Sermon #3 Ruth Series:
Title: Three Women
Text: Ruth 1:6-18
Subject: Lessons about faith from Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth
Date: Tuesday Evening - April 6, 1993
In my opinion, the study of Bible characters is one of the most profitable and instructive aspects of Bible study. I like to study people as they are set before us in the Scriptures, because…
1. The Bible always gives us an honest representation of them.
2. They set before us all the varied circumstances and conditions of life.
3. It helps me to see the hand of God in the lives of others.
When I see how God has dealt with others, it is easier for me to understand the Lord’s dealings with me.
Tonight, I want us to look at Three Women, Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Naomi had moved to Moab with her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They left Bethlehem in a time of famine. But Elimelech had brought his family down to Moab, a pagan, idolatrous land! It proved to be a very costly move. While in Moab, Elimelech died. Yet, Naomi continued to live in Moab. Her sons both married Moabite women, in direct violation of God’s express command. And they both died childless. Naomi was left in Moab, a widow with two daughter-in-laws, three widows in one household, poor, destitute, and alone. That is where our text picks up. (Read with me, Ruth 1:6-18).
Naomi - was a woman who believed God and, after a time of great trial, returned to the people of God and the place of blessing.
Orpah - was very much impressed with Naomi and started with her back to Bethlehem; but at last returned to her people and her gods. Orpah here rerpresents those who profess faith in Christ, but do not persevere in faith.
Ruth - was chosen of God, the object of special grace. Her decision to return to Bethlehem with Naomi was more than an act of love to Naomi. It was an act of faith in Naomi’s God, the Lord God of Israel. Ruth is set before us here as a picture of a true believer.
True faith endures trials and temptations and perseveres unto the end. True faith cannot be destroyed.
These three women, Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth are set before us in this passage of Scripture for our learning, as examples both of what we should not and what we should be and do.
I. First, I want you to see that NAOMI WAS A WOMAN OF REMARKABLE FAITH.
We do not know much about her husband, or her sons, but Naomi was a believer. She left Bethlehem with her husband. And she stayed in Moab after Elimelech died. Yet, her heart was never in Moab. As Lot’s wife looked back to Sodom with regret, so Elimelech’s wife looked back to Bethlehem with regret. It appears that, by one means or another, all the time she was in Moab she kept up with what was going on in Bethlehem. She maintained correspondence with Bethlehem.
Notice three things here…
A. The work of providence (Heb. 12:5-12).
The Lord loved Naomi. He would not allow Naomi to stay in Moab. He would not permit her to continue there, away from Bethlehem, away from his people, away from his worship. But to get her back he had to deal with her in a very trying way.
1. First, the Lord killed her husband.
2. Then, he killed both of her sons.
3. He made Moab bitter to her.
NOTE: Thank God for thorn hedges that force us to return to him when we would forsake him (Hos. 2:6-7).
B. The work of the Word (v. 6).
Naomi “heard in Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.”
· She heard!
· She believed!
· She arose!
“Faith cometh by hearing!” By some means or another God Got the good news to Naomi that he had visited his people and given them bread.
NOTE: This is the way God saves sinners. He sends a preacher to proclaim the good news of his rich, free, abundant grace.
· The Lord has visited and redeemed his people!
· The Bread of Life has come down from heaven!
C. The work of faith (v. 7).
“Wherefore she went forth out of the place!” There can never be a reconciliation with God without a separation from the world. Those who eat at the Father’s table have to leave the hog troughs of the world. You cannot serve God and mammon. A choice must be made. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve!” Naomi had made her choice, and so must we! (2 Cor. 6:17; 1 John 2:15).
1. She was determined to leave Moab and return to Israel.
2. She was willing to leave her dearest and nearest relatives.
3. Naomi was a true believer - She knew from whence she had fallen. She knew what she had lost. She remembered how blessed things had been in Bethlehem. And she was determined to return. No cost would be too great!
II. Second, ORPAH AND RUTH BOTH ‘WENT ON THE WAY TO RETURN” WITH NAOMI TO THE LAND OF JUDAH.
Naomi was an exceptional woman. Though she was a stranger in Moab, both her daughter-in-laws preferred living with her to returning to their parent’s homes. Not only that, they were ready enough to leave their families to return with Naomi to Bethlehem.
Even though Orpah and Ruth were pagan idolaters, Naomi was kind to them. Without compromising either the glory of God or the truth of God, she lived peaceably in the same house with them. She honored God and won their affection by her kindness. We could all learn from Naomi (Rom. 12:18). Kindness is always right!
A. Naomi urged her daughter-in-laws to go back to their own families (vv. 8-9).
1. She commended their behavior (v. 8).
2. She prayed for them (v. 9).
3. Then she kissed them good-bye (v. 9).
B. But both Orpah and Ruth professed a determination to adhere to their mother-in-law (v. 10).
Their emotions were high. They were all boo-hooing and sobbing. And they made an emotional pact. But it did not last. Decisions based upon sentiment and emotion rather than upon sound judgment do not usually last very long.
C. Then Naomi persuaded both Orpah and Ruth, with strong reasons, to go back to their own families (vv. 11-13).
Why did she discourage them? What was her purpose? Did she not want to save them from idolatry? Did she not want them to worship God? Without question, Naomi wanted both Orpah and Ruth to accompany her to Bethlehem. But…
1. If they returned with her, she wanted them to return, not for her sake, but because they wanted to!
NOTE: Those who take up a profession of faith in Christ in order to satisfy someone else, or in the heat of an emotional experience, prove in time to be useless converts.
My friend, Darrell McClung used to say, “Anything born in the storm will die in the calm.”
2. If they did come with her, Naomi would have them make a deliberate, informed choice!
She was not a good “soul winner” by today’s standards. She was honest. She said, “If you go with me, it will cost you!” (Matt. 8:19-22; Lk. 14:28; 18:18-23).
D. Opah was easily persuaded to go back to Moab, to go back to her family, and to go back to her gods (vv. 14-15).
Orpah’s kill showed that she had affection for Naomi; but she had greater affection for Moab and for all that Moab offered.
NOTE: Many see great value in Christ and have an affection for him, but cannot and will not follow him, because they simply cannot find it in their hearts to forsake the world.
Many Orpahs, because of advesity and excitement, run well for a season. But after a while, like Demas, because they love the world, go back. Frequently, they forsake Christ with a pretended kill of friendship and love!
NOTE: The motives of every professed believer must be tested. Naomi said, “Why will you go with me?” (v. 11).
· No earthly inducements were offered.
· No worldly gain was to be obtained.
· Nothing but faith in, gratitude to, and love for the Lord Jesus Christ can induce men to follow him through thick and thin.
III. Thirdly, THOUGH ORPAH FORSOOK NAOMI, AND IN FORSAKING NAOMI FORSOOK THE LORD GOD, RUTH COULD NOT BE PERSUADED TO GO BACK - “RUTH CLAVE UNTO HER” (vv. 15-18).
· Grace chose her.
· Grace fetched her.
· Providence worked for her.
Ruth, with complete resolution, walked throught he door of commitment and closed it behind her. In this, she is a pattern to all who follow Christ.
A. As she saw in Naomi what Orpah could not, we see the beauty and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ - His Person!
· His righteousness!
· His blood!
· His fulness!
NOTE: The Chaldean paraphrase suggest that Ruth’s commitment was more than a commitment to Naomi. It was a commitment to her God, his worship, his will, and his people.
B. We take the Lord God to be our God.
C. We take his people to be our people.
D. We are resolved that nothing shall separate us from him.
E. We have bound our souls to him with an oath - Baptism! “I have lifted my hand unto the Lord - I cannot go back!”
Let us each, like Ruth, be “steadfastly minded” to follow Christ.
“I Can Hear My Savior Calling” #384