Ruther 1:6-22 (Part 1) – What Will You Do When God Calls? (Safety & Security vs. The Unknown)

Posted: October 22, 2017 in Book of Ruth

Ruth 1:6-22 (Part 1 of 2)
Naomi and Ruth Return

“Wherever you go, I go. Wherever you live, I live. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). This verse is one of the most famous quotes in the Bible. It is often repeated as an example of love, loyalty and fidelity. It is sometimes used by brides in wedding ceremonies to express their love for, trust in, and loyalty to the bridegroom. Ruth’s expression of her desire to remain with Naomi here begins, though, with Naomi’s concern for the future of her young daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah.

Ruth showed great concern for their future to the point of asking them to stay behind in Moab. Both Ruth and Orpah were Moabite women. They would have more family available to them than Naomi could offer them. Heck, Naomi was not even sure that her husband’s relatives back in Israel were even still alive. She was just going back to Israel on a hunch, a gut feeling (inspired by the Holy Spirit, maybe) that life would be better back at home. She had no proof to offer these girls that life would be better in Israel. So, in thinking of the girls best interests, she told them to stay. Ruth and Orpah most likely would have had family that could have taken them back. Most assuredly, there were men of adult age in their home communities that would have married them. They would have been able to have their future assured through family, a husband, a home, and definitely children. In the ancient Middle East, that would be the ideal dream of a woman.

Naomi knew that in the absence of these young, vibrant, healthy girls that her situation would be even more desperate than it already was. As she was an aging woman, it would be difficult for her to easily gather food and harder to find work even as a servant. With the girls in her life, they would be able to assist her in making a life for the three of them. However, she thought more about the future of her daughters-in-law than her own. She could not guarantee these young ladies anything. She knew that the probability that their life would be better in Moab was much higher than it was for them in what was really and unknown back in Israel. Her selflessness, her concern for the future of her daughters in law inspired Ruth.

Ruth knew the odds. But Ruth’s love and loyalty toward her mother-in-law outweighed her thoughts about her odds for survival. Ruth must’ve really loved Naomi to risk it all to plow off into the unknown with her mother-in-law. She was willing to give up the sure thing in Moab to venture off into the unknown with her mother-in-law.

Let’s read the passage, Ruth 1:6-22, now and then we will discuss it some more:

6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”

14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara,[a] for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer[b] and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.

In this passage, we learn of the desperate state that widows often found themselves. In the ancient Middle East, there was almost nothing worse than being a widow. Widows would be taken advantage of or ignored. They were almost always poverty stricken. God’s law, therefore, provided that the nearest relative of the dead husband should care for the widow. But Naomi had no relatives in Moab, and she didn’t know for sure that any of her husband’s male relatives were alive in Israel. Even in her desperate situation, Naomi had a selfless attitude. Although she had decided to return to Israel, she encouraged Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab and start their lives over – even though it would mean further hardship for Naomi. Like Naomi we must consider the needs of others and not just our own. As Naomi discovered, when we act selflessly, others are encouraged to follow our example.

When we look at Naomi’s concern and Ruth’s response, we are reminded of following God’s call on our lives. For example, with me, the sure thing is to stay in my current career that has been very, very good to me and my family. Right now, I am at the height of my earning potential and I make pretty good money. I am not some wall street wizard or some brilliant entrepreneur but I am a pretty darn good accountant and as a result, even though my company is a small division of a large multinational company, I am the chief financial officer of my business unit. Combined all that with my children being grown, paying off most all my debts over the past decade, my wife and I are financially set. We have been able to put away savings, make nest eggs through investment, and by living frugally we have been able to be generous people. What more could you ask for? It is a life of security and blessing right now, after years of hardship.

However, God has called us to full-time ministry and we wait for Him to open that door in his divine timing and providence. We do not know what that will hold and what that will look like. It is unknown. It is a gamble compared to the life that we lead right now. However, we are willing to go where He calls us to go when the time comes. We are saying to God, like Ruth to Naomi, I know that we have no clue what we are getting into and we know that our life now is a certainty and it is secure, but wherever you call we will go. We will go where you lead. We will follow. We are not any great people for doing or saying that. I bet Ruth would say, I was just doing the right thing instead of allowing people to say she was one of the greatest women of the Bible. That’s what Elena and I say. We are just following. Nothing special. Nothing to be patted on the back about. Just following. Just listening for God’s call. Just doing the right thing. Sometimes, God calls us into the unknown, to the big black blob of the unknown. Sometimes, He calls us to risk it all and be faithful to Him.

Are you ready? Am I ready?

Amen and Amen.

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