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In chapter 1 of the Book of Ruth, we read that Naomi and her family go to the land of Moab, intending to be there for a short stay to escape from the famine in their hometown of Bethlehem. However, it turns out that this family of four remains in Moab, a land of paganism and idolatry, for a good ten years. So often, we think that it is alright to walk out of the will of God and the House of God for a brief moment, perhaps to enjoy some personal indulgence or to pursue our material aspiration. We think that we will have it all under control and we will be right back into the ways of God soon. Such thinking is underestimating the consequences of our ungodly decision-making and belittling the schemes of the devil to keep us away from God.
Through the decade in Moab, Naomi experiences a famine of a different kind. At the end of the ten years, her husband has died, her two sons married Moabite women and they later died also. Naomi is now a widow who has lost both her sons. She would not even have imagined a loss of such magnitude when her family in Bethlehem decided on what was supposed to be only a sojourn, a brief stay, in Moab.
With her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, Naomi now decides to return to her homeland, to the people of God in Bethlehem, because she hears that God has blessed His people by giving them good crops. On their way there, Naomi decides that she does not want her two daughters-in-law to return with her.
We read in Ruth 1:11-13 NCV what Naomi says to her daughters-in-law –
11 …“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!”
These words from Naomi show me that the only hope she seems to have in Bethlehem is the crops, the food that it offers her. She has lost all hope in the Giver of the crops. This is why she goes on to tell her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, how hopeless their life is going to be in Bethlehem. She advises them to return to their own homes in Moab, implying that their hope and future are found in Moab, not in Bethlehem. She even declares to them that she is in such a sad state right now because the Lord has been against her.
Let us pause for a moment and consider what Naomi has just done. Here she is with two people who do not know God. Not only does she not share with them who God is, she tells them God is to be blamed for her suffering. In stating all the seemingly logical reasons why it is foolish and pointless for them to go to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, it is like telling Orpah and Ruth not to go to the House of God, but go back to their idol worship. It is almost like Naomi is inviting them back to the dark pits of hell!
While Ruth insists on still following Naomi to Bethlehem, the other daughter-in-law, Orpah, “has gone back to her people and to her gods” (Ruth 1:15). This non-believer has just been persuaded by a Christian to return to her gods and idols! How sad and ironical is that!
Psalm 107:1 & 2 NLT
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.
2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you from your enemies.
This is what the redeemed of the Lord ought to be saying – that we have been saved and delivered by our Lord. We are to be speaking out God’s goodness and faithful love to those around us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, after we have received God’s redemption, blessings and mercies, let us remember what is expected of us from our Lord – “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”. I pray all of us make it our goal and priority every day to find a way – be it making a phone call, meeting someone for coffee or catching lunch with a colleague – to share what God has done for us in His goodness and grace.
Yes, let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
Join me in this prayer.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You for the everlasting and abundant life You have given me in Jesus. Forgive me for having been quiet so many times about Who You are in my life and all the things You have done for me. Even as I repent before You this day, help me, Lord, to be intentional each day to share with someone Your goodness and Your Good News of salvation. Use me, Lord, to draw many lives to You and to Your House. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”