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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

December 3rd, 2023: The Faith of Ruth- 1:6-22

Ruth’s story takes place during the times of the Judges. Everyone was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes, and no real leader was running the nation of Israel. God appointed various individuals as deliverers when neighboring nations around Israel began to oppress them. For the most part, things are going along quietly, and then purposefully, we find this little four-chapter book called Ruth. We are not told who wrote the book of Ruth, and yet, God shows himself masterfully through the details of an ordinary life.


Moses has passed. Joshua has passed, yet despite the noise of an unruly nation, God kept His promises. We see the scarlet thread that traced the lineage of the Messiah to come. We find two women mourning loss, but transformed by the faithfulness of God. We see a kinsman redeemer rescue the outcast. Today the book of Ruth is read during a Jewish festival called Shavuot. Shavuot represents the rededication of the nation to the one true God. Many commentaries compare the celebration of Shavuot to a marriage - the marriage of Israel to their God.


The account starts when a man from Bethlehem, Judah, leaves with his wife and sons and travels to the land of Moab because of a famine. Once there, the sons marry wives. A lot can be said about whether they should or should not have traveled to Moab, but an interesting thing happened in Moab. Strangers, non-Jewish women, become part of this family. The writings do not say how long they were in Moab or how long each was married; however, most commentators think that the book of Ruth covers about ten years. Our lesson starts when Naomi’s husband and both of the sons have died. Leaving the women to decide what to do to survive. Whatever pagan god was worshiped in Moab made no laws protecting the widows. The God of Israel had made provisions in His commandments to care for the widowed and orphaned. Naomi hears that the famine has ended at home and desires to go back to Israel.


Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you 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.


There is love between Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. This is a difficult and heartbreaking situation. Naomi blesses the two girls, asking that God would help them find new husbands to provide and protect them. At first, they both decline to leave Naomi. What an influence she must have had on their lives.


And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also tonight, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

Naomi takes her losses profoundly personally. She believes she has been judged and punished by God. Ruth has seen something in Naomi that she refuses to relinquish. She cleaves to her as if holding on to her only hope. According to Jewish tradition, she explains to the daughters-in-law what lies ahead and that she cannot provide for them. Reasonably, Orpah decides to go back to her mother in Moab. Her choice is made. Despite any rational argument, Ruth wants no part of going back. She is determined to face whatever future lies before her.


15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

16 And Ruth said, Intreat 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:

She speaks of shelter, fellowship, and worship, all of which speak of her faith in Naomi’s God to provide for them what they cannot acquire on their own. Despite Naomi’s urging for her to give up, Ruth is looking forward and willing to make sacrifices and face unknown hardships rather than go back to the emptiness of false religion.


Her husband was dead, but Ruth was still committed to the vows she had made that brought her into this family. Her marriage was a transition out of her old life and into a new one. Marriage between Jews and Gentiles was strongly discouraged because, more often than not, it led to the Jewish people adopting the evil religious practices of their neighbors. In Ruth’s case, the opposite had happened; she had given up her past and become faithful to the Lord and Naomi.


17 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.

Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Ruth made a vow to Naomi, that regardless of the outcome and until death parted them, she would be faithful to her and to her God. The heart of the promise is a steadfast love and a commitment to something that Ruth had found her purpose and her meaning within. The Love of God, the Truth of God, and the Plan of God transcend any earthly desires or benefits we can receive, until you find something worth dying for, you haven’t found anything worth living for. The pain of losing a husband would be reason enough for her to give up belief in the God of Naomi, in her grief Naomi doesn’t expect goodness from God or give any hope that God will show mercy to her, but Ruth’s decision is to cling more tightly to HIm instead of falling away.


18 When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

It is as if Naomi has no strength to argue anymore. She just went silent. Ruth is steadfastly minded. She reminds me of Jacob. Remember that incredible night spent at Bethel when the angel of God wrestled with Jacob and caused his thigh to be out of joint? Despite pain and exhaustion, Jacob refused to let go, he said, “Not until you bless me!” There are times that this life feels like a wrestling match. Times when pain is unrelenting, and we are in a struggle with the ways of God that are far beyond our comprehension and certainly beyond our ability to appreciate, but in faith, we hang on. We walk by “faith and not by sight.” We trust that “God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Sometimes, even well-meaning people try to encourage us to give up and go back to an easier way, but a believer is never told to go back. God is leading us onward to a greater blessing and deeper relationship with Him.

22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.


They return at harvest time when all around them, families are gathering in the bounty of the land. They return empty, just as barns are being filled to overflowing. Naomi will ask them to call her “Mara” which means bitterness. Perhaps she believes God is punishing her for leaving in the first place. Whatever the reason, she has given up hope that He will help her. God has already helped her. He’s placed in her life a friend who will stand by her in faith and love her committedly. We all need that, believers who will be strong when we can’t, friends who will pray when we’ve lost the words, and those who walk alongside us when we are hurting and silent. God has created a wonderful thing called the church, and when it functions best, this is what it does: it speaks of God to a lost and dying world with hope and unreasonable peace in times of trouble. It speaks to its own words of commitment and strength and reminds them that God has always been faithful and will always continue to be.


Thank you for studying with us! God bless!


Questions for Discussion

  1. Where do you think Ruth found the resolve to stay loyal to the God of Israel?

  2. Ruth's name is included in the lineage of Christ, yet she was a Moabitess. Why does God place her in His family tree?

  3. When defeat and loss come into our lives, how do we demonstrate faith in God?


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Olivia Neal
Olivia Neal
30 nov 2023

Discussion Question- We'd love to hear from you!

When defeat and loss come into our lives, how do we demonstrate faith in God?

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