The Book of Ruth, a Love Story
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 how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her 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. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
Naomi, now a widow, believed that the Lord had afflicted her with bitter days until her death. She was without a husband, childless and resentful. Remember, she and her husband, Elimelech, had taken their two sons to the land of Moab from Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” when famine had gripped their homeland. Elimelech had turned his back on his inheritance given to him because of the temporary situation he was in––the famine, a chastisement brought about by God. Elimelech would have been better off with the people of God under God’s judgment, than in the devil’s crowd having his hunger satisfied. Naomi is now living among strangers in the cursed land of the Moabites, destitute, lonely, and embittered by her difficult situation.
How dark and dismal this story would be if it ended with Elimelech’s mistakes in taking his family away from the land of God into the land of the Moabites. We can rejoice to know––the story does not end there. Naomi hears a rumor from her homeland claiming, “the Lord has visited His people giving them bread in Bethlehem––the famine is over.” All hope had died for Naomi in the land of Moab with the death of her husband and two sons. Her joy soured as bitterness increased and had taken her prisoner.
When the good news of bread in the land of Bethlehem reached Naomi, she realized that God had not forgotten His people or His promises. What wonderful news for a frustrated, bitter child of God. Naomi was inspired to return home after suffering much pain, hardship and misfortune in her life. Although Naomi was not aware of God’s magnificent plan of redeeming love, His sovereign purpose and design for Naomi continues to unfold.
Naomi encourages her two daughters-in-law to return to their homes and families. She desires for them to find peace and rest in the land of Moab and to marry again while they are still young. She shares with her young daughters-in-law a need to go home to Bethlehem and then kisses them good-bye. Each are weeping sorrowfully and saying, “Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.” What now? Will one stay with Naomi and continue her life in the land of Bethlehem, Judah? The plan of God is a mystery unfolding in the lives of these women and in the lives of those they will soon come to know.
Thought: Because this is a story of God’s redeeming love for fallen man, Naomi is a marvelous picture of repentance, a picture of God’s will taking us from disobedience to restoration. Repentance is a turning around, an “about face,” a change of heart and a change in direction. True repentance is acknowledging and agreeing with God that you have sinned and that He has the ultimate authority in your life to remove that sin from your life and change you from within.