Faithlife Sermons

Ruth #2 Character Counts

Ruth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 16 views

Even in the midst of sever loss and zero hope for a prosperous future, Ruth holds fast to Naomi and teaches us what covenant love is supposed to look like while Naomi begins to loose her hope in God's goodness and provision. Not getting what she had hoped for (a long life with her husband, sons who gave her grandchildren, and a secure life in Moab), Naomi reveals the bitterness in her heart. This bitterness causes her to blame God for the calamity that she endured. But the reality is that God has been working graciously behind the scenes in order to redeem the sin of Elimelech. Elimelech's wandering from God, His people, and his land is what brought this calamity upon Naomi.

Notes
Transcript
Handout
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
Ruth 1:6–22 ESV
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But 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. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. 19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Ruth 1:6 ESV
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.
Underline Return
That word, in the Hebrew, is mentioned 12 times: Return; turn back.\
Also,
Notice that this is the sixth verse into the narrative.
Who has finally been mentioned?
God
How is God being mentioned?
He is providing a material blessing.
God is only going to be mentioned twice by name in this book.
Interestingly, Naomi only decides to leave upon hearing that God had provided food to the Israelites.
This is the first time, YHWH is mentioned. And he is being introduced as part of a potential motive for returning to Judah. Five verses in.
But, it is good to see that YHWH is being identified as be a part of the rumor. It would be worse if God was not mentioned. This must indicate that Naomi has some type of religious devotion to YHWH. Perhaps, she and Elimelech left out of frustration with God or were “backsliding”.
Some people spend their childhood and teens in church, experience the goodness of God, then endure hardship and allow their hardship to dictate their trust and delight in God. They think “if God isn’t blessing me physically, then perhaps he’s not real or trustworthy”.
Ruth 1:7 ESV
So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
Naomi begins the journey back to Yahweh and Israel with her two Moabite daughter-in-laws.
Do you guys remember what we I taught you last week about Israelites giving their children in marriage to neighboring people groups?
Deuteronomy 7:3–4 ESV
You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
What do you think the Israelites might do if they realized Naomi and Alimeleck let their sons marry Moabite women?
Naomi might be have a less than welcoming return.
Ruth 1:8 ESV
But 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.
By saying ”return… to her mother’s house” Naomi seems to have in mind that they rely on their family to find them new husbands. Mothers had a big part of helping to arrange marriages.
But, this idea for them to “RETURN” is not the norm in their culture. Some near East cultures would consider this a life sentence to widowhood because these women would not be as suitable to marry because they had had sexual relations with their former spouse.
In reality, Ruth and or Orpa’s greatest chance for finding a husbands is back with Ruth in Bethlehem. Because of the kinsman redeemer laws.
Not only that, Ruth is also encouraging these women to go back into a religious setting where the god the people serve accepts and even expects human sacrifice. What kind of a Jew would encourage that?
Ruth 1:9 ESV
The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
Naomi has the appearance of being spiritual right here. “Oh, may God provide for you.”
James 2:16 ESV
and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
In reality, Naomi is revealing that she has little faith in God to provide for her Daughter in laws
Ruth 1:10 ESV
And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”
Ruth 1:11 ESV
But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?
Ruth 1:12 ESV
Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,
Ruth 1:13 ESV
would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”
Underline Bitter
This is Naomi’s true state right now. Probably happened long before she even lost her husband.
The reality Is that Naomi was doubting God’s faithfulness from the beginning of this story.
She left Bethlehem with her husband to carve out their own path instead of trusting the God her grandparents witnessed part the seas!
This is just like many of us…
We are directly talking about Naomi not believing that God can provide husbands for her two widowed daughter-in-laws…
Even though y’all are young, I’m sure your thinking like I did in High School… “Will I ever find someone to share my life with?
Have you thought that?
Even though Naomi is doubting God’s provision and faithfulness for her girls… She is also doubting God’s provision for herself…
Ruth and Orpah are Naomi’s last hope to find security and provision from a future male heir.
MAIN QUESTION
Do you trust God to provide the best thing for you in His time and in His manner?
This is exactly what Naomi didn’t do and exactly what has led her to be in this foreign land bitter to the bone!
But what about Ruth and Orpah…
It took three pleas from Naomi to get Ruth and Orpah to consider turning back seriously
Ruth 1:14 ESV
Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye!
Orpah proves to be the less committed one. Though she likely did love Naomi.
Ruth 1:15 ESV
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
Marriage, then, meant the complete joining of two people. In this time the woman would adopt the family, customs, and god of her husband. This statement indicates that Naomi knew how serious it was for her to tell Ruth and Orpah to return to Moab.
She was essentially saying ” Renounce me, renounce your dead husband, renounce our people and you’re joining to us, renounce our customs, renounce your claim to our inheritance, and most importantly renounce your covenant to us and to our God!”
This isn’t just a simple “you do you boo”.
This was a complete cut off and turning away from oaths that were made years ago. A complete cut off of bonds that were formed through fire.
Marriage isn’t just about romance, companionship, and sex. Marriage, by God’s design is about covenantal commitment.
Sticking with your spouse, with their family, with your oaths as long as they haven’t broken it in someway.
I’m not sure if you guys and girls in HIgh School understand that or are ready for that.
In the time of Ruth, there were expectations and customs that would prevent Naomi’s plea from happening.
Ruth 1:16 ESV
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Ruth 1:17 ESV
17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
This is a big big deal right here.
This is what is called “Ruth’s Conversion and Profession of Faith”...
Ruth essentially takes on the oath that God first gave to Moses when he called him and Israel out of Egypt.
Exodus 6:6–8 ESV
6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’ ”
Instead of renouncing Naomi and YHWH, Ruth is renouncing her Moabite heritage and gods. She is truly loosing the world to gain her soul.
Mark 8:36 ESV
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Mark 8:37 ESV
37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?
Orpah turned back towards Moab At the prospect of finding a new husband. Ruth, on the other hand, refused to pursue a husband back home in Moab. Ruth clung to her original covenant and commitment to her dead husband’s family.
How many of us would have chosen to pursue our own prosperity and pleasure.
No one wants to be alone. Most everyone wants to be married or find a spouse. It takes great courage, discipline, and faith to pursue that which may not bring prosperity or pleasure.
Ruth is being told by Naomi “YOU HAVE ZERO HOPE FOR A HUSBAND WITH ME.” Which was a lie!!!
I guarantee everyone in this room deeply desires to have some type of companionship. But what good is companionship without character and integrity. Ruth proves herself to possess great faith and great character.
You might desire to find a relationship right now and feel the pleasure of having companionship. But do you realize that developing convictional character and possessing the ability to look to the needs of others before your own is more valuable in eternity. In reality, it’s more valuable in the here and now too..
Sometimes, this convictional character is punished...
Ruth 1:18 ESV
18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Literally. She stopped talking to her...
Ruth 1:19–21 ESV
19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
Well… Just as we predicted...
Bethlehem has taken notice to Naomi’s return!
“Isn’t that Naomi!? What happened to her? Where is Elimelech? Where are her sons!? Who’s that Moabite with her!?”
Naomi insists they call her “Bitter” because she is bitter!
Rather than her heart soften from the Lord’s discipline and reaping what her and Elimelech have sown, she rages against God. She settles in her anger and backsliding...
This is such a dangerous place to be.
Proverbs 29:1 ESV
1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
She is blaming God for her choices and their consequences.
Lessons
Marriage and relationships are not just about your needs, desires, and dreams...
Marriage is a covenant that should be taken seriously.
Covenants are either melted or refined by fire.
The outcome is dependent upon yours and those within the covenant’s conviction and faith in God’s promises.
Following Jesus can be costly...
Sometimes you loose friends and family for holding to your integrity and biblical convictions.
Ruth lost Orpah
Ruth was shunned by Naomi all the way to Bethlehem.
Following Jesus has great reward...
While Ruth suffered from loss of Orpah and endured mistreatment from Naomi… She gained YHWH and His protection.
The story isn’t over!
Today’s backslider may be just days, months, or years away from redemption.
This story is really about Naomi’s Return to the House of Bread
Ruth 1:22 ESV
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Discussion Questions
Do you identify with Naomi, Ruth, or Orpah most? Why?
Is having a pleasure or a relationship now at the possible expense of your character formation worth it? (This is not saying dating is sinful…)
What might God be asking you to renounce in order to return to Him? (What is repentance?)
What has following Jesus cost you? Friends? Money? Success? Grades? Sports?
Related Media
Related Sermons