I won't go back
The book of Ruth is a story about redemption. Naomi and her husband Elimelech and their two sons (Mahlon and Chilion). The name of Maholn meant sick and the name of Chilion meant pining. You may be wondering why is this important. During Biblical times names were very important; they often were prophetic in nature. They were often given to the children according how the parents wanted the child’s character to be. They seemed to predict the character of the person. You will see how Naomi’s son’s names were prophetic in nature. The name Ester means star, the name Nabal means foolish (story of Nabal), Jesus means Emmanuel (God with us), and my name Nadine means Hope.
As we continue the story Elimelech left the land God had given to the Israelites and went to the land of Moab. They left because there was a famine in the land and there was a lack of food. The people were suffering and facing many hardships. One day Naomi’s husband Elimelech while still in the land of Moab died and his sons married Moabite women. The land of Moab was a land where the people worshipped idols and they did not serve or know God. God was not pleased with the nation Moab because when the children of Israel were coming out of Egypt and on their way to Canaan which is the promised land the king of Moab refused to allow them passage and he also refused to give them food and water. We find this in Judges 11:17. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot and his daughter after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.
Elimelech left the land God had given to his people and he went where he thought things were better. He took his family from the land of promise to a land of sin. He took his family, his wife and two sons from a land God had given to the Israelites to a land where people did not know of the true God. He did this because of the hardships he and his family were suffering. Elimelech was the head of the family, he was the provider and protector, but he chose the wrong direction. He did the wrong thing but for the right reason. He did it because there was famine in the land and his family was suffering. How often have we been in situations where we did the wrong thing, thinking that it would help our situation but it didn’t? Elimelech should have been protecting his family from the influences of the ungodly nations, but instead he put them right in the path of people who did not know God. How often have we not protected our family from wicked influences? How often have we allowed our children to go into environments we knew were not good? He did not want to suffer the afflictions with his people.
So many of us do the same thing Elimelech did, when tests and trials present themselves we run, we leave the safety God has given us and run to where we think things are better. We think the grass is greener on the other side, but it isn’t. We don’t want to suffer affliction. But Jesus said Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, he said take my yoke upon you because my yoke is easy and my burdens are light. The scripture says in I Corinthians 10:13, that we will suffer affliction and trials, but there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. We are supposed to rest in Christ, we are supposed to give him our burdens, our worries, our troubles. We don’t want to suffer, but Jesus suffered affliction for us, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” Isaiah 53:3. He suffered a horrible and painful death for use. We were dead in our sins but he came and set us free. Jesus said take up your cross and follow me, but we would rather leave or do things our way until things get better and return later but we might not make it back. Elimelech and his two sons did not. They did not make it back to the Promised Land. Satan wants to kill us, he comes to steal, kill and destroy. Elimelech left the safety of God and instead of humbling himself and submitting himself to God and suffering with the people he left.
Why were the people suffering? They were suffering because of their disobedience. They were worshipping other gods; they were doing things that were displeasing in the sight of God. They were not keeping his commandments. God plainly stated what would happen if they stopped serving him. The book of Ruth took place during the time of the judges. During this time the people were constantly going into bondage, God would raise up someone to help deliver the people and for a while they would do right but when the person died they would fall back into sin and bondage and the cycle would repeat itself. They would cry out to God and he would raise up a deliverer. This happened over and over again. God would raise up someone to deliver the people and they would do right. The person would die and the people would go back into sin. God would punish them and they would cry out. During this time there was no king in Israel and the people did what was right in their own eyes. There was no king because the people had left God who was the king; they did not want God to rule over them.
So we see that Elimelech took his family to Moab. A land of sin and over the course of time he died. Naomi was broken hearted. She stayed in the land of Moab and was there for 10 years and then her sons died. Their names meant sick and pining or wasting away, we can see how their names were prophetic, they both died at early ages. Naomi was heart-broken again. One day she decided to go back to Canaan because she had heard how God had visited his people and there was bread in the land. Naomi knew God and she could have left Moab after her husband died but she stayed, she chose to stay in a land of sin. She chose to stay in a land that God did not give them they were not to live amongst unbelievers; they were to be lights to the nations that were in darkness. The same way we are to be light in this dark world. We have to live in the world a world full of sin but we are not to deliberately dwell and live amongst sin. We are to flee from evil not run towards it.
In the book of Ruth, Naomi believed God was punishing her for living in Moab (1:21). Job believed the same thing. He believed God took everything away from him, his children, his wealth and his health. After Naomi made the decision to leave Moab and go back to Judah her two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah decided they would go back with her, while on their way to the land of Judah Naomi told them to go back. She told them she had no husband and no sons and there was no possibility she would have sons again for them to marry. She loved her daughters and was concerned for them because she had nothing to offer them. She thought the hand of God was against her. She told them she was poor and she didn’t know what her life would be like once she returned to Judah. She told them to go back to their mother’s house and to their gods. Go back she kept saying, go back. They said no we want to go with you. But she kept insisting, Go back to your way of life it will be better for you.
Isn’t that what Satan does? When we make the decision to leave our old life, our old habits, old gods, our old way of thinking when we turn from sin and turn to God, Satan tries to convince us not to. He says the grass is not greener over there, you will have hardships, trials and tribulations but if you stay over here in sin, at least you will know what your life will be like. You will have problems but at least you will be in control of you situation. Over there you have no control, you must let God be in control, you must deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow him but if you stay over here in sin you can be you own god.
Naomi kept insisting and finally Orpah decided to go back; she is like the seed that fell among thorns. She heard the word and it took root but because of trials and tribulation and because the root was not deep it withered and died. Because the thought of hardship was too much to bear Orpah went back. She went back to her god and her people; she went back to her old habits and way of life. She turned from the only true God back to a life of sin. The seed that had been planted in her by Naomi withered and died. Naomi was a woman who knew God because she talked about him to her daughters-in-law. She bestowed blessings upon them and asked God to be kind to them. Orpah wanted to go with Naomi because she loved her but the pull of her old life and the uncertainty of the future was to much for her to bear. Let us not be like Orpah, let us be like Ruth instead.
Ruth was not persuaded to go back to Moab, a land of sin and she insisted that Naomi talk no more on the subject. You have to shut the devil up you have to tell him, I won’t go back, it may look bleak and dark but I won’t go back, times may get hard but I won’t go back. I might get hungry but I won’t go back, I might have to cry sometimes, but I won’t go back, I might get sick in my body, but I won’t go back, my family might turn their backs on me, but I won’t go back. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...for I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8: 35 & 38, 39.
In essence this is what Ruth said to Naomi nothing will make me leave you, and this is the attitude we must have in our relationship with God. Nothing will make us leave him, not even ourselves. She told Naomi where you go I will go, where you sleep I will sleep, what you eat I will eat, where you die I will die, your God shall be my God and your people shall be my people. I won’t go back to my old life, my old friends, my old habits, my old family and my old gods. I have decided to take up my cross and follow Jesus. We should be like the seed that fell on good ground. It grew and brought forth much fruit. Naomi and Ruth left Moab; they turned their back on it and headed towards the land of promise. When they entered Bethlehem the people were astonished and said is this Naomi? Is this the same person who left so many years ago? She has changed so much, she went out full but now she looks broken and sad and broken in spirit. When you leave the land of promise for a land of sin Satan tries to destroy you and if and when you return you come back broken, such was the case with Naomi.
The people saw her condition but they did nothing to help her. They saw that her husband and sons were dead but all they did was talk. We as the people of God can’t be like them when we see our brother or sister in need and we have the means to help them. We are obligated by God to help them or as the scriptures say how dwelleth the love of God in us? We say we love God but we are a liar and the truth is not in us, because God is truth. Because Ruth and Naomi received help from no one they had to fend of themselves, but God always has a plan. One day Ruth said to her mother-in-law. Let me go into the fields and work, maybe I will find grace in the sight of God. She didn’t say I never should have left; I must have been crazy to follow you. I’m hungry and there is no food. She didn’t curse Naomi, but instead she went to work. The scripture says, I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day for the night cometh when no man can work. One day while out in the fields working, Ruth came to a field which belonged to a near kinsman named Boaz. She gleaned in his field, (which means she picked up the grain that had been left after the people had harvested the fields), and one day Boaz noticed her. He inquired as to who she was and was told she was the daughter-in-law of Naomi.
Ruth didn’t have to take care of her mother-in-law; she was under no obligation. Because of her actions, she was viewed by everyone as a virtuous woman. She was not chasing after men and she worked to take of herself and her mother-in-law. This willingness to be a blessing to her mother-in-law impressed Boaz and he helped her without her knowing. He shared his meal with her and he told her to only glean in his fields. He instructed the men working in the fields to let her glean as much as she wanted and they were to purposely let some of the grain fall so she could gather them. Ruth worked from morning till evening and then she had to beat out that she had gleaned before it could be cooked. This was very hard work. We don’t know what direction our lives are going to take but we must work and put ourselves into a position to be blessed.
When Ruth had returned home Naomi asked where she had gleaned. She told her in the field of Boaz, Ruth also told her how Boaz had instructed her to stay with his people and glean from his fields until the end of the harvest. He told the young men to purposely drop grain for her to pick up. Naomi realized Ruth had found favor in Boaz’s sight and she knew he could redeem her so she devised a plan. She wanted Ruth to be taken care of. Ruth said whatever you tell me to do that will I do. We have to be willing and obedient to receive the blessing of the Lord. Naomi told Ruth to wash herself, make herself clean and go down to where the men were and when they fall asleep uncover Boaz’s feet and lay down. Ruth did as Naomi had instructed her. When Boaz awoke he was startled and afraid until he knew it was Ruth. She told him to cover her with his skirt because he was a near kinsman. In essence she was saying take me under you wing, I want to belong to you, I want to be your wife and be called by your name, take care of me and I will be with you forever.
The story of Ruth is a story of redemption, but not just anyone could redeem Ruth, it had to be someone near of kin someone who could buy back and restore everything that had been lost. Just like us, not just anyone could redeem us, it had to be someone like us but without sin, someone who could restore us to our original position and give us back everything the devil had taken from us. When Adam and Eve sinned they put the whole world in sin. When we accept Jesus as our savior we are saying. Take me under your wing, I want to be your bride, I want to be called by your name, I want to be with you forever. Before Ruth went to Boaz she washed herself which is a type of repentance, then she went and lay at his feet which is a type of submission and afterwards she was received by him which is a type of us becoming sons of God. Everything that Boaz had now belonged to Ruth and she was blessed. Both she and Naomi were blessed for the rest of their days. God took someone who lived in a land of sin, washed and cleaned up because her heart was changed and bestowed upon her more blessings than she knew was possible. We must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. After we repent, we submit ourselves unto the will of God and when we receive the new birth we become the sons of God.
God is saying will you say yes? Will your heart and soul say yes? He is saying I paid the price for you and there is more that I require of you. Will you say yes? If I told you what I really need from you, will you still say yes? There is more that God requires of us, he’s calling us higher, he’s calling us out of our dry places, he’s saying come on up a little higher. Return to me and be called by name, I love you. Will you say yes?
Prophetess Nadine Richmond
The Church Readiness Ministries