Character Studies from the Book of Ruth – Part 2

Naomi – A Backslider Fully Restored

Why is studying this book important? 

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NLT)  These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

(Review of last week’s lesson)

Ruth 1:1-5 (NKJV)  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.

  • Bethlehem was one of the oldest cities in Judah. Its name means “place of bread” (The Word of God) and “place of worship.” The word “Ephrathah or Ephrathites”, who were the founders of Bethlehem, means “fruitfulness”.
  • Elimelech left the land of Israel and went to Moab simply because there was a famine in the land and took his family with him.
  • Elimelech fled to the land of Moab which was so evil and ungodly because he saw it as an answer to meet their natural needs.
  • Elimelech chose to go his own way. He took his life into his own hands.
  • We see everything this family experienced because Elimelech had missed God and chose to go his own way.
  • We can see what can happen to us when we make the decision to go our own way and disobey God.
  • God does not do it, but we place ourselves out there and become subject to whatever is there.

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. –”

(This Week’s Material) 

  • Naomi was a Jewish woman born into the heritage of Abraham. Yet even though she was a daughter of Abraham she was not enjoying the benefits of that position.
  • She was in relationship with God because of Abraham but she was not in fellowship with God because of hers and Elimelech’s decisions.
  • The blessings of God come into our lives not solely based on our relationship with God but with our fellowship with God.
  • God is interested in our relationship with Him, but He is more interested in our fellowship with Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

1John 1:6-9 (NKJV)  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  (7)  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (8)  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  (9)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There are sins of knowledge and sins of ignorance. When we walk in the light, the Blood of Jesus will cleanse us from those sins of ignorance. 

The light we walk in should be growing every day. 

Verse 8 – sin, referring to human nature or the ability to sin. 

Walking in the light will cause us to be cleansed from sins that we do not know about. Walking outside of the light will not cause us to be cleansed from sins we do not know about. 

The way that we walk back in the light and fellowship with God is to confess the sin that you know you committed and the Blood of Jesus will cleanse you from that sin and all the ones that you didn’t know about. 

Elimelech made a choice to walk out of the light that he had and walk into what he thought was the best thing to do. 

Naomi has a choice to make – to stay in this sinful condition or to repent and go back to the last place that she knew she was in God’s will for her life. 

It is better to be in a famine and in the will of God then to be in a place of plenty and out of the will of God. 

Naomi makes the decision to confess her sin, repent, and then turn her back on those sins. She appeals to God’s mercy by making this decision.  

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV)  He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. 

There is provision and prosperity in God’s mercy. 

Matthew 9:27 (NKJV)  When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Blind Bartamaeus cried out and asked Jesus to have mercy on him. He knew his healing was in God’s mercy.

Mark 10:46-52 (NKJV)  Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.  (47)  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  (48)  Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  (49)  So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”  (50)  And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.  (51)  So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”  (52)  Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road. 

Naomi is thinking: 

  • I must go back to Bethlehem where I knew I was in the will of God. 
  • When I was there before, I had a husband that could provide for me. 
  • I had two sons that if my husband had died, they could have helped provide for me. 
  • My sons could have gotten married and had grandchildren and my posterity could have gone and continued through a great family. 
  • Now, I am going back there and I do not have anything. I do not have a husband. I no longer have two sons. I have no means of income. The only thing that I will be able to do is go back there and be a beggar and a gleaner in the fields. 
  • I have no future at all. It all has been wiped out. 
  • I have sinned so badly and so much that God could never turn the situation around for me. 
  • I am going to go back and perhaps struggle but I would rather be back in the will of God for my life.
  • Everything looks impossible for Naomi.

There is nothing impossible with God!

Because she has repented, it opens the door for God to move in her life and do more than she could possibly imagine.

She is in the land of Moab and has been a hypocrite for ten years and now she is going to begin to witness to her two daughters in law. 

Ruth 1:6-14 (NKJV)  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. 

As we said last week, when you backslide it affects more than just you. When you repent, the same things are true. You begin to affect the lives of those around you. 

Notice when Naomi repents and considers her ways, Ruth and Orpah began to consider the idea of going to the land that Naomi was from. In other words, they began to consider living in the land of God’s will for themselves.

We can rightfully assume that Naomi must have begun telling her daughters-in-law about the covenant, and the mercy of God, etc. because the girls begin to entertain the idea of going back home with her.

Ruth 1:15-18 (NKJV)  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. 

Ruth did not just cleave to Naomi but now she was cleaving to the God of Naomi. 

Naomi was bringing back a Moabite woman with her (someone from a cursed race) and was risking great ridicule from the Israelite people in Bethlehem. 

  • It is never too late to come back to God.
  • There is no way that you have sinned so much that God cannot forgive you.
  • The only way that God cannot forgive you is if you are dead and in the grave.
  • If your heart is beating, God can forgive you.
  • If your heart is beating, God has a great plan for your life.

It was rough for Naomi to come back home but imagine what it was going to be like for Ruth. That is why Naomi told her to go back to her home. 

Ruth 1:19-21 (NKJV)  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?” 

Naomi – pleasant and a delight

Mara – bitter 

The people of Bethlehem learned to love Ruth and began to see her as Naomi’s deliverance. 

Ruth 4:13-17 (NKJV)  So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.  (14)  Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel!  (15)  And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”  (16)  Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.  (17)  Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. 

God restored her finances, restored her dignity and then restored her heritage. 

Naomi had everything against her and once she made the right decision to go back home and to the place of God’s will and God restored everything to her! 

We serve the one Who restores! 

We serve the one that can turn your circumstances around.

If God can do it for Naomi, he can do it for you!