Faithlife Sermons

Responding to the Crises of Life

Redemption for those in need  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Ruth responds to God's grace while Orpah rejects it

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God will often use a crisis to bring His own back home ()

Explanation: Naomi is a foreigner living in a foreign land without adequate means of support. Her husband and her two grown sons are all dead, and she is left in a house with only her daughters-in-law. In the Ancient Near East to be without a man was a sentence of poverty.
In the midst of her despair, Naomi receives word from home: God had lifted the famine and things were looking up in the Land. [There is no indication of repentance upon the part of the people, so this is seen as the action of the God of Grace. Yahweh was the One responsible for giving His people food] She arrives at the decision to return home, and she sets out for Bethlehem.
Example: The Prodigal Son. God allowed the Prodigal to reach the bottom. In his hopelessness, “he came to himself” () and decided to go home.
Argument: In His Sovereignty, God allows things to come into our life. We live in a fallen world and we are surrounded by the consequence of sin, our own or the sin of others. God is not obligated to rescue us from the results of our choices, but He is a gracious and loving father who cares for His children.
God’s intervening activity impacts both the lost and the saved. While Naomi is the child being called home, the other 2 ladies choose to go with her. All 3 set out for Bethlehem.
Application: We can trust our God to be Good, all the time. When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances that stretch our faith and cloud our hope, we can still trust the Grace of God to bring us back home.
And, this is crucial, we must be aware that others are watching how we do life as believers. Even though Naomi has given in to bitterness, and not being the best example, those girls saw something in her life previously that compelled them to give up the familiar for the unknown.

Believers are not to manipulate non-believers who are facing a crisis ()

Explanation: Somewhere along the way between departing Moab and entering Bethlehem, the three travelers stop for a “family council.” During the journey Naomi has been contemplating the girls’ futures when they get to Bethlehem, and she doesn’t like her conclusions. She loves both Orpah and Ruth, but she thinks it is in their best interest to stay in Moab and start over. So, painful as it is, Naomi tells the girls to go back home. She even blesses them in the covenant Name of God and asks God to provide them new husbands. (vv. 8-9a)
The response is predictably emotional with lots of crying out, weeping, clinging, and hand-wringing. The girls love Naomi and they want to keep going despite her objections. (vv. 9b-10)
Naomi stands firm and tells them a second time to go back to their homes. The rhetorical question is used to demonstrate there is no good reason to continue. Naomi uses the ludicrous idea of her remarrying and having boys, and then asking if the girls would wait 20 plus years, even if this impossible event were to happen. Naomi tells them for the third time to go back home because their future with her is hopeless.
Argument: Naomi cannot be accused of easy believism on any counts. She is not painting a rosy future for these two non-believers in the Land of Promise. There is not a hint of "once we get back to Israel and are back with God’s people things are going to be just fine. In today’s language: “give your life to Jesus and your problems will be gone!”
Make no mistake: Naomi is NOT to be commended for this. She is a follower of the One True God and she is going out of her way to dissuade these 2 girls from going with her. She is more interested in their gaining a husband and going to hell, than doing without and very possibly entering a state of grace when they learn the truth about God.
Application: When we talk with unbelievers about the Gospel, we definitely need to remain biblical. We should never promise to others what God has not. (Jesus Himself told potential followers to count the cost, and while He loved the rich young ruler, He was honest with him)

God’s grace operates in spite of our shortcomings ()

God’s grace operates in spite of our shortcomings ()

Explanation: Once again, the scene is intensely emotional with lots of weeping and crying and hugging. With a heart of sorrow and real pain, Orpah gives Naomi one last hug and tearfully heads back to her mother’s house. Ruth, however, clings to Naomi and will not let go of her. (v. 14)
Naomi looks at Ruth and for the fourth time, tells her to go back. This time, she is able to say, “look at Orpah, Ruth. Orpah has made the smart choice. Go back with her Ruth, it’s not too late, you can catch up, and the 2 of you can go on together and return to your futile lives of idol worship and false gods.” (v. 15). With this statement, Naomi is exposed for being a hypocrite and a bad witness.
In spite of all this, Ruth is adamant about remaining with Naomi. There is no other explanation than the marvelous, awesome, amazing Grace of Yahweh! He has done a work in her heart and her reply is one of the most magnificent and familiar speeches in all of the Bible. (vv. 16-17). Many commentators see this as the result of Ruth’s conversion to the faith of Yahweh. Even if it is not, Ruth is expressing a commitment to remain with Naomi and to fully embrace Naomi’s way of life, her people and her faith. Ruth seals her oath with the covenant name of Yahweh to underscore her level of seriousness. Ruth is all in.
Argument: God works His sovereign will in spite of our mistakes and mess-ups. His agenda is to bring this young Moab girl into the lineage of the Messiah, and He ensures it happened. Both girls were faced with identical circumstances, and each had the same choice to make. Do I go with the True God or do I remain in darkness? Orpah choose to remain in darkness, while Ruth chose to move into the light. Naomi was an equally bad witness to both, but God’s grace worked in spite of her shortcomings and flawed faith.
Application: As followers of Jesus we are living in Grace. No of us were or are worthy to claim His pardon, yet God extended His mercy and grace to us. We are privileged to be able to now serve Him and to be ambassadors of His grace to others. Out of love and thankfulness, we are called to live holy lives.
On the other side: people make their own choices. Naomi did not send Orpah to hell. Orpah chose to return to Moab and a life of idolatry. Naomi is accountable to God for her poor witness, but she is not the ultimate cause of her unbelief
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