Friday, March 22, 2013

A Morning Cup of Tea: Studying Ruth

Good morning! For the third day of spring, it's a bit chilly here, but that's about par for the course I think. Even so I take my walks and see the trees and bushes in the neighbors' yards blooming, and I see the yellow-green pollen ...everywhere...and I make the allergy medicine makers very happy this time of year. Still though, I enjoy it. I know that warmer weather is just around the corner and will settle in and stay a good long while.
   It took me a little while to settle my men enough to think about this morning's writing, and then I had to settle on what I wanted to study. I decided on Ruth this time because it's a book in the bible that I've read, but haven't really taken time with, and also, I have wanted for awhile now to look at the women of the bible. I'm kind of hop scotching around as I feel my way through this, but bear with me, please. I think there is much to learn from the ladies of the bible, both good and bad. There will be some, such as Ruth and Esther, where we look at the whole book and the story that surrounds them, and many where we look at the verses in which they are mentioned to get at what they have to teach. I do hope you'll join me.

   In the book of Ruth, there are two ladies that get our attention: Ruth of course, and her mother in law, Naomi. Today we are focusing on chapter one.

Naomi and Ruth and their family lived during the time that judges ruled Israel. There happened to be a famine, and Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to live in Moab.  Elimelech died there, and the two sons married Orpah and Ruth. After awhile the two sons died as well. 
  In today's world women have many options. We can work outside the home and have been taught by society to take care of ourselves. In some cases, there is government assistance if the woman has young children and the father is not around, for whatever reason. There is always somewhere we can turn if our husband were to die. Naomi, Orpah and Ruth didn't have those choices. There was no government help and women, as a rule, did not work. They depended solely on their father, brother, husband or son to provide for them.
  Let's look at Naomi. Here she is in a foreign land because her husband brought her there. He died, leaving her with two sons who eventually married Moabitess women, but they too died, leaving three widows this time. Naomi is quite bitter, as we see in verse 20, when she tells her people that she doesn't want to be called Naomi. Call me Mara. God has treated me badly.
   She has been dealt a rather harsh hand, it seems, and she is angry. Probably scared as well. Things are looking up in Israel plus she has family there still. She is done with Moab and wants to go home.
   Knowing what she went through, and possibly figuring that it's going to be harder to take care of three women's needs while traveling and settling in back at Bethlehem, Naomi tells Orpah and Ruth to go back to their family homes.
  It's not an easy choice for either of the young ladies, after living with Naomi for awhile, and they both cry and protest. Naomi tells them she's too old to remarry, and even if she did, what were they going to do, sit around and wait for any sons born in the new marriage to grow up so they could marry? No, it would be best for Orpah and Ruth to go back to their families. Orpah went back, but Ruth was steadfast. 
  16. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
    Ruth is a young woman. Being a Moabitess she didn't grow up serving the Lord as Naomi did. She learned all this when she married Naomi's son. She could have gone back to her childhood home and gone back to all she knew, but her love of Naomi and love of God (I'm guessing here, since she said your God will be my God) showed through in her decision to continue with her mother in law.  She does not know what is in store for her in Bethlehem, but she is determined to stay with Naomi. This tells so much strength Ruth has.
   We will leave the story today as Naomi and Ruth together travel back to Bethlehem. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this lesson.           

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