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  • Dr. Donna Renfro

Three Widows – One Option: Obedience

Blessing from God will flow in your life when you obey Him. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands, I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 28: 1-2)

Consider the three widows in the book of Ruth: Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Each one of them make choices after the death of their husband.

Option 1: Self-pity and Bitterness

Naomi became bitter in her loss. She even blamed God for her misfortunes. She even goes so far as insisting all her friends call her Mara, which means bitter. Naomi new identity becomes her loss and pain.

Option 2: Running Back

Orpah, the running widow, decides to go back to what was familiar. Orpah should have followed Naomi, her mother-in law, and taken care of her, which was her duty at that time frame. However, Orpah kisses Naomi “goodbye” and went “back to her people and her idols.” Clearly, Orpah thought changing her situation would remove her problems, but running never solves our problems.

Option 3: Ruth

Ruth clung to doing “right” and walked in obedience. She had lost her husband as well, but she did not let the heartbreak of death dictate her choices. Ruth followed Naomi, her mother-in law, which was her duty. She refused self-pity and worked with her hands in the fields for Boaz.

Under Mosaic Law, it was the duty of a near kinsman, which means “redeemer,” to marry his relative’s widow to protect and support her as well as bear children with her. Boaz, whose name means “in him strength,” was a kinsman of Naomi’s late husband. Naomi instructs Ruth to go lay at Boaz's feet on the threshing floor. This act of obedience by Ruth would take courage. Ruth was a Moabite woman, widow, and childless. She had no rights, and a man could do whatever he wished to her. Ruth was moving forward in obedience while not considering her own loss of her husband, and simply obeying what Naomi asked of her. When Boaz realized Ruth was with him during the night, he told her to not be afraid but he could not receive her yet because there was another kinsman closer in line than him. Boaz covered Ruth to protect her as she left the bed. Then, he went and waived his right to Elimelech's estate which was necessary for him to marry Ruth. Boaz ultimately rescues Ruth by marrying her, which is mirroring what Christ has done for His bride – the Church. (Ruth 3)

Ruth obeyed God and was rescued from widowhood. She went from being a childless, destitute, Moabite widow to a worshiper of Yahweh and wife of Boaz. However, there is a much bigger picture than Ruth and Boaz. Understand Boaz had a history as well which prepared him. His mother was Rahab, the Gentile harlot who helped the Israelite spies. Rahab married Salmon, one of the spies and had Boaz as a son. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse who was the father of David, the King of Israel. Ruth chooses to cling to all that was “right” in the middle of life being “not fair,” and God took a terrible tragedy and turned it into an eternal triumph. Ruth’s obedience to God during her own heartbreak put her in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ, which was her Divine destiny.

Obedience brings blessings!

If death or grief has caused you to become bitter or run away from your pain like Naomi or Orpah, you can go back to God today. The grace of God displayed at Calvary is more than enough for your pain, loss, and heartbreak. God is waiting on you with open arms. God’s redeeming grace will put you right back on a path of obedience.

If you are walking in obedience, do not quit. God has great plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Practical Suggestion: The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart. (Matthew 22:37) If you are just beginning to walk in obedience to God, begin with loving Him. God loves you and loving Him will enable you to obey Him daily.

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