Lesson 2: July 7–13, 2021
AIM: After studying this lesson students will once again understand that it does not matter how far you stray from home you can still go home! How? Making the choice to go home!
- What time is it? A time when the judges ruled.
Ruth 1:1a – “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled. . .”
Judges 17:6 – “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
- What time is it? It was a time of evil days!
- Days of Sinfulness
Judges 2:11 (NLT) – The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal.
- Days of Servitude
Judges 2:14 (GNT) – And so the Lord became furious with Israel and let raiders attack and rob them. He let the enemies all around overpower them, and the Israelites could no longer protect themselves.
- Days of Sorrow
Judges 2:15 (GNT) – Every time they would go into battle, the Lord was against them, just as he had said he would be. They were in great distress.
- Days of Scarcity
Judges 6:6 (NLT) – So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help
Ruth 1:1 (NLT) – In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land.
Families, society, and the nation were gripped by a sinful, evil spirit of. . .
· Lying, stealing, and cheating
· Selfishness, greed, and covetousness, even within the church
· False religion and religious deception
· Unbelief, idolatry, and false worship
· Extreme prejudice and discrimination
· National division, disgrace, and civil war
· Deception and the terrible abuse of human rights by national leaders
Sounds like today!
Life hurts! There’s nothing very profound about that statement. Anyone can see the pain and suffering that surround us. A five-year-old dies from an unintentional gunshot wound, a mother develops cancer, a father of five loses his job, and the list goes on. Covid-19 came into our lives and caused us to experience isolation, social distancing, hibernation, and desperation. The existence of evil and suffering in the world can keep us from trusting God. “Why would an all-powerful God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?” we may ask. Allow such a pandemic like COVID-19 to come upon us? It is a fair question.
Have you paid attention to people as you drive down the street. . .many have a look of hopelessness, bewilderness! Some even look “punch drunk!” Life has dealt them a terrible blow and they can’t seem to make sense of it or get their legs steady! They seem desperate! As you read the first chapter of the book of Ruth, try to put yourself in Naomi’s place. Naomi is the original “desperate housewife”!
- having lost hope
- Moved by despair.
- Involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration.
This is certainly Naomi’s situation. In fact, she declares that her name is not Naomi (Pleasant), but Mara (Bitter). But the question is. . .how did she get in this situation?
Before we look ahead to the “homecoming” let us look back to see how she got into this predicament.
- Elimelech – the husband of Naomi and whose name meant “God is my King” or “The King is my God” decides to leave Bethlehem-Judah and go to Moab! Who, or what, is Moab? See Genesis 19:30-38.
Genesis 19:30-38 (NLT)
30 Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. 31 One day the older daughter said to her sister, “There are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we can’t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children. 32 Come, let’s get him drunk with wine, and then we will have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.” 33 So that night they got him drunk with wine, and the older daughter went in and had intercourse with her father. He was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. 34 The next morning the older daughter said to her younger sister, “I had sex with our father last night. Let’s get him drunk with wine again tonight, and you go in and have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had intercourse with him. As before, he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. 36 As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. 37 When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. 38 When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.
- Elimelech’s decision will have a great ripple effect. Elimelech dies. We need to remember that the decisions we make today, the consequences will show up in our lives tomorrow!
- Mahlon and Kilion (sons of Naomi and Elimelech). All we know about these two men, other than the names of their parents and wives, is what their names mean – “sickly” or “unhealthy” and “weakly” or “puny.” They both marry Moab women. This is a violation of what God had commanded. They both die and now Naomi has two daughters-in-law left.
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 (MEV)
3 What is more, you shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will be inflamed against you, and He will quickly destroy you.
ü Bethlehem-Judah (where they previously lived and left) – “Beth” means “house” and “lehem” means “bread.” Therefore, Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” Judah means “praise” or “House of Praise.”
ü Moab – means “What father” or “Who is your daddy?”
ü There was a famine in the land – a famine may be seen as. . .
1) A check-up on our faith
Genesis 12:10 (MEV) – Now there was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to live there, for the famine was severe in the land.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (MEV) – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now, if for a little while, you have had to suffer various trials, 7 in order that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
2) A chastisement for our failure
Hebrews 12:6 (NCV) – The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as his child.”
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT) – My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.12 For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
3) Or child-rearing for the future
Hebrews 12:11(NCV) – We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way.
Ruth 1:1-5 (NCV)
1 Long ago when the judges ruled Israel, there was a shortage of food in the land. 2 So a man named Elimelech left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to live in the country of Moab with his wife and his two sons. His wife was named Naomi, and his two sons were named Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathahites from Bethlehem in Judah. When they came to Moab, they settled there. 3 Then Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These sons married women from Moab. One was named Orpah, and the other was named Ruth. Naomi and her sons had lived in Moab about ten years 5 when Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left alone without her husband or her two sons.
- Desperate because of a shortage of bread
- They lived in the “House of Bread” and “Praise” and yet they leave and go to live in Moab!
- They leave the “House of Bread” and “Praise” and go eat out of a garbage can and drink from a scrub bucket! Who does that???
Psalms 108:9 (MSG) –Moab’s a scrub bucket—I mop the floor with Moab
- Shortage of Bread can mean:
- Shortage of money
- Shortage of food
- Spiritual hunger
Luke 15:14 (NCV) – After he had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the country, and the son was poor and hungry.
- Desperate because of being in a strange land.
- Desperate because of severe losses
- Naomi’s husband dies.
- Naomi’s two sons die.
- Desperate because of no support base
Ruth 1:6-9 (NCV)
6 While Naomi was in Moab, she heard that the Lord had come to help his people and had given them food again. So she and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab and return home. 7 Naomi and her daughters-in-law left the place where they had lived and started back to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back home, each of you to your own mother’s house. May the Lord be as kind to you as you have been to me and my sons who are now dead. 9 May the Lord give you another happy home and a new husband.” When Naomi kissed the women good-bye, they began to cry out loud.
- Desperate but she could return home.
Luke 15:17-18a (NIV) – 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father…
- Desperate but she remained faithful in all of her trials.
- Desperate but a woman of great faith who withstood almost unimaginable testing without once ever wavering in her love for God!
Ruth 1:10-19 (NCV)
10 They said to her, “No, we want to go with you to your people.”11 But Naomi said, “My daughters, return to your own homes. Why do you want to go with me? I cannot give birth to more sons to give you new husbands; 12 go back, my daughters, to your own homes. I am too old to have another husband. Even if I told myself, ‘I still have hope’ and had another husband tonight, and even if I had more sons, 13 should you wait until they were grown into men? Should you live for so many years without husbands? Don’t do that, my daughters. My life is much too sad for you to share, because the Lord has been against me!” 14 The women cried together out loud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law Naomi good-bye, but Ruth held on to her tightly. 15 Naomi said to Ruth, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her own people and her own gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth said, “Don’t beg me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 And where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me terribly if I do not keep this promise: Not even death will separate us.” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth had firmly made up her mind to go with her, she stopped arguing with her. 19 So Naomi and Ruth went on until they came to the town of Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, all the people became very excited. The women of the town said, “Is this really Naomi?”
- Naomi’s Decision – to return to the promised land.
- She had no future in Moab.
- She was not only a widow, but also an alien in a foreign land.
- Because of the two previous mentioned points, she should have been more sensitive to the plight of her two daughters-in-law.
- Orpah’s Decision – return to Moab (world): a picture of choosing the world over the Lord.
- Ruth’s Decision – demonstrates faith in Naomi’s God!
- She trusted God enough to leave her:
- God’s Grace toward Ruth. . .
- A new place for her home (Where you go, I will go)
- A new people for her friends (Your people will be my people)
- A new power for her life (and your God will be my God)
- A new prospect for her future (And where you die, I will die)
Remember: As we return to the building, some members will be like. . .
- Naomi – bitter due to “losses” while out of the building; feeling disconnected and lonely, as well as not wanting the responsibility of looking after someone else.
- Orpah – will not return to the Church. They may or may not be a member. Some prefer to watch on-line or call in for Sunday school.
- Ruth – will demonstrate a strong commitment to serving the Lord. They may be new members and/or returning members with a new commitment.
All Are Valuable to the Body of Christ!
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Remain prayerful to avoid the pitfalls of wandering from, running from or ignoring what God would have you to do with your life.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Be a support system for the disconnected, embittered and lonely, as well as those active in the church; always pointing them to Christ by your actions, using words when necessary.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Be ready to share how Christ gave value to your life by His death on the cross.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Your giving assists in making sure others get to know their value in the body of Christ.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: If you are ashamed of something in your past or unsure of future in Christ, seek God’s direction for the peace you need to be obedient to His will for your life.