These are just the shorthand notes from where I am working through Ruth on Wednesday nights with the church. I am testing a new audio recording system for that, and if it works, I’ll post the audio. Otherwise, I’m just going to give you the notes and some commentary.
1. When? During the Judges
2. Where? Moab!
3. Who? Elimelch
4. What? Relocation
5. Why? Not for good reasons....but still within God's work
6. How? Abandoning the covenant land and people.
7. What next? Be cautious about leaving the place God has placed you--discern prayerfully whether or not God has you there for a specific reason, even in the midst.
We must be careful: God uses even our bad decisions to His glory, but that does not mean we make those decisions just for fun. Further, be prepared for things to go even more wrong when we do that. Life working out smoothly is not always proof of obedience, neither is it proof of disobedience when things go wrong. That can be an indicator.
More importantly, when you come to the end of your rope, try making your way back to where you belong. If you are one of God’s people, get back with God’s people. Abandon the pursuit of comfort and leisure amidst the ones who mock His name.
When you have given up, God is about to work
We give up. We get hopeless. We move on. We adjust our life to new realities...
And some of those are legitimate adjustments--Elimelech, Mahlon, Chillion are not coming back
But is it that God has treated us bitterly? Or is that coming moment where He is about to do amazing things.
Keep praying. Keep focused
Naomi returns and wants a name change. She is no longer “pleasant” but rather “bitter.” These names could apply to springs of water as they do to people. Some are pleasant and refreshing. Some are bitter. Naomi expresses that she is ready to be bitter and give up on life.
That is really what you see here. Well, if you’re a pessimistic type like me. The optimist sees her returning in faith to Bethlehem, but I see her returning to die and be buried in the land. I see someone with no hope.
Yet it is not long from her abandonment of hope that God works. Some of this work even comes at the hand of Naomi—or at least her advice. Consider this before you give up: God works on an eternal timescale. Are you sure He’s out of time?