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We come back to our story and see that Naomi is in a really dark time in her life.
My guess is that we can all relate to that reality; We’ve all been in really dark times at one point or another.
We’ve all been in the valley and some of us have had to confront the valley of the shadow of death, if not physically than maybe spiritually or emotionally.
When the only thing you can see or feel in your life are clouds so heavy that it seems that no light or joy could ever possibly find its way through.
We’ve all been there.
There was a hymn written in 1879 that looked forward to an unclouded day.
O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
We all look forward to that.
One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is found in Revelation
Reading this portion of scripture… believing this portion of scripture gives me hope because I’ve been at the end of my rope.
I’ve experienced some clouds.
I’ve been in that valley that we all know so well.
Naomi was certainly in that place.
Her husband Elimelech had died.
Her two children had died.
She was living in a foreign land and her sons had married women they were not supposed to before they died.
So here’s Namoi in her darkest time but it was in her darkest time that she received good news:
Ruth 1
Divine Grace
So what we have is divine demonstration of God’s grace during the darkest time in Naomi’s life.
First, it was a gift from God that in the midst of her grief and pain Naomi was able to hear good news.
Second, Naomi heard Yahweh had intervened on behalf of his people
Verse 6 is a cloud breaker
Third, the object of the divine favor is identified as ʿammô, “his people,” the nation of Israel.
The term expresses the normal covenant relationship between deity and people
Fourth, Yahweh had given his people bread.
The reader of Hebrew will recognize the play on the name Bethlehem.
The “house of bread” is being restocked.
First, it was a gift from God that in the midst of her grief and pain Naomi was able to hear good news.
Why is this important?
Second, What Naomi had heard was that God had intervened on behalf of His people and came to their aid.
Third, if God was providing food that meant that He had sent rain indicating that He had not forgotten or rejected His people.
Why is this important?
Because in her darkest time in her life, God broke through.
She hadn’t been rejected.
She had not been forgotten.
All was not lost.
God was calling her to come back home.
Now… often times when we think of a great redemptive moment we kind of picture it as this beautiful moment and in many cases it is.
We have the example of the prodigal son comes to his senses, humbles himself and is received in the most loving and dramatic moment by his father.
And then we have Naomi
Ruth 1:20
What is this passage?
It’s almost hard to read its so… harsh.
What do we do with this?
I think there is a key here in this passage that sheds a light on Naomi’s mind here
She was a bit out of focus and I think we can be too sometimes so I want to do something that might help realign us this morning and I’m going to ask you to look this passage again in a new way
I went away… the Lord brought me back....
I removed those words to highlight Naomi’s problem and the problem was simply this: she was missing the point.
I love the Bible because although its an old Book its still a relevant book filled with broken people making bad decisions, good decisions, or bad and good decisions and a loving God who lovingly calls us all back to Him to not only forgive us but to help us sort it all out.
He wants to bring healing and restoration
Much like the prodigal son, Elimelech and Naomi had wandered off.
Their reasons were different, the wandering was the same.
Much like the prodigal son,Naomi made the decision to return.
Unlike the prodigal son who returned in broken humility and knew he had wronged his father, Naomi returned thinking she had been wronged by God.
What’s the point here?
The point is that it is more important to return and to place your life in the hands of a loving forgiving God rather than waiting and trying to sort it all out yourself.
God received both the broken, humble prodigal son and the broken, bitter, Naomi.
He restored them both because each of them when at the end of their ropes made a good decision to return to God.
Namoi Lost So Much
It’s true that Naomi did lose a lot.
She lost her husband, which given the point in history that meant
that she lost her protection, and her security.
She lost her sons presumably before they were able to give her grandchildren or help her secure her future.
She lost her dignity.
Returning to Bethlehem was a good choice, but it wasn’t without human cost.
She would have been embarrassed upon returning home, being recognized as a failure or a victim.
It sounds like she and her husband left with a great deal of wealth and she's returned with nothing.
The question that always comes up is why?
Why did she lose all that she lost?
Why did she suffer?
The questions of why are always the toughest, but I think at least in Naomi’s case we have enough here in scripture to cue us in.
By Naomi’s own bitter confession, she was a woman that was content with all the wrong things
“I went away full”
Elimelech and Naomi had enough wealth to go a survive in a land they were not called to nor commanded to go to.
Someone last week thought I was too hard on Elimelech, but there is no indication in scripture that he was told to go to Moab or anywhere else, but they did.
They reasoned that the wealth they had accumulated would be enough to help them ride out the famine.
This may have been true in the physical sense, but spiritually speaking, we lack the resources to ride out a spiritual famine.
But that is exactly what Naomi was wrestling with; her misplaced contentment on wealth rather than on God had caused a spiritual famine in her.
Had she not made a good decision and recognized God’s grace in calling her home, she would have died in Moab just like her husband and sons.
But she wasn’t able to or ready to listen to God when she had it all, in fact it took losing it all to eventually hear the voice of God calling out to her and speaking a message of grace.
Anyone here know someone that has to learn things the hard way?
Anyone here know its you?
I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is and it seems to me that the more we trust on the resources of this world, the harder it becomes to hear His voice and the further we go from His presence.
Jesus warned about it, Paul warned about it, its a real danger.
Naomi Gained More than She Lost
For those of you familiar with the story you might be frustrated and wondering why I haven’t touched on Ruth yet.
Here’s a little snippet to help set the stage for next week and really to bring our story home this morning.
Look at what the women in Bethlehem said about Ruth, a Moabite woman!
What an incredible statement to be made!
Better than seven sons? Considering their culture the weight of that statement is tremendous.
The credit for Naomi’s blessing was rightly given to God
So Ruth was a blessing for Naomi
A more subtle blessing is the strong women in her community.
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