Friday, August 5, 2011

Making a Choice aka Choosing a Community, Ruth 1:8-18; The Adult Sunday School Lesson for 8-14-11

ATTENTION:  Please note that this is The Adult Sunday School Lesson, Making a Choice aka Choosing a Community, on Ruth 1:8-18 for the 8-14-11 International Sunday School Lesson.  You will find the 8-7-11 lesson, Walk in God’s Path directly beneath this message and on the right side.


Making a Choice
Choosing a Community
Ruth 1:8-18
International Sunday School Lesson
August 14, 2011

Jed Greenough

I often wonder what your individual Sunday School classes are like.  My thoughts are that you are among those within your church who are most devoted to His word. 
I would be willing to wager that your work ethic is such that you have had very few jobs in your life.  That you volunteer to utilize your gift to teach rather than wait to be asked because you know what an important position it is.
Your marriages are strong and your relationships are filled with love.  When you call someone a friend it is more to you than appearing on someone’s Facebook page.
There is no good occasion for you to cheat or bend the rules because you understand the necessity for order in life because of the examples that God has given you.
What it comes down to is character, and you have it.
That is what I see when I read today’s scripture, character.
Of course we have to read all of chapter one in order to better understand the lesson but the first verse that we read that is a part of today’s lesson is Naomi showing concern for her daughters-in-law.  Further reading shows that she is grieving and that she is unsure of what her future holds.  She is however not concerned only for herself but first for these two women.  Naomi in encouraging these two to return to their people is going against what most would do if they were without character. 
Naomi in sending them off would be facing her fears alone and she probably has never been alone in her life.  Facing the unknown can be challenging enough with those you love but facing fear and grief alone is the hardest.
Naomi probably would have been one of several children living with her parents, then she started her own family with Elimelech .  Then their boys came along and then their sons started families as well.  Were the boys married for 10 years I cannot tell for sure based on how it is worded, but that is what some versions indicate?  Though grandchildren are never mentioned, I would have been really surprised if in sending the daughters-in-law away that she might not have also been doing the same thing with beloved grandchildren.  I am sure any grandparent use to having these reminders of their own children would find that even more heart wrenching.
I don’t feel we have enough to go on to make too many judgment calls on Orpha with regard to character.  Being listed first she may very well have been the older of the two.  Her first instincts were to cling to Naomi and to grieve at the prospect of being separated from her.  But after Naomi’s convincing statements she for whatever reason decided to return to her people.  Perhaps she had a very loving family that she had grown up with.  Perhaps she came from a family that could indeed offer her security.  Or perhaps it wasn’t God’s will for her.
With Ruth we saw that same devotion to Naomi which again indicates the kind of woman that Naomi was and as we can go on to see what kind of woman Ruth was as well.  Again, with Ruth we do not know too much of what her background was but she might have still been very young.  She may have left a much worse situation behind when she married into this family.  I suspect that she loved Naomi’s son very much and that helped along with Naomi’s character to place a very strong sense of love and loyalty for Naomi.  Most importantly she developed a faith in the one and only God.
This faith in God and their love for each other is seemingly all these two women of character possess as they set out for the unknown together.

For Discussion:

1.      From whom did the Moabites descend?
2.      Discuss God’s use of “famine”.
3.      Remember this is the time of the Judges.  Discuss the women’s journey in light of the very last verse found in the book of Judges before Ruth 1:1.
4.      It is possible that what is said concerning Orpah in rabbinic literature will be brought up in class.  I would only say that this is not scripture.
5.      Are you familiar with anyone who is suddenly alone for the first time?  Discuss how you might ease their loneliness.
6.      Discuss what you think of Ruth’s statement in verse 15. 

8-21-11:   Empowering the Needy Ruth 2:8-18
8-28-11:   Respecting Community Standards (Caring for One Another) Ruth 4:1-10
9-04-11:   Righteousness and Wisdom (Trust in the Lord), Proverbs 3:1-12
9-11-11:   From Generation to Generation (Walk the Straight Path), Proverbs 4:10-15, 20-27

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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