II. BACKSLIDING WILL LEAVE ITS MARK
“ . . all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?” verse 19.
1. The mark is noticeable. It was the first thing that was seen by the people. Backsliding cannot be hid nor can the marks it leaves.
2. The mark is great. All men are sinful but the people of God are not marked as others. “ . . their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation,” Deut 32:5.
3. It is heart-rending. “ . . all the city was moved about them.” The sight of this woman melted the hearts of the people. They were distressed by what they saw. Heaven is moved by backsliding! Hosea 11:8.
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” Luke 15:10.
The decision has been made and the matter settled. Ruth is resolved to journey to Bethlehem with Naomi.
Though a Moabite who has never even been in Judah, her new-found loyalties and aspirations, born of the Holy Spirit at her regeneration, shows that spiritually she is an Israelite indeed. Her native air is now the atmosphere of the promised land. Her new instincts carry her toward Bethlehem. She is in company with returning backslider, Naomi.
I. PLEASE NOTE THAT GRACE WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL IN THE TRUE BELIEVER
“So they two went until they came to Bethlehem,” verse 19.
For a time Moab exercised great power over Naomi and drew her into its fold. Now she is delivered. “ . . the LORD hath brought me home,” verse 21.
1. Sin can exercise power over the believer for a time. The Bible is full of examples.
2. But the true believer cannot be held in its power indefinitely. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace,” Rom 6:14. “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger,” Job 17:9.
The sheep may stray but they will be regathered by the faithful Shepherd.
That is the mark of a true believer.
3. God is honour-bound to rescue His fallen people. “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of,” Genesis 28:15. Deut 3:18; 1 Sam 12:22; Ps 37:25, 28; Isaiah 41:17.
These are among the most stirring words in the Bible. Here is what true discipleship entails.1. A cleaving. It means to stick close. Picture on Orange banners — Ruth at Naomi’s feet and clinging to her garments. 2. Her declaration. 16-17. She was stedfast, Acts 2:42.3. Ruth’s knowledge of what she was undertaking. She stated her determination in a six-fold manner. It was a decision unto death.
She would not have the two women follow her if they were not truly decided to do so.
1. Here is the test God sets every would-be pilgrim. Matt 16:24.
2. The realities of the future were clearly spelled out. There would be a forsaking of mother and land, Luke 14:26. It was a losing of the life, Luke 9:24. There were no guarantees of security, 11-12. There was a stepping out in faith.
3. Ruth was tested a second time. 14-15. Orpah had left, “Would she also go”?
1. It was a movement upward. Implies her previous low position.
2. It entailed a forsaking of Moab. “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way,” Genesis 24:61. Naomi renounced Moab.
3. It was an influential response. “Then she arose with her daughters in law.” They were influenced by Naomi’s decision.
4. It was a purposeful response. “That she might return from the country of Moab.” She was going to retrace her steps. She, like Prodigal, had lost much by her outward journey. That would be brought home to her as she returned.