I know we haven’t made it very far into this book of Ruth yet, but don’t worry I am not going to go verse by verse all the way through the book! And shortly we shall delve into how Ruth fits into the picture.
So, Elimelech and his family are settled in Moab. The elapsed time between events of vs. 2 and vs. 3 is not exactly spelled out for us, but I do believe it is safe to say (as we read on) that it has probably been years vs. months. And we now read one of the 2 saddest statements within this short book.
“Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons.” Ruth 1:3
Naomi is now a widow in a foreign land in which she possibly had thought would be a temporary home until the famine in Judah had run its course. Granted the sons were most probably adults or close to adulthood when they arrived in Moab so they would be in a position to care for their mother in the loss of her husband. For that was the way of the culture; and may I add the way of the Lord as well. Family takes care of family as much as is within their ability to do so. Unlike today, at that time married children, specifically of the Jewish/Israelite culture, tended to build onto or live close to their parents home that they may be a help to each other. Which seems a foreign concept to many today as more and more families are separated by long distances. For that reason immediate family is no longer able to be a support system to each other in times of need.
Going on to vs 4 we learn that the 2 sons do marry women of Moab; one marries a woman named Orpah and the other marries Ruth.
Ruth, a Moabite woman who does not worship the same God as Elimelich and his family. Different culture and different beliefs – could make for challenging conditions in a family setting. Yet, in Ruth we find a woman whose faith and obedient submission results in a royal legacy of everlasting standing. As I hinted in an earlier post the beautiful ending overshadows the sorrows experienced. But I am ahead of myself.
As explained above due to their cultural background it is most probable that once the sons married they all lived within the same house, or in houses built onto one another. Then comes the next blow – after about 10 years both Mahlon and Kilion died.
And the second saddest statement:
“This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.”
Naomi now finds herself in this strange land alone. No husband, no sons. No family support system to lean on or to turn to as she was so far from her homeland, Judah.
As the song says ‘One is the loneliest number… Showing my age here as I remember this song!
How about you? Have you ever faced a time, a situation in which you felt alone? Completely alone, cut off? Perhaps because of a move like Naomi experienced out of necessity to survive – such as an unexpected loss of a job or a promotional move or military re-assignment move or… Whatever the case in this new place there is no immediate family close by to turn to. Judah, as her home land had deep roots. FAMILY. A support system designed by God Himself. Family – God’s role model to us of relationship and all it can be; all he desires it to be for us AND with us, as God desires relationship with His creation. I digress.
We can see how starting over in Moab was probably very difficult for Naomi. Beside being without family, another issue to face was the fact that the culture, customs and worship practices of and the gods of the Moabites was quite different than she would have grown up with. With all these differences she may not have made good friends easily. Is it possible her heart yearned to return but she didn’t know how it could happen? IF it could happen. So, she made the best of the situation she was in. But now, how does she go on?
Being the wife of a military man I can identify with each of those difficulties. We have had our share of moves taking us far from family, as well as other obstacles that create changes in life making you feel alone. Whatever the reasons there may be times when family is not accessible, friends move away or are not accessible, your church family, or core social group may go through a season of change resulting in severed relationships. Leaving one feeling exiled and a.lone.
From my experience when losses piled up at times, when it seemed as if I was being stripped of all that had been life for me – home, friends, church family, familiarity of local countryside, favorite places, loss of health etc., etc., – there was a particular time of feeling alone when I read these words of Jesus in the book of John – words he spoke to his disciples with full knowledge that he was soon going to be arrested, tried, crucified and those same disciples would desert him. He says:
“But the time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”
No matter how alone I may have felt or at times do feel, Yet, I am not alone because the Father is with me. And Naomi too soon learns that she is not alone. The God of her Fathers is with her. He sees all she has gone through and perhaps even smiles at the knowledge of what is coming that will restore her hope and joy.
Oh, Naomi, oh dear reader – ‘how you worry, how you’re weary from fearing you lost control. This thing you didn’t see coming. No one would blame you, though if you cried in private, tried to hide it away so no knows if you stop believing’…but Naomi, but dear reader –
And I remind myself, OH My soul, You are not alone. There is ‘a place where fear faces the God I know and one more day, He will make a way.’
Personally I have experienced it, I know it is true, for he has time and time again made a way these last 25+ years that I have walked with him.
One more day, HE WILL make a way. His promises are true. You are not alone.
From here Naomi learns that Judah has been blessed with good crops again. She makes the decision to return to what she knows as home. And we’ll learn more about Ruth, the daughter-in-law who determines that where Naomi goes, she too shall go.
Until next time whatever your situation may be, don’t give up.
One more day…Cling to the Lord…