Talks for Growing Christians
Naomi and Ruth Return to the Land of Israel
Lesson Number 3
- Naomi’s life is a picture of the history of Israel.
- Ruth’s commitment is a picture of the faith of the church.
- Remember that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.
- Remember, it’s not too late yet to return.
- Could the deaths of the three men have been a sign of God’s discipline?
- How is Naomi’s life a picture of the history of Israel?
- Discuss Naomi’s words in Ruth 1:20-21.
- How is Ruth’s commitment a picture of the faith of the church?
- Yes. They had gone to a foreign land with pagan gods, leaving the land God had given to them. Furthermore the two sons had married Moabite women, expressly forbidden by God. See Ezra 9:10-14 and Nehemiah 13:23ff.
- It begins with Elimelech and Naomi together. Elimelech’s name means “my God is King,” and Naomi’s name means “pleasant”. In the beginning of Israel’s history, God was her king, but as Elimelech did not live up to his name, neither did Israel. As Elimelech and his family left God’s land of promise and went to a foreign land with its pagan gods, so Israel turned away from the living God to worship foreign gods and idols. As God brought in discipline and the hard times that Naomi suffered, so God has had to discipline the Jewish people. The nation of Israel has been set aside temporarily from the place of privilege and blessing. Because of the hard times, Naomi returned knowing that God had rightly afflicted her. In the same way, because of the hard times and the tribulation that is yet to come, the nation Israel, as a widow in need, will return to the land. This is even now happening, and Israel will one day return to the Lord, acknowledging the Messiah that they’ve rejected. Then will come a time of great blessing for Israel, even as it was for Naomi.
- Naomi’s words show that she did not have the joy of the Lord. She went from Naomi (pleasant) to Mara (bitter). She knew that her bitter experience was the Lord’s discipline.
- Ruth was a Gentile, outside of the covenant promises of God to Israel. In the same way, the faith of the church, which is primarily Gentile, is in the God of Israel, the God of the Bible. As Ruth turned her back on the gods of her surroundings and by faith turned to the true God, so it is with the true church around the world. As Ruth became the bride of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, so the church is the bride of Christ.
- Do you become bitter when God disciplines you? Think beyond the discipline to the reason for the discipline – God has blessing in mind for you.
- Are there times when you get caught up in foreign gods, gods of this world (materialism and prestige)? God has much more in mind for you.
- Do you have a gnawing or dissatisfaction in your soul? Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? The greener hills of Moab were not greener. Don’t lose out on God’s greater blessings for your life. Read Psalm 106:15.
- “Naomi said, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. The Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me.’” Ruth 1:20-21