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Ruth meets Boaz

Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I may find favor.” She said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she went. She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. As it happened, she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. (Ruth 2:1-3, NRSV)

Naomi and Ruth had returned from Moab to Bethlehem, but they had no one to care for them so they only hope they had was to glean from a field.

The barley harvest had started and so the famine was over and there was hope for the region. And all people would leave the edges of their fields for the widows and the poor to glean so they could eat and care for themselves.

So with nothing else to provide for them, Ruth went and gleaned in a field. And it just so happens that she gleans in a field owned by a relative of Naomi.

How has God worked in your life in ways that you may not have seen until the event was over?

Remember there is always hope.

 

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Naomi and Ruth

So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. (Ruth 1:22, NRSV)

And here is the hope, that Naomi still doesn’t see.

The harvest.

The end of the famine.

The reason Naomi could go home.

Ruth saw the hope. Do we see the hope?

Where is your focus?

On the darkness?

Or the hope?

 

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Naomi and Ruth

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1:19-21, NRSV)

Naomi still doesn’t see the light that is right there with her.

Ruth gave up her homeland and family, yes she had been living with Naomi for 10 years or more, but she still had blood family in Moab and Ruth gave all of that up to stay with Naomi. Even that light and love did not seem to overtake Naomi’s darkness.

Have you ever been in such a funk and deep dark hole that it seemed you would never get out and nothing could make you see the light?

Remember there is always hope.

 

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Naomi and Ruth

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:8-14, NRSV)

Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland so they might be provided for. Naomi was headed back to her homeland where her daughters-in-law would be outsiders and may not be accepted and may make it harder on Naomi to find a family member that will take her with an extra mouth or two to care for. She tells them that she will not provide them sons, and Orpah listens to her and goes back to her family, but Ruth, Ruth sees the hope that lies ahead with Naomi. She clings to Naomi and knows that by clinging to Naomi she is clinging to God.

Have you ever felt the hope that Ruth did here?

Knew that you had to hold on to something for dear life because God was working in and through this situation?

Remember there is always hope.

 

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Naomi and Her Daughters-in-Law

Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. (Ruth 1:6-7, NRSV)

In the midst of darkness and death, Naomi heard from God. Remember there is always hope! Naomi heard that the famine that brought them to this land was over, so she took her belongings and her daughters-in-law and headed back to Bethlehem. She had found hope.

Have you ever been in despair and then found the light, the glimmer of hope in the darkness around you?

That light breaks in and it is all you can see, it pushes back the darkness and clears your sight so you see what you had hoped for.

Hope is always there.

 

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Elimelech’s Family Goes to Moab

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5, NRSV)

It seems like life for Naomi has gone from bad to worse. She was moved from her homeland because of famine and then after her husband died, her two sons marry, but then they died also. Now she has daughters-in-law to care for and no one to provide for her. Remember in this time, the men were the providers, so without a husband or sons, Naomi had no one to care for her. Add to that she is in a place where she has lived for many years but is still considered an outsider.

What will she do?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like Naomi’s where it seems you have come to the end of hope?

What can we do?

Remember that God is always with us, there is never an end to hope…

 

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Ruth and Naomi

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. (Ruth 1:1-22, NRSV)

Here is the first chapter of the book of Ruth a wonderful little story of an outsider who becomes an insider and saves her family.

The story starts, “In the days when the judges ruled…” The story of Ruth comes right after the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures, at least the way we Christians have them ordered, and Judges ends with, “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” So whatever a person did was ok because it looked good to them…

But Ruth had different ideas.

There is so much pain and anguish in our lives and we sometimes struggle to see the hope. That is where this chapter takes us, you see Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, from their home in Bethlehem because there was a famine and he had to do something to take care of his family. So he packed them up and moved them to Moab where there was obviously more provision than in Bethlehem. Here in Moab, Elimelech’s sons found women they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with and got married, or Elimelech arranged the marriages, but either way, the sons took wives, and then all of the men died. It is as if it went from bad to worse. They moved away from home and then the providers for the family all die. Then Naomi tries to send the daughters-in-law back to their kinsmen so they can be cared for. Naomi is returning to Bethlehem and the Moabite women will not be accepted or at least Naomi thinks that. Plus she will have to find family to take her in and she is not sure if they will take her daughters-in-law also. Naomi urges them to care for themselves and return to their family. And Orpah does. But Ruth does not. She has found love in a mother-in-law and a hope that God will protect them.

You see in all of the darkness, famine, and death, there is hope. Ruth says to Naomi, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” I will not leave you. You are my kin and I will be with you. And Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth.

And then the last glimmer of hope, it was the beginning of the barley harvest. It was the beginning of the gathering of the food. The famine was over and the harvest has begun! Even in the darkness, there is always hope!

 

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