I’ve always loved the relationship between Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. I’ve seen old movies and read commentary about the pair, but never cracked open the book of Ruth until a few years ago. Realizing it was just four chapters, I devoured it in one sitting, and it left me wanting more.
The Story of Ruth, 1960 (available on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix DVD, YouTube)
So, when I read it again on Sunday, that same feeling returned. I wanted more of that heart-warming story, especially after barely making it through the terrible events described in Judges. In fact, I’d like to spend the rest of the week with Ruth. But, I can’t.
If there’s one thing we should accept about being in relationship with the Almighty, it’s not just about the warm and fuzzy moments. There are also harsh realities that come with walking by faith. It mirrors every day life, actually. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, so we should expect that a life of faith will included some tough stuff, as well.
Naomi and Ruth suffered tremendous loss before life turned around for them. Their decision to turn towards their faith in God was the first step in that process. So, before moving on to 1 Samuel, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the book of Ruth as they occurred...
(Clickable links will take you to the Scripture references in the Bible app.)
1:1-5 - Because of famine (or a depressed economy), Elimelech did what any man would do...take his family to a land with better opportunities for survival and upward mobility. But he and his sons ultimately died anyway. Is this because they didn't just live in the world but became “of the world” by marrying pagan women? Did the family adopt pagan practices?
1:13 - Sounds like Naomi is putting the blame squarely on her own shoulders for God's punishment of her family. Maybe she felt that she could have prevented her husbands and sons from adopting the pagan practices of the land. I have felt for many years that, although my husband is the spiritual head of the household, I am the vessel through which our spiritual center, God and His Holy Spirit, communicates to the family.
If I stumble, everyone stumbles. That's why it's so important for me to remain in close contact with God, and to remain obedient and faithful for the sake of the entire family. When someone in the family gets lost in the wilderness, they must be able to pull out their compass to find their way back to the path. Of course Jesus is that true compass, but if we as women are obedient, He can use us as a tool to attract our loved ones back to Him in a timely manner.
1:15-16 - Orpah chose her gods, which confirms their pagan ways. But Ruth chooses the Almighty God. This turning point is apparently her salvation. At some point in our lives, we all reach these turning points. We must all make a choice.
1:20 - Regardless of circumstances, never leave the home of the Lord your God. Never turn your back on Him to embrace other solutions that are contrary to His will. Just tough out the circumstances whatever they are. You will soon overcome them with steadfast faithfulness to the Almighty.
2:11-12- This verse is encouragement for those who leave their comfort zones (empty religious practices, sinful lifestyles, paper-chasing, fame-seeking materialism, etc.) to choose a way of life that's new and foreign to them (Bible-based lifestyle and worship of the one true God).
2:22 - Boy! People must have been like savages back then. Were there no laws to protect a woman from being raped? Oh wait...I forgot. We’re still in the time of the Judges when people did whatever was right in their own eyes.
3:4 - My archaeological Bible says this was a custom which indicated a woman’s request for marriage.
4:18-22 - Boaz is a decendant of Perez who was the son of Tamar and Judah...interesting! So, he was probably well aware of the story of his ancestors and perhaps this was what motivated him to do right by Ruth and Naomi.
At this point, I'm reminded that God typically uses imperfect people to carry out His will. Tamar had to pretend to be a prostitute, and get pregnant outside of wedlock in order to get Judah to honor his commitment to her. And, Ruth wasn’t even an Israelite. She was a pagan woman, descended from the child-sacrificing Moabites. Yet God saw fit to place them both in the bloodline of His Son, Jesus. Look at God!
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