Today is the final part of our focus on relationships. As we look at the love covenant we’re going to take our ques from the book of Ruth and one of the greatest love stories in the bible and learn:
Moabites Aren’t Welcome
We need to understand that Naomi wasn’t returning back to Bethlehem because of her love for home. The main reason why she is returning is because she is hungry.
Same was true with the prodigal son.
The same is true for all of us.
We didn’t come to God because we loved God, we came to Him to meet a personal need. It’s out of our desperation that we turn to God for answers.
Ruth 1:6-10 NKJV
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out 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. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
This word, “Surely” is a very strong word. It’s a word used in oaths. These two daughter-in-laws aren’t just talking they are committed. They are willing to leave their own home town, their own mothers to follow their mother-in-law.
But these girls don’t understand that because they are not Jews, they are Moabites, they are not going to be welcomed in Bethlehem. So Naomi starts to try to rationalize with them to convince them to stay back even quoting the law of Moses by explaining there are only curses there for them.
1.) The Grieving Widow
Naomi is overcome with her sense of loss. Lost her husband, sons, and property.
Like many who have lost things, Naomi has become bitter; bitter at life and bitter at God. Look at the words she says….”the almighty has afflicted me.”
Ruth 1:21 NKJV
21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
Naomi is saying, “it’s God’s fault” that all this has happened to me. The truth of the matter is that it is not God’s doing, it’s Naomi’s doing.
A true sign of maturity is when we can own up to our own doing. We call it taking responsibility. I’m not criticizing her, I’m simply showing how she did what we all do– because faced with mammoth problems, it’s hard to not fall into a cycle of depression.
Complaining>>> If only….if only… never solves problems and never accomplishes anything.
The solution is to get ups and start moving. Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you have to stay there. We see Naomi breaks the cycle and starts moving in the right direction.
2.) The Leaving Widow
Orpah is one of the Naomi’s daughter-in-laws. The name, Orpah, has an interesting meaning. The name mean “the back of the neck.”
This is most interesting as we see this is exactly what she did with God. She walked away. She could have been part of the story, but instead we read nothing more of her. Reminds us of the encounter Jesus had with a young man with wealth. Given a choice, they turned away.
What we do know about Orpah in this story: She showed great emotion. It says of her in Ruth 1:15
Ruth 1:14 NKJV
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Listen, emotion is good– but in this case it’s a kiss of goodbye. Often the same happens in churches; lots of emotions but no real commitment. It’s not enough to show great emotion for God.
It requires more than kisses and tears, it requires commitment to keep covenant.
3.) The Cleaving Widow
To embrace, to hold on and refuse to let go. Ruth refused to follow the example of Orpha and refuses to listen to the discouragement from Naomi. She says it this way…
Ruth 1:16 NKJV
16 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.
The name Ruth means “beauty.” Truly she is showing what’s on her inside by making this statement. Where you go, I’ll go. But she continues to say “where you die, let me be buried with you.” This is huge in their culture. She has thought it through and makes these powerful words based on commitment.
Orpha’s words are based on emotion.
Ruth’s words are based on commitment.
Without commitment the Christian life is impossible. Too many Christians build their lives on emotion and it’s like watching a roller go up and down……all it does is make you sick.
Our lives should be solid. They can be through commitment.
John the baptist talked about emotional “roller coaster” living when he said make way for Jesus by doing away with the “up and down” tracks…
Luke 3:5 NKJV
5 Every valley shall be filledAnd every mountain and hill brought low;The crooked places shall be made straightAnd the rough ways smooth;
Our Christian life will never be what is meant to be until it’s built on commitment.
Are you determined in your relationship with God?
It says in Ruth 1:18
Ruth 1:18 NKJV
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.