Ruth 1: Lessons from the Book and Chapter 1

A story of redemption1

Introduction and the seven themes to the book of Ruth. The book of Judges concludes on a low point in Jewish history. God delivered the Jews from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. He also defeated the armies of Canaan to give them a home in the Promised Land. The Jews showed their gratitude by embracing the idols of Canaan and rebelling against God. Out of mercy and grace, God sent the Jews 12 deliverers to save them from their self-inflicted oppression and bondage. Yet, each time God freed them, they returned to their idolatry and rebellion. Having rejected God’s standard of morality, each person did what they felt was right in their own eyes (Jdgs. 17:6; 21:25). The book concludes with a town demanding to sodomize a traveling Levite. After the Levite’s concubine died, he incited a civil war that nearly wiped out the tribe of Benjamin. With the leaders and priests having abandoned God, He turned to a lowly Moabite woman as His means for delivering the Jews. This unlikely heroine would become the grandmother of King David. She would also give birth to the lineage leading to Jesus. From the story of Ruth, God reveals seven important truths that are repeated throughout the Bible.

1. The universal sin of mankind. Like the book of Judges, the book of Ruth stresses the universal nature of sin. None are righteous before God (Ecc. 7:20; Ro. 3:23).

2. The universal judgment of mankind. Because of its refusal to repent, the nation of Israel was under God’s judgment. In the book of Judges, He used foreign and domestic adversaries to judge the Jews. In the book of Ruth, He used a drought. He also judged those who violated His Law. Everyone was under His judgment and in need of salvation (Dt. 28:15; Ro. 6:23).

3. The sovereignty of God. When all seemed lost, God showed His sovereignty by providing a means to deliver the Jews. He used the misguided steps of a Jewish man named Elimelech, who fled with his family from Israel, to bring a Moabite deliverer back to Israel to save the Jews: “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way.” (Ps. 37:23). “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9).

4. God’s love for those in need. Ruth sacrificed her own needs to provide for the needs of her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. She in turn met a Jewish man named Boaz who provided for her and Naomi. He then married her to help keep Naomi’s property in her family. Like Jesus, the heroes of the story sacrificed their own needs out of love for others in need.

5. The need for a kinsman redeemer. Under Jewish law, if a man died without any children, the next of kin was obligated to marry the widow or buy the family property to redeem it (Dt. 25:5-10; Lev. 25:25). The nearest kinsman redeemer was called a Goel. Boaz was the Goel for Ruth and Naomi. Likewise, Jesus was the Goel for mankind. He was born as a human to be our kinsman (Jo. 1:14; Phil. 2:7). He then died to pay our redemption price (Ro. 8:3; Mk. 10:45).

6. Salvation through faith. Ruth did not earn the right to become the means to help deliver the Jews. Instead, she was saved by her public profession of her faith in Yahweh.

7. Jesus’ universal offer of salvation. God included three women from pagan nations in Jesus’ genealogy. These included Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. God included these three non-Jewish women to show Jesus’ universal offer of salvation to both Jews and gentiles. He so loves the entire world so that all who believe in Him in faith can be saved (Jo. 3:16; Acts 4:12).

Ruth 1: Lessons on Mankind’s Universal Sin and Its Need for Redemption

Introduction to Chapter 1. The first chapter sets the need for redemption by first exposing the sins of all the Jews in this story. Israel sinned. Elimelech sinned by taking his family out of the Promised Land. His sons sinned by marrying pagan women. Naomi sinned by blaming God for the self-imposed tragedies on her people. She did not know that God planned to use her pagan daughter-in-law to be the instrument of her provision and the line for the Messiah. From this chapter, God reveals seven truths regarding mankind’s universal sin and its need for redemption.

First, the book begins with a famine caused by the Jews’ sins. From this, He reveals that an unrepentant nation will live outside of His hedge of protection. Second, in response to the famine, a Jewish man named Elimelech abandoned the Promised Land for Moab where he died. From this, God reveals that living without faith will expose you to the Devil’s attacks. Third, following Elimelech’s death, his two sons Mahlon and Chilion’s married two Moabite women, something God prohibited. They died ten years later without any children. From this, He reveals that living in rebellion against God’s Word will also expose you to the Devil’s attacks. Fourth, after losing her husband and boys, Naomi decided to return to the Promised Land. From this, God reveals that He will sometimes be forced to remove the things in your life that keep you from Him in order to allow you to hear His calls to come back to Him. Fifth, Naomi’s daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth each had to decide between staying in Moab or returning with Naomi to the Promised Land. From this, He reveals that each person is given the choice between choosing Him or the world. Sixth, after Orpah decided to return to Moab, Ruth made a public confession of her faith in Yahweh and elected to go to the Promised Land. From this, He reveals that any believer in Jesus should also publicly confess his or her faith before others. Finally, this chapter concludes with Naomi’s bitterness toward God for her loss. From this, He reveals that we are not to question Him when we experience times of sorrow. Instead, He wants you to turn to Jesus when you encounter loss. He offers the peace that surpasses all understanding.

1. An Unrepentant Nation Lives Outside of God’s Hedge of Protection. Ruth 1:1(a).

  • The famine caused by the Jews’ sins. The book of Ruth begins with God’s judgment upon Israel for its idolatry and rebellion during the time of the judges: “1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.” (Ruth 1:1(a)). God warned the Jews never to make any agreements with either the Canaanites or their gods (Ex. 23:32). He warned that, if the Jews did so, the Canaanite religious practices, like temple prostitution, would become a “snare” to them (Ex. 34:12; Nu. 33:55; Dt. 7:16; 20:18). Thus, through Moses, He repeatedly commanded the Jews to smash the Canaanite altars and destroy their adult male population (Ex. 34:13; Dt. 7:2; 12:3; 13:8; 19:13; 25:12; 33:27). Joshua also repeated these warnings before his death (Josh. 23:13). But despite these clear and repeated warnings: “They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them,” (Ps. 106:34). The generation of Jews who first entered the Promised Land failed to follow God’s instructions to drive out the Canaanites. They also failed to teach their children God’s Law (Jdgs. 2:6-10). As a result, Satan was able to deceive the first generation of Jews born in the Promised Land with the temple prostitution, idolatry, and other abhorrent religious practices (Jdgs. 2:11-12). The Jews’ rebellion against God caused Him to lifted His hedge of protection over Israel. Living without God, the nation suffered (Jdgs. 2:13-15; 3:7; 10:6). Out of mercy and grace, He then sent them 12 deliverers to free them from their suffering. Yet, because the Jews’ hearts were wicked, they returned to idolatry each time a deliverer freed them from a foreign or domestic adversary (Jdgs. 2:16-19; Neh. 9:27; Acts 13:30). To create a genuine desire for change, God then allowed the Jews to suffer in their self-imposed bondage (Jdgs. 2:20-22). In addition to foreign and domestic oppressors, drought is one of the tools that He used to bring a nation to repentance (Dt. 28:15-68).

  • God can also use droughts to discipline wayward nations today. John Donne (1572-1631) once said “No man is an island.”2 This is also true in the context of sin. The Church cannot ignore the sins of society and expect to escape God’s judgment on the rest of society. The vast majority of the curses in the Bible are directed at the nation and not at the individual. This includes Christian nations: “and if [judgment] begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17(b)). If a nation as a whole is righteous, He can cause rain to fall on both the righteous and unrighteous within it. “[F]or He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45(b)). Conversely, if a nation as a whole is unrighteous, He can cause drought to fall upon both the unrighteous and righteous members within in: “23 The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (Dt. 28:23-24; Lev. 26:18-20). “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no spring rain . . .” (Jer. 3:3(a)). “Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.” (Hag. 1:10-11; 2 Kin. 8:1). Thus, to keep the land free from drought, the Church must become salt in the wound of sin and a light for sinners (Matt. 5:13-14). If the Church can lead the nation to repentance, it can heal that land from the curse of a drought: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). Are you joining others to pray and fast for the nation to repent and turn to Jesus?

2. Living Without Faith Exposes You to the Devil’s Attacks. Ruth 1:1(b)-3.

  • Elimelech’s abandonment of the Promised Land for Moab. Instead of trusting God and staying in the Promised Land during the drought, Elimelech fled with his family to the land of Moab (southern Jordan): “And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.” (Ruth 1: 1(b)-3). Normally, there is nothing wrong with someone who immigrates for economic reasons. Indeed, God commanded the Jews to be kind to immigrants because they were once immigrants: “You shall not oppress a stranger nor torment him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 22:21). “So show your love for the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Dt. 10:19). But, in the unique context of early Jewish history, living in exile in a foreign pagan country was a curse that God imposed upon the disobedient (Dt. 28:64; 4:27-28; 29:28; 32:26; Lev. 26:33(a); Jer. 5:19; 17:4; Neh. 1:8; Ezek. 12:3; 22:15). Elimelech’s voluntarily exile brought this curse upon himself, and he died as a result. He symbolized those who choose the world over God in times of trial. Ironically, his name meant “My God is king.” Bethlehem, his home town, means “house of bread.” He was blessed when he submitted to God with His provision. But, when drought struck, he failed to pray for God’s guidance. Instead, he reasoned that he was safer on his own in the world than in God’s house of bread. His tragic decision lead to his death. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). He failed to realize that it is always better to be in God’s court than in the world (Ps. 84:10). The Moabites symbolized the flesh and the world. They were the incestuous descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot and his eldest daughter (Gen. 19:36-37). Like the world today, the Moabites were also under God’s judgment. He previously showed mercy and grace to the Moabites by prohibiting the Jews from encroaching upon their territory in Jordan, which Abraham gave to Lot’s descendants (Dt. 2:8-9; Gen. 13:8-18). But the Moabite women helped to seduce the Jews (Nu. 22-24). This put them under God’s judgment (Nu. 25:1-9; Dt. 23:3-6). The Moabites then invaded Israel. The Moabite King Eglon enslaved the Jews for 18 years (Jdgs. 3:12-14). Out of mercy and grace, God raised up a deliverer named Ehud to judge King Eglon (Jdgs. 3:15-26). God not only judged the Moabite king, He also judged all of Moab for its wickedness (Jer. 48:46). Ehud inspired the Jews to rise up and defeat the Moabites (Jdgs. 3:27-30). Thus, Elimelech died because he embraced what God had cursed over His Kingdom.

Elimelech left the Promised Land for Moab3

  • The world offers struggle, while Jesus offers lasting provision. Like Elimelech, believers live in a cursed world (Gen. 3:17). Thus, Christ warns that you will experience tribulation in the world (Jo. 16:33). Yet, He promises to provide for you if you submit to Him in faith, unlike Elimelech who chose to flee from His house of bread (Matt. 6:25-34). Do you seek His provision in times of struggle? Or, do you turn to the world?

3. Living in Rebellion Also Exposes You to the Devil’s Attacks. Ruth 1:4-5.

  • Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite women. Elimelech’s family did not learn from his mistakes. Instead of returning to the Promised Land, his children put permanent roots in Moab. They married two pagan women from Moab. They lived for 10 years until they died there: “They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.” (Ruth 1:4-5). Chilion married Orpah, and Mahlon married Ruth (Ruth 4:10). Mahlon and Chilion’s names symbolized the consequences of their foolish decisions. The name Mahlon means “sickness.” The name Chilion means “wasting away.” Their names symbolized their curse as they followed in the footsteps of their father’s rebellion. Moses warned that it was forbidden for the Jews to marry the children of the pagan nations that surrounded them: “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.” (Dt. 7:3-4). Just before his death, Joshua also repeated this warning: “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.” (Josh. 23:12-13). The Jews, however, did not heed these warnings: “But they mingled with the nations and learned their practices,” (Ps. 106:35). This was one of the reasons why God lifted His hedge of protection and allowed for judgment to fall on Israel: “5 The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; 6 and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, . . .” (Jdgs. 3:5-8). Because these marriages violated God’s Law, He did not bless them with children. Their infertility was a sign of His judgment (Dt. 28:18). Mahlon and Chilion’s deaths after ten years symbolized their judgment under the Law. Here, the number ten symbolized their judgment under the Ten Commandments.

  • Submit to God and He will be your shield against the enemy. In order to enjoy God’s protection from the attacks of the evil one, you must submit to Him: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). The Ten Commandments were never meant to be a burden to you. They are instead God’s shield and His shelter from the evil one. When you live a life without coveting and idolatry, you spare yourself from addiction. Likewise, when you avoid adultery, you protect your marriage. As another example, when you observe a voluntary Sabbath, He will give you rest. Jesus was the “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Ex. 3:14; Jo. 8:58). In addition to being your source of protection, your decision to observe the Ten Commandments out of devotion and not obligation is a symbol of your love for Him: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (Jo. 14:21; 15:10). Are you submitting to Jesus to receive His blessings and protection?

  • Don’t be joined with the world. Although Ruth would later become a believer, Mahlon and Chilion were called upon to stay holy and separated from non-believers (Lev. 11:44; 19:2). Believers are also called upon to be holy and separated from the world (1 Pet. 1:16). Like the Jews, Christians are also called upon not to marry non-believers: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). This can also include hanging out with the wrong people. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Cor. 15:33). Have you stayed separated from unholy people?

4. God Will Remove the Things that Keep You From Him to Bring You Back. Ruth 1:6-7.

  • Naomi’s decision to return to the Promised Land following her tragedies. Having been stripped of the things that kept her attached to the world, Naomi finally responded to God’s calling to return to the Promised Land: “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 had visited His people in giving them food. So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.” (Ruth 1:6-7). Naomi had to hit rock bottom before she would listen to God’s calling in her life. If God had not removed His hedge of protection over her family, they would have continued to live with the Moabites. Ruth also never would have returned to Israel and received a blessing to be part of the line of descendants who gave birth to Jesus. Thus, you must always trust in God, even when all seems lost.

Naomi informs her daughters of her decision to return to the Promised Land4

  • Trust God in your suffering and tribulations. Like Naomi, God will sometimes be forced to lift His hedge of protection when you refuse to submit to His calling. When this happens, repent, return to Him, and praise Him. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Ja. 1:2-3). “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10). Like Naomi, do you return back to God when He removes the things in your life that have kept you from Him?

  • Trust Jesus to provide for you. Naomi left after hearing that “the Lord had visited His people in giving them food.” (Ruth 1:6). Jesus has also promised to provide for all your needs when you return to Him: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”’ (Jo. 6:35). “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19). “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Ps. 23:1). Do you trust Jesus to provide for you?

5. Jesus Gives Every Person the Free Choice to Choose Him or the World. Ruth 1:8-13.

  • The choice given to Orpah and Ruth between the world and the Promised Land. When Naomi returned to the Promised Land, Orpah and Ruth each had a choice. They could continue to live in the world. Or, they could seek to be part of God’s family in the Promised Land: “And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, ‘No, but we will surely return with you to your people.’ 11 But Naomi said, ‘Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! 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, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.” (Ruth 1:8-13). Orpah believed that her own needs took greater priority than providing for her widowed mother-in-law, which was required for the Jews (Is. 1:17; Dt. 25:5-10). By contrast, Ruth put Naomi’s needs before her own. Like Jesus, her love caused her to surrender her own needs for the needs of others.

  • Jesus also gives every person a choice between Him and the world. Like Orpah and Ruth, each person has a choice to follow God. This is the choice that Joshua gave the people: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15). Elijah gave the same choice to the people (1 Kgs. 18:21). Jesus also offers salvation to all who believe in Him (Jo. 3:16). For believers who seek fellowship in addition to salvation, He also offers fellowship to any believer who will respond to the calling in their lives (Rev. 3:20). If you have already accepted Jesus as Savior, have you also accepted His offer of fellowship?

  • A vow for Jesus should not be taken lightly. Every part of the story has symbolism. Naomi tested each of her daughters-in-law before inviting them into the Promised Land. Jesus wants everyone to be saved. But He also does not want people to make a confession of faith in Him if they are not ready to leave the world behind: “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Lk. 9:62). He wants you to count the cost before you follow Him: “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Lk. 14:28). Are you fully committed to Jesus? Or, are you still longing for the world you left behind?

6. Jesus Will Accept into the Promised Land All Who Declare Faith in Him. Ruth 1:14-18.

  • Ruth’s declaration of faith in Yahweh. After being tested by Orpah’s decision to return to Moab, Ruth declared her faith in Yahweh: “14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Then she said, ‘Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ 16 But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’ 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.” (Ruth 1:14-18). Ruth’s public declaration of her faith in Yahweh was like Rahab’s declaration (Josh. 2:12-14). God saved both through their faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8).

Pieter Lastman (1583-1633) “Ruth Declares her Loyalty to Naomi” (painting 1614)5

Ruth loved Naomi and promised to provide for her (1907)6

Jesus will also never leave you nor forsake you7

  • God also wants you to confess your faith. Like Ruth and Rahab, God also wants you to confess your faith to others: “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” (Dt. 30:14). Paul later quoted this verse so that believers would not only observe the Word, but to profess the author of the Word as the source of their salvation: “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ -- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Ro. 10:8-9). If you confess Jesus to be Lord and Savior before others, He in turn will confess you in heaven: “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;” (Lk. 12:8; Matt. 10:32; Rev. 3:5). Are you publicly confessing your faith to others?

  • Be a Ruth to those in need. Ruth was willing to sacrifice her life to provide for her widowed mother-in-law. Like Ruth, you are called upon to submit your own needs to those who are in need around you. “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Is. 1:17). “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jam. 1:27). Are you providing for those in need?

7. Jesus Offers Rest and Comfort From Your Struggles and Sadness. Ruth 1:19-22.

  • Naomi’s lack of faith and bitterness toward Yahweh. Although Naomi’s family had chosen to leave the Promised Land, she blamed God for her family’s losses while living outside of His protection: “19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ 20 She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?’ 22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” (Ruth 1:19-22). Naomi wanted to be called “Mara,” which meant “bitter.” She was bitter at God because she failed to understand that her family sowed the seeds of their own misery (Hos. 8:7). She also failed to submit to God’s sovereignty. He had the right to lift His hedge of protection and draw Naomi back to the Promised Land with Ruth as part of His greater plan. Indeed, in His perfect timing, He brought them back to Bethlehem, His house of bread, at the time of the barley harvest. She could never have known that God would use her circumstances to bring a woman who would give birth to the line leading to both David and Jesus. The lesson is that believers should never question God: “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker -- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Is. 45:9). “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” (Ro. 9:20-21). ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). When everything in your life appears to be going wrong or when there is tragedy, do you trust that God is in control?

  • Find joy and peace in the midst of your tribulation in Jesus. When you encounter trials, you can find peace in Jesus: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jo. 16:33). “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jo. 14:27; Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). When you experience loss, do you look for Jesus’ peace?

Turn to your redeemer Jesus for peace in the midst of a trial8

  • All are in need of redemption. In this account, every person sinned. It was Israel’s sins that brought about the plague. The sins of Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all brought about their deaths. Orpah and Ruth would have sinned growing up in Moab and worshiping their god Chemosh (Jer. 48:46). The message is that all have sinned, and all are in need of God’s redemption (Ecc. 7:20; 1 Ki. 8:46; Rom. 3:23). He promises to forgive any sin you confess to Him (1 Jo. 1:9). Have you confessed all your sins to be cleansed through Jesus? Jesus also commands you to spread the Good News to others (Matt. 28:16-20). Are you encouraging others to find their salvation through Jesus?