“Mahlon and Kilion come along, we have a long journey to Moab ahead of us. We need to get going.” Their father, Elimelech, held the front door of the house open.
Mahlon came out with his pack secured to his back. “I’m ready…let’s go.”
Kilion drug his pack behind him. “Shouldn’t we trust God to provide rain so we can stay here? Why do we have to go all the way to Moab?”
Elimelech lifted Kilion’s pack so he could tie it to his waist. “Your mother and I agree that the opportunity in Moab is too good to pass up at this time. Boaz will keep an eye on things here while we’re gone. We’ll be back after this drought is over.”
Elimelech and Naomi led their two teenage sons to the foreign land. Once established there Elimelech died.
Naomi brought her sons together. “We can’t go back to Bethlehem at this time. We have nothing and the drought is still there. So, you’ll have to marry into some families here until we can return home.”
Kilion looked at his Mom. “Is it wise for us to marry non-Jewish girls? Is there no other option for us?”
Naomi placed her hands on Kilion’s shoulders. “As soon as you marry into a family you’ll be able to apprentice under the father’s business. I have no way to bring in any money. It’s the only option I can see for us. I’ve seen you talking with Ruth. See if her father will agree to this arraignment. Mahlon, you do the same with Orpah’s father. Perhaps we’ll stay here rather than return to Bethlehem.”
After ten years of marriage neither son produced any offspring. In a short period of time both men died. Word reached Naomi that Bethlehem was again flourishing, so she decided to return to her ancestral home to avoid the painful memories of all the loss she suffered in Moab. Both daughters-in-law agreed to go with her.
On the outskirts of town Naomi turned to the women. “You don’t have to come with me. Your home and people are here. Go back to them.”
Both women stood their ground. “We’re staying with you.”
Naomi looked at the village, then at the women. “Look, I’m too old to have another family. Even if I got married tonight and had twin sons in nine months I can’t expect you to wait for them to be old enough to marry. You’re both young enough to find another husband. Stay here with your people and live happy.”
Orpah hugged and kissed Naomi before she returned to her home. Ruth stood in place.
Naomi held her arms out, then dropped them to her sides. “Aren’t you going to follow Orpah?”
Ruth turned Naomi around and held on to her arm. “No, your people are now my people, your God is my God. May the LORD deal with me severely if anything but death separates you and me.”
As the women came into Bethlehem the commotion began. “Naomi, is that really you?”
Naomi accepted some welcome-home hugs. “Don’t call me Naomi, a name that means ‘pleasant.’ Call me Mara, a name that means ‘bitter,’ because I am a bitter woman after what happened to me in Moab.”
ATTITUDE I’ve heard it has as much as a 90% impact on the events of our lives, the other 10% is the actual occurrences themselves. Nowhere else is this played out as vividly as it is with these three widows displayed for us in the first chapter of the Bible book of Ruth. Let’s take a look at each one’s outlook of events.
Naomi’s bitterness: The matriarch of the three was born into the Jewish heritage of living under the authority of the living God. But, once events turned bad she let her feelings take a turn to the negative side of choice. She felt trapped in her role of daughter of the King who didn’t fulfill her expectations of life.
Orpah’s rejection: The first Moabitess took the opportunity to return to her familiar life when the option was given to her. The unknown frightened her to the point that she decided to go back to the known rather than step out and take a chance. After all, this God of Naomi’s didn’t come through for her. What would He do with a foreigner?
Ruth’s boldness: The other young woman saw something in the God of the Jews that attracted her to Him. She was determined to follow their God rather than go back to her people’s gods. Perhaps there was a spark of hope she saw in her husband’s eyes that she never experienced before. She took the biggest chance of her life by going into the unknown in search of its source.
I see these same three choices used by people when the Christian gospel is presented to them today. There are those who became Christians early in life, but life didn’t turn out as they expected it would when they signed up to follow the all-powerful Creator of the universe. Their disappointment turns to bitterness and is a turn-off to others around them.
There are those who flat-out reject this offer for whatever reason. They’d rather stay in the comfort of the known, even if it is painful, than step out to receive an offer that sounds too good to be true.
Then there are those who wholeheartedly take the offer to follow the invisible God who promises life rather than stay stuck in the dead-end life they’re living. The hope that’s offered has got to be better than what they’re experiencing.
I see these same three choices made when it comes to marriage. Some women are even so bold as to make Ruth 1:16-17 a part of their wedding vows. Pray for God to give you that level of committed attitude in your marriage and your spiritual walk. It doesn’t mean things will always be easy.
God is happiest with that choice.
I’ll see you later. Wade