Each day our lives are filled with tests and challenges that we don’t always understand.
Health or family problems begin to hover like a dark cloud, trying to cause us
to become depressed or loose heart.
We’ve seen horrible devastation with the recent hurricanes, fires, mudslides, earthquakes and flooding;
leaving many homeless, hungry, and grieving the loss of loved ones.
Some of you have been praying for the love of your life, but have only experienced
pain and rejection.
Perhaps you’ve lost your job recently, and are fearful about your future.
When our heart’s are breaking, it’s important to stay in God’s word and learn the
beautiful lessons he has taught us, so we can stand strong when the winds of
adversity try to blow us over.
Today, I’d like to share with you a story of a couple of women who went
through adversity, and lost the loves of their lives…but God had a plan
to turn their bitterness into blessings.
In the days when judges ruled, there was a man named Elimelech
and his wife Naomi. They lived in a town called Bethlehem-judah
(which means land of bread)…with their 2 sons Mahlon and Chilion.
There was a famine in the land, and food became very scarce.
Elimelech heard there was food in Moab, so he and his family
moved to find provision for their family.
Suddenly, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her sons to survive
in a foreign land alone.
Naomi’s son’s, Mahlon and Chilion took wives from the land of Moab,
named Ruth and Orpah.
After about ten years, Mahlon and Chilion also died…leaving Naomi,
Ruth, and Orpah as widows, with no one to care for them.
Naomi heard that the Lord had blessed the people of
Bethlehem-judah with bread again…so she decided to
return to her home land.
Naomi said to her daughter-in-law’s…
Return to your mother’s house….
The LORD deal kindly with you as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her
husband. Ruth 1:8-9
Naomi kissed her daughters-in-law and they wept.
How sacrificial of Naomi, to want the best for these young women.
She knew she was too old to remarry, and prayed not for herself, but that
God would bless these women with new husbands and peace…
because of the kindness they had shown to her and her sons.
Naomi felt God’s hand was against her and didn’t want to
be a burden to them.
Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and went back to her people and
the gods they worshipped…but Ruth refused to leave Naomi alone.
She said to Naomi…
Please do not make me leave you. Where you go, I will go…
Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people,
and your God my God. Where you die, I will die and be
buried with you…The LORD do so to me and more,
if anything but death parts us.
When Naomi saw Ruth’s determined spirit, she allowed her to return
to Bethlehem with her.
The town was excited to hear Naomi had returned and went
to welcome her back home.
But Naomi said to them…
Don’t call me Naomi any longer, for God has dealt very bitterly with me.
I left home full, and now have returned empty.
(Naomi means pleasant)… but the name no longer fit her.
She wished to be called Mara (which means bitter)…
for her heart was grieved.
Ruth and Naomi had arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Elimelech had a relative, who was very wealthy, who had fields ready
for harvest, named Boaz.
Ruth said to Naomi…
Let me go and glean ears of corn after him, in whose sight I shall find grace.
Gleaning was done by poor people. They would follow behind the laborers
of the master, and pick up the left overs dropped in the dirt.
God had commanded the people to allow gleaning as a compassionate way
to help the poor.
God supernaturally directed Ruth to the field of Boaz.
He came out to the field and blessed the reapers saying…
The LORD be with you…and they returned the blessing saying…
The LORD bless you.
Boaz spotted Ruth among the workers and asked who she was.
The servants said, she is a Moabitish woman who came back with Naomi
She asked permission to glean after the reapers and came early this morning
and has been working all day, except for a brief time of rest.
Boaz approached her and said,
Stay here with my maidens and do not go to another field. I have
instructed the young men not to touch you. When you are thirsty,
go and drink from the water the men have drawn.
Ruth was so thankful, she fell on her face and bowed to him saying…
Why have I found grace and favor in your sight…since I am a stranger?
I have been fully informed of all the kindness you have done to
your mother-in-law since the death of your husband….how you
left your own family and have devoted your life to care for her.
Ruth was serving her mother-in-law willingly, not expecting
anything in return. She did not complain to others of her trials
God saw her sacrificial service, and made sure Boaz was told.
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the
LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Ruth was overwhelmed by his kindness and thanked him for treating
her with such compassion. Suddenly she saw a ray of hope and encouragement
filled her heart.
Boaz invited her to eat with the reapers and when she had finished
her meal, she went back to the fields.
Boaz instructed his men to allow her to glean behind them…
and they were instructed to drop handfuls of grain for her
to pick up.
Ruth worked all day and when she had beat out what she had
gleaned, it was about an ephah (approximately 3/5 of a bushel) of barley.
The Bible says…
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth,
bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6
She hurried home to show Naomi of her good fortune.
Naomi said, blessed is he who showed favor to you, and inquired
about her day.
God promises in his word…
Blessed is everyone that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be,
and it shall be well with thee. Psalm 128:1-2
Ruth told her about the kindness of Boaz, and Naomi said…
Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forgotten to show
kindness to the living and the dead.
Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was one of their near kinsmen.
In Leviticus 25:25, if a person died and was poor, one of
his relatives could redeem his property and buy his wife…
to allow the name of the deceased to have an ancestor.
Naomi told Ruth to stay in the fields of Boaz with his servants.
She obeyed her mother-in-laws words and gleaned in the fields
until the end of the barley harvest.
Naomi wanted Ruth to find a husband to care for her and
she came up with a plan.
She instructed Ruth to bathe and put on a clean garment
and go to the celebration of the harvest.
After Boaz had finished eating and drinking, he laid down
on the floor, by the grain to protect it from robbers in the night.
While he slept, Ruth uncovered his feet and laid down
by them, according to Naomi’s instructions.
When Boaz woke up in the night, he was afraid and asked,
who are you?…for it was probably too dark to see clearly.
She said, I am Ruth, your handmaid. Spread your skirt over
your handmaid, for you are a near kinsman to me.
Ruth was asking Boaz to be her husband and raise up
seed for her dead husband.
Boaz was overwhelmed at the humbleness and piety of Ruth.
He said, Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter, for you
have showed kindness to me from the beginning until now.
You have not followed after the young men, whether rich or poor.
Ruth wasn’t chasing after the young men in hopes of landing
a husband. She trusted in the wisdom of God to direct her path.
Boaz assured her,
Do not be afraid my daughter, for I will do all I can to redeem you.
All the people in the city know that you are a virtuous woman.
Ruth’s reputation was well known among all the people and
it impressed Boaz.
I am your kinsman, but there is one in line before me, that I must
approach for permission to redeem you.
When morning came, he told her to leave quietly and not to let anyone
know she had come.
He told her to bring her veil, and he put 6 measures of barley in it to take
back to her mother-in-law, so she would not return empty-handed.
Naomi was excited to hear all that happened to Ruth and said to her,
Sit still, my daughter until you know what will happen, for the man
will not rest until he has finished the thing this day.
Boaz went to find the kinsman, who was first in line to redeem
Ruth. When he found him, the men sat down and Boaz explained
Elimelech’s land was available to redeem.
He spoke to his relative in the presence of the elders of the people.
Boaz said to the kinsman…
If you want to redeem it, go ahead…but if you don’t, I will.
If you buy the field from Naomi, you must also buy Ruth
the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead
upon his inheritance.
The kinsman said…No, I can’t redeem it or I would jeopardize my
The kinsman removed his shoe and handed it to Boaz.
The removal of one’s shoe was a sign renouncing one’s
property rights and passing it on to another publicly.
Boaz was overjoyed and said in front of all the people…
You are my witnesses this day, that I have bought all that
was Elimelech’s, Chilion’s, and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.
Ruth, wife of Mahlon, I have purchased to be my wife, to raise up
the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
All the people said…We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman
that will come into your house like Rachel and Leah, which built
the house of Israel…May you have riches and power, and may you
be famous in Bethlehem. Let your house be like the house of Pharez,
whom Tamar bore to Judah of the seed which the woman shall give you.
Boaz took Ruth to be his wife…and the LORD blessed them with a son.
When the women of the city saw the child, they said to Naomi…
Blessed be the LORD which has not left you without a kinsman.
May his name be famous in Israel. He shall be unto you a restorer of
thy life and a nourisher in your old age. Your daughter-in-law, who loves
you, is better to you than 7 sons…for she has blessed you with this child.
Naomi held the child close to her breast and became his nurse.
The child was named Obed, which means servant of the LORD.
He was the father of Jesse…who was the father of King David.
Ruth was raised in a home where false gods were worshipped.
Her relatives were not rich or famous…
But God saw Ruth’s heart and devotion to her mother-in-law.
He saw she did not go back to worshipping false gods or her family.
She was rewarded her for her loving devotion to her grieving mother-in-law.
Ruth did not grumble or complain about being widowed at a
young age or because she had no children.
Instead, she humbled herself and decided to go work to support
herself and Naomi. She did not wallow in self-pity or neglect
her responsibility to her husband’s mother.
For her humble and sacrificial love, she was blessed with
a new husband, a son, and a home for her and her mother-in-law.
She became the great grandmother to King David and
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
It is interesting to note that Boaz’s mother was a former prostitute…
Yet God in his love; transformed the lives of both Ruth and Rahab
into something beautiful and blessed.
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the
father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David…
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born
Jesus, who is called Christ. Matthew 1:5-6, 16
Naomi was bitter, but sacrificially offered prayers of blessings
for her daughter-in-laws. She did not want them to spend their
lives grieving. She wanted them to find new husbands and
their homes to be filled with children and love.
God answered her prayers, and blessed her with a grandchild
to love and a home in her old age.
God’s ways are not are ways.
Naomi’s and Ruth’s circumstances seemed dead and hopeless.
God turned the death of 3 husbands, poverty, and famine
into a giant blessing in disguise.
When the spirit of bitterness comes upon us, we must cast it off
with praise and blessing to the LORD. We must remember the LORD
promises that ALL thing work together for Good…to those who love
Ruth was not raised in a Christian home, yet she followed these
powerful promises and reaped the blessings…
Today you may be grieving over the death of a loved one, or are bitter
with God because you are in a season of adversity and testing.
You may have lost your home, husband, or job and are bitter like Naomi.
Beloved, God sees your tears and promises to never leave or forsake you.
He loves you so much he sent his only Son Jesus to die for your
sins and those of the whole world.
Like Boaz, he offers to be your Redeemer, Comforter, and Provider.
The Bible says…
Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou
shalt not be put to shame: for thou shall forget the shame of thy youth, and
shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker
is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One
of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD
hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth,
and when thou was refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken
thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face
thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith
the LORD thy Redeemer. Isaiah 54:4-8
Run to his outstretched arms of mercy and grace.
Find hope and love beyond all human comprehension.
Cast all your cares upon him precious one, for he cares for you.
Holy is Your name…
Thank you for the gift of this beautiful new day, and for sharing
with us the inspiring story of Ruth and Naomi.
Forgive me Father for grumbling and complaining when life seems difficult and unfair.
Though I don’t always understand why people have to die, I know that you have a
reason and it will somehow all work out for good.
Help us to be kind and loving to our parents and the elderly,
trusting you will provide all we need in body and spirit to care for
Thank you for hearing our prayers and helping us in all our trials
and struggles. Open our eyes to see pain and adversity, as an
opportunities to grow in wisdom and faith.
Give us strength and courage to sow in tears, knowing we will reap
in joy. May your beauty, replace the ashes in our hearts.
Watch over the widows and fatherless children. Keep them safely
protected under the shadow of your wings.
We leave all our problems in your hands; uniting our prayers with thanksgiving,
as an offering to You ,our Shepherd, Father, Physician, and Friend.
In Jesus’ name we pray…
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth in singing, and cry aloud,
thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate
than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Isaiah 54:1
Have a blessed and wonderful day.