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Ruth Goes to Bethlehem

INTRODUCTION: The story of Ruth shows us God’s grace even in the time of the judges when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. This chapter sets the scene for the glorious blessings God will bestow on Naomi and Ruth. A simple outline of the book would be as follows: Chapter 1 – Ruth Remaining; Chapter 2 – Ruth Reaping; Chapter 3 – Ruth Resting; Chapter 4 – Ruth Rewarded.

  1. TRAGEDY IN MOAB (Ruth 1:1-5)
    1. The Time (Ruth 1:1)
      1. When the judges ruled
        1. The Book of Judges ends on a negative note with every man doing that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). The last few chapters in the book add to the somber mood of defeat and decline.
        2. But with the book of Ruth, God shows that He is still working to bring about His will. Even in the darkness of the time and the tragedies in the life of Naomi, God prepares the Messianic line for the birth of David.
      2. During a time of famine
        1. In the Bible, famines test men.
        2. They most often fail the test.
        3. Even Abraham went down to Egypt in the time of famine and lied to Pharaoh (Genesis 12:10-13).
        4. Interesting Point:  Bethlehem means house of bread. However, during the time of the judges, it became a place of famine.
    2. The Move (Ruth 1:1-2)
      1. From Bethlehem to Moab (Ruth 1:1)
        1. The city of Bethlehem-judah plays an important part during the time of the judges.
          1. It was the home of Ibzan, one of the judges (Judges 12:8).
          2. It was the original home of the Levite who eventually became priest of the false cult of Dan (Judges 17:7-9).
          3. It was the home of the concubine who was abused, killed, cut into pieces, and sent to the tribes of Israel (Judges 19:1-2).
        2. Now, it is the home of Elimelech and Naomi and will become the birthplace of David.
      2. Elimelech, his wife and two sons (Ruth 1:1-2)
      3. They continue in Moab (Ruth 1:2).
    3. The Tragedy (Ruth 1:3-5)
      1. Naomis husband dies (Ruth 1:3).
      2. Her sons marry Moabite women (Ruth 1:4).
        1. Note
          1. The Israelites were not to marry the people of the land (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4) although the Moabites are not mentioned in these passages.
          2. The Moabites were not received into the congregation of Israel for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).
            1. Because they would not allow Israel to pass through the land
            2. Because they hired Balaam to curse Israel
        2. Orpah and Ruth
        3. They continue about ten years.
      3. Her sons both die (Ruth 1:5).
  2. NAOMI RETURNS TO JUDAH (Ruth 1:6-7)
    1. She Determines to Leave Moab (Ruth 1:6).
      1. She hears that the famine is over.
      2. Her daughters-in-law arise to go with her.
    2. They Travel on the Way to Judah (Ruth 1:7).
    1. She Gives Them Leave to Return Home (Ruth 1:8-10).
      1. She tells them to go to their mothers house (Ruth 1:8).
      2. She blesses them for their kindness (Ruth 1:8).
      3. She desires that they might find husbands notice the word rest (Ruth 1:9; Ruth 3:1).
      4. She kisses them and they weep (Ruth 1:9).
      5. They both claim allegiance to her (Ruth 1:10).
    2. She Argues for Their Departure (Ruth 1:11-13).
      1. She has no sons for them to marry (Ruth 1:11).
      2. She is too old to have a husband (Ruth 1:12).
      3. Any sons would take too long to grow up (Ruth 1:13).
      4. The hand of the Lord is against her (Ruth 1:13).
    1. They Weep Again (Ruth 1:14).
      1. Orpah leaves.
      2. Ruth cleaves.
    2. Naomi Encourages Ruth to Leave Also (Ruth 1:15).
    3. Ruth Declares Her Faithfulness to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17).
      1. To go where she goes (Ruth 1:16)
      2. To lodge where she lodges (Ruth 1:16)
      3. To make her people her own (Ruth 1:16)
      4. To trust in her God (Ruth 1:16); it seems that Ruth has more faith in Naomis God than Naomi has (see Ezekiel 3:4-6).
      5. To die where she dies (Ruth 1:17)
    4. Naomi Accepts the Presence of Ruth (Ruth 1:18).
    1. They Arrive in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19).
      1. The city is moved.
      2. The people hardly believe it is Naomi.
    2. Naomi Expresses her Grief (Ruth 1:20-21).
      1. She wants to be called Mara [bitter see Exodus 15:23] (Ruth 1:20).
        1. She is no longer Naomi [pleasant].
        2. God has dealt bitterly with her.
      2. She testifies of her sorrow (Ruth 1:21).
        1. She left full and returns empty.
        2. God Himself has testified against her.
    3. They Settle in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:22).
      1. Naomi and Ruth come from Moab.
      2. The time is the beginning of barley harvest. NOTE: This gives hope.  Naomi has suffered much and feels that the Lord Himself has turned against her. But the time of harvest is coming. Naomi will reap in joy.

CONCLUSION: When all goes wrong and we think God has turned against us, we are wrong. He may be just setting things up for a great time of blessing.