Categories
Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Naomi

God Takes Away Naomi’s Bitterness Over Losing Her Husband and Her Sons

Naomi means pleasant. She, her husband, and their two sons leave their home country and travel to Moab because of a famine. While in Moab, her husband dies, leaving her a widow. Later both of her sons die, too, leaving her with two widowed daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Naomi blames God for her misfortune and grows bitter.

She decides to return home when she hears they have food. Orpah and Ruth start back with her. At Naomi’s urging Orpah decides to remain in Moab, but Ruth expresses deep commitment to her mother-in-law and to God, promising to stay with her forever.

Soon after they return to Israel, Naomi develops a plan for Ruth to marry their relative, Boaz. They get married and Ruth has her first child, Obed. Naomi cares for Obed like a son, as the local women celebrate the baby and Naomi’s good fortune.

Like all of us, Naomi’s life contains struggle and disappointment, but God cares for her, providing a loyal daughter-in-law and a cherished grandson.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ruth 1-4, and today’s post is on Ruth 1:1-5.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Orpah

Orpah Begins a Journey but Then Returns Home

Orpah is the widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi and sister-in-law to Ruth. When Naomi decides to return to Judah, her daughters-in-law start out with her, but Naomi releases them. She encourages them to return to their mothers and find new husbands.

Though Ruth stubbornly refuses, Orpah does the smart thing and goes home.

That’s the last we hear of her. We don’t know if she marries again or ever has any children. We don’t know how long she lives. We only know she does what makes sense from a human perspective.

However, Orpah’s sister-in-law chooses a path that doesn’t make sense, and God honors her for her loyalty to him and to her mother-in-law.

Sometimes what seems right to us is far different than God’s plan for us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ruth 1-4, and today’s post is on Ruth 1:6-15.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

How Can We Help the Poor?

Deuteronomy Instructs Us to Help Foreigners, Orphans, and Widows

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds God’s people that when they’re harvesting a field to not pick it clean, to leave some of the produce for others. This includes foreigners, orphans, and widows (Deuteronomy 24:19).

Help Foreigners Orphans and Widows

Moses’s words reiterate the same command that we read twice in the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19:9-10 and Leviticus 23:22). It’s good for Moses to remind the people of this command. They’ve been in the desert for forty years and not planted or harvested.

Soon that will change. He’s telling them their harvest won’t just be for them, but it’s also to help poor people, specifically to help foreigners, orphans, and widows.

Ruth Gleans Grain

Let’s fast forward a few centuries to Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth and Naomi are both widows. Ruth is also a foreigner. When they return to Israel, they’re poor. Dirt poor.

Aside from each other, they have no family. They have no means for support. They have no money. What do they do?

Ruth goes out in the fields to glean grain, to pick up what the harvesters left behind or overlooked. This wouldn’t have been possible had the landowners not followed Moses’s command to leave some of the harvest behind for the foreigners, orphans, and widows so they can glean.

Even though this is an act of generosity on the part of the farmers, notice that Ruth does need to work to get her free food. She must glean grain from the field, working and sweating behind the day laborers.

For Ruth and Naomi, their story ends happily. Ruth gets married again and this time she has a child. Ruth’s husband also takes care of his mother-in-law, Naomi. They no longer need to worry about their day-to-day survival.

But not all poor people are so fortunate. They must continue to glean from the fields and rely on the generosity of others.

What can we do to help foreigners, orphans, and widows who have no food? Click To Tweet

How Can We Apply This Principle Today?

Today, few of us are farmers to leave food in the fields for people to glean. Yet that does not remove the responsibility from us to help the foreigners, orphans, and widows who are destitute and have no food. What can we do to help them?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 22-24, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 24:19.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Ruth

Ruth is Loyal to God and to Her Mother-In-Law

Ruth is a widow and foreigner who remains faithful to her mother-in-law, Naomi. She leaves her family to follow Naomi to Israel. The reason for her loyalty to her mother-in-law is a mystery, since Naomi is a bitter woman at this time. However, Ruth also expresses a devotion to God.

When they return, she goes out to glean grain, at great physical risk, so she and Naomi will have some food. The young widow finds favor with Boaz, who knows of her fine reputation.

Naomi sets about to find another husband for her widowed daughter-in-law, targeting Boaz and developing a strategy to bring that about. The result is capturing Boaz’s attention. He sets out to make Ruth his wife, deftly dealing with another possible suitor.

Boaz and Ruth marry. She has her first child, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, the father of David. That makes her the great grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus.

Let’s review: Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law and God rewards her. She marries again, is saved from poverty, and has a son. As a result, she’s later honored by Matthew who includes her in the family tree of Jesus, one of only four women mentioned.

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: Ruth

How an Outsider Gained God’s Favor

By Harry L. Brewer (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The front cover of the book, Ruth: How an Outsider Gained God’s Favor, asks the rhetorical question, “Ever feel like an outsider?” Ruth was definitely an outsider.

She was a foreigner and not a member of God’s chosen people, yet she makes an unequivocal pledge to follow God, telling her mother-in-law, “Your people will be my people” and “your God will be my God.” As a result, God provides for Ruth and richly blesses her.

Author Harry Brewer smartly captures all this in his book Ruth. The format is simple and straightforward:

He gives an overview on each section of the book of Ruth, provides the text, and then breaks it down verse-by-verse, introducing the passage, repeating the text, and providing a helpful commentary.

Brewer shares valuable background into the Mosaic Law and cultural practices behind of the beliefs and traditions that are mentioned in this brief biblical account. This unveils deeper insights into the character and propriety of the book’s principle players of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.

Brewer also connects Ruth to other revealing passages in the Bible, such as to the family tree of Ruth, both preceding and following her. (Spoiler alert: Jesus is a direct descendant of Ruth.)

Additionally, Brewer makes reasoned and realistic assumptions into the motivations and emotions of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, adding depth and increasing understanding.

What emerges is a powerful love story between Boaz and Ruth, as well as God’s abiding love for them and, by extension, all who follow and revere him.

Ruth: How an Outsider Gained God’s Favor is a concise and valuable study guide into the person and book of Ruth in the Bible.

[Ruth: How an Outsider Gained God’s Favor, by Harry L. Brewer. Published by WinePress Publishing, 2001, ISBN: 9-781579213275, 131 pages, $8.95.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Pass it On

Influence Future Generations

Despite King David’s many failings, God refers to him as “a man after my own heart.”

A few generations prior, Ruth makes a bold statement of commitment to her mother-in-law and by extension to the God that mom serves. Ruth declares,

“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.”

Oh, by the way, Ruth is King David’s great grandmother.

Is there a connection? I think so.

Ruth’s sold out, over-the-top commitment to both her mom and mom’s God is likely passed on to her son Obed, her grandson Jesse, and her great grandson David. Whether or not great grandmother Ruth is still alive to see David, we do not know. But her influence is evident.

What are we passing on to our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren? Will our actions today influence successive generations? I hope so.

[Acts 13:22, Ruth 1:16-17]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.