Return from the Mines

Ruth 1:1-22 | Sermon Resources | 3 July 2024

Sermon Summary

During July, Greg Baker and I will be taking you through the book of Ruth. There are times in our lives in which we may think that God has dealt with us very bitterly. The story of Ruth the Moabite and of Naomi, her refugee mother-in-law, is mostly known as a love story with a glorious ending, but it begins in the mines with famine and death. Though she still acknowledges the eternal, covenant God of Israel, Naomi’s assessment of her situation is one of bitterness. We see this in verse 20 when she tells the town’s women not to call her “Naomi,” which means pleasant, but rather, “Mara,” which means bitter. She asserts in verse 21 that the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with her. You and I may often be tempted to think the same way. We often equate personal suffering with the personal judgment of Almighty God. Yet in the midst of a very dark time, Naomi does not entirely abandon her faith. We see a mustard seed of faith that is intertwined with her feelings of bitterness. She cannot see how the story is going to end. Even at the end of her life on earth, Naomi did not know what you and I know. You and I too may fail to see that our suffering, even if that suffering is brought about by our personal sinful choices, is not a waste in God’s eternal plan. Even a mustard seed of faith may produce a fertile crop.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been in a place where you felt God had dealt with you bitterly?
  2. Are you personally or is our culture currently facing any famine?
  3. What turned the tide of the story?
  4. How did Naomi’s decision to return to Israel make an impact on her family?
  5. What is remarkable about Ruth’s decision?
  6. What is surprising about what Naomi says and doesn’t say to Ruth?
  7. How does the story of Naomi and Ruth foreshadow a greater deliverance story?