Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Book of Ruth

Today in class we covered the entire book of Ruth. I never knew that the main character of Ruth is Naomi. The principle of the whole book is that we need to hold things with an open hand, because when we hold on to things too tightly it hurts when God takes them from us. Naomi held her identity in her family, her dreams, and her future.

Chapter 1

When God took it all from her she was bitter towards the LORD. We see four things in verses 1-5 that God may take from us if He pleases.
  1. He may take away the prosperity of our land. In verse 1 we see that there was a famine in the land. This type of famine means that the land had not received the former and latter rains which are crucial for crop development.The former rains are from Sept.-Nov. The latter rains are during Spring. Since this was the case, Naomi and her family were forced to move from Bethlehem to Moab. Moab is approximately 1,000 ft higher than Bethlehem, therefore it is wetter.
  2. The LORD may take the love of our life. In verse 3 we see that Naomi's husband Elimelech (my God is King) was taken from her.
  3. God may take our dreams. Verse 4 shows that Naomi's sons married Moabite women. This detail is very subtle, but the fact that her sons did not marry Israelite women was a big deal to her. Therefore, her dream for her sons to marry good Israelite women was taken from her.
  4. God may take our future. Verse 5 shows that both her sons died. It's ironic however that her sons were names Mahlon (wasting, referring to a flesh-eating disease) and Chilion (puny). However, her sons represent her future.
In verses 6-13 we see the four reactions of Naomi. You'll see that the reactions of Naomi are probably similar to how we would react in hard times such as this.
  1. She returned to what was familiar to her. In verse 6 we see that she returned from Moab to Bethlehem. Most times when we are deeply hurt we will leave what we aren't used to and go back to what we're comfortable with.
  2. She pushed those she needed away. In verse 8 she tells both of her daughter-in-laws to go back to their homes.
  3. She grieved. Verse 9 paints a sad scene where Naomi, Ruth (friend), and Orpah are grieving together.
  4. She sought validation. In verse 13 Naomi asks questions in such a way that she is seeking validation for her choice to push Ruth and Orpah away.
In verses 14-18 we see how Ruth (friend) is true to her name.
  • In verse 14 Ruth is a crying shoulder for Naomi.
  • In verse 16 Ruth tells Naomi to stop asking her to leave. Ruth has made up her mind that she will stay with Naomi.
  • Verses 16-17 shows that Ruth makes a deep promise to Naomi that she will stick with her until death.
The end of Chapter 1 is important because Naomi comes out with her real feelings. When she arrives to Bethlehem she is met by some people who ask "Is this Naomi?". She says do not call me Naomi (pleasant one), but Mara (bitter). This is a crucial point because now shes being honest with her feelings. The last point I'd like to show is that In the beginning of Chapter 1 we start with a famine and we end with a harvest in verse 22. This represents Naomi's life, right now her life is like a famine, but the harvest foreshadows that things will turn around for her.

Chapter 2

This chapter begins by giving us a glimpse of what God is going to do through Elimelech's kinsman, Boaz (in him is strength). Naomi's real problem was that she had property on her hands, but she could not redeem it by law without a male heir. She could not plant, harvest, or do anything worth while to her property until she had a male heir.

We see in verse 3 that Ruth goes to the fields to glean. In a short while she meets Boaz and he shows her favor by allowing her to harvest in the middle of his field (in those days the owner of the field could only harvest the middle; the outskirts of the field were left for the poor to harvest).

Chapter 3

The main idea of chapter 3 is that Boaz grows a greater respect for Ruth. They become closer and she makes a proposal to him. The proposal is for him to redeem Naomi's property. She does this by going to the threshing floor at night, uncovering Boaz's feet, and putting some of the cover on herself. He then says that he will accept if the closest relative does not redeem her.

Chapter 4

This chapter starts off with Boaz holding a meeting at the city gate. Boaz was actually part of the city council. During the meeting he asks the closest relative if he will redeem Naomi's property and with it he must take Ruth the Moabitess. An interesting fact here is how Boaz trys to describe Ruth as an undesirable asset by making sure to include that she is a Moabitess (he probably did this because Ruth was pleasant and he wanted to be the redeeme).. Had he said she was an Israelite the closest relative probably would have accepted the deal. Boaz ends up redeeming Naomi's property and taking Ruth. Through her he had Obed (the work).


Is our identity wrapped in the wrong things? For example: girl/boyfriend, money, clothes, cars, material possessions. We need to check ourselves here. If this is the case we need to do an evaluation and ask God to be our identity, because when the time comes that He needs to take those things away it won't hurt as much. Also it will be a chance to glorify Him. God doesn't bring pain without a purpose. If he takes something from you it's becaue He has something better in store. Amen!

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