We tend to look at our physical circumstances and resources as indicative of how much we can do for God. Surely, He uses those of power and wealth to impact the world! But God’s word tells us the story of Ruth—a widow, penniless, living in a foreign land, sole provider for her mother-in-law—who makes a great impact for God’s kingdom! Learn from her story about yourselves and your God!
A Precious Word from God
“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth 2:12 NASB
Historical background: Read Ruth 1:1 to learn about the setting for Ruth’s story, probably in the last half of the 12th century BC. Look in your Bible or Bible atlas to discover the location of Moab.
Read Ruth 1:1-22.
1. Naomi faced much tragedy. What happened in Moab?
2. In order to understand much of what happens in this book, it is necessary to read about the laws concerning redemption. Remember that they were given by God to protect the widow and to keep the inheritance in the family. What do you learn from these verses about these laws?
a. Deut. 25:5-6
b. Lev. 25:23-28
3. In your own words explain Naomi’s argument to her daughter-in-laws in Ruth 1:11-13, relating her points to the laws of redemption.
Naomi literally means “my pleasant one” or “my lovely one.” The name Mara (1:20-21) means “bitter.”
From NET Bible notes p. 464 and p. 467
4. In light of this information and the whole chapter, how did Naomi’s tragedy affect her? How would you have felt if you were Naomi? If you were Ruth?
5. Reread Ruth’s words to Naomi in 1:16-17 in light of the attitude that Naomi had at the time because of the tragedies she had endured. What insights do you gain about Ruth?
6. Sharing question: Consider Ruth’s words in 1:16-17. Do you have that kind of committed, unconditional love for those in your family? What if they are hard to love because of sin, bitterness, depression, or illness?
7. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem regarding your desire to love others as Ruth loved Naomi. Include confession for your lack of love for those who are hard to love.
Read Ruth 2:1-23.
8. How does Deut. 24: 19-22 relate to Ruth’s activities to provide for her and Naomi’s needs? (2:2-3)
9. What principles and applications for the modern Christian do you glean from God’s Old Testament plan to provide for the needy?
10. Sharing question: Has the need ever arisen for you to humble yourself in taking care of the needs of your family? Describe the situation. What did you learn from the experience?
11. What do you learn in this chapter about Ruth’s character? As you answer this, be sure and explain either what she says or does which reveals each quality.
Ruth 2:20 describes Naomi’s relationship to Boaz. The note in the NASB margin calls him their “redeemer”. The NIV says, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”
12. Review Lev.25:23-28, the laws of redemption that you read yesterday. Then look in a regular English dictionary and write the definition of the word redeem or redeemer. What insights do you have about the relationship of Boaz to Naomi? You might want to mark these words in your Bible as you continue through the book of Ruth because they represent a significant theme in the story.
13. If you were Ruth, what feelings may you have had after the encounter with Boaz, considering the situation?
14. Sharing question: The Old Testament laws of redemption involve the principle that we have responsibility for extended family. How are you caring for your extended family’s needs?
15. Responding to God: Write down your prayer asking God to show you one particular way to care for the needs of your extended family.
Read Ruth 3:1-18.
16. Summarize the events of this chapter.
“While Ruth and Boaz did not actually have a sexual encounter at the threshing floor, there is no doubt that Ruth’s actions are symbolic and constitute a marriage proposal.”
NET Bible note p. 471
17. As you meditate upon the chapter, perhaps rereading it, write down any insights you have into Ruth’s character and what in the chapter leads you to these conclusions. What do you learn from her?
18. Sharing question: Ruth obviously trusted Naomi’s judgment because she quickly followed her counsel. Who in your life do you turn to for wise Christian counsel? If you have no one, what plan do you have to find a wise, older woman to be a friend and mentor?
19. Sharing question: Has God spoken to you through the life of Ruth regarding your family relationships? How?
20. Responding to God: Write out your prayer for a strong and wise relationship with an older Christian woman. Talk to God about the women whom you know as possibilities.
Read Ruth 4:1-22.
21. Tell this part of the story in your own words.
22. How did Ruth’s life impact Naomi’s?
23. Sharing question: What is God saying to you about your own life as you look at Naomi’s?
24. As we consider God’s purpose and timing in the life of Ruth, what other insights do you have? (Be sure and consider Ruth 4:18-22.)
25. Sharing question: Share with your group what you do to encourage an older woman who is in your life.
26. Responding to God: Spend time listening to God. Write down what He says to you about your relationship with older women. Commit to follow what He tells you to do.
Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, an Old Testament picture of Jesus as our Kinsman-Redeemer. Read the following verses and write down word for word what is said which answers the given question. Make it a practice to write the scripture word for word as often as you possibly can because it helps you hide the word of God itself in your heart, rather than causing you to focus on your own words.
27. Read Hebrews 2:14-15. What did Jesus have to do to become our kinsman? Why?
28. Read 1 Peter 1:18-19.
a. From what did Jesus redeem His people?
b. With what did He do this redeeming?
Have you been redeemed like Ruth? Jesus is available to be your Kinsman-Redeemer. Right now you can ask Him to redeem you from your sins, recognizing that you can never redeem yourself. He is there waiting to purchase your freedom from sin with His own blood.
He, who was eternally God with the Father in heaven, chose to come to earth as a man to die for His relatives, including you. He bore the penalty of death that we should have borne for our sins (Rom. 6:23) when He died for us on the cross. God showed the world that He accepted that payment for our sins when He raised Jesus up on the third day. Now we can be free to be God’s children, assured of life with Him forever. Simply believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be and rely upon His redemption to make you His very own forever.
29. Responding to God: Write down your prayer asking Him to be your Kinsman-Redeemer, or write down your prayer of thanks for His redeeming you.
30. What parallels do you see between Boaz as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer and Jesus as our Kinsman-Redeemer?
31. Our Precious Word from God this week focuses on God’s protection and provision for us. This is pictured in taking refuge under the shelter of His wings. Review the story of Ruth. How was God faithful to be her refuge by providentially working in her circumstances?
32. Sharing question—In what areas of your life do you need to come to God and make Him your refuge? Perhaps you are trusting in other things or people instead of God. Perhaps your eyes are on the situation instead of the wings over you. Write down your thoughts.
33. Responding to God: Spend time in prayer thanking God for being your refuge in those particular ways. Use Psalm 91:1-4 as your guide.
We have two stories this week. The first one is about reaching out to neighbors and impacting them. It is a great encouragement to us to work at relationships with new people, especially those nearby in our everyday world.
The other story is from a woman embraced by the women in our NBC Bible study. Because she was moving to Pennsylvania, she wrote this to thank them for the impact that had on her.
Just as Ruth was accepted by Naomi and Boaz into their family, so we should accept others.
My husband and I moved into our first home six years ago. We were excited to have a place to call home with the hopes of one day starting a family. That day came for us three years later and it was then that my life took on a new and different look. I no longer had the nine to five job, but a twenty four hour “mommy” job. Staying at home was something I always wanted to do but the time had come and I found it much harder than I ever thought it would be. This new job had different demands for me: it required a lot more time, less sleep and no connection with the outside world. Staying at home was definitely not looking like what I had dreamed about, until I started to meet my neighbors!
As I began to build relationships with these women I found it to be so encouraging being in the same stage of life. Our friendships deepened and grew but something was missing in one of the girl’s lives: a personal, growing relationship with God. As I spent time with her and learned her story I realized that she had grown up in church, knew the Lord but once she became married she no longer was in church. I had the opportunity to invite her to our summer Bible study at church. I was a little nervous as to what she might say, but to my surprise she was so excited that I asked and she came regularly that summer. Her family now attends NBC on Sundays. It is so exciting to see her girls come to Sunday school and learn about God, and to know it all started with a simple question, prompted by God: “Would you like to go with me this summer to a Bible study at my church?”
Because each of you has been in my life since coming to NBC, I want to share something with you. In the fall of 2001, I was encouraged to go to NBC on the advice that, faith is not a solo activity. I intellectually knew/believed that God's Son came and was crucified for our sins. Though I was thankful for His sacrifice, I lacked true understanding of the how, why and the 'for whom'-collectively. Not to mention the trust, counsel and relationship waiting for me with/through Him. I was what you might say, a spectator Christian. My friend saw this and wanted more for me.
For starters, I had never attended a Bible study or a Sunday school class or prayed out loud with anyone else in the room; I didn't know about the covenants and promises from Genesis to Revelation; I had never sung a hymn other than those one would hear on the radio, such as “Amazing Grace.” I was also very resistant to trust people-particularly those who I believed shared nothing in common (divorced parents, blended family, first-generation college educated); oh yes, and don't forget about 'being independent!'
"Fellowship" was not a familiar word. WOW!
My first group leader was loving and kind, another loving inquisitive heart sparked more interest, and a third member of my group was quick to invite me to a Sunday School class which somehow led to being a Munchkin at the Women's retreat meeting many wonderful folks there. So, how did I go from seeking the Lord to dressing up as a Munchkin so quickly? I can't say, but it could not have happened without Him. Then the following session my new small group of women continued to break my resolve to 'go-it-alone. Here were more independent godly women I could relate and did I mention, asked the hard questions.
All that to say, I've experienced many firsts in the past four years... as you know. The Holy Spirit has a way of opening one's heart-- to understanding, trust, and a willingness to receive not just His love, but to receive love through others, then the courage to return/pass it on.
I cherish that many firsts and some hardships were experienced along side a group of ladies such as you. I can only pray that I continue to keep an open mind and heart about the future. You are in my heart and prayers-with love always, Thanks again!