Ruth Part One: Favor in a Time of Unfavorable Circumstances

The book of Ruth is a beautiful little story right in the middle of a difficult time, and we see an amazing story of Ruth, her example, and what the love of God is like. How we behave in adversity and challenges depends entirely on who the God is we say we believe in. Ruth came to believe in our living and faithful God who enables us to not only act, but react biblically.

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. - Ruth 1:1-5

As we read the Bible we need to be reminded that the names are not fictional characters. These are the names of real people in real places living real lives. In the book of Ruth, we open up with devastating words and things go from bad to worse. It’s easy to imagine Naomi’s grief as she attended funeral after funeral, standing at the graveside of her husband and then both of her sons. Calamity engulfed three defenseless women. Nonetheless, God worked through Ruth’s background. In the time of Ruth, we see favor of God in a time of unfavorable circumstances.

It’s important to note that this was a time of anarchy and at least four times we are told law and order had broken down and everyone did as he pleased. There was unchecked violence, idolatry, and immorality. We see human nature in the raw. Even some of the judges were wild and unruly themselves (like Samson). There was little rule and law in the days of the Judges. This was a time of famine with little rain, failed crops, and food shortage. Elimelech, Naomi, and sons decided to immigrate. They traveled across the River Jordan to Moab, a mountainous plateau on the east side of the Dead Sea. Millions of sheep were known to be there, yet it was a heathen country. Moab was a place of death, outside of the promises of God. Descendants of Lot did not mirror Abraham’s faith and they worshipped a false God who demanded human sacrifice (even babies). Despite all of this, God was about to work in this arrogant environment. It was customary to belong to the same God as one’s people group or tribe but in clinging to Naomi, Ruth was above all else clinging to Yahweh.

In this fallen world, we see much of the same in our current culture. We are a broken people and as we face suffering, we will weep and morn like Naomi. We need more than self-help books to deal with our grief. We need King Jesus. We have a savior who is not detached but sympathizes with us in suffering. You might be overwhelmed with life’s circumstances and maybe in a season of needing help, but our own comfort is not the end in itself. We may not always understand what our sovereign God who reigns over all things is doing, but he is the same God who is at work in the details of our lives. Who will you choose to cling to today?

For further study, Ruth 1:1-5; John 16:33; Heb. 4:14-16; 2 Cor. 1:3-7

*Sources listed in last post of series.

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