer.
  • What? Genre/Structure
    • Themes
      • At it’s heart, the book of Ruth is a love story
        • A story of sisterly supportive love between Ruth and Naomi
        • A story of romantic love between Ruth and Boaz
        • Most of all, a story of God’s love in graciously rescuing of Elimelech’s family from starvation, and from extinction, by providing them an heir.
      • Famine to fullness/darkness to light
        • To the way the ancient Hebrews thought of things, Darkness comes first, then the light
      • The revelation of God working in the background, unseen
      • There are a lot of problems to overcome in this short 4-chapter book. 
      • God rewards those who seek refuge under His wings.  
      • Elevation of Ruth from lowly Moabitess foreigner. 
      • The Kinsman Redeemer.  The book of Ruth is a story of redemption; of buying back what was lost, of restoration, and future glorification.  It presents a picture of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer in the person of Boaz.
      • Ruth, the Gentile bride—the Church
        • This story presents Ruth, the Gentile Bride as a picture of the Bride of Christ, the Church. 
        • Ruth, is not only the courageous Moabitess who won over the people of Bethlehem because of her Hesed
      • Naomi—as a type of Israel
        • Naomi was the closest relative, and so had a prior claim upon the go-el redeemer to redeem the land for her, but gave it up in favor of Ruth.
      • Answered prayer—Every prayer in the book is answered during the course of these 4 chapters
    • Genre—Hebrew historical short narrative.
  • How? Structure—how is Ruth organized?
    • Four chapters
      • Naomi is bereaved of loved ones in chapter one, helps Ruth in chapters 2 and 3 and rejoices over Obed in chapter 4.
      • Ruth Chooses to follow Naomi back to Israel in chapter 1, seeks a way to help Naomi in chapters 2 and 3 and receives a husband and the inheritance in chapter 4. 
      • Boaz seeks Ruth in chapter 2, loves Ruth in chapter 3 and Marries Ruth in chapter 4.
    • Main ideas/themes
    • Repeated words, phrases
      • Return—shoob—to turn back, to return.  Occurs 12 times in the first chapter.
      • Travel—to go, to walk
      • Kinsman
      • Redeemer
      • Rest
      • Glean Hebrew Laqat—2:2. 2:7, 2:15, 2:17-19, 2:23—means “to gather together” or “to pick up”.  Interesting facts:
        • This book is the only one in the Old-Testament named for a Non-Jewish person. 
        • This book is the only book in the Old Testament named after an ancestor of Jesus.
        • This book is one of only two books, together with the Book of Esther, named after a woman, and in each case, they are the central person in the narrative.