Read Ruth 1
This week we are going to study the life of Ruth and her commitment and how God honored that commitment.
For this day, we are going to set the background to the book of Ruth:
– Israel was in a famine and during the end of the dark days of Judges. The end of Judges was a time of great disregard for God and it was evident in the peoples lives.
– Elimilech took his family out of God’s promised land to Moab. Look into the way peoples of Moab started, not so glorious either. But Elimilech intended to be there only until the famine ended, instead of trusting God to supply – he set out to ‘do it on his own’. (How many times do we think we know better than God and set off to where we think the grass is greener?)
– During his time away, Elimilech dies leaving Naomi a widow with 2 sons.
– Then Naomi condones her sons to marry Moabite women. And in the ten years these 2 sons die leaving her daughter in laws also widows and childless.
– Childless widows were considered to be very vulnerable. No longer protected and became victims and very poor. With no hope of a future.
– With no hope or real comfort Naomi is compelled to return to Israel, because she had heard that their famine was over and were flourishing. The crops were in abundance. So she decides to pack up and move to her homeland.
– Her 2 daughter in laws are COMMITED to her and agree to travel back with Naomi. During their return journey, Naomi has second thoughts of bringing these foreign women back with her. So she releases them, and urges them to go back to their gods, and homes. She ‘reasons’ with them 3 times. The second time, Orpah agrees and heads back home. SO Naomi tries to convince Ruth to go with her, but Ruth clings to Naomi and assures her she is not going back. She is totally ‘sold out’ and COMMITED to her.
– Naomi tries to convince Ruth that her life back in Israel is not going to be a pretty one. But it is here that Ruth makes a covenant with her:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
– Ruth and Naomi arrive back to Bethlehem where they become the talk of the town. Naomi announces that she has changed her name to Mara (which means bitter). After 10 years out of God’s country, and the death of her husband and sons and being left a widow, with this name change she makes the statement that she has become bitter, due to Gods judgement on her life. And all she is left with is Ruth.
– The first chapter ends with a glimmer of hope; it is barley harvest time. And because of this and the laws that God had put in place earlier in history, they would not go hungry. They could take from the edges of the crops for them to survive.
For today we take the hope that even in these dark ages that God has provision for those that remain faithful and committed to Him. He will supply all our needs if we are committed to follow Him to God’s country, the promised land.