But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Ruth 1 11-18
Yesterday’s passage ended with these words. They (Orpah and Ruth) wept aloud and said to her (Naomi) “We will go back with you to your people.” V.10b. It was a big commitment for two young ladies of marriageable age and Naomi, out of concern for them urged them powerfully to think again v.11-13a, not wishing the position she was in to be compounded in them, widows in a foreign land.
At this point Naomi, unsurprisingly, cannot see what lies ahead for, from her perspective, ‘the LORD’s hand has gone out against me!’
Are there times when situations on your life have caused you to think as Naomi did? It is a salutary question to which we need to respond in the words of the hymn quoted on Saturday ‘be gone unbelief!’
Following Naomi’s words there were more tears and Orpah, kissing her mother in law decided to stay in Moab while Ruth with these memorable words chose to stay with Naomi.
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
In summary let me put it like this. Faced with a huge decision, a life changing decision after a fateful ten years in Moab
Naomi chose to return to her homeland.
Ruth decided to leave her homeland.
Orpah decided to stay in her homeland.
For Naomi it was in a sense repenting. Turning round and going back to the land God had given to her people, to the place which was home however hard this return was to be.
For Ruth, it was stepping out into the unknown because she had seen in Naomi, in spite of all that she had gone through, something of the love and faithfulness of Naomi’s God – the one true God, the God of Israel.
For Orpah, the pull of Moab was stronger and she stayed where she was. She had seen and experienced what Ruth had seen and experienced but reacted differently. Scripture is silent on what the outcome was for Orpah but the rest of the book will show us the outcome for Ruth and Naomi.
This beautiful little book teaches us many things but I have been challenged with these three responses this morning, posing the question ‘When God intervenes (v.6) what will I do?
Will I return? (Naomi)
Will I leave all that is familiar (Ruth) for the hope and future that God has for me?
Will I stay where I am (Orpah) and possibly forfeit great blessing?
They are important questions with eternal consequences.