Ruth, Naomi, and Orpah
Ruth 1:1 “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.”
In the land of Israel, at the town of Bethlehem, there was a famine.
So a man and his wife, with their two sons, left there home there, and went into the near country of Moab.
They thought they would “sojourn” there till the famine was over.
(They could have sought the Lord, for the cause of the famine; but instead they left that to others, and in doing so missed a blessing.)
Their “sojourn” turned into ten years! During that time Naomi’s husband died. Her sons married two women of Moab, but soon also died, leaving her alone in a strange land, far from her God, and home.
She longed for her country; and she had heard that the famine was over in Israel…”the Lord had had visited His people in giving them bread.” (Ruth 1:6)
So she “arose”, always the first move in returning to God. Arise from where you are, to come home to Him.
She started to leave Moab to return to Bethlehem.
Her two daughters-in-law followed her; and how far they went is not told…but after a while, Naomi realized it would be a hardship for them if they followed her.
They had parents they could return to, for they would certainly take them back.
They could have new lives: marry and have children among their own people.
If they followed her to Bethlehem, she did not know what would happen there.
For herself, she could at least die among Israelites, back home with her God; but for them…..she could not say whether there would be even a place to lay their head.
Ruth 1:8-10 “And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each unto her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
The Lord grant that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.”
Naomi prays for them here…using the name Jehovah (the Lord) twice. Seeking for them kindness from the Lord, and in doing so, gives witness that all true good comes from the Lord.
Both had real affection for Naomi. And both declared that they would continue the journey with her.
An old woman alone, is a sad thing; and they felt her kindness in so speaking to them.
“Surely we will return with thee.”
But again Naomi spoke. Seeing them as young women, able to live full lives with other husbands, and have families. She would not have them return with her out of duty, but out of a real determination, having seen the cost to them…and choosing this way into her nation and with the Lord.
She spoke for their benefit, not hers…for she loved them.
Ruth 1:11, 13 “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? Are there yet anymore sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
Would you tarry for them till they were grown? Would ye stay for them from having husbands? Nay, my daughters; for it greiveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.”
Here Naomi confesses that the Lord had dealt with her this way. Her family should have stayed in Israel, the promised land, and sought unto the Lord for removal of the famine and the reason for it.
(Israel often followed after other gods, to their hurt. And the Lord often had to use circumstances to awaken them to His voice. Judges 2:14-16)
Naomi told Ruth and Orpah, that she could not give them a life like they had.
She again suggests that they go back where you can have an easier life for young women.
Now both had said that “Surely they would return with her”; but now…..
(There comes a time in each life where we choose the thing we love most.)
For Orpah, though she had affection for Naomi, her choice was her nation, her people, her god.
She wept over the situation, but the decision became easy….she would go no further.
A life of relative ease is what her heart loved most…..and so she went back, and left Naomi.
There are many who have an affection for Christ, because of Who He is and what He has done.
But who do not love Him enough to go on with Him in all of the sufferings and situations which come, by following Him.
Many, therefore, go back to the world. For that is where their hearts are.
Ruth 1:14-15 “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her.
And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her god’s: return thou after thy sister-in-law.”
But Ruth hung onto her. What ever would come, she was staying right beside her….to suffer want, or to get by; Ruth would not leave her.
She would return with Naomi.
Here she takes Naomi’s God as hers.
And instantly calls upon the Lord to be her witness, of her decision.
(“The Lord” as a name here is very important. It is Jehovah, the personal name of God. Jehovah means the ever-existent, becoming One…the Almighty God becomes what we need.
She was not just acknowledging a god of Naomi’s nation….but she was placing her whole life into the hands of The Lord, Who was Naomi’s God)
Ruth 1:16-17 “And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Ruth instantly calls upon the Lord, now her God, to be her witness of her decision.
And the two go on together.
Was there hardship? Yes, for they only had food by Ruth gleaning the fields…but by doing so, she met a man who first gave her permission to continue after his reapers all the harvest, insuring food for some time.
And then a blessing; he called upon the Lord to bless her.
Ruth 2:12 “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
This man would become her future husband, putting Ruth into the genealogy of Christ. (Matthew 1:5)
She was the great-grandmother of David. (Ruth 4:17)
The lesson here is: Who or what do we love enough, to leave everything else for?
Affection for Christ Jesus is wonderful….but only leads us so far.
The real determined choice of whether we will continue with Him, in all situations, is the crossroads of our lives.
Temptation, in the form of an “easy life, or normal life”, comes. And we must choose what we love the most.
Will we like Orpah turn back….
Or will we cling to Christ?
Yet If we choose the Lord; though there are hardships(and there are), there will be blessings as well…now and for eternity.