Time: the Judges~1400-1000 B.C.
“When the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines; when the olive trees do not produce, and the fields yield no crops; when the sheep disappear from the pen, and there are no cattle in the stalls, I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me!” HABAKKUK 3:17-18
One of the ways that God disciplined Israel for her sin was by bringing famine into the land, usually through drought but also by pests such as locusts. During one of these episodes of famine, Elimelech, a man from Bethlehem, took his wife Naomi and his two sons to the neighboring country of Moab. During the ten years the family lived in the land of Moab, Elimelech died leaving Naomi a widow. However, her two sons grew up and married Moabite women. Then, the sons died. Naomi was left with only her daughters-in-law.
1. Read Judges 21:25. This is considered the key verse of the book of Judges. What does it reveal?
2. Read Ruth 1:1-22. Describe each of the women.
3. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Research Moab and the Moabite religion to get a better feel for how Ruth was raised, what Naomi experienced living in that land, raising her own children, watching them marry Moabite women, and other details that bring this story alive to you.
4. What does Ruth’s statement in 1:16-17 especially tell you about her and what she had already learned from Naomi?
5. What relationship(s) is she giving up to pursue her new faith?
6. Your Life’s Journey: Has your faith caused a separation between you and your natural family or someone formerly very close to you? Explain.
7. Tell Your Story: Naomi makes an emotional statement in 1:20-21. She was experiencing grief—a normal human emotion that often causes an aching heart and extended sadness. Write about a time in your life when you grieved over something or someone lost. What was it like? How long did it last? Did you, like Naomi, feel that God “dealt very bitterly with you” (1:20)? What got you through that to the other side where you didn’t bawl every time you thought about it? If you’re able, share with the group about your own struggles in that experience.
8. A good guess of ages would be that Naomi was in her late 40’s and Ruth was in her 20’s. As in-laws, how would you describe their relationship?
9. At this point, in what ways did they help each other?
10. Read Ruth 2:1-23. How does Naomi counsel and encourage Ruth?
11. How did Ruth take care of Naomi—actions and attitude?
12. What emotions might each have been experiencing at this time?
· Naomi —
· Ruth —
13. What does Ruth 2:11-12 reveal? How did Naomi revealing her “story,” particularly in regards to Ruth, benefit both of them, especially the outsider Ruth?
14. Men generally owned property, not women. With no men left in the family, the women lacked a means of support. Read Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22. Unlike the cultures around them that made no societal provisions, what special provision does God make for the future care of women in Israel in this situation? How would this foster compassion in the community?
15. Read Ruth 3:1-4:12. In
16. The law of “Kinsman-Redeemer” is introduced to the Israelites in Leviticus 25:23-55. Read those verses. What was God’s purpose in providing this option?
Scriptural insight: “This law [Kinsman-Redeemer] helped to protect the poor from being exploited and the rich from taking property from one tribe to another. The redeemer had to be a near kinsman who was able to redeem and willing to redeem. He was not obligated to do so, but it was expected of him. To refuse was to hurt the family and tribe as well as his own reputation. By being born at Bethlehem, Jesus Christ became our near kinsman. He was able to save and willing to save; He saves all who will put their trust in Him.” (W.W. Wiersbe, With the Word, pg. 157)
17. Read the following references. Briefly tell what is redeemed in each case. [NOTE: “avenger” and “kinsman-redeemer” are translations of the same Hebrew word goel.]
· Leviticus 25:25-28 —
· Leviticus 25:47-49 —
· Numbers 35:19-21 —
· Deut. 25:5-10 —
18. Ruth is introduced to the concept of “Kinsman-Redeemer.” Read Ruth 1:11-13; 2:20; 3:9-13 and 4:1-10. What other information do we see about how this law was carried out?
19. What did Ruth learn about God’s faithfulness to her through the law of the “kinsman-redeemer”? [NOTE: Boaz’s mother was Rahab (Lesson 3)—an outsider who also experienced the kindness of the Lord and His people.]
20. Read 4:13-22. What did God do for both Ruth and Naomi?
21. How did God bless us through this new marriage? See Ruth 4:22; Matthew 1:3-6; and Luke 3:32.
22. Ruth and Naomi both characterized loyalty.
· Use a dictionary to define “Loyalty.”
· To whom and to what should we be loyal? Explain your answer.
· Read Titus 2:3-5.
· In what ways is the older woman to counsel and encourage the younger woman?
· What mindset must the younger woman have?
· What are the potential benefits for both?
24. Your Life’s Journey: God knows we need each other. He hasn’t left us alone. In the Body of Christ, we are all sisters. Christian women should be counseling and encouraging each other, especially in our society where women are so often uprooted and transplanted to places miles away from their families. Some things only another woman can understand.
· Younger women—Is there someone in your small group or life whom you would trust for advice and encouragement? Go to her and let her know of your need and willingness.
· Older women—Is there someone in your small group or life whom you could befriend and encourage? Go to her and let her know of your need and willingness.
25. Your Life’s Journey: If you are married or one of your children is married, evaluate your own mother-in-law / daughter-in-law relationship. How can you apply this lesson to your relationship? Ask someone in your small group to pray for you specifically as needed and hold you accountable for your commitment.
God loved Ruth and Naomi. He knew what was going on in their lives. Naomi voiced her grief over the death of her husband and sons but never stopped trusting Him to do something about her situation. Ruth’s relationship with God started the same way most relationships with Him do. She came to know and value someone who knew Him well. That someone was Naomi. These women were not only God’s provision to each other but also a way for Him to make Himself known through their lives. You may face grief and seemingly overwhelming challenges in your own life. But just like Naomi and Ruth, you can count on these truths…
§ God loves me.
§ God knows what is going on in my life.
§ God can do something about it.
§ I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
26. List all the circumstances that could have terrified Naomi. Instead, how did she respond to God by faith?
27. List all the circumstances that could have terrified Ruth. Instead, how did she respond to God by faith?
28. Your Life’s Journey: Read Habakkuk 3:17-18, Daniel 3:16-18, and the song lyrics below. What decision should we make when things are tough? Do you trust God enough to make that decision? If so, give an example from your life when you have done so.
I can count a million times people asking me how I can praise You with all that I’ve gone through. The question just amazes me. Can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You. Maybe since my life was changed long before these rainy days. It’s never really ever crossed my mind to turn my back on you, oh Lord, my only shelter from the storm. But instead I draw closer through these times. So I pray…
Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free. Bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain. But if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain (“Bring The Rain” by MercyMe)