Are you brave? In his new series, ‘There is More’, Pastor Jeff Vines explores the story of Naomi and Ruth, as they leave Moab for an uncertain future in Bethlehem. It’s a story of love and compassion, and one that can help connect each of us to all that God has promised.
Jeff starts in Ruth 4:13-17, and he believes this scripture is packed full of application for our daily lives. It’s a powerful Old Testament narrative, where Naomi and Ruth are trying to learn if God has more for them.
Moab is a place of demonic influence and dark religious ritual. The very thing that Naomi and her husband Elimelech were trying to escape in Israel, they find in Moab. They are forced to sell their only piece of property back in Israel just to survive.
But things get worse, and all the men die, including Naomi’s sons. She is left alone with her two daughters-in-law. She’s almost dead, despite being alive. Naomi has no children. Her land has been sold and she has nothing. But then comes the story’s twist.
We read that when she and her daughters-in-law heard that the Lord had helped his people by providing food, they prepared to return home. So Naomi, a Hebrew woman, returns to her homeland and tells her daughters-in-law not to follow. Orpah doesn’t, but Ruth does.
When Ruth and Naomi arrive in Israel, Ruth begins gleaning. “Jewish law forbids landowners from harvesting all the way around;” Jeff says. “They must leave 10% of the field. The poor could bring one bucket to fill and go.”
Ruth begged Naomi to let her do this, but she wasn’t from Israel. It was likely she would be sent away, or beaten and killed. But despite the risks, Naomi agreed. According to scripture, they thought it was better to die quickly than starve slowly.
“We all know the story,” says Jeff. “But what are the chances she gleans in a field of Naomi’s relative Boaz? Someone is working behind the scenes. Someone else is in charge of the narrative. Ruth must have been amazed by the generosity of someone who could have killed her.”
Ruth returns home, telling Naomi she has brought the best of the best from the field. The Lord hasn’t stopped being kind. Every 50 years, God decreed that all the land the children lost would go back to them. They get a second chance at taking this land and expanding their family name.
Boaz is a close relative, a kinsman redeemer. God wanted his people to first show grace and mercy to the world. He didn’t want the wealthy to exploit the poor. “For the family to be fully restored, Boaz must marry the last surviving member and raise her children,” Jeff says. “But Naomi is the last survivor.”
However, if Boaz married Ruth, that would give Naomi life and possibly grandchildren who would expand the family name. Ruth adores her mother-in-law, so she visits Boaz at night. Ruth says, ‘Give us our name back. You can restore our life. You can heal us. You must redeem us.’ Boaz says, ‘I will do everything you ask.’
“That’s how much Ruth loves Naomi,” says Jeff. “She offers a sacrificial love. We’re told in verse 16 and 17, she saw something in Naomi’s God. She uses the relational covenant name, not the generic name for God. He inspired her, and she vowed to never turn back.”
“Some of us have got to get out of Moab,” says Jeff. “Maybe it’s a club that you’re in, a relationship that you’re in or a job that you’re in. Ok, it might be feeding you. You’re making some money. You’re gaining influence. Your peers are looking up to you.”
“But is the cost too great? Are you losing your soul? Are you brave enough to walk away?”
Listen to the full message here: