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Women Who Made An Impact-Women of the Bible Study (Ruth)

March 28, 2015
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There are so many women in the Bible who have played huge parts in the history of Christianity! Some are given a few verses, yet those few verses show so much of that woman and the impact she had, whether good or bad! While some are given entire books of the Bible written about them. Every week my women’s study meets and we’ve been going over women of the Old Testament. It’s been so amazing to study the Scriptures with these women, putting ourselves in the different women we’re studying “shoes”, asking questions about their lives, and talking about things we see in the women of the Bible that we can implement in our own or be on our guard about not to do in our own lives.

So I thought, why not share what we’ve been learning with you! 🙂

My goal is weekly, however, I’m realizing right now with having 3 little ones that some weeks I can only do so much with blogging as they may demand more from me that week. So some weeks maybe we’ll just do a few verse and some maybe a whole chapter in our “Women who made an impact” study!

Well how about we get started today?! 🙂

Our first woman we studied was Ruth. She has such a crucial part in the lineage of Christ! Without her sacrifice and trust in the Lord, King David wouldn’t had been born! She was also the only woman so far that I’ve seen who’s been called “virtuous”. How cool is that! Let’s dig into Ruth 1 today! 🙂

  In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.

Let’s stop here to get a little background into what’s going on. “…When the judges ruled” were very dark days for Israel. According to Judges 17:6; 21:25, every man did what was right in their own eyes, which is never a good thing. So I’m sure every evil thing imaginable was going on and because of their disobedience the Lord had caused a famine in the land.

So Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, took Naomi and their 2 sons to Moab during the famine. Now traveling in those days was MUCH harder than nowadays where we can go jump in a car or a plane if its really far away. Here’s a map that shows the distance…

israeltomoabEither by foot or by animal they would travel, but can you imagine that journey? And going to an unknown place, with unknown people? Moab was also one of the nations that oppressed Israel, so with them being Israelites I’m sure that there was a lot of tension between them and the Moabites. Not only that but Elimelech and his family were looked down on and despised. But for whatever reason, Elimelech believed that it was the best things for his family so they went.

But then the worse thing that could happened occurred…

But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

We’re not sure if he dies right after getting there or a few months or a few years, but we know that Elimelech dies after they get to Moab. Which leaves Naomi with their two sons to care for. Can you imgaine what it was like for Naomi? Not only was she in a foreign land were she was looked down on and probably didn’t have a group of friends or any family to help support her in the move. Then her husband dies and she is left a widow. There were no phones to call her mom or sending a quick message to her friends back in Israel to tell them what had happened. She was alone.

Being a widow during that time was also one of the worse things as they were taken advantage of, ignored and almost always poverty stricken.  BUT the good thing was that she had her two sons who seem to be older as the next verse goes on to say…

 These {her sons} took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years,  and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Her sons then take Moab women, which wasn’t forbidden to the Israelites but also wasn’t encouraged. Then it fast forwards 10 years later and BOTH her sons then die! Naomi was left with no protection and not only had her husband died but her sons had died as well. Could you imagine how hopeless she must have felt? And scared for she had no protection and had two daughter-in-laws to take care for as well. God’s law provided that the nearest relative of her husband would take care of her, but she had no realtives in Moab and didn’t know if anyone was still alive in their family in Israel.

 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 

Naomi hears that the Lord has blessed Israel and that the famine was over! So she packs up and heads out with her daughter-in-laws. I wondering what it was like as all three women began travel to Israel…I’m sure Naomi was excited to see family and friends she had left behind. But also she had to be nervous as well as she didn’t know what awaited them in Israel. And then the weariness that came with traveling, as she was older now, so the trip would have been harder for her. Plus they were traveling by themselves with no man to protect them.

As they start the walk to Israel, I wonder if Naomi was having an inward struggle. She had spend 10 years with these two women and they had built quite a bond. She probably loved them like her own daughters. They cooked meals together, baked bread together, drew water together. I’m sure she wanted them with her to not only make the journey easier, but for the companionship. With each step I think of her justifying them coming with her, until her love and compassion for Ruth and Orpah’s lives won over.  Naomi then turned and said to them,

, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

I can imagine Namoi cupping their faces with eyes full of love for these daughters of hers and telling them to go back, get married and start over their lives again. Kissing their cheeks and telling them how much she loved them. Ruth and Orpah wept, they didn’t want to leave Naomi, she was another mother to them and they loved her. They at first refused and protested saying,

“No, we will return with you to your people.”

Such love and loyalty they display towards Naomi. But Naomi once again insists for them to go back,

 “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Naomi knew that their lives would be exteremly hard with her, there were so many uncertainties and unknowns about what life would hold for her back in Israel. And she knew that even if she were to get married again and that even if by some miracle that she would bear a son, that there was no way they could wait til he was old enough to marry him, that wasn’t right for anyone. She loved these girls so much, she wanted a better life for them than hardship and wanted them to find happiness again.

So Orpah kissed Naomi and went back to Moab. But Ruth clung to Naomi, she didn’t want to leave her. Her love and loyalty couldn’t be broken. She was stubborn and refused to leave her no matter what Naomi insisted. Ruth knew what she was giving up…security, getting married again and children in order to care for Naomi. But she didn’t care, all she cared about was staying with Naomi. Naomi continues to insists to Ruth,

 “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth remains unshaken…

 “Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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 will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

 

What an amazing picture Ruth shows of self-sacrificing love. She lays everything down to follow Naomi! Everything that she’s ever known…her family and friends, a safe house to live in, her religion, her very identity…she gave up to follow and take care of Naomi.   She willingly gave up everything for Naomi!

Naomi saw her resolution and refusal to leave her and didn’t say anymore, she knew that Ruth was firm in what she wanted to do.

I love that because through the story of Ruth you see this obedient woman who is quiet, meek and obedient to what she’s told, YET you see her strong will personality showing and her firm ground she stands on that no one can sway her.

So Naomi and Ruth continue on…

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

When they got to Bethlehem, they caused quit a stir. Naomi had left with a husband and two sons and now she was back with nothing, a widow, her sons being dead and having a foreign woman with her. The woman who knew her more than a decade early began asking each other if this was indeed Naomi. Naomi hears them and says,

“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

Naomi means “pleasant” but with the turn of events she was anything but pleasant. She had experienced some terrible circumstances…leaving Israel married and secure and coming back widowed, poor and her sons being dead. So instead she tells them to call her Mara which means “bitter”. I don’t believe that she lost her faith during this time as the continued chapters show otherwise. But that she was mourning, the meaning of names meant a great deal during that time so her saying “Don’t call me Naomi but call me Mara, because I am sad and mourning for my husband and my sons”. She wasn’t rejected God but showing her bitterness at the turn of events.

 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

There are normally two harvest in Israel, the spring and the fall. The barley harvest is in the spring and Ruth and Naomi arrived just as the harvest after the famine so there was much hope and excitedment in the land! There was also a lot of leftover grains too, which could be gleaned for others. This shows so much of the Lord’s perfect timing when He brought them back to Israel.

Ruth is also such a great example of God’s impartiality. Although she was a Moab, who were despised by Israel, God blessed her because of her faithfulness. It didn’t matter her race, what mattered was her heart and obedience to God. She even became the great-grandmother to King David and in the ancestor of Jesus! So amazing at the grace and love of God!

We’re gonna stop there today…check back next week for the next chapter! Or you can read ahead and find out what happens for yourself in Ruth 2! 🙂

 

Blessings,

Erin

 

 

*I’m not a Bible scholar by any means, so I don’t know all the Hebrew or Greek words…this is just a study of scripture from a woman passionate about sharing what she’s learning. 🙂

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