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| Author: Dele Oke

Naomi, Ruth and Orpah - Women of the Bible

Introduction
Ruth chapter 1 - 4

Ruth was the lady who clung to her destiny. She inherited a family by marriage. The family line was no ordinary one for out of it came Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

Ruth was born a Moabite (or Gentile) yet her faithfulness led her to a greater inheritance. She clung unto that which was good. Neither circumstances nor things past were able to hinder her from laying hold of that which was more precious.

Ruth's life is a picture of the born-again Christian. We are born again by faith. We all have to make a choice to walk with God. Do you cherish what you have inherited in Christ more than the world and all it has to offer?

Ruth chapter 1

Famine had driven Naomi and her husband Elimelech with their two sons out of Judah to the heathen land of Moab. There is no indication that they were led by God to leave. We can only assume that circumstances urged them to leave. Something that both Abraham had tried and regretted (Genesis 12: 10 - 20) and Isaac had been warned against (Genesis 26:1-5).

Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died in Moab. Naomi, whose name means 'my delight' must have been shattered. Naomi's two sons married Moabite women called Orpah and Ruth. Tens years later, and without any children, the two sons die. Naomi is left with two daughter in laws. This seems to be tragedy.

When Naomi hears that the famine in Judah has retreated she decides to return to Judah. She asks her two daughter in-laws to leave her. Orpah kisses her and leaves while Ruth clings unto her and stays, returning with her to Judah.

Ruth's commitment to her inheritance was real. She had every right to have walked away like Orpah. However she had counted the cost and made up her mind (Luke 14: 27 - 32). Have you made a commitment to continue in your inheritance in Christ? Will you serve the Lord no matter what?

Ruth had no idea of the out come of her commitment. She was not to know that Christ were to come from her descendants. In like manner we to have no idea what rich rewards in heaven await us.
Naomi certainly had no clue of what was in store. On return to Bethlehem she asks the people to call her Mara meaning 'bitterness'. This gives us some ideal of what she had been through.

Questions for discussion


  1. Why do bad things happen to good people?

  2. What type of person do you think Ruth was?

  3. How can we cope during times of great hardship?

  4. Why should we remain committed to Christ?



Ruth Chapter 2
The story of Ruth is one of godly character. The decisions we make in life are decided by our character. A godly character will take you far. Ruth was firmly committed to what she believed was right. Her thoughts and actions were dictated by her commitment and character.

One decision she made changed her whole destiny.
The same is true of the decisions we make today.

Has the life of Christ touched your character. Anger, bitterness in the heart and self-centeredness will take you away from God.

The culture of the day meant that Ruth, as a widow and Moabite, had little hope of attaining anything as far as wealth and stature in the society was concerned. Especially since she had left her own people. She has no incentive to act nobly apart from her character. How God loves and rewards a right heart.

God granted her wisdom and favour. These two ingredients can turn any hopeless situation around. A godly character gave her both.

Ruth made herself available to work with Boaz, a relative of Naomi's dead husband. According to the custom of the day, he was one of the people who could marry Ruth and give her an inheritance. God granted Ruth favour with Boaz and he received her kindly.
Remember, your commitment to God will lead to His favour upon your life.
God's favour gave Abraham a covenant and brought Joseph out of prison. You need the favour of God in your life too.

Questions for discussion


  1. Why was Boaz kind to Ruth?

  2. What does it mean to have favour with God?

  3. Why do we need the favour of God?

  4. Luke 2:52
  5. Who else benefited from the actions of Ruth?

  6. Who benefits (or pays) for the decisions that we make



Ruth Chapter 3

To someone living in the western culture the advice of Naomi to her daughter-in-law, Ruth, may sound like a bit of sly scheming.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The reasons for Ruth's seemingly strange actions in chapter three holds its explanation in the culture of the day. Women were not allowed to propose marriage to men. The only way they could show their intention was by laying at the man's feet.

By laying at Boaz's feet, Ruth showed her clear desire to continue the inheritance of her husband. Boaz was the next of kin (save one), and although he was much older than Ruth, she was still committed to him.
Remember, Ruth was under no obligation to do this. Here is a lesson in faithfulness and commitment, not marriage principles!.
Boaz was astonished at the faithfulness of Ruth. However he still had to sort out the problem of the other kin before he could redeem her.
Questions for discussion


  1. What role has sacrifice got to play in our christian walk?

  2. How can we know when to 'sit still' and let God work on our behalf? Ruth 3:18

  3. What does faithfulness to God mean?




Ruth Chapter 4
If Ruth is a picture of the Christian (or Church) then Boaz is a picture of Christ our redeemer.
Having decided to redeem Ruth, he set out to settle the account with the person who had a 'legal right over her'.
Who had a legal right over us before Christ came along and paid the price.
In the presence of elders of the city, Boaz made a legal deal, with reliable witnesses, and 'purchased the right' to marry Ruth.
Can you see any parallels here with our Christian faith? Romans 8:16, 1 John 5: 6-10
Boaz married Ruth, God blessed them with a child whose name was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, from whose linage Jesus was born.


Orpah
In closing let me drop in a word about Orpah. She acted in wisdom as far as the secular world was concerned. There was no earthly wisdom in following her mother in law back to Bethlehem.
She probably had a good life, not knowing what she had missed.
When we make choices in isolation of God's counsel we lose out. Many times we are not even aware of what we have lost.
Only heaven will reveal what ministeries were aborted and callings that went unheeded because of the wrong decisions that had been made earlier along the way.


Naomi

Her life glows of grace and hope. Her trip down to Moab might have been a mistake but her gratitude to Ruth soon restored her past failings with God's grace.
Learning to be thankful for the things God has blessed us with can only lead to more blessings. God loves a thankful heart.

Naomi, Ruth and Orpah. Which one do you want to be?
Questions for discussion


  1. What price did Christ pay to redeem us from the power of darkness

  2. How do the actions of Boaz mirror those of Christ

  3. What witness do we have to our Christian faith?

  4. Do hopeless situations have to mean the end of all hope?

  5. Is God limited by the culture we live in?

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