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.
The next section of this chapter deals with Naomi’s return home to Judah. This portion reminds us very much of the story of the prodigal son. “I will arise and go to my father, ” Luke 15:18. “Then she arose,” Ruth 1:6. In both stories, bread is the motive for returning.
Bread, that simple basis of life, is what proves all-important to men in the final analysis. There is something more important to man’s eternal well-being than all the “far countries” of the world can supply. It is the “Bread of Life.” The soul and its eternal comfort should take precedence over all things. Ultimately all men shall realise that. Naomi heard that “the LORD had visited his people,” verse 6.
In Moab she and her family had forfeited the Lord’s “visits.” It was a visit of mercy. She and her family had been visited with chastening while in Moab. If she was to enjoy mercy, then she must return to Judah and to Bethlehem, the “house of bread.”
I. THE MESSAGE THAT NAOMI HEARD
“She had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.”
1. God can reach His people with His Word. Even into Moab.
2. The state Naomi was in when she heard. Widowhood, want and woe.
3. The contents of the message. “Visited” What a difference a visit from God makes. Luke 1:68; 78-79. It is a “sunrising” — Luke 1:78. Darkness and fear goes, (Exodus 1:14 — same as Ruth 1:20). Life, joy and peace floods in. Luke 1:79, 2:14, 2:29, Rom 5:1.
Bitterness (verse 20) same as future Israel will experience, Zech 12:10.
4. It was news of a gift. “Giving them bread.” How free is the gift of salvation? Genesis 1:17. As free as sunlight and starlight.
2. The little we know of the women at this stage suggests attractiveness. Orpah = gazelle; Ruth = friendship. These women were likely very attractive physically and in personality. This is not the basis of a good marriage.
3. They were “women of Moab”. Num 25:1-5, indicates to us the morality of Moab and its women and the outcome of their yielding to their enticements.
Ruth subsequently became a godly woman, but she was originally a Moabitish woman.
4. Her sons paid the price of defiance. “And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them,” verse
5. Thus Ruth is left with nothing just like the prodigal.
Thus Naomi learned that of the deceitfulness of sin and the emptiness of the world’s apparent plenty. Enjoyment of earthly plenty is no token of God’s grace and mercy.
III. YET EVEN IN THE MIDST OF JUDGMENT MERCY IS TO BE SEEN.
Ruth was converted to the true faith. It was in the far country that the Prodigal is awakened. An awakening took place in Ruth’s heart and Naomi was not utterly bereft of her family. She became daughter-in-law to another trophy of grace. “And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse,” Matthew 1:5.