Thursday, April 3, 2014
Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1-2)
Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, ( Ruth and Orpah) had lost their husbands. Naomi heard that her home town of Bethlehem had been blessed with good weather and now had plenty of crops for food. So Ruth and Orpah began to make the journey with her back to Bethlehem.
On the way Ruth said, “ I think that it would be best for you to go back to your mothers’ home instead of coming with me. May God bless you with another husband because of the kindness that you have shown me.” Then she kissed them good-bye and all three women began to cry.
Ruth and Orpah both said, “No. We want to go with you to your people.”
"But your family is in Moab. Your friends and your future are there as well.” Naomi said. "I can’t have any more sons for you to marry, and even if I could, it would be many years before they would be old enough to marry you.” (It was the custom for widows to marry the brothers of their dead husbands. That is why Naomi said this). "I am old and bitter.” Naomi continued. "You are still young and have a chance for a bright future. God has caused me to suffer and I have no future.” Naomi kissed them good-bye again, and they all cried again.
Then Orpah went on her way back to Moab. But Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. “See, Orpah has gone back to her people, you should do the same.” Naomi told Ruth.
But Ruth replied. “ Please do not ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go. I will live wherever you live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. May God punish me if I let anything besides death separate us.”
Well after a speech like that, what could Naomi say? Naomi and Ruth headed down the road together. When they finally made it to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirring. “Is it really Naomi? Has Naomi come back to us?’ The women asked.
"Don’t call me Naomi any more.” Naomi said. “ Call me Mara from now on because God has made me suffer so much, that I am now bitter.” (Mara means bitter. Naomi means pleasant) Naomi continued. “When I left here ten years ago, I was so full of life and hope. Now I have returned empty because God has caused such tragedy to fall on me. My husband and my two sons are dead. I am bitter.”
Naomi took Ruth to her home, which after ten years, needed a lot of work to get it back to living conditions. So they began to fixit up.
They had returned to Bethlehem right at the beginning of the first harvest season. So Ruth said that she was going to go into one of the nearby fields and pick up some of the grain that the harvesters had left behind. (This was a legal way of providing for the poor and it was called gleaning)
Naomi was a little nervous, because some of the men who worked in the fields were rough and tough, but she agreed. “ Go, but be careful my daughter!” So Ruth left to go gleaning. As it happened, she found herself working in the field of a man named Boaz. He was a relative of Naomi’s husband.
While Ruth was in the field working, Boaz showed up. “Good morning. God bless you!” he shouted to his men working in his field.
"God bless you!” The men replied.
Boaz went up to the lead harvester. “Who is that girl over there?” He asked as he pointed at Ruth.
"She is the young woman from Moab that came back with Naomi.” The foreman replied. “She has been working very hard all morning and only took a short break.”
When God allows bad things to happen to us, we can become better or bitter. Ruth became better. She reached out to Naomi, even though they were both hurting from the loss of their husbands. Ruth also demonstrated faith in God. Naomi became bitter. She became consumed with what happened to her. Being bitter causes us to think only of ourselves. The more we dwell on it, the more bitter we become.
So when something bad happens to you...... do you become better or bitter?