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May 23, 2022 12:00 am
Three different widows in Ruth chapter 1 are about to walk three different paths, and contrary to popular belief all paths will not lead to God. Find out which one does in this message.
Point were you convinced God doesn't love you are going to find it impossible to be loved by anybody and you're gonna find difficult about a possible to give love back. True, self-sacrificing, genuine love is impossible apart from the love of Christ receiving it from him, whether we feel worthy of it or not and then through us. We serve as conduits of his love to do. Others true love is always a three party transaction when it's rooted in Jesus Christ.
The story of Ruth is a picture of the redemption, God brings all of us. But not everybody response to the love of God as they should.
There are three different widows in Ruth chapter 1 and all all walk three different paths, and contrary to popular belief, all paths will not lead to God today on wisdom for the hard Stephen David is calling this lesson three widows three, 200 years ago Thomas Jefferson was writing a letter, a woman named Maria Causeway and in a part of it says this, the art of life is the avoiding of pain. I would have to disagree with him on biblical grounds. Frankly, the art of life is not avoiding pain. The art of life is accepting and responding to pain. That's the art of the Christian life. It in getting to the point where we recognize embrace and we struggle we go backwards and forwards obtain manufacturers maturity does crisis a conditions character and it does difficulty develops. The truth is a difficulty and in the crises of life and pain and suffering create these crossroads in the path we choose to take will make all the difference in the world as to whether or not we will we will grow and deepen and sweeten or whether or not we will stagnate and weaken in our faith that if you've ever wondered where crossroad experiences described in Scripture where there is a decision to be made that will determine literally the destiny of a person's life. Ruth chapter 1 is that place its crisis. At the crossroads of life for three women and what a crisis it is now.
When we last left this family and Ruth chapter 1, they had become familiar sites at the local funeral home. They all knew Naomi by name first.
Naomi's husband died then one of her sons and that then we don't know how much later, her last living grown son passed away. No details, no description all of a sudden in just a matter of a few brief verses we have three widows grieving their incredible loss and in this world at this time.
In this culture. This was beyond grief infected not only is it not only threatened their their future happiness on earth, but it really literally threatens their ability to survive Naomi and her husband remember and her two sons had left Bethlehem, believing they are leaving trouble behind. It's all cream testers here on out, but now 10 years later we find them again. There's nothing in Moab for Naomi except three graves great sorrow, unbelievable grief and gnawing sense of fear that she can stay here and mourn and potentially start to death or leave and go back. Besides, word has reached her. The Bethlehem has food again Bethlehem, the house of bread has bread once again. And so, without any apparent hesitation. Let's pick it up at verse six were left off and find out what happens then.
She arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the Lord visited his people and giving them food so she departed from the place where she was in her to daughters-in-law with her and they went on their way to return to the land of Judah. Now in typical Oriental fashion. It was typical of this day for posts to accompany their departing guests some distance down the road bid them farewell possible that Naomi had moved in with one perhaps there was a family compound. She was living with her daughters-in-law and they are now accompanying her more than likely in her mind.
They will part ways. It seems to be the picture here. These three widows eventually end up in either the border separating of Moab and another region was separated by the Dead Sea. Or perhaps it was the edge of the Jordan River just north just above the Dead Sea were not were not told Bethlehem. We do know is about a three day's journey from up Moab and and Naomi would not have wanted them to walk very far until she said farewell, which is exactly what I believe she had in mind to do a notice notice verse eight Naomi said to her to daughters-in-law go.
May the Lord deal kindly with you as you dealt with dad and with me that you might think it's strange for Naomi to encourage these women to return not to their father's house. You notice she says go back to your mother's house. This doesn't mean that orca and Ruth have deceased father's.
This is actually referring to the mother's place. You can literally render the mother's chamber.
It was the mother's chamber. In this culture where marriages were arranged and planned.
In other words, she sang girls love your young you have your life in front of you go back to your mother's and make plans for another wedding. Let her arrange it for you go back to whatever you can make out of your future. Naomi continues look on further in verse eight. May the Lord granted you find rest. Each of the house of her husband and she kissed them and they lifted up their voices and wept. Get get a picture in your mind of this.
Whether you read the book of Ruth, 100 times or this is your first time here. They are out in the open without security without much hope at all in their minds they have very little future ahead. And here they are weeping. These women have their lives turned upside down with unfulfilled expectations and absolutely unexpected grief and sorrow rightly. II think there are a few more tender and heartbreaking scenes in the Bible. This one, this is one damsel in distress, but three and here they are now at a crossroads, literally and figuratively in the midst of their pain. We happen to be given a textbook lesson on three classic responses to pain and disillusionment and sorrow. Perhaps you identify with one of these widows. Maybe we can identify a little bit with all three let's first take a closer look at Naomi, you remember perhaps that her name means gracious one.
You are right that somewhere in the margin you could render it pleasant.
You might even translated suite.
The trouble is, she's becoming embittered over these 10 long years and I think the lines in her face would tell the story of three graves, and great great loss so she concludes, as we've seen already with what we read in this session that she is best left alone. It's best that you leave me alone and I want to make two observations from her own words. First, Naomi considers herself unworthy of love, if you look at the conversation she has with these girls for times she will tell them to go back and leave her alone. Notice her first reason she expects of the leave early to verse 10 lately said to her no, but we will surely return with you your people, but Naomi verse 11 said return my daughter's why should you go with me. Have I had sons in my womb, that they may be your husband's. In other words, since my sons are now gone. You're no longer bound with marriage. To me there isn't anything in myself worthy of you caring about following just an old woman now. I'm sure you don't want to bother with me some of the let you go overnight and have any awkward moment your neck and have to tell me you think it's best.
I'm just gonna let you go because surely there's no reason you would want to love me see you peel back the layers of self-pity and she's convinced herself that God no longer loves her and neither should orca and Ruth notice what he says in verse 12 return my daughter's go for I am too old to have a husband.
If I said I have hope. If I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons would you therefore wait until they're grown. Would you therefore, refrain from marrying know my daughters. It is harder for me than for you for the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me. In other words, God is against. He evidently doesn't love me either. Ladies and gentlemen, if you reach the point where you're convinced God doesn't love you. You're going to find it impossible to be loved by anybody and you're gonna find it difficult if not impossible, to give love back.
True, self-sacrificing, genuine love is impossible apart from the love of Christ receiving it from him, whether we feel worthy of it or not and then through us.
We serve as conduits of his love to to others. David wrote it this way was the Lord builds the house, you labor and what you labor in vain to build it on your own. Someone 27 one true love is always a three party transaction. In fact, the commitment that Ruth will show Naomi later will see will only be possible because Ruth has become committed to Naomi's true and living God. Naomi considers herself unworthy of love. Second observation is this which is much more serious. Naomi considers God unworthy of worship. Verse 14, and they lifted up their voices and wept again and orca kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then she said to hold your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her God's return after your sister-in-law. In other words, go back to your God's will probably be no worse to you than mine was. To me, in verse 13 she says that God's hand is against her. In verse 20. She says that God is bitterly with her. In verse 21 she says that God again is against her and has afflicted whether the world is Naomi doing demanding the two daughters-in-law go back to their pagan gods. Their chief God was chemo – and in the worship was child sacrifice. Why would a Jewish woman, a daughter of Abraham encouraged to pagan women to go back and worship, their false gods and the horror of their worship when author Warren wears me ask the same question and he suggested reason in this commentary that I thought was intriguing. He said that Naomi wanted to go back to Bethlehem and she really didn't want anybody to know that she and her husband had permitted their two sons to marry pagan Gentile.
In other words, I'd rather you not go back to me because I like the cover-up are in faithfulness to God, but two wrongs do not make a what rights she would only be adding to her guilt. In my opinion I don't think she's covering up unfaithfulness.
I think she simply counseling.
These two women based on unbelief. God really isn't worth following. I've been to the graveyard now.
Not once, not twice but three times and he does not clearly obvious to me that God does not care effective you fast-forward this story where she arrives back in Bethlehem. Look at verse 19. So they both went until he came to Bethlehem and when they had come to Bethel have all the city was stirred because of the and the women said is this Naomi.
In other words, all of Naomi's former friends and acquaintances may be distant relatives come up to her and and say Naomi is that you you she said in verse 20. Don't call me Naomi don't call me sweet, pleasant: call me bitter, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. In other words I used to be pleasant and sweet, but now I'm bitter and I want you to know God made me this way. So days earlier wanted to go back to your God's. You seen how my God treats me. Maybe your God will be better to you. This is a serious situation at this crossroad and in her life. Nowhere do you read of repentance for having abandoned God's covenant people in God's covenant land effect at this point she's more interested in food and fellowship with God. She is returning to the land which she is not returning to the Lord. Look again at verse 21, where she says I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty now. She's right in the way God has brought her back in his providence.
She's kicking and screaming all the way. But God hasn't deserted her even though she's basically deserted him and that's the way he is with his people. She has no idea that God is at work in her life.
Now more than ever. She has no idea God has plans for a new son-in-law and a grandson named oh bed and she has no idea that he will be the great grandfather of King David. But were all basically the same way we struggle with this as well when in pain we tend to magnify what we do not have and minimize what we do have and assume it will never change, but I want you to hear a little ray of hope buried in her words she says in verse 21 we went out all but came back empty now, wait a second.
They left in the middle of a famine member.
They had little to eat. They had seen the loss of their property value. No doubt apply any Midianites are around every corner. That's why they left that and headed for the green and fertile plains of Moab but now she's saying it was really full in the middle of a famine now meant we were in reality where we need to be and we had everything that really matter in Bethlehem. Now let's quickly go back and take a look at orca.
The second widow in this crossroad of pain and suffering.
No one Naomi first demanded the girls return to their mothers. You notice in verse 10 that both Ruth and orca lifted up their voices and began to weep. They basically said were going to return with you to your people.
That's what orca said as well as Rick got a return with you to your people. But then Naomi lays out for her and Ruth.
The reality, whether to lose if they do or think it's a message let me summarize what Naomi is certainly hinting at some of its more obvious than other things, but she simply giving his message to these two young women orbit gets it. Clearly, her life will be difficult as a widow for Moab. Her prospects of a husband will be less then nothing. She will be unwanted by the Jewish community will like you don't belong like they really like that they hated she will leave her nation with all of its comfortable customs and cultures and conditions that she's used. She will be forfeiting her rights as a citizen. She is given no prospects and no promises and orca lifts her voice and weeps the text says, and she kisses her mother in law and basically says farewell verse 14 she got the message and she's gonna cry as you kiss her mother-in-law and say, well, in light of that, maybe, will write or maybe I'll call J. Vernon McGee wrote in his little commentary that Ruth and orca demonstrate two kinds of members in the average church.
The professors and the possessors orca made a profession of faith, but Ruth possessed genuine faith.
This crossroad of life. The decision is made by orca which will determine her terminal destiny, watching it happen.
Many eyewitness to who believe Christ have to give him the whole story. You know he's really gonna get it going to interrupt their lives more than they want.
You guys gonna mess up my social standing in my reputation and my social connections more than I think I want to. I may have to give up an idol or to so no thanks. Orca calculated the cost. She decides to go back to darkness.
She was sad about it. She shed tears.
They were real tears, but at this crossroad of life. She chooses to go back to paganism. She chooses to go back to the darkness. She chooses to go back to the God's of her forefathers. She chooses to go back to. Perhaps this time a good man of Moabite stock and she disappears over the horizon in the Bible never mentions her again. Naomi says well Ruth what are you waiting for look a whole verse 15 behold your sister-in-law has gone back to her people. God's return after her go get as they say in North Carolina. What happens next, however, is nothing less than one of the most profound confessions of faith, you will find anywhere in Scripture. Let let's just read it. Let me review follow along.
Verse 16 but Ruth said do not urge me to leave you or turned back from following for where you go I will go where you live – I will touch your people will become my people and your God my God, where you die I will die there.
I will be buried. Thus, may the Lord do to me. And worse, if anything but death parts and when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her. She said no more to her that a basic sum it all out. Ruth is saying the Naomi no matter what the future holds no matter where the future Texas. Amen. And I'm to stay by your side. This is no blind decision.
I believe this is a rehearsed speech. She's thought it through. Ruth knows that Naomi has nothing to offer or accept poverty and hardship, she has absolutely nothing to gain by going with Naomi and she has everything to lose. Naomi tries to tell her to go back to your mother is an interesting thought Ruth's mother a Moabitess is evidently alive. Can you imagine as I try do that conversation really is. Are you out of your mind, what are you thinking I there would be trouble when you married that Israelite now listen, stay here in Moab. Stick to your family worship your gods and marry a nice Moabite man get over there. Here's your chance out, here's your way back. No human being has come to her aid. She lives and she chooses without a support system and she knows that the fruit of her decision may well be the emptiness of rejection and perhaps even death. She has committed herself to the life of an of an older widow rather than the search for a new husband. There is no more radical decision in all memories of Israel twice in her well rehearsed and thought out speech to Naomi. She refers to God with personal terminology God of Israel is the one she is now believing relating to and trusting for her future while in Toulon, France number of years ago Marsha and I were staying with a French pastor, Jean-Pierre and his wife Jocelyn, delightful couple John here couldn't speak English. Just a few words he knew about as much English as I knew French and say hello. I could say we that was about it. So after we said hello and we have several times she would interject and translate for him and one evening after dinner, we were talking and John peer was telling us about a young lady come to faith in Christ in the church and it was a wonderful story but it was story great suffering for this young woman. She faced a great deal of persecution because of her decision. She lost her friends and was nearly disowned by her family. Then John peer said something that Jocelyn was having a hard time finding an English counterpart to translate correctly and finally she sort of gave up and she spoke broken English two and she said my husband saying that in spite of everything, this young lady gripped God what a great thought. She gripped by faith, Lord, ladies and gentlemen, we have three widows with three different ways of handling pain of life which they could not avoid. So here they arrived in this strange land.
But one thing is certain. Ruth has a tight grip on her newfound true and living God. Wonder if you've ever seen. This lived out in your life. Perhaps you know people who respond to life in ways that ultimately are not helpful. Often people respond in ways that lead to further destruction. As Stephen just reminded us the proper response is to live life gripping God.
You've been listening to wisdom for the heart. The Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey Stevens working his way through the book of Ruth in this series and is calling this lesson three widows, three ways. One of the best ways for you to learn more about us and access all of our resources is to visit our website which is wisdom online.org. Once you arrive at that site, you'll be able to access the entire library of Stephen's 35 year Bible teaching ministry. We also post each day is broadcast. So if you ever miss one of these lessons on your local radio station. You can go to our website and keep caught up with our current teaching series. The archive of Stephen's teaching is available on that site free of charge and you can access it firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this time in the book of Ruth has been a blessing to you will continue this series.
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