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?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 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?”
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 1:19-22, ESV)
Up to now we have seen a famine come into Bethlehem which cased Elimelech to move his family from Bethlehem to Moab. They must’ve though this was a great move because then they wouldn’t die. But then all the men in the family do die. They made their life there and now there is only Naomi left from the immediate family.
Naomi decides to return and when she does she is greeted by those that knew her in Bethlehem. Upon her return she tells them not to call her Naomi, but to call her Mara, which meant bitter. Remember, Naomi meant pleasant, and now she is wanting to be called bitter. But is she ever referred to as Mara? She is never called Mara in the whole book. She was accepted back.
Naomi and the Prodigal
- She goes out from her home in search for something better because Bethlehem just wasn’t suiting their needs. Just as the prodigal son had enough of being in his father’s house so he took what he had and left.
- She arrives in Moab and everything seems great at first, but what is she left with? The prodigal son left his father’s house and everything seemed great, he had all this money and was having all this fun, but what is he left with? No friends, no money. He’s found living with the animals.
- When Naomi realized she had nothing in Moab she decided it was best that she went home. The prodigal son saw what he was living in and decided it was time to go home.
- Upon their returns both Naomi and the prodigal son both show remorse and say they do not deserve to be reinstated to their previous place. Naomi tells them to call her Mara (“bitter”) and the prodigal son asks to be one of his father’s servants.
- But both are reinstated. The prodigal son has a party thrown for him and his father embraces him as his son. Naomi is called Naomi and at the end of the book we see those around her celebrating with her, not calling her Mara.
This is always a lesson for us in our relationship with God. We do fail, we all go away from the ‘Father’s house’ but upon return he embraces us, and shows us His great love.
Ruth is the 8th book of the Bible and through the next few weeks I’m going to work through the the book of Ruth. This will serve as an introduction to provide some background to the story of Ruth.
Ruth is the story of a foreign woman who came out of paganism and idolatry of Moab into the knowledge of the Lord God of Israel and was blessed.
The story of Ruth takes place “in the time of the Judges.” (Ruth 1:1) The story of the Judges “follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to God and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat God for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a “judge”); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated.” (Wikipedia)
Ruth is described as a classic love story, a masterpiece of the storyteller’s art and German poet Goethe called it the ‘finest poem in human language. Legend has it that the story of Ruth was read to a group of atheistic, bible bashing, cultured Frenchmen. The names were altered so that it wouldn’t be instantly recognizable. After listening the group of men were delighted by the wonderful literary product and they wanted to know it’s origins. They were in shock when they learned it was from the Bible.
The author of Ruth isn’t known, though Jewish tradition as well as others believe it was Samuel that wrote it. It was written 150-180 years after the events took place. In Ruth 4:7 it talks about “former customs” which distances the events from the writing date. The genealogy that concludes this book ends with David, so it is reasonable to presume that he was the King when the book was written. The exact date isn’t known but it was likely written between 1010BC – 970BC.
We don’t know why it was written but it may have been written for King David. Ruth was David’s great-grandmother. This story was probably very special to David because of the connection with Ruth and the display of God’s grace towards her.
Among others there are 2 main reasons why Ruth is important to us today: The first is the genealogy that is provided. We have a genealogy of Ruth’s legacy that leads to King David and ultimately Jesus Christ. (Seen in Ruth 4:18-22 & Matthew 1) We also see the connection between the House of David(2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7) and the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) (Boaz is from the tribe of Judah) and without Ruth we wouldn’t see this connection. The second reason is that Ruth is an excellent display of redemption and we can learn about redemption through this story. Charles Spurgeon referred to the Lord Jesus Christ as “our glorious Boaz” and we will take a look at that comparison when we get to chapter 4.
So through the next 12 weeks or so I will hope to paint a picture of the story of Ruth and provide some practical aspects as well.