Today, we have honored mothers. Now, let's look at a mother-daughter relationship. That of Naomi and Ruth. The Book of Ruth focuses on one of these poor Israelite families who, like the Okies of the American 1930's, face crop failure and dust-bowls and move to greener pastures. Much like the Oklahoma farmers who traveled to California, Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons must leave their famine‑stricken home in Bethlehem to live in a foreign country across the Dead Sea known as named Moab (now Jordan).
With a minimum of detail, the story tells us that Elimelech and his family do settle down amidst the fertile hills of Moab. But all too soon, tragedy strikes. Naomi's husband dies shortly after their arrival in Moab. Fortunately, the sons can work the farm and are of marriageable age. So, with their mother's help, the sons find two pretty local Moabite girls to marry... named Orpah and Ruth. Life seemed to go well for the next ten years. But then, as many of us have discovered in our own lives, tragedy strikes again. Within a short period of time, some unknown fate takes the lives of Naomi's sons as well, and the three women are now left alone with no men, which in those times meant no money, no food, no livelihood.
Fortunately, Naomi hears that the famine in Bethlehem is now over and she immediately prepares to return home. She suggests... no, she demands that her two daughters‑in‑law return to their own families in Moab to seek new husbands. They are loyal daughters and each says no, they will go with her to support her in her old age. But Naomi insists, making it clear that at her home in Israel the girls will be foreigners with little hope of marrying Jewish men. Recognizing the truth of this and weeping with regret, Orpah, the practical one, kisses Naomi tenderly and departs. But Ruth will have none of it! She was the a Peter of the Old Testament!
There are three emotional responses by Ruth that we will examine:
[First, is the Response of Refusal]
I. Refusal (14b-15)
A. Orpah Gives In
1. Returns to Her People
2. Returns to Her gods
B. Ruth Will Not Go
1. Her Love
2. Her Commitment
Adoniram Judson sweated out Burma's heat for 18 years without a furlough, six years without a convert. Enduring torture and imprisonment, he admitted that he never saw a ship sail without wanting to jump on board and go home. When his wife's health broke and he put her on a homebound vessel in the knowledge he would not see her for two full years, he confided to his diary: "If we could find some quiet resting place on earth where we could spend the rest of our days in peace. . ." But he steadied himself with this remarkable postscript: "Life is short. Millions of Burmese are perishing. I am almost the only person on earth who has attained their language to communicate salvation. . ." Regions Beyond," vol 37, #1, p. 2.
C If you know or are seeking God's will, refuse to give up or over. Instead, stand with God for peace, strength, and salvation.
Refusal does not only deal with relationships between people, but also relationships with God. Ruth refused to return to her people after she tasted the sweetness of love.
This refusal to leave is sparked by her desire to stay with Naomi.
[Which brings us to our second, Desire]
II. Desire (16-17a)
A. To Stay
Note: This is not the same as refusal, but her refusal comes from her desire.
B. To Give It All Up
1. Her Home and Land
2. Her Former gods
Deuteronomy 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
She became a converted Jew. This lady was David=s grandmother. Jesus had Gentile in Him. Think about it, if God accepted a Moabite, because give her former life, He will accept you.
3. Her Burial Place
Note: To be buried in your homeland was honorable. She was willing to give up her honor.
4. For love and Friendship
There's a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge. He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, "O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge." Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water. Then he asked, "What do you want?" "Knowledge, O wise Socrates," said the young man with a smile. Socrates put his strong hands on the man's shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. "What do you want?" he asked again. "Wisdom," the young man sputtered, "O great and wise Socrates." Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty‑five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. "What do you want, young man?" Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, "Knowledge, O wise and wonderful..." Socrates jammed him under again Forty seconds passed. Fifty. "What do you want?" "Air!" he screeched. "I need air!" "When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge." M. Littleton in Moody Monthly, June, 1989, p. 29
The young man could not make up his mind, but Ruth did. Her desires kept her focused on her dream.
C The desire you have, is it God focused? Do you have a dream, about your spiritual walk with God? The refusal to give in to the circumstances around, is fueled by your desire to be the best for God you can be. Do you have a desire? If not search your heart, cry out to God and desire to seek Him.
Your desire, just as Ruth's lead to the steadfastness of commitment.
[Finally, we have the response of Steadfastness]
III. Steadfastness (17b-18)
A. God Can Punish Me
B. Determination Caused Silence
D.L. Moody had a keen memory for names and faces. If one of his children was missing from Sunday school, he knew it, and he would do everything possible to find out why. One day he saw an absentee coming down the street, so he took off after her. She ran down the sidewalk, across the street, and through an alley into a saloon, up the stairs to a back apartment, into the bedroom, and then dived under the bed. Moody went after her, and just as he was claiming his prize, the mother showed up. Panting from the exertion, Moody simply explained, "I'm Moody," He said that he had missed the girl and would be happy if all the family could come to the services. Within a few weeks he had every child in the family in his school. The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 203
It was been said:
By friendship you mean the greatest love, the greatest usefulness, the most open communication, the noblest sufferings, the severest truth, the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds of which brave men and women are capable. Jeremy Taylor
On one occasion, Peppermint Patty said to Marcie: "I'd like to read this book, Marcie, but I'm kind of afraid. I had a grandfather who didn't think much of reading."
She continued by saying, "He always said that if you read too many books, your head would fall off."
Marcie responds, "you start the first chapter, and I'll hold onto your head!"
Friend, hold on to friends and let them hold on to you so that we will all save face by facing the future as people who will know and do God's Word.
1. We must refuse to give up the goodness of the Lord. He placed blessing all around us and we must reach out and take the blessings.
2. Be steadfast in your love and commitment. Do not give in to every whim but hold fast to God.
3. Be a mother to the motherless.
Be a daughter to the daughterless.
4. If you do know experience God's blessings in your life, ask yourself, "Why?" Is it because you have not receive Jesus as your Savior? If this is the case reach out to Him and receive salvation today.
5. You may be saying to yourself, but I know Jesus as Savior and I receive little or no blessings. Let me ask you, "What is your life like? Are you claiming salvation, but not living the life of a Christian?" If you are not experiencing blessings you can do something about that today. Get your life in order and give it to God and let Him handle it. Come and pray and He will bring that peace you have so longed for.