Naomi – A Restored Mother

The Redeeming Story of Ruth’s Mother-in-Law

Ruth 1-4

March 18th 2012 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.                   Introduction (Proverbs 23:22)


A.    Moms. They are pretty important! God commands that we should honour our Moms!

B.     I want to do that this morning!

C.     By-the-way, You Know You've Turned Into a Mom When...


1.      You automatically double-knot everything you tie.

2.      You find yourself humming the Barney song as you do the dishes.

3.      You hear a baby cry in the grocery store, and you start to gently sway back and forth, back and forth. However, your children are at school!

4.      You actually start to like the smell of strained carrots mixed with applesauce.

5.      You weep through the scene in Dumbo when his mom is taken away, not to mention what Bambi does to you.

6.      You are out for a nice romantic meal with your husband, enjoying real adult conversation, when suddenly you realize you've reached over and started to cut up his steak!


D.    Moms are Amazing people!


1.      Somebody once said, “The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.”

2.      “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

3.      “If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where her prayer has not already been.”

4.      “A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

5.      Here’s my favourite thought. Grandma on the Plane. For two solid hours, the lady sitting next to a man on an airplane had told him about her grandchildren. She had even produced a plastic-foldout photo album of all nine of the children. She finally realized that she had dominated the entire conversation on her grandchildren. "Oh, I've done all the talking, and I'm so sorry. I know you certainly have something to say. Please, tell me... what do YOU think of my grandchildren?"


E.     The Bible is full of amazing people called Mothers!


1.      Eve – the mother of all living – had a tough time because she had absolutely no role model to help her raise her children!

2.      Sarah – the mother of many nations – she had a husband who kept talking about God giving them loads of children, and she was hitting 90 years old!

3.      Rebekah – Isaac’s wife, had trouble trying to fill her mother-in-law’s shoes

4.      Hannah –a woman of such great faith, that was forged in the fires of such great sorrows. She was a great Mom!

5.      Bathsheba – she was the mother of the wisest man who has ever lived (Solomon), but she carried the scars of an adulterous relationship, and a child that died just after birth. She turned out to be a great Mom!

6.      Mary the Mother of Jesus – you ought to read and study her life as told in the BIBLE (not in the story books)! Her life, and ALL her children (she had at least 7, starting with Jesus) will teach you about trusting God, and being a godly Mom!

7.      How about Elisabeth, the Mother of John the Baptist? A great Mom!

8.      Timothy had a wonderful Mom (Lois), and a great GRAND-mom named Eunice!


F.      But this morning, on this special Mother’s Day, I want to look at the life of a Mother whose life was pretty messed up, and yet God restored – even when it looked hopeless!

G.    The Mother’s name was Naomi. And she is known as Ruth’s Mother-in-Law, and yet, her relationship to Ruth was better than having ten sons (Ruth 4:15)

H.    You see, being a mother is not easy. It should be, but it never is.

I.       God designed Mothers to succeed as Mothers, but only with His help.

J.       That’s what Naomi learns, and I hope every Mom in here learns as well!


II.                Message


A.    Naomi’s Troubles (Ruth 1:1-5)


1.      Please notice that the Bible is not like one of those “happily ever after” storybooks… But that it shows human life with all its sorrows and scars

2.      Naomi’s family has problems


a.       She didn’t marry the most spiritually minded man in the world


1)      Elimalech was an Israelite – lived in Judah at the time of the Judges, before the kings

2)      A famine spread throughout the land, and Elimelech got scared and fled Israel for a neighbouring country called Moab to find work and food

3)      It was NOT the will of God


a)      Abraham had done the same thing, and got in trouble for it

b)      So did Abraham’s son, Isaac – kept going down to Egypt when famines would strike

c)      Yet God promised to take care of His people – if only they would trust Him


b.      She didn’t live in the most spiritually blessed place in the world


1)      Moab was a pagan nation, filled with ungodly people, who worshipped wicked false gods (Chemosh, and Nebo and Ashtaroth)

2)      But it was where Elimelech wanted to live (kind of like Lot)

3)      It was where Naomi and Elimelech had and raised their two sons: Mahlon and Chilion


c.       And it was there that Elimelech died – suddenly!


1)      And all of a sudden, Naomi is a widow with two sons in a foreign land, away from home, away from family, away from God

2)      But it gets worse (as it usually does)


d.      Her two sons, Mahlon, and Chilion decide to marry two Moabite girls


1)      Not supposed to do that

2)      Evidently only interested in having a wife, but not a home

3)      Marriage is two hearts coming together, not just two bodies!

4)      God commanded His people to only marry people who feared and obeyed God

5)      The same is true for believers today (2Cor 6:14-16)

6)      These boys fell in love with the girls they hung around with

7)      Be careful who you hang with

8)      Be careful Moms and dada, who you let your children hang with!


e.       And then BOTH Naomi’s two sons died!


1)      What a shocker!

2)      Naomi is alone now – without husband, or child in her home


f.       It has been 10 long years since she left the will of God

g.      And all she has are these two pagan daughters-in-law!


3.      In this life, no one escapes the scars of life


a.       Job says, man is born into trouble!

b.      King David, with everything going for him, experienced such sorrow and scarring from the troubles in his home and especially brought on out of his own heart (2Sam 23:5)

c.       Adam and Eve discovered the cost of their own stubborn rebellion against God when they learned of the murder of their son Abel, by their first born son, Cain!

d.      No one escapes the sorrows and scars of this life!


B.     Naomi’s Defeat (Ruth 1:6-13)


1.      It is at this time that Naomi finally accepts defeat - Everything in her life had failed

2.      And she hears that God had blessed the nation of Israel, in SPITE of the famine

3.      So she heads home to Israel – to try and start over

4.      But there was a problem…

5.      There were two young ladies tagging along, wanting to go with her

6.      But Naomi wanted to be alone


a.       Didn’t want the memories

b.      Didn’t want the baggage that they would carry over into her new life back in Israel


7.      Didn’t blame anybody but herself for all her troubles

8.      Then pushes them away

9.      And prays for God to bless them


a.       The first woman, Orpah walked away and headed home – never heard from again


10.  It’s a good start!


a.       Wanting to start over

b.      Focusing on getting back into the will of God

c.       Praying for people, instead of only complaining about your own problems

d.      God will use all this for her benefit!!!


C.     Naomi’s Effect (Ruth 1:14-18)


1.      Naomi has had ten years of hard, painful memories and loss

2.      And as she turns away from her two daughters in law, she overlooks the fact that there was a Ruth there, that wouldn’t leave!

3.      Ruth is about to demonstrate just how much Naomi had affected her for good

4.      Naomi had evidently, maybe even without knowing it, taught Ruth six invaluable lessons


a.       About Love – “but she clave to her


1)      Love is a decision as much as it is an emotion!

2)      Oh that mom’s realised just how much they are teaching their children what LOVE really is

3)      Doesn’t come naturally (Titus 2:3-4)


b.      About Mentoring and Discipleship – “following after” – Ruth wanted to be LIKE Naomi, not like the women back in Moab!!! (Titus 2:5)


1)      Oh that every woman LEARNED that discretion and meekness and quietness, and submission must be passed on to their children


c.       About God’s PeopleIsrael


1)      Not to ever be ashamed of them, even though they don’t do right, they are still God’s people – even today!

2)      By-the-way, be sure you convey the right attitude about God’s people right HERE! The people at your school, and on your job, and in your home should know that CHURCH is a special people, a peculiar people that are God’s people!


d.      About the GOD of Israel


1)      Naomi had a relationship with her God, that amazed Ruth

a)      Naomi didn’t realise just how much Ruth watched her

b)      Saw her pray, and turn to Gpd when empty and defeated

2)      Naomi showed Ruth that Jehovah is NOT THE SAME AS OTHER gods!


a)      Jehovah is NOT the same as Allah

b)      Jehovah is NOT the same is Shiva, and Vishnu

c)      Heaven is not the same as Nirvana

d)     Jesus is NOT the same as Mohammed

e)      By-the-way, the Bible is NOT the same as any other book on this planet


e.       About Confidence, even facing death (1:17) – Naomi taught Ruth that death is not the end of a life! To Naomi, death was not to be feared if you know the God of heaven!!!

f.       About Commitment (Ruth 1:17,18)


1)      Notice the depth of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi, and to her GOD

2)      Naomi could have abandoned her husband because of his carnality and unspirituality, but because she stayed with him, her faithfulness affected Ruth – it helped her!

3)      Naomi could have become a very bossy wife (in the name of spirituality), and it would have ruined Ruth, but she stayed soft!


5.      In spite of all of Naomi’s problems and failures, she had all those things right!

6.      What are YOU teaching without even thinking about it????


D.    Naomi’s Starting Over (Ruth 1:19-22)


1.      The hardest thing to do, is start over – no matter who you are!


a.       Yet God starts over with us every morning!

b.      So many people WON’T get right with God, with their husbands or their wives, or with their parents, or with their pastor not because they CAN’T but because they find it hard!


2.      But notice that God gave Naomi someone to start over with, someone who loved her and looked up to her for right choices (1:19)


a.       Do you have any children that are still home? Start over with them

b.      Do you still have a husband? Start over with him

c.       Do you still have your Mom, or your Dad? Start over WITH them!

d.      Don’t be too proud to say to them, you need them, and you need their help to do right!


3.      Naomi admits and accepts two big things:


a.       God’s judgment against her and her decisions

b.      That she was bitter – too many live out too many years not accepting the fact that bitterness has filled their heart And ruined their lives and future

c.       Oh, I could preach all day on this one Scripture and on how important it is that we ALL conquer the bitterness that reigns in our hearts!

d.      If Naomi is going to start over, she has to accept:


1)      Her past (that God was there, and was right in what He did)

2)      Her bitter attitude was just as wrong as a sinful action!


e.       Have YOU accepted these two things?

f.       You will never actually be able to start over until you let go of those two anchors in your life: Blame, and Bad Attitudes like bitterness!


4.      She does not waste her time going around blaming her husband, or her sons, or the economy (the famine) – it was her choice to marry the guy!

5.      She is just humbled, broken, sorry for her wrong choices

6.      Coming back to Bethlehem seemed like the end of so many wasted years, but in God’s sight, it was only the beginning!!!


E.     Naomi’s Second Chance (Ruth 2:1-17)


1.      God is the God of second chances… and third and forth and fifth!!!


a.       Naomi gets to experience life again, and even Motherhood

b.      But it will be through a foreign, Moabite woman named Ruth


2.      Notice how different Ruth was compared to most women!


a.       The Courage of Ruth (Ruth 2:1-3)


1)      Not ashamed of being poor

2)      Willing to work along side other workers

3)      Bold enough to work alongside JEWISH workers who probably would not get along with a Moabite woman being there


b.      The Beauty of Ruth (2:4,5; Cf 2:11)


1)      Not just an outer beauty (1Pet 3:1-4)

2)      Her beauty was in her kindness to her mother-in-law


c.       The Humility of Ruth (2:7,13) - Femininity


1)      Not like Jane Fonda, or Gloria Steinem

2)      But like Christ!


d.      The Faith of Ruth (2:12) – trusted the God of the Bible now! That was something that Naomi’s husband and two sons never had!

e.       The Benefit of Ruth (2:9-17) Naomi and Ruth were not just eating scraps, but they were well taken cared of – GOD’S care!

f.       The Hard Work of Ruth (2:17) from sun-up until sun-down


3.      “Ruth’s” don’t just happen! Any more than godly men of integrity just show up out of nowhere! They have to be influenced, moulded and taught!

4.      Naomi could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel – Naomi saw how God was bringing Ruth and Boaz together, and how God would ultimately restore Naomi to a blessed Mother again!

5.      So in Ruth chapter 3, Naomi and Ruth begin to seek God’s will through all of their past and troubles!

6.      They both learn that nothing is wasted with God in control!


F.      Naomi’s Redemption (Ruth 4:1-9, 13-17)


1.      Naomi owed a large debt – large mortgage payments that had not been made in TEN yrs!


a.       Part of the reason why Elimelech left Judah

b.      Shirked responsibility to pay on his mortgage when times got tough

c.       And now the debt included taking care of Naomi and a widowed Moabite woman, who needed to be married

d.      Or else Naomi would lose her property and might even go to jail


2.      A Cousin of Elimelech was at first interested, but then refused – only wanted the land, but not the responsibility of two widows, and having to marry one of them! Would you blame him?

3.      A knight in shining armour steps forth and accepts all costs! Boaz!


a.       All the debts of Elimelech

b.      All the debts of Mahlon and Chilion

c.       All the debts of Naomi

d.      And all the debts of Ruth

e.       AND was willing and even GLAD to marry Ruth to take care of her in the place of her dead husband

f.       What a cool guy this Boaz was!


4.      Boaz marries Ruth, buys up Naomi’s debt, brings Naomi into his home!


a.       Wow! This guy is amazing!

b.      This Boaz marries Ruth, but REDEEMED Naomi!

c.       Naomi, NOT JUST RUTH, but Naomi had a family again (4:14)

d.      Ruth turned out to be BETTER than 10 sons to Naomi!

e.       That’s what GOD can do!

f.       That’s why I LOVE the Bible’s stories more than the world’s fairy tales – because they are TRUE and because they actually work!!!


G.    Naomi’s Legacy (Ruth 4:17-22)


1.      By-the-way, did you notice the last few verses of Scripture here? Naomi’s Legacy!!!


a.       The new baby’s name was Obed – a servant

b.      Obed grows up and marries and has a baby named Jesse

c.       Jesse then grows up, and has eight sons, the last one being a young boy named DAVID who grew up to be Israel’s greatest king!


2.      It’s amazing what God can do with a messed up, broken life like Naomi’s!!!


III.             Application


A.    We are all like Naomi


1.      We head out into this world, full like Elimelech, and like the Prodigal Son, and return like Naomi: empty and bitter

2.      We think we have gone too far, and messed up so bad, and there is nothing to do but die

3.      We forget that there usually is a Ruth somewhere in our life, looking up to us (especially you moms), watching us, and learning about God from us!


B.     Boaz is just like Jesus


1.      When we have only gone our own way, and amassed immense debts before God because of our sins…

2.      When we have lost everything – our health, our money, maybe even our families…

3.      When we have become bitter and angry at everybody, even God…

4.      When we have no where else to turn to…

5.      That’s when Jesus steps in and offers to pay off everything!


a.       His death on the cross paid the debt we could never pay!

b.      His burial for 3 days and 3 nights removed our sins as far away as the east is from the west

c.       His resurrection defeated even death so there is nothing to fear in life now!


6.      Just as Boaz fell in love with a Gentile, Pagan, Foreign, Alien of a woman, and gave his all to marry her…

7.      So did Jesus fall in love with this Gentile, Pagan, Foreign, Alien of a sinner, and gave HIS all, that he and I would be together for all eternity!!!

8.      God loves RESTORING broken people (Isaiah 58:12)


C.     Don’t be like Orpah – who walked away from Naomi and missed out on seeing how God could restore and bless such a broken home as Naomi had!


IV.             Challenge


A.    All mothers in this room have had Naomi-kind of lives: full of disappointments, sorrows, and scars. Wrong decisions, troubles, even God’s judgments against their stupid wrong choices

B.     So, Like Naomi… In Spite of your Troubles


1.      In spite of all your family’s problems

2.      In spite of your good for nothing husband

3.      In spite of all the disasters that you have experienced

4.      In spite of all the scars

5.      In spite of giving up over and over again…


C.    Start Over – Step One!


1.      WANT to start over

2.      Focus on getting back into the will of God

3.      Pray for people, instead of only complaining about your own problems

4.      God will use everything for your benefit!!!


D.    Look for a Ruth in your Life


1.      Naomi had evidently, maybe even without knowing it, taught Ruth six invaluable lessons

2.      If you don’t have a Ruth yet, start living the following examples:


a.       About Love – “but she clave to her

b.      About Mentoring and Discipleship – “following after” – Ruth wanted to be LIKE Naomi, not like the women back in Moab!!! (Titus 2:5)

c.       About God’s PeopleIsrael – not to ever be ashamed of them, even though they don’t do right, they are still God’s people – even today!

d.      About the GOD of Israel

e.       About Confidence, even facing death (1:17) – Naomi taught Ruth that death is not the end of a life! To Naomi, death was not to be feared if you know the God of heaven!!!

f.       About Commitment stay the course for Jesus’ sake & for the Ruth’s sake in your life!


3.      Those things will come back and help YOU later!


E.     Start to deal with all the Blame and Bad Attitudes like bitterness!


1.      Confess it, and mortify it – putting it to death every time it rears its ugly head

2.      Then God will turn you END into only the beginning!!!


F.      Trust that God is actually working all things together for good! And that God is the God of Second Chances… and third and forth!!!

G.    Accept Christ Jesus’ Redemption like Ruth AND Naomi accepted Boaz’s


1.      He will pay off all the debt you owe to God

2.      He will be glad and most willing to spend eternity with you, STARTING today!

3.      Jesus died for all sinners, but He wants to REDEEM and RESTORE you!

4.      That’s what GOD can do!

5.      By faith, ask Jesus Christ right now to forgive you of ALL your sin debts, and to come into your heart and save you from the coming wrath of God and make you His child!!!