Grace at Rock Bottom
When you hit Rock Bottom
The choices you’ve made all seem to fall apart
In over your head in debt Marriage is on the rocks, children break your heart Other times - through circumstances beyond your control
Sickness - accident - the death of a loved one When we have hit rock bottom, through circumstance or consequence, that’s when we see God’s saving grace most clearly.
Background to Ruth
Themes we know: abiding love, companionship, redemption The main message: To show how God rescues his people Setting - this takes place during the time of Judges
Likely during the rule of Ehud the Judge -
4 generations before David - ascended to the throne in 1000 BC - Judges were from 1200-to 1050 - This is probably taking place before Jephthah and Samson, Judges 10:6 - The people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, and the gods of Moab… they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.
Judges: cultural political, and religious chaos -
Judges 21:25 - Everyone doing what is right in their own eyes -
The world, even Christians, pride themselves on doing it their way, as though there were no Lord A time of famine - often seen as a sign of God’s judgment and displeasure with His people The Drama -
Elimelech - “My God is King” but he didn’t show a lot of faith in God as King, he did everything he shouldn’t
Moving to Moab - leaving the land of promised blessing, surrounding himself with the culture, religion, and influence of those who did not know or follow the Lord What was wrong with Moab?
The people of Moab, though descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot, they refused passage to Moses and the Israelites, and actively sought their corruption through Balaam.
Taking Moabite women was forbidden of God’s people, not because of race, but because of their idolatry and unfaithfulness to the Lord; intermarriage would eventually weaken and destroy the son’s faith
Aside - Fathers, the decisions we make have a lasting impact on the spiritual well-being of our families Death of the family, abruptly, Elimelech dies, then after 10 years, Chilion and Mahlon die.
What will become of Naomi?
What will become of Israel?
What will become of me?
This is a story of those who have hit rock bottom
Her family went from 4 to 1
No social security - no hope for more family - Elimelech’s family had come to extinction Lost identity: notice how the author tells the story
vs 1 - a man his wife and two sons vs 2 - their names: Elimelech and his wife Naomi vs 3 - Elimelech the husband of Naomi, died vs 5 - Mahlon and Chilion die - the woman was left without her sons and husband More telling - She held God responsible for all
She was bitter for all her troubles
In spite of God’s renewed blessing in the land, in spite of the companionship of her daughter in law, Naomi’s heart was bitter - set at odds against God She blamed it all on God -
She knew that God was in control - but failed to acknowledge that her own actions were out of a lack of faith - that as long as she was away from God she would be away from his blessing What did Naomi need?
For the Lord to turn her heart back to him; a redeemer who would restore her to land, family, and blessing Ruth:
She was left with a choice - go back to her mother’s house or stay with Naomi.
Orpah chose what on the surface looked like the wisest course of action.
Her mother’s house - essentially meant - go the matchmaker - try again
But she’d been married for 10 years, with no children, and her husband, a foreigner, was dead - not an easy match Ruth’s other option - stay with Naomi, wait for another son or another kinsman (levirite marriage) who would provide for her an offspring to continue the family name.
The chances of this happening were incredibly low She chose devotion to Naomi, to be identified with her, with her people, and with her God
“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.”
She would be despised as a Moabite, rejected, and a second class citizen Naomi said nothing to her -
Naomi - “I am alone” Anyone ever join a church and feel that way?
What did Ruth need?
A protector, defender, provider; A redeemer, one who would bring her acceptance, and entrance into the covenant.
The Prevailing Notes of Grace
Even in misery, Naomi was surrounded by themes of grace
God looked favorably on land - so she would return
Her return is a picture of repentance - though slow Ruth’s companionship - She is not the savior of the story - but a sign of God’s grace for Naomi - and one who still needed a redeemer When we have hit rock bottom, through circumstance or consequence, that’s when we see God’s saving grace most clearly.
Do not let the trials that come lead you to such bitterness that you forsake God’s grace
Naomi walked a dangerous path - she could have remained in Moab, lost and cut off from Grace forever - But God drew her home
Allow those trials that come from the hand of God - by consequence or coincidence - to soften your heart, and lead you back home Align yourself with the people of God, that you may come to the blessing God has for you in Christ This book points us, when we’ve hit rock bottom, to our need for a redeemer, and helps us to see God’s amazing grace.
The reason for our hope is God’s faithfulness to his people.
God is committed to save for himself a people of his own God’s done this by sending his Son who chose to be associated with us, in our bitterness - and through his life, death, and resurrection
To turn our hearts back to God; our redeemer who would bring us to peace and blessing with God A protector, defender, provider; A redeemer, one who would bring her acceptance, and entrance into the covenant.