AN EXAMPLE OF A STEADFAST LIFE
Ruth 1: 1-22 (NKJV)
Elimelech’s Family Goes to Moab
1 Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.
3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
Naomi Returns with Ruth
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”
So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
16 But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
19 Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
There are many stories in the Bible that serve as an encouragement to our hearts. The story of Ruth is no exception. Many look at this little book, which was written during the time if the judges, and see nothing more than a love story. However, while there is a love story of sorts in this book, that is the most shallow interpretation. The bigger picture is that of a lost sinner who, through divine guidance and providence, is brought into a relationship with Jehovah and is made to be an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are taught in this book that God is not just the Savior of Israel, but that He is the Savior of the entire human race!
I wish there was time this evening to preach this entire book tonight, but there isn’t. What I would like to do is to look into the verses we have read this evening and pull out a little snapshot of the heart of this woman named Ruth. In these verses, and throughout this book as well, we see in Ruth a tremendous example of a steadfast life. She teaches us about remaining faithful even when others around us do not. As we have time this evening, let’s look into these verses and examine this Example Of A Steadfast Life.
I. V. 1-7 RUTH’S CONDITION
A. V. 4 Her Ancestry – Ruth was a member of a condemned nation, MOAB, outside of the covenant of God. She and her people were sinful and had been judged and condemned by the Lord. Her’s was a desperate and lost condition.
(Ill. In this revelation, Ruth is a picture of each of person who is outside of a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We were helpless and condemned before God. That condemnation fell upon us because of the sin of Adam, Rom. 5:12, and we were all abiding under the wrath of God, John 3:36. The fact is, we were nothing but lost and undone sinners, Rom. 3:23.)
B. V. 5 Her Adversity – This verse tells us that Ruth’s husband and his brother both have died. These young women are left widows with no means of support and with no hope for the future. They faced a terrible trial. It seemed that there only hope was to return to the home of their father and hope another man would eventually marry them.
(Ill. Again, in her condition, we can see a picture of humanity. The Bible tells us that life will be filled with troubles and afflictions, Job 14:1. This is especially true in the lives of the lost – Pro. 13:15.)
C. V. 6-7 Her Ambition – Naomi has heard that the famine that caused her family to leave Bethlehem to begin with has ended and that there is bread in the land. So, she rises up to go home, and her two daughter-in-laws rise up to go with her.
(Ill. This is purely conjecture, but it seems that Ruth and Orpah had seen or heard something from the lives of the back-slidden Israelites that spoke to their hearts. It may be that even while they were in a condemned land that they continued to speak of Jehovah. Maybe it is the fact that these girls have married into an Israelite family. Whatever the case it is worthy to note that both of these young women, in the beginning, made the decision to follow Naomi back to Israel.)
(Ill. That is precisely how the new life begins! A conscious decision is made to leave the old life behind and to go with Jesus Christ into a new life in Him. I wonder have you made that decision in your life? That is the starting point. That is where new life begins. We must be sure that we have indeed decided to follow Jesus.)
I. Ruth’s Condition
II. V. 8-15 RUTH’S CHALLENGE
A. V. 8-9 An Expectation – As they begin their journey, Naomi encourages both of these girls to return to the home of their mothers. She prays that the Lord will bless them, but she intends to send them away. Such is the condition of Naomi’s heart that she would try to keep these women from going with her into the promised land of blessing.
(Ill. Basically, this boils down to a challenge to the commitment made by these women. They are challenged to give up their resolve to follow Naomi and they are tempted to turn back to a life of heathenism and wickedness. Hey folks, in case you haven’t noticed, life is filled with challenges. Satan would love nothing better than to get you side-tracked and mess up your Christian life. He will confront you with challenge after challenge to get you to turn your back on the Lord. How you respond to these challenges reveals a great deal about the level of your commitment. In these verses, we get an opportunity to see Ruth’s heart put on display.)
B. V. 10-13 An Explanation – Naomi tries to persuade these women to go home because she has no more sons to marry the women and give them children under the law of the Levitical Marriage. And, even if she remarried and had children, these girls couldn’t be expected to wait until these new sons were grown.
(Ill. This is just another attempt to get these girls to go back to their families. You see, if you do not respond to one of Satan’s challenges, he will try another. Satan’s ambition is to get you to fail and to discredit the Lord Jesus Christ through your life.)
(Ill. How do you react to the challenges you face? Many people react to challenges by turning away from the Lord. You can see it happening in their lives. However, like Job, the challenges of life should drive us closer to the Lord – Job 1:20-21.)
(Ill. Let’s examine the responses of these two women.)
C. V. 14a An Evacuation – When Orpah heard this speech, she kissed her mother-in-law and turned around and went home.
(Ill. I am afraid that there are a lot of people around who are just like Orpah. They face the challenges of life by defecting and going back to do their own thing. Please don’t let this be the way you react to life’s challenges. The problem with Orpah was that her heart was still filled with love for the old gods and the old people. She was still a Moabite. Her heart had never been changed!)
D. V. 14b-15 An Examination – After Orpah leaves, Ruth clings to Naomi. She is determined to stay with her mother-in-law. This allows us a glimpse into her heart. She shows us, by here actions that which is the best response in a time of challenge. The heart Ruth reveals to us is one of absolute devotion and commitment. You see, instead of driving us away from our commitments, the challenges of life should cause us to cleave to Him more strongly. In her commitment, Ruth demonstrates the fact that her heart had been changed and she was willing to follow a new Lord into a new land to live a new life.)
I. Ruth’s Condition
II. Ruth’s Challenge
III. V. 16-22 RUTH’S COMMITMENT
A. V. 16 She Commits To A New Land – She is willing to follow Naomi where ever she goes. She is willing to leave Moab behind forever and to follow Naomi to Israel.
B. V. 16 She Commits To A New Leadership – She is willing to submit to Naomi and to allow Naomi to guide her life. (Ill. This is seen in the various times that Naomi gives Ruth advise concerning the manners and customs of Israel.)
C. V. 16 She Commits To A New Lifestyle – She is willing to give up all the old ways of Moab and to conform her life to the way people live in Israel. She is ready to make a dramatic change in her life.
D. V. 16 She Commits To A New Lineage – Ruth is willing to cut all ties with Moab. She wants to be a part of the nation which she has married into. She is ready to claim a new lineage.
E. V. 16 She Commits To A New Lord – This is perhaps the greatest statement Ruth makes. She is willing to give up the gods of Moab and follow the true and living God of Israel. This statement is her declaration of faith in Jehovah God.
F. V. 17 She Commits With No Limits – She tells Naomi that she is willing to commit to this new plan for life for as long as she lives. She even invokes the curse of God upon her life if she lets anything but death come between her and the commitment she has made.
Ill. As we consider the commitment Ruth made to Naomi, it paints a picture for us of the commitment we should be willing to make to the Lord Jesus Christ.
– We should be willing to cut all ties with the old life and enter into a new land and a new life of blessing before the Lord.
– We must be willing to commit and surrender to His leadership for our lives.
– There should be a commitment to a new lifestyle based on the Word and Will of God.
– We should also consider ourselves dead to the old sinful life and alive in a new relationship to the Lord Jesus. Our lineage has changed!
– Obviously, this all means that there must be a new Lord and King, a new master Who dominates every area of our lives.
– Then, we should be willing to commit to the Lord and His will without any restrictions. Our commitment to Jesus Christ must be complete. It must be absolute and it must be final!
– Does this describe the life you live? Or have there been areas where you can see you commitment slacking off? Can you honestly say that no matter what happens in life, you are 100%, absolutely and completely dedicated to serving the Lord Jesus Christ, both now and forever?
Ruth lived a consistent and steadfast life. She was brought into Israel, married an Israelite man named Boaz and became a part of the covenant people of the Lord. She became the great-grandmother to King David and an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of this came to pass in her life because she was unwilling to change her mind, change her devotion or to change her direction. She kept on going in the face of adversity and she did not give up. She remained steadfast through extreme adversities in her life.
Can the same be said about you this evening? Are you living a life that is steadfast and “unmoveable”, always abounding in the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. 15:58?
Or has your devotion to the Lord tended to fluctuate with the changing tides of life? You know, you need God today, but you don’t serve Him tomorrow. Where is your heart tonight?
Are you more like Orpah who chose the easy path? Or, are you like Ruth who persevered through her difficulties to win the ultimate victory of faith?
Are there issues that you need to get settled with the Lord this evening? If so, this altar is open for your use. Please use it as the Lord leads.