Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)
TITLE: Mara's Bittersweet Story
By William van der Zande
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The book of Ruth is part of the Torah portion and read by the religious Jews in Israel and all over the world.
The story which is enfolding in this small beautiful poetic book is highly prophetic in content, but was lived out in the hard reality of life in those early years of Israel’s history in the Promised Land.
The little town of Bethlehem – House of Bread – did not have enough bread for a small family of four and so Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons set out on a journey across the border to the land of Moab. Things got bitter before getting sweet for Naomi; she lost her husband and two sons in a period of about 10 years.
Life has gotten sour for her and her two daughters-in-law and it looked if there was neither hope nor future!
Where God closes a door, He opens a window, for in these days Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them. She made up her mind to go back to the land of Israel and told her daughters in law about her plan. She advised them to stay in Moab, to remarry and build a family. Many tears flowed, Orpah took her advice to stay, but Ruth loved her mother-in-law so much already that she did not want lo leave her.
This is what she said in Ruth 1:16-17 “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (NIV)
That settled it for Naomi and the two women went on their journey.
Naomi – which means pleasant- returned to Bethlehem as Mara –which means bitter – accompanied by a sweet daughter-in-law Ruth –which means friend – yes, a friend indeed.
Ruth was totally dedicated to her mother-in-law, the people of Israel and the God of Israel. She listened to Naomi and did what she said and was blessed beyond measure.
She ended up in the right field, met the person who was going to change not only her future, but also that of her mother-in-law, Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer and ultimately the life of the people of Israel.
Ruth the Gentile, became the mother of Obed, the grandmother of Jesse and the great-grandmother of David.
From the genealogy of Jesus, with which Matthew begins, we read that the story has come full circle: Bethlehem - Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Jesse and David and centuries later – Mary and Joseph -Yeshua!
The book of Ruth tells us one of the greatest pleasant, bitter, sweet, friendliest stories ever!
Ruth eventually became the mother of the TRUTH.
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