Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Ruth- Introduction and Chapter 1

Ruth 1

-Introduction: During the period of the judges of Israel an important family makes its appearance on the biblical scene in regard to God’s salvation plan for mankind. The book of Ruth tells us how God worked through a Gentile woman to bring her into the Family of Boaz, who is a direct ancestor of King David and Jesus the Messiah. The Israeli society around this family was collapsing in many ways with people living to please themselves rather than their covenant LORD, but God was still at work for the redemption of mankind as we will see in this short narrative. This book has an unknown author, though some have speculated it to be the prophet Samuel. The date of the writing is also unknown, but the events of the story happen three generations before the birth of King David with Ruth being the great-grandmother of this future leader after the heart of God (Acts 13:32). Therefore, the themes of this work include, but are not limited to, grace, faithfulness, kindness, integrity, protection, prosperity, blessing, and redemption. So as we read and study let us remember that no matter how discouraging or antagonistic the world may seem, there are always people who follow God around us, and His purposes will always transcend the junk.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 426-427)

-Chapter 1: There was a famine in the land of Israel at a point of the later period of the judges’ governance. A certain man, Elimelech, from Bethlehem in Judah sojourned to the land of Moab with his wife and two sons in search for sustenance and optimistic about a better life during these days of distress. Elimelech’s wife was named Naomi (pleasant), and his sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. They remained in Moab until the death of Elimelech, and his boys had both married Moabite women in due time. The Moabite women are biblically named as Orpah and Ruth. Events occurred in time where both of the sons of Elimelech died as well leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth without the support of a man. Women were very dependent on husbands for well-being in those days, and something had to be done for survival. The decision was made by Naomi that she would return to her ancestral home in Judah because she received word that the LORD had visited His people with favor in giving them food again (Ruth 1:1-6).

-They departed the place where they were staying and went on their way towards Judah. Along the journey, somewhere probably in the barren land of that region, Naomi beseeched her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house with the blessings of the LORD for rest, kindness, and a husband for each. She had been very blessed to have had them as kind and considerate daughters-in-law in her time of grief. Now she desired to release them so they could pick up the pieces of their lives and somehow prosper again. They lifted their up voices together and wept. They wanted to stay with Naomi, but Naomi rationalized that she could not support them for she was old, unable to remarry, and could not possibly provide for them other sons. She felt like the Hand of the LORD had gone forth against her, and she felt like detaining these girls would not be a good thing at all for their sake (Ruth 1:7-13).

-They lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah decided at this point to return to her people and her gods, but Ruth had another idea. She clung to her mother-in-law telling her, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:14-17).” What a stirring testimony! Her faith and her commitment was enduring. She would stick with this mother-in-law that she so dearly loved, not knowing the future or what would become of them. She desired oneness and communion. She would not separate the unity they had as a family.

-When Naomi saw that Ruth was indeed determined to go with her, they ventured on together into the bold new future back in Israel. They eventually came to Bethlehem, and the small city was stirred by the news of their arrival. The women of the city said, “Is this Naomi?” It had been so long since they’d seen her. Her reply to them shows what hard times she’d had, “Do not call me Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Now they came back around the time of the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:18-22).

-*Application* Hard core commitment is a rare thing in our day and age. Sticking to something or someone is not the fashion of the hour. Would that we consider the message here that Ruth presents us. Tough times never last but tough people do. Love and unity overcomes all (Romans 12:21).

Verse to Memorize: Ruth 1:16

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