Enjoy the following excerpt from Kathleen’s Ruth Bible Study.
“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine In the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.” Ruth 1:1
This true story begins with a young Jewish family living in Israel during the Old Testament time of the Judges.
This family had so much going for them. They had a hometown, Bethlehem, where they had family and roots, tradition, and they knew the Words of God, passed down to them from generations of Jewish families. They had land, a place to live, a way to make a living.
Unfortunately they had to leave their home and move to a nearby country, Moab, when they ran short of food because of a famine. Then the father of the family died. The 2 sons grew up with their widowed mom in Moab, got married, and then they both died, too. Three widows were left, staring wordlessly at each other across the kitchen table.
Ruth was one of those three widows. She was young, had no children of her own, and was a Moabite. Her future was tied up with what was left of this once thriving Jewish family. .
Naomi, the mother of the family, nearly paralyzed with grief, knew there was no future left for any of them. She begged her two daughters-in-law to go back to their Moabite families, because she was going to make the dangerous trek back home to Bethlehem, resigned to be a pauper – a starving widow the rest of her life. .
Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, loved Naomi, but she felt she had no choice but to go back to her father’s house in Moab so that she would have a future. There possibly would be a Moabite idol-worshiping man who would want her to be his “used” wife, possibly a second or third wife…but still…children someday, and a future!
But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
At this point in the story, I can’t help wondering…
Can we actually come to the conclusion that Ruth, a woman who grew up in a culture of idol-worshipers, married into a Jewish family who lived through the agony of the father of the family dying, but somehow making it through that, were thrown into the added pain and anguish of both sons dying also, and ended up staring across the kitchen table at a grief-stricken mother-in-law, and a grief-stricken sister-in-law, feeling like her own insides had just been ripped out by the death of her husband….can we really conclude that going through all of that actually prompted Ruth to trust in the God of Israel…who, if He was as powerful as this family said He was, could have protected this sweet family from all this grief? Do we actually think Ruth put her trust in this God after that?
Yes, we can. That’s exactly what happened. That is Ruth’s story.
Ruth didn’t see wonderful, sweet and problem-free living. No, she didn’t see that at all. But what she did see, what she did live through with this small family, was Jewish people trusting in their God no matter what happened; Jewish people serving their God no matter how horrible their life looked compared to the idol-worshiping lives around them; Jewish people knowing that their God had a plan for the salvation of not just the Jews, but of the whole world, and being willing to trust Him forever.
That’s what she saw, in life’s worst moments, and that convinced her of the reality of the One, True, God. And she believed in Him – not to keep her life from trouble – but to bow before Him, thanking Him for loving her. She put the rest of her life in His hands.
What happened to Ruth? She and Naomi walked back home to Bethlehem. They were poor and had to beg for food. They just happened upon the field of a rich man who had known Naomi years ago. He reached out with kindness to these two women, and in the process he fell in love with Ruth, and Ruth fell in love with him. They married, and their union produced a little boy named Obed who was the delight of Naomi, and the future grandfather of King David of Israel…and the future great, great, great,….etc., grandfather of Jesus Christ!
I know that’s an over-the-top happy ending, and none of us expects so much for ourselves, but that’s not the point. The point is, when I read Ruth’s story I am encouraged and strengthened and my faith grows. Why? Because it is really Jesus’ story.
All of us has a story. I have a story of believing in Jesus, and I know there’s lots more to add, more faith-filled years to come. In my own family, I have two sisters and a brother, each of whose story of meeting Jesus, of nearly unbearable heartache and faith-growth have been so different than mine. But our stories are still the same – because they are Jesus’ story.
Ruth has a story, Naomi has a story, I have a story, you have a story.
And when we share our stories we touch lives. Because they are not primarily our stories, they are Jesus’ stories.
So, tell your stories. Look for opportunities to tell them. Plan to tell them. Ask to tell them. Irritate people by telling them over and over and over. Speak of your love for Jesus, and how you came to believe in Him. Sing it. Write it. Post it. Wear yourself out telling your story.
Want to get started? Do this:
- Write out your story.
- The next time you are talking with someone…anyone…just take a deep breath and say: “Have I ever told you my story? Can I tell you?” And then jump in.
In the midst of a time when many people need something to live for and SomeOne they can trust, give your friend/sister/neighbor/co-worker a chance to hear about Jesus by telling them your story.
Study all four chapters of Ruth, or gather a group of friends and discuss together.