|RUTH AND NAOMI: A STORY OF REDEMPTION
by Peter Cohen -- pg. 2
|FAMINE OF THE WORD:
The L-RD spoke through the prophet Amos: "The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Words of the L-RD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the Word of the L-RD, but they will not find it. In that day the lovely young women and the strong young men will faint because of thirst." (Amos 8:11).
"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that cometh from the mouth of the L-RD." (Deuteronomy 8:3).
The last prophet to speak to Israel, between 500-400 BC, told us that the next prophet to come would be the forerunner of the Messiah Himself. That prophet has already come to Israel.
The name "John" means "preceding" and Yeshua said, "If you are willing to accept it, he (John the Baptist) is the Elijah who
was to come. He who has ears let him hear."
Just as Elimelech went to sojourn in the fields of Moab during a period of famine in Israel, many Israelites have for generations not heard the Word of G-D, and have strayed from the shelter of the G-D of Israel. Elimelech figuratively represents those who are cut off because they wandered off into the "fields of Moab" during the famine of hearing the Word of the L-RD. Instead of waiting upon the L-RD, they choose to gleam from the hollow and deceptive philosophies of the world.
The Jews were entrusted with the sacred Scriptures and were called to be a light to the nations by pointing them to the greater
light of the world, the Messiah, but "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of G-D." (II Corinthians 4:4)
The L-RD spoke through the prophet Isaiah "Go and tell this people: 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Other-wise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."
If the people of G-D wander too far and settle permanently in the world, they may die there without ever hearing the Good News that the L-RD has sent the Bread of Life to His people.
Elimelech and his sons, Mahlon and Kilion, died in their sins far from the promises and the provisions of G-D. Only Naomi (a remnant) survived to hear the Good News of the L-RD's provision. The L-rd said, "My people are destroyed from the lack of knowledge...." (Hosea 4:6).
Naomi is a picture of Israel in exile - widowed and destitute, having lost both husband and sons and therefore her posterity, and having become dependent on the kindness of foreigners. Broken and humbled she needs to find her way back to G-D.
This is what the L-RD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the L-RD your G-D, Who teaches you what is best for you, Who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commandments, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before Me."
Speaking of the messianic age and the return of the people to Zion, the prophet Isaiah wrote: "A highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; . . . But only the redeemed will walk there and the ransomed of the L-RD will. return." (Isaiah 35:8-9).
As Naomi and Ruth learnt, it is impossible for those who have lost everything during a period of famine, to redeem themselves. They had to appeal to their Kinsmen-Redeemer. Who are the redeemed people of G-D? What did Isaiah mean when he said, "It will be for those who walk in that Way?"
The early disciples of Yeshua were known as "followers of the Way." Yeshua is the Way back to G-D!
NAOMI HEARD THE GOOD NEWS:
"When she heard in Moab that the L-RD had come to the aid of His people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-laws she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah." (Ruth 1:6-7).
Naomi not only heard the good news , but responded by making plans to return to the place of G-D's provision. The famine of hearing the Word of the L-RD has ended but many have remained in spiritual exile and have not heard or responded in faith to the Good News. As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "L-RD, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Messiah. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
THE TEST OF FAITHFULNESS:
When Naomi prepares to return she tries to dissuade her daughters-in-laws from returning with her to Judah. We can therefore assume that when Mahlon took Ruth as his wife she had not converted according to the requirements of the Torah, for if she had Naomi would not have encouraged her to return to the worship of her gods.
For 10 years Naomi had lived as a stranger in a foreign land and she did not wait for her daughters-in-law to have to endure the difficulties of living as strangers in a foreign land in which the very law imposed a restriction upon the accept-ance of Moabites. Along with the difficulties of adjusting to a culture that was unique among the nations was the very real possibility that they would be ostracized and discriminated against as foreigners.
At Naomi's urging Orpah returns to her people and her gods, but Ruth clings to Naomi.