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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:1-5

Questions from the Scripture text: In what days does this take place (Ruth 1:1)? What happened in the land? From what tribe does the man go out? Where does he go to dwell? Whom does he take with him? What was the man’s name (Ruth 1:2)? What was his wife’s name? What were his sons’ names? What was another name for Bethlehem (cf. Genesis 35:19)? What is repeated for a second time at the end of verse 2? What happens to Elimelech in Ruth 1:3? What happens to Naomi? To whom else does this happen? From among whom do Mahlon and Chilion take wives (Ruth 1:4)? What were the wives’ names? How long did they dwell there? What happens to the sons in Ruth 1:5? By whom now has she been “left”?
Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but the opening verses of Ruth present to us a bitterness (“Mara”) upon which much grace must be poured before she is “Naomi” again.

Political bitterness. Judges 21:25 tells us that these were the days when “there was no king in Israel,” and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This was a time of division among a people, who ought to have been an example to the world of covenant unity.

Spiritual bitterness. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” isn’t just disunity from one another. It’s rebellion against God, who was their King, and by whose law ought to have determined “what was right” rather than their eyes. Ironically, Elimelech’s name means “My God is King.”

Economic bitterness. There was a famine in the land. This one is related to the spiritual bitterness, because the fruitfulness of the land was a direct function of covenantal blessing and curse (Cf. many passages such as Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Social bitterness. Naomi ended up with her husband in the land of Moab—arch enemies of Israel (cf. Judges 3:12-30) and of the Lord (cf. Numbers 21:29 and Numbers 25:1-3). Not only that, but her husband dies. Then, her sons marry Moabite women. Then her sons die. In Ruth 1:3, she and her two sons “were left.” The same verb concludes Ruth 1:5. The passage drives the message home: Naomi is being left by all that she holds dear.

What will the Lord bring out of bitterness? That’s the question that these five verses set up for the rest of the book to answer. For believers, whose lives will have much in them that is bitter, we will rejoice to know the answer!
What bitter circumstances do you have? What was the greatest bitterness ever experienced? What did God bring out of that? What do you already know must come out of every situation?
Suggested Songs: ARP30 “O Lord, I Will Exalt You” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

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