This week, we will visit with a character from the book of Ruth. Naomi is our focus; she and Ruth lived during the period of the Judges of Israel. This was a time which was characterized by the fact that everyone did what was "right in their own eyes," and standards of right and wrong were almost non-existent.
Let's look at the Scriptures and begin:
I hope you will keep your Bible open to the book of Ruth, for we will refer to it again. . . .
Have you ever been in a situation when it seemed like things just couldn't get worse? When so many things went wrong, that you became overwhelmed?
Yes, I know. (I see y'all nodding.) I've been there, too. And all of us will probably be there again before it's time to go home to heaven. I guess that is where the expression comes from: when it rains, it pours.
There are times in our lives when things get pretty tough, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised, right? After all, Satan is said to be prowling the earth, seeking people to devour, and then here in James, we read this:
(James 1:2-4)Ay yi yi.
Why do these bad things happen to good people?
Well, one reason is what we just read in James . . . God does not cause bad things to happen to us, but He allows them and then He uses them. And it is that process that has puzzled believers and empowered un-believers for many years. Un-believers point to that and say, "How can He be a good God, a God Who loves everyone, when He allows these things to happen?"
Steve Malone has said that for every non-Christian who gets cancer, a Christian gets cancer -- so that the world can see the difference.
For every non-Christian that gets fired from her job, a Christian gets fired, so that the world can see the difference.
He just may be correct.
In our verses, we see Naomi going through a huge upheaval in her life. Her home town of Bethlehem (house of bread is the meaning of the word) was suffering with the rest of the land as a severe famine took hold. The region has two rainy seasons: October and March. If the rains did not come plentifully at these times, or if there was hail or other storms, or if marauding armies trampled the growing crops, the people were left hungry.
Apparently it was so bad this time that Elimilech took his wife and his two sons and went to Moab. Why was this significant? Because Moab was an enemy of God's people. They had oppressed Israel for almost twenty years under the leadership of King Eglon.
So, not only did Naomi endure a famine, leave her home and friends to go live in enemy territory, but while there she endured the death of her husband and both her sons. It's easy to see why she said her name should now be called "Mara" or bitter.
We'll learn more about Naomi next time. I hope you will study with us!