The story of Ruth, from the book of Ruth, is a story of not only survival, but of the power of God’s light in the darkness. The story opens with a famine in the land of Israel. As we have seen before with the Patriarchs, Elimelech and Naomi and their two sons leave to go to the land of Moab. Moab was on the east side of the Dead Sea. The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, from his incestuous relationship with his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). The two sons end up marrying Moabite women. Moab did not worship the God of Israel, but pagan gods. The Bible tells us not to be bound together with unbelievers because what fellowship has light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14). One of these wives was Ruth.
We find that Elimelech died, and his two sons also, in the land of Moab. Even though these were physical deaths, the implication could also mean that they died a spiritual death in the pagan land of Moab as we saw with the sons and their pagan wives. We saw this same thing happen to King Solomon and all of his pagan wives and how they influenced him (1 Kings 11:1-8). Yeshua (Jesus) tells us in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Naomi, after losing her husband and sons, was very saddened. Naomi sets out alone to return to the land of Judah. Even though she had her two daughters-in-law, they were pagan girls, and to Naomi there was no future in that. So she tells the two girls to return to their homes and she blesses them: “‘May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt kindly with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’ Then she kissed them and they lifted up their voices and wept” (Ruth 1:8-9). What great lessons we can learn from this short window that scripture gives us, to perceive what had taken place over these years in the lives of this family! Even though these two girls were pagan girls, Naomi lived out her Biblical values. She was that light in the darkness. I’m sure that Naomi was a prayerful person by the fact that she blesses these two girls and sends them back. But they both tell her “NO,” that they would return with her to her people. Naomi tells them to return because she has no sons to be their husbands, and she is old and has no future. So once again these women cry with sorrow over their tribulation.
Now you may think that Naomi could not have been strong in her faith for her to feel so low, but faith does not mean you do not cry. Strength does not mean one never grows tired. Naomi was a woman of great faith; she knew that she had to go back to her land and to her people. It would have been simpler to stay in Moab where maybe her daughters-in law would have looked after her. But she knew this was not the land of her God. And think about the courage she had; for a woman to travel alone in those days was unheard of, but she trusted God to bring her back safely. Her one daughter-in- law took her advice and kissed her and returned to home; but Ruth begged Naomi not to send her back. Ruth tells her, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Wow! Naomi must have been such a godly example before her daughters-in-law that the seed planted in the soul of Ruth’s heart caused her to make such a statement. This shows the power of light in the darkness. Ruth spoke of a total conversion from her pagan gods to the God of Naomi. She was willing to lose all in her father’s house so as not to lose Naomi. What love that one should lay down his life for a friend (John 15:13). Naomi’s faith was so contagious that Ruth had to have what Naomi had.
So the two left and returned to Bethlehem (the house of bread), for the famine was over. Ruth went out to glean in the field of Boaz, a kinsman of her husband Elimelech. Boaz was kind to Ruth and had his servant leave behind much for her to glean, and they gave her water and shelter from the heat. God had not forsaken these two women, but was about to do something great, because I am sure that Naomi prayed all day while Ruth worked from day to night in the fields providing for them because Naomi advises Ruth and tells her just what to do, and Ruth knew enough to listen to her mother-in -law. She tells Ruth to wash and anoint herself and put on her best clothes and to go down to the threshing floor where she knew Boaz would be. She tells her to lay down at his feet when he goes to sleep and cover herself, and she should do what he says. It was a custom that a man’s relative would marry the dead man’s widow to not only provide for her, but to keep the dead man’s name alive. Boaz did just that: he became the kinsman redeemer and married Ruth and took care of her and Naomi.
Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David. What light can do in the darkness! We are to be light in this dark world. We can see by this story the power to change lives through our light that we shine. The light of God can change hearts and lives. “Those who were not My people are now the people of God.”
What a great story! What a great testimony! What a great example for us to live godly lives in a world that so needs the God of Light!