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.
In last week’s study, we considered how the backsliding of Elimelech and Naomi brought chastening upon their heads. That did not cure them, however, of their backsliding. Backsliding is easier to start than to stop. It brings with it a hardness of heart and conscience, a blindness of mind and soul that renders the backslider stiff-necked and unfeeling and undiscerning of the judgment of God.
The backslider’s heart is epitomised in the parable of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32. The worse things became, the further from his father he went. Naomi had been persuaded to leave Judah much easier than she had been to leave Moab!
I. THINGS WILL GROW WORSE FOR THE UNREPENTANT BACKSLIDER.
Let us see that such is true in Naomi’s case. Evidently, Naomi never thought of going back to Judah when her troubles first began. When her husband died, the backsliding continued and deepened.
1. Death entered the home. Her nearest and dearest was taken. He who took her down into Moab is taken from her.
2. Her lot was one of loneliness. “She was left.” She was now on her own and her dreams had turned to ashes.
3. She is left a widow. One whose lot was hardship and want, Deut 24:19-21, Mark 12:42.
II. SHE SAW HER CHILDREN FOLLOW IN HER STEPS.
“And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years,” Ruth 1:4. The most serious of all earthly relationships was entered upon without reference to God and His truth!
1. They married in defiance of God. The Moabites were forbidden entrance to the congregation of Israel. “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever,” Deuteronomy 23:3. Thus there was a siding with those who had sought to curse Israel, Deut 23:4. This is what happens through backsliding. A wrong view is formed of the world by children through the friendship shown it by their backsliding parents.
I think that may be seen in the action taken by Elimelech. He went to Moab to escape the judgment of God. He was hardened beneath the chastening of God. The purpose of chastening is set before in Hebrews 12:5-11.
A name study provides us with interesting details.
Elimelech = “My God is king.” He typifies the measure or state of true religion there is in such days as the days of the Judges. He had a name to live. Notice he left Bethlehem, “The house of Bread.” In time of famine we should come to Bethlehem, not leave it! See 2 Chronicles 28:19-23.
Naomi. = “My delight.” It is a good name but she did not live up to it. Bitterness was her lot in Moab, verse 20. Obedience and return brought joy, 4:14-15. She possibly married an unsaved man, who professed but was not really saved!
Mahlon and Chilion. “Sick” “Pining or Consumptive.” Such were the offspring born to these two backsliders. Both perished in Moab with their father.
Sickly religion is the offspring of disobedience and backsliding and a looking to Moab for deliverance. Moab was a nation born out of a most wicked union, Gen 19:37.
It is to the modern Moab, the offspring of the union between the church and the world that many look for deliverance in these days.