© 2004 by Jerry L. Croasmun

READ -- Ruth 1:1-22

"So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning."
-- Ruth 1:22 (NIV)

We are introduced to Naomi in the first chapter of the book of Ruth. Naomi, an Israelite, was married to a man named Elimelech. They lived in Bethlehem in the land of Judah during the time when the judges ruled Israel. In Judges 21:25 we read, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." There was a famine in the land so Elimelech decided to take his family from Bethlehem and sojourned or traveled to the other side of the Jordan River to the land of Moab.

In Genesis 19:36-38 we read, "So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today." The Moabite people did not serve the God of Israel and in I Kings 11:7-8 we read, "On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods."

Naomi, an Israelite widow woman, lived in the foreign land of Moab for nearly ten years. Her husband Elimelech died some time prior, but now Naomi is faced with dealing with the death of her two sons; Mahlon and Chilion. It is during this time of grieving that we are introduced to Naomi. She is faced with the nagging question, "What am I going to do now?" She, like many who have lost a spouse or close loved one, is faced with making what could be major life changing decisions. She is blessed with two daughters-in-law who love her. However, she is grieved for there is not a man to care for them. Naomi feels the true God of Israel is against her (see verse 13) and in verse 21 she states, "The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and as she starts the journey with her two daughters-in-law, she stops and encourages both Orpah and Ruth to return to the land of Moab. Naomi kisses her daughters-in-law and they all cry tears of sorrow. This time of separation is very emotional for they have been a family for nearly a decade. Orpah is finally convinced to return to her mother's house; however, Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi and accompany her on the sojourn back to Bethlehem.

The first chapter of Ruth ends in verse 22 where we read, "So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning." God's love and hand of protection is evident upon the lives of Naomi and Ruth as they sojourned from the foreign land of Moab back home to Bethlehem in the land of Judah.

We, like Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, must each make our own decision as to who we will follow. The choice is ours. Will we choose to follow the true God of Israel or are we clinging to the gods of our pasts, traditions, and ancestors? Do we often find ourselves caught up in serving idols and the materialistic gods of this world?

At times we may become bitter, as Naomi, and feel like a part of us has also died. Have you experienced the death of a loved one or felt the blows inflicted by living in this evil foreign land? Are you one who has been called by God, but has chosen to move away? Can you relate to Naomi? If so, my prayer is that you will find the strength to begin the journey home where the love of the Father awaits you.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."--Romans 8:35; 8:37-39.


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