Ruth: The Faithfulness of God

Ruth: The Faithfulness of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:51
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Introduction:
This morning we are going to begin a study through the Book of Ruth. The story of Ruth is a story of faithfulness, second-chances, grace, dignity, but above all, it is the story of the faithfulness of God.
We don’t deserve God’s faithfulness. It is in the goodness and grace of God that we receive His love towards us. We fail Him, but God is never failing.
That’s the story we are going to look into this morning.
Ruth 1 ESV
1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 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. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. 19 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?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 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?” 22 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.
Pray.

1. Leaving the Land of Promise (vv. 1-5)

Ruth 1:1 ESV
1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
The backdrop:
The days of the judges
No king over the land
The Book of Ruth would point out that God was in the midst of providing just the King the people needed, even though they didn’t know it (God’s faithfulness)
The people had left God Spiritually
Everyone did what seemed right in his own eyes
Elimelech decided to take his family and do the same thing by leaving the promised land and going to the land of Moab
Map of Moab
He was from Bethlehem - the House of Bread - but there was no bread in the land
Names of the People have meaning
The Cast of Characters
Elimelech - My God is King
Mahlon - Sickly
Chilion - Weak of Failing
Naomi - Pleasant
After Elimelech dies and they remain in the land for 10 more years, Mahlon and Chilion die along the way as well leaving Naomi with no sons, no husband, no land, no inheritance in a foreign land.
Naomi is a picture of the prodigal son at this point.

2. God Has Visited His People (vv. 6-14)

Ruth hears news that God has blessed His people and given them food
God is a gracious God not giving us what our sins deserve, but showing steadfast love to a thousand generations
She decides, much like the prodigal, that there is food in the Father’s house and decides to “shed some weight” and return to Bethlehem - the House of Bread
She knew that she could not provide a future for Orpah and Ruth and so she encourages them to go home and remarry
Both initially try to stay, but only Ruth clings to Naomi (more about that in a moment)
Naomi is convinced that God is punishing her for her sins of leaving the promised land and marrying off her sons to Moabite women
The Moabites were distant relatives but served as enemies of Israel. They led the people into idolatry and sexual immorality at Peor under Balaam’s council and worshiped Chemosh and Molech
Naomi has no idea that God is using one of the Moabites to ultimately bless her in Ruth and by providing a grandson and a legacy through her
God can take our wrong choices and turn them into something good

3. A Portrait of Devotion (vv. 14-18)

Ruth 1:14–17 ESV
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
Ruth clinging to Naomi is not a simple expression of her being needy. In all honesty, it would have been easier for her to go back to her people and she could probably have had an easier time finding a husband.
She left her family
She left her people
She left her gods
She became an outcast

4. The Emptiness of Disobedience (vv. 18-21)

Ruth 1:18–21 ESV
18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. 19 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?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 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?”
Naomi seems frustrated that Ruth is not going back home. It could be that she is concerned about how to provide for Ruth whenever she can’t even provide for herself. She may just have given up on trying to convince Ruth to leave.
Either way, I imagine that was a long silent journey back from Moab to Bethlehem.
Naomi makes reference to her name. It means pleasant but she is anything but. She is really more like the name she chooses for herself, which is Mara. Mara means bitterness.
Interestingly it was at the waters of Mara that the people of Israel complained that God was not providing for them. The water there was bitter and Moses had to throw a tree into the water to make it sweet and drinkable.
I don’t know if you have ever tried that before, but wood doesn’t generally work that way. God is giving them a test of faith.
The Israelites had no idea that God was going to provide for them an oasis at Elim in just a few days that would make this spring seem like nothing.

5. The Faithfulness of God (vv.22)

Ruth 1:22 ESV
22 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.
Naomi is not alone, Ruth is with her
Notice the timing of her return - it was at the time of the Barley harvest
Conclusion:
Like Naomi and Ruth, we share some similarities to their situation in this story.
All of us have left the promised land and done what seems right in our own eyes. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We must leave everything behind and follow Christ.
God is faithful to fill us and meet every need we will ever have. He is working even when we don’t see it happening.
Ruth would end up being a blessing to Naomi and not dead weight or another mouth to feed. She would be the one that led Naomi to a redeemer. She would be the one to provide a son. Israel would end up getting the best king they would ever have until Jesus, and ultimately Jesus would come from Ruth’s family line.
You also can become a part of God’s family. Boaz is a picture of Jesus. Jesus is our redeemer and He can save you if you will come to Him today.
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