Sunday Messages

Ruth 1:1-22 by Pastor Dan Walker
In this Mother's Day message, we take a look at the life of a mother in the book of Ruth, Naomi. She faced many difficulties and tragedies in life. Yet, God was with her and had a wonderful plan for her life. Be encouraged by this message, no matter what you are facing.
Duration:32 mins 34 secs

Happy Mother’s Day! We’re glad you’re here to worship with us and to honor our mothers. Everyone of us has a mother and every mother has a child, by definition. Jesus said in

John 16:21 (ESV)  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Every mother has the privilege of having a child grow inside of her and finally be born after nine months. The birth process brings pain, but joy comes when the baby is born. Today, we want to honor all the mothers who are here today. Thank you for the love and sacrifice you have given over the years for your children. Now, join with me as we pray for the mothers in our church family.

Father, thank you for the gift of mothers that show us examples of your love. We are grateful for the love and sacrifice that they have shown in raising us. Thank you for all the mothers who taught us about you and led their children in your ways. We ask that you bless each mother that is present here with us this morning. Encourage each one and help them to realize their importance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today, my message is entitled “A Mother’s Legacy.” This is the second message in our series on the book of Ruth called “Rescued.” Last Sunday, we set the background for the book of Ruth from the preceding book of Judges.

Judges 21:25b – Ruth 1:1a (ESV) Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. … In the days when the judges ruled …

So, we see that the book of Ruth took place during the time of the judges in Israel’s history. This was the time between Israel’s conquering of the Promised Land and the choosing of King Saul. The last verse in the book of Judges summarizes the period as a time where everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is not a positive statement. This statement indicates that the culture had no standard of right and wrong. Each person became their own standard. 

The time of the judges has many parallels to our culture today in America. The culture of judges and much of culture today is one of relative truth. Relative truth is everyone doing whatever they think is right. Two people may do the exact same thing and one person think it is right and the other wrong. People who believe in relative truth would see no contradiction in that situation. However, the Bible teaches absolute truth. Absolute truth means that what the Bible teaches is true for every person of all time. What is right is always right and what is wrong is always wrong. The Bible is our standard of what is right and wrong and the Bible, rightly interpreted never changes. Even in times where people have abandoned God to serve idols, the Bible tell us that God always preserves a remnant of true believers.

Romans 11:5 (ESV) So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

The book of Ruth is about the remnant in the time of judges, chosen by God, to carry on the faith. Today, we’re going to focus on a courageous mother named Naomi, as we look at a mother’s legacy. What legacy does God want mothers to leave to their children?

Strength in difficulty

Last week we talked about how difficult life was in the times of the judges. The people of Israel would abandon God to worship idols, God want allow them to be judged and attacked, the people would cry out to God, God would rescue them through a judge, the people would abandon God and the cycle would continue.

Ruth 1:1a (ESV)  In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land,

At the time that the story of Ruth begins, there was a famine in the land. We are not told the cause of the famine, but famine was one of the ways that God uses to judge idolatry and encourage His people to seek Him. So, our story begins in a difficult time and with a serious situation. Difficult times lead to the need for …

Strength in transition

Ruth 1:1-2 (ESV) … and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. …

Because of the famine in Israel, Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, decided to move to the neighboring country of Moab. This move was highly unusual and outside of God’s revealed will. The famine in Israel was most likely due to God’s judgement on Israel for abandoning Him and worshipping idols. God’s expectation was that His judgement would cause people to call out to Him in repentance, asking for deliverance. This move was not like moving to a different state in America. Moab was a country adjacent to Israel that had entirely different customs and worshipped an idol named Chemosh. And obviously, Moab was not having a famine. The manner in which the move is recorded indicates that Elimelech, whose name means “my god is king” was the one who initiated this  move. This ungodly transition now led to further difficulty and Naomi needed …

Strength in sorrow

Ruth 1:3-5 (ESV)  But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.  These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.  

Following the famine and move to Moab, the next tragedy in Naomi’s life was that her husband Elimelech died, leaving her a widow. Widows in those days were especially vulnerable, as the husband was the breadwinner. When he was gone, she had to rely on her family for support. Rather than look for wives back in Israel, Naomi’s sons married Moabite wives, undoubtedly worshippers of idols. These marriages were not blessed with children and worse than that, after ten years, both of Naomi’s sons died, leaving Naomi with no blood relatives, living in a foreign land. It seems clear that much of responsibility for Naomi’s difficulties lay in the choices of her husband Elimelech and her sons. Perhaps with little input from her. 

Difficulties come into all of our lives, unexpected transitions and unexpected sorrows. Perhaps sometimes from our choices, often through choices of others or simply circumstances. Yet, as we go on in this story, we’ll see that Naomi, although not perfect, kept a faith in God. We’ll see that she didn’t give up, that she drew strength from the Lord. Whatever, you’re going through as a mother this morning, look to God for your strength. Whether difficulty with a husband, children or other circumstances, God is still in control. He still loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Keep your trust in Him and show His love to others He has put in your life. A mother’s legacy is not only to show strength in difficulty, but to demonstrate …

Sacrificial love

Ruth 1:6-7 (ESV)  Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.  So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

Naomi has learned that back in Israel the Lord had answered the prayers of the people and the famine was over. We have our first indication that Naomi knows the Lord as the source of blessing and sustenance. We next learn that she had developed a very close relationship with her two daughters-in-law. All three of these women were now widows, two at a fairly young age and Naomi at an older age. Naomi made a decision to return to the land of Judah and she showed her love by taking her daughters-in—law with her. Her love for them was demonstrated in …

Prayers of blessing

Ruth 1:8-9 (ESV)  But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.  The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

Somewhere on the trip back to Judah, perhaps before they crossed the border from Moab to Judah, Naomi had a discussion with her daughters-in-law. She prayed that the Lord would deal kindly with them and give them rest when they found a new husband. Leaving her daughters behind would mean that Naomi would return to Judah all alone. Yet, she wanted the best for her daughters-in-law. Her sacrificial love was demonstrated by …

Putting others first

Ruth 1:10-11 (ESV)  And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”  But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?

 Naomi’s daughters-in-law pleaded with her to return to Israel. However, Naomi did not want them to remain widows, so she urged them to go back to their own people where they could find a husband. Naomi was putting her daughters-in-law first over her own needs and desires. We also see the depth of the relationship that Naomi had built with her daughters-in-law over the years. She had demonstrated sacrificial love to them over the past ten years.

We see in this story, the love that Naomi demonstrated was not just for her own children, but for the spouses that they married. Even though these spouses were from another pagan country. Part of the legacy that God desires each mother to leave is a legacy of sacrificial love. A love that is demonstrated to her children, to her grandchildren, to her children’s spouses and to everyone else. Demonstrating sacrificial love is being Christ-like, who laid down His life for us. Not only should a mother leave a legacy of strength in difficulty and sacrificial love, most importantly she should leave a legacy of …

Faith in God

Many things had gone wrong in Naomi’s life. A famine, leaving her country, her husband’s death and finally the death of both her sons. Yet, in the next few verses, we are going to see that Naomi had a deep faith in God and that faith had been …

Passed on to Ruth

Ruth 1:14-17 (ESV)  … And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.  … Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried …

In these amazing verses, we see an incredible faith in the words of Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth. Not only does Ruth show a deep devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi, she shows a deep devotion to the people of God and to God Himself. Ruth is no longer an idol worshipper of Chemosh, she is a worshipper of the one true God, the Lord. These are not just words, for she is going to leave her family, her country, her gods and journey with Naomi to a new country and faith. How did Ruth develop this faith in God? Naomi passed her faith on to Ruth over the years. Through her words, her actions, her love and her strength in times of difficulty. Naomi’s faith in God caused her to be …

Remembered by others

Ruth 1:19-20 (ESV)  So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”  She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

So, Naomi and Ruth continued their journey until they reach the town of Bethlehem in Judah where they had left over ten years before. Yet, even after much time had passed, the women of the town remembered Naomi. Her life had made an impression on them and she was welcomed back. Naomi’s name means “pleasant” in the Hebrew language, but she wants to be called Mara, which means bitter. Naomi is still focused on her pain and the difficulties of her life. But as we go on with the story, we’ll see that God has been sovereignly at work in her life. God has some wonderful things in store for Naomi and she will be …

Blessed by God

Ruth 1:22 (ESV)  So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem, which name means “house of bread.” When they left, there was no bread in the house. But now, as they returned together, it was the beginning of the barley harvest. There was food to be found and eaten. Naomi’s season of difficulty was about to turn around into a season of blessing, far beyond anything she could imagine. Of course, to Naomi, her hometown of Bethlehem probably had no particular meaning to her. It is doubtful she knew that the Messiah would one day be born in Bethlehem. Nor did she know of the part she would play in preparing the way for the Messiah.

Even though Naomi’s faith was shaken through a sequence of tragedies, it has not lost. There are times when you as a mother will go through difficult times. Times that bring tears, times that bring true loss. Yet, even in those times, God is in control. God is working in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. He has a wonderful plan and you have a part in that plan. Even the difficulties that He allows you to go through will be turned around for blessing, in His way and in His time.

So, this morning on mother’s day, whatever you’re going through, God is with you, He has not abandoned you. It is in the difficult times, that the legacy of a mother is formed. As you show strength in difficulty, sacrificial love and faith in God, even in times of transition or sorrow, you are impacting the lives of others. Pass your faith on to your children, your grandchildren, your daughters-in-law and your sons-in-law, to everyone you can. As you do, God will bless you and turn your sorrow into joy as you work with Him.