Markethill Free Presbyterian Church

Rev. Thomas Murray

Theme: Wandering Widows

(2nd of a series of 10 message preached on the book of Ruth)

Text: Ruth 1:6-18

             As we step into this book we discover there was no king in Israel. Every man doing that which was right in his own eyes the heavens became as brass. The crops withering in the fields Elimelech fearing the horrors of famine he brought his family down into the land of Moab.

            However, while it held forth great promise its promises were short lived. Death sweeping through their home it robbed Naomi not only of her husband but also of her two sons. Laying them one after the other to rest in the dust glad tiding suddenly broke through the darkness. Messengers passing through the land they told of how the Lord had visited his people again. Breaking ten years of silence he permitted the clouds to drop their refreshing showers. Transforming the dust into fertile soil the seed germinating brought forth abundant crops. For the first time in many years there was an abundance of bread in Bethlehem. However, dwelling in the land of Moab Naomi and her daughters in law missed out. Living outside the will of God they missed the day of divine visitation.

            It is possible to be saved and yet to miss the showers of blessing. While outside his will you will be outside his wealth. Indeed, some of the saddest words in Scripture are found in Psalm 44. There the psalmist said in v1 “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days”. But while they had heard of the mighty workings of God in past gone days they had never  experienced it themselves. It is possible to miss the blessing of God. Thomas not being in the upper room on the Sabbath he missed the presence of Christ. The elder brother being consumed by bitterness he missed the feasting. While you are dwelling in the land of Moab you cannot enjoy the blessings of Bethlehem. They will be beyond your reach. You want to know the blessedness you once enjoyed then there must be a returning to the Lord. Lets us consider these three widows.

 

1. A BITTER WIDOW REASONING: Feeling her emptiness and bareness her thoughts returned home. Hearing of golden fields of corn she decided to return. Beginning the journey notice here:-

 

a) The Souls She Hindered: Setting out for home we read in v7. It appears that in their hour of despair that both her daughter in laws were looking to her for direction. They were watching to see where she would go. Seeing her packing here belongings for Bethlehem they resolved in their hearts to go with her. Whatever she would do they would do and wherever she would go they would go. Sadly instead of encouraging them to journey towards Bethlehem she by her life and by her language encouraged them to stay in Moab.

            As believer's our lives are continually being observed. They are either influencing souls for heaven or for hell. Indeed, reminding the Corinthian believer's of this Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:9. The word “spectacle” here is the word from which we get our English word theatre. In other words their lives were being played out upon a stage. Not only the world but the very angels were watching them.

            Out lives are not merely a private matter but a public matter. They are continually being inspected and more than that they are having an impact upon those around us. Mohandas Ghandi, the leader of the Indian Independence Movement, probably influenced more people than any other that has ever lived. He once made the statement, “I would be a Christian if it were not for other Christians”.  Robert Ingersoll, the infidel notorious for his attacks on the Bible, had a godly aunt. He sent her a copy of one of his books against the Bible. In the flyleaf he wrote “If all Christians had lived like Aunt Sarah perhaps this book would never have been written”.  Sadly there are many people going to hell because of people who are going to heaven. Spurgeon in times of illness used to go to Monte Carlo for the sake of his health. He eventually stopped going because while he did not gamble others were using his presence in Monte Carlo  to justify their gambling. As Christians we need to be careful what we do and where we go because the the world and even the angels are looking on. Are you influencing people for heaven or  for hell?

 

b) The Sins She Hid: Her daughters in law travelling by her side we read in v11. Have you ever wondered why she didn’t want them to travel with her. It was because she was trying to get rid of the evidence. Had they had come back with her they would have been living proof that not only she but that her sons had disobeyed the Lord. They ought not to have married into a heathen nation. Trying to hide her sin she now came back to Bethlehem empty and bitter.

            The covering rather than the confessing of our sin leads to bitterness. It will bring you downward rather than upward. Indeed, speaking unto the men of his day Solomon  said in Proverbs 28:13. They only had to think back to Achan. Coveting  a Babylonish garment, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold he then stole them. Trying to bury the evidence beneath his tent he being discovered was then stoned to death.

            The hiding of sin is not only foolish but fatal. It will bring nothing but pain. When the ostrich gets frightened what does she do? She sticks her head in the sand and imagines no one can see her. When you try to hide your sin you are acting like the ostrich. Not only are you fooling yourself but you are making a fool of yourself. Why? Because the Lord and probably most people already  know about your sin. Better to confess it.

c) The Story She Heeded: Hearing there was bread in Bethlehem Judah we read in v7. Going out of the will of God she had ten years earlier left Bethlehem. Crossing over the Jordan had settled in the land of Moab. Finally coming to her senses we now find her not only leaving Moab, the place of idolatry, but coming back to Bethlehem. Back to the place where she had left the Lord.

            As well as repenting there must be in the backslider’s life a returning. A going back to the place where he left the Lord off. Indeed, also fearing the horrors of famine we find the patriarch Abram leaving Bethel. Travelling downwards into the land of Egypt his sin eventually finding him out he not only left Egypt which typifies the world but we read in Genesis 13:3. He went back to Bethel. Back to the place where he had left the Lord off.

            Before there can be an enjoying of the presence of the Lord there must be not only be a leaving of our sin but a retracing of our footsteps. A going back to where we left the Lord off. Where did Mary and Joseph find the Lord? They found him in the temple where they had left him. The Lord is where you left him. Did you leave him in the place of prayer or in the place of Bible study or when you left that job? Then you must go back.

 

2. A BARREN WIDOW RETURNING: Her husband dead Orpah was left childless. Testing her resolve and seeking to discourage her Naomi set before her a number of tests. Notice there was:-

 

a) The Test Of Prosperity: Urging her to go back we read in v8-9. In returning to Bethlehem Naomi was not sure she would even have a roof over her head. As such in returning to Moab and to their own mothers their prospects would have been much better. They would have had a home to live in. More than she promised them the blessing of God and rest. The word “rest” as Chapter 3:1 reveals refers to marriage. She would find there a husband who would care and provide for her. However, remembering how Moab had robbed her of her first husband Orpah refused to turn back.

            The devil uses many different types of bait. As well as tempting you with pleasure he will tempt you with prosperity. Seeking to counteract this temptation the Lord said in Mark 8:36. Esau sold his soul for a mess of pottage the man in Luke 18 sold his soul for riches. If we could drag them out of hell this morning I am sure that they would say ‘amen’ these words of the Saviour. Why? Because this world’s wealth is not for ever and it cannot fulfil.

            Beware of selling that which is eternal for that which ethereal. This world is passing away. Someone has rightly said money talks. Do you know what it says? It says good bye . One day you are going to have to leave it all behind. You can't take it with you. Billy Sunday said, 'even if you could, it would melt where some of you are going.' Even if you could gain this whole world you can’t keep it and even if you could keep it it would never satisfy you. Like Orpah reject this temptation.

 

b) The Test Problems: Seeing her resolve we read v12. In order to understand her argument we need go back into Deuteronomy 25. There we discover that when a husband died leaving no children it was the responsibility of his younger brother to marry his widow and raise up children to him. Naomi’s argument was that she was now to old to get another husband and more that that she was past a child bearing age. Even if by some miracle she did have another child  she would have to wait for him to grow up. Unlike Ruth failing to see that God could overcome every problem Orpah turned back.

            The Christian life is not without its problems. But while they may great our Saviour is even greater. making her way up to the tomb Mary was filled with despair. Wondering how she was going to roll the stone away we read John 20:1. Before she got there the Lord rising from the dead had rolled the stone away.

            No crisis greater than Christ. He is able to solve every problem and difficulty. Corrie Ten Boom who suffered at the hands of the Nazis said “Let God’s promises shine on your problems”. You say ‘if get saved what will my friends say. How will it affect my work or I will have withdrawal symptoms’. Yes and they will be worse than you could ever imagine. But as God solved Ruth s problems he will solve yours.

 

c) The Test O Popularity: v15. Thinking of her mother and those whom she grew up with she turned back. She was snared by her friends.

            Sadly many turn back because of either a love or a fear of companions. If you really love them would it not be better to lead them to heaven. if you fear them is it worth selling your soul for them. Companions can damn you but they will never save you

 

3. A BROKEN WIDOW RESOLVING: Despite being urged again and again to return Ruth refused.

 

a) Her Departure: v16. Not only was she willing to leave Moab but she wanted to become one with the people of God. v17 indicates that this was no temporary decision. She wanted not only to live with them but to die with them. There was not turning back.

            Before there can be an entering into the kingdom of heaven there must be an emigrating from the kingdom of satan. A permeneant leaving of sin and a dwelling with the saints. Some want to be known as Christians but they do not want to leave the world or to be seen with God s people. If you are going to be saved you must be willing not only to leave your sin but dwell with the saints in prayer and even persecution.

 

b) Her Determination: v16. She was willing not only to give up the ways of Moab but the worship of Moab. Leaving all behind there were no maybes in her mid. She as willing to go anywhere and do anything.

            Salvation requires not only a seeking of but a submitting to Christ. A willingness to follow him wherever he may go. We sing "where he may lead I will go”. That is what is required if he is to become your God.

 

c) Her Death: v17. Wishing not only not to be separated from Naomi in life but in death she now took her God to be her God.

            If you are not to be separated from that believer in life or in death then you need to take their God as your God. Without Christ you will never enter into the kingdom of God.

Which of these woman will you follow?