“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But 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. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” (Ruth 1:6–22, ESV)
Let’s begin by considering three important questions.
- How do the circumstances of your life impact your theology?
- What has the greatest impact on what you believe about God?
- Is your opinion of God formed by the time in which you live or is it formed through God’s self revelation of Himself in the pages of Scripture?
Those three questions are answered in the life of Naomi. Last week I pointed out that the events of the book of Ruth took place during the times of the judges. The time of the judges in the words of Scripture was a time in which everyone did that which was right in their own eyes. I don’t think that it is unfair to compare the days of the judges to the culture we find ourselves living in today. And even if that is just a little bit true then we must make sure that we don’t fall into the trap that Naomi fell into. She let the times in which she lived and the circumstances of her life shape her perception of God rather than relying upon the revealed record of God to provide her with an accurate understanding of God and how he works in our lives.
The Book of Ruth helps us to understand that despite the downward spiral of our culture and the feeling of hopelessness created by our culture’s collapse God is still working to accomplish his purpose. [Read more…]