What Makes a Person Turn Back to God? (An Introduction to the book of Ruth)

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Did you know that there was a nameless person in history who caused a ripple of events that ROCKED THE WORLD simply by sharing a bit of good news with a foreign widow? 

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.” – Ruth 1:6

Though Naomi had been living apart from God and His people for well over 10 years, when she heard the news that God had visited Israel – that He had reversed the famine and given them food – she packed up her bags and returned to her hometown of Bethlehem.

Why this sudden change of plans after all this time?

Didn’t she know that in leaving the Promised Land to dwell in Moab, she had disobeyed God? Didn’t she know that when her Israelite sons married Moabite women, they became serious rebels? Didn’t she know that God had afflicted the Promised Land with a famine because of disobedience like this??

She must have known the law given to Moses – the blessings for obedience, the curses for disobedience that we read in Deuteronomy 28. (Maybe that’s exactly what kept her in Moab for all those years: maybe she was afraid of a God who could clear out the hen house and dry up the bread bowl in a moment of judgement. I wouldn’t blame her if she just didn’t want to face Him in light of her choices.)

But then something about that news-in-the-field changed her Moab-dwelling mind and sent her journeying back to Bethlehem.

I think that when she heard Yahweh had visited Israel and reversed the famine, she remembered something crucial about God’s character that she had forgotten over the years: I think that the news reminded her of God’s kindness, His mercy, His forgiveness.

Of course, these things about God’s character were also recorded by Moses in the same breath as the blessings and curses associated with the law. We read about them in Deuteronomy 30.

Knowing His people would obey and disobey, God promises,

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again fro all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you… The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground…”   

Yahweh – the God of Israel – would receive the repentant sinner.

Yahweh would receive Naomi.  After all the years – the losses and the regrets – Naomi remembered that God would keep all of His promises, including the promises to forgive.

God’s true character – His judgement and His mercy – gives Naomi the courage and faith to return home, to return to Him.

I don’t want to spoil the story if you’ve never read the book of Ruth before, but you’ve gotta hear this to whet your appetite: because Naomi returns to Bethlehem, the Messiah is born generations later.

There’s much to learn from the book of Ruth, but for right now, let’s just savor the good news: God has visited His people and given them food!

We now know what this announcement truly means: God has visited us through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became flesh and dwelt amongst us, taking on our sin, and giving us His righteousness. Jesus said He himself is our food – the Bread of Life. He said that simply believing Him will sustain our souls forever.

Jesus also said that if we live solely off of ordinary bread, we’ll die. But if we believe and obey God’s Word, we will live. He said that we desperately need Scripture; it’s the daily bread that God provides for all His children.


Tell someone in your field the good news. 

Tell him that when you repented, God forgave you.

Tell her that though you had nothing, He has given you everything.

Tell him! Tell her! Because who knows?  Your good news may be the very thing that sends your friend packing, returning to God.