Out of Despair —> Into Hope —> Promised Provision —> Our Redeemer
Steve said last week was a little shorter, so this week I have extra time…it’s like roll over minutes on your cell phone...
Four Part Series in Ruth (4 chapters)
Short Story of the Old Testament
Not Fictitious, Myth, Parable
True Historical Narrative
One of Two Books named after a woman (Esther)
Big surprise w/Ruth, not a Jew, but a Moabite
Points to great significance within her story
Really “a story within a story”...
Love Story of Ruth and Boaz (like a Nicolas Sparks novel)
Story of God’s provision: Ruth’s Present / Our Future
Grand Theme: Redemption
Setting: Out of the gate —> Bad News
Time: In the days when the Judges ruled
Flip back one page in Bible (Judges before Ruth)
Dark times in Israel, continually rebelling against God
Pattern: sin, discipline/judgement, repentance, deliverance
People would sin, God would judge, there was repentance, God would raise up a judge to deliver his people
Summed up in last verse Judges 21:25
“In those days there was no king in Israel.
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”
In response to sin/rebellion, God would judge through hostile nations, natural disaster....famine
God would discipline by removing His hand of grace/blessing.....to lead to repentance
Place: A Journey from Bethlehem to Moab
Bethlehem in Hebrew “house of bread”
A desirable place to live, fertile land, good harvest, plenty to eat; a good place to raise a family.
FAMINE in Bethlehem
The house of bread had become barren
Most likely b/c of the sins of the nation (in time of judges)
So Elimelech moves his family away from Israel
If Bethlehem was a great place to live, Moab was just the opposite.
A Nation with an Immoral History
Began out of incest between Lot and His two daughters
Genesis 19 God rescues Lot from Sodom
His wife is turned to salt because she longs for the city
Lot hides in the hills and his daughters get him drunk and have sex with him, so he can give them sons.
These sons begin the Ammonites and the Moabites
The Moabites were enemies of the Jewish people
The Book of Numbers gives a glimpse of the tension between these two nations.
Moab King Bilak hired Balaam to curse Israel so he could defeat them in battle.
Balaam can’t curse them, but instead blesses them and Israel keeps winning battles.
Balaam devises a plan to hurt Israel, get the Moabite women to seduce the men and turn their hearts away from God and towards their own god (Chemosh)
When Israel entered the promised land, they were told not to make alliances with the Moabites, keep your distance.
But here, Elimelech moves his family....he takes a risk
We get a feel for what is going on by their names.
Elimelech - “God is King”
Naomi - “Pleasant” or “Sweet”
Their generation had experienced the goodness and blessing of God...
As Blessing was turning to discipline they have two sons...
Mahlon - “Weak” or “Pain”
Chilion - “Sick” or “Fading”
So in a time of God’s judgement/discipline, Elimelech moves his family away from the promised land and into a hostile and corrupt environment.
Notice that they only went to “sojourn”, a short stay…let’s just catch our breath, just regain our strength/composure
But what happens?
They remain there, they have essentially “thrown in the towel” on God’s behalf.
We seem to be making Ok on our own, let’s just stick around here where we have some food, comfort/provision
Let me quickly speak to the Husbands/Fathers
I want to encourage your not to be an Elimelech, don’t lead your family to be faithless, but rather lead your family to God’s faithfulness.
Who/What would your wife or your children say is your God?
Do you lead your family with gospel-centered direction?
Do they see you pray or read or worship God?
Do you lead them in prayer, study or worship at home?
Are you teaching them to place their hope and their trust in God or something/someone else?
Statistically speaking, when Dad’s are committed to Christ, when they are faithful in church, in worship, in serving…the whole family follows their lead.
Men, it is time to be men who are serious about our relationships with God and living in light of who God is.
It is time to lead our wives and our children to the feet of Jesus.
No one just drifts into spiritual maturity, into godliness/holiness…there is pursuit, there is effort.
What does your family see you pursuing?
Where do they see you place your effort?
We will see an example of a godly man, of a man of respect, of honor, a man worth taking note of, but do not be an Elimelech.
Ladies....do me a favor, on the way home don’t try to be the Holy Spirit…not your job, but do pray for your husband…that God would lead Him in leading you.
So Elimelech moves his family away (from God’s promises)…what’s next.
Naomi’s life becomes a downward spiral
Her husband dies
Her sons both marry Moabite women
Again, a people known for their immorality
A people God had specifically said to avoid.
Both of her sons die
She is left with nothing
No land - So no home, no provision
No husband - no companionship, no security
No children - no joy from grandchildren, will end her family lineage and name
You can see it in how the author ends v5, “the woman” was left without....
Naomi is cast into hopelessness
She has lost her identity…just “a woman”…empty
The beginning of this story is really one of tragedy and despair, but in the end,this journey is one out of despair into hope, into provision and into redemption/joy.
And we are about to see our first glimmer of light...
The Lord has visited His people (this is great news)
When God is working, blessing His people, word gets around.
Word has come 30 miles, 1-2 weeks journey to Moab…God has visited His people.
He is healing that which was broken.
2. We see in these next verses and in these conversations a great example of faith, of turning towards God and trusting in His provision and His sovereignty.
As they begin their journey, Ruth tells them to turn back.
Return to your “mother’s house”
In essence, she is saying, “I am not your mother” you owe me no allegiance or debt
She urges them to leave and pray’s that God will bless them for their kindness to her family and give them a new family of their own.
Naomi desires that they find “rest”, that they find comfort, love, security, that they could have a family; all of the things that Naomi herself has lost.