Lesson 5 – Two Noble Widows

Lesson 5 – Two Noble Widows2016-11-27T17:36:27+00:00

Please read the Missionary Report from
The Good Samaritan Department below

Sabbath, April 30, 2016

“The family tie is the closest, the most tender and sacred, of any on earth. It was designed to be a blessing to mankind. And it is a blessing wherever the marriage covenant is entered into intelligently, in the fear of God, and with due consideration for its responsibilities.” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 356, 357.

Behind the life story

1. What emergency caused Elimelech to move his family to Moab? Ten years later, having lost her husband and sons in death, what did his widow, Naomi, decide to do when she heard that the Lord had again given good harvests to His people?

Ruth 1:1, 2, 6 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there…. 6Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.

“The people of God will not be free from suffering…. While they endure privation and suffer for want of food, they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. To him that ‘walketh righteously’ is the promise: ‘Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’ Isaiah 33:15, 16. ‘When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.’ Chapter 41:17.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 372.

2. After she began the homeward journey with her daughters-in-law, what counsel did Naomi give them? Describe the emotional farewell.

Ruth 1:8, 9 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

“I saw that it is in the providence of God that widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame, and persons afflicted in a variety of ways, have been placed in close Christian relationship to His church; it is to prove His people and develop their true character. Angels of God are watching to see how we treat these persons who need our sympathy, love, and disinterested benevolence. This is God’s test of our character. If we have the true religion of the Bible, we shall feel that a debt of love, kindness, and interest is due to Christ in behalf of His brethren; and we can do no less than to show our gratitude for His immeasurable love to us while we were sinners unworthy of His grace, by having a deep interest and unselfish love for those who are our brethren and who are less fortunate than ourselves.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 511.

Different decisions

3. Were the two young widows willing to go back to their families? How did Naomi try to convince them to change their minds about accompanying her? Who accepted her suggestion?

Ruth 1:10-14, first part And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 13Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. 14And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law;…

“Every member of the family should realize that a responsibility rests upon him individually to do his part in adding to the comfort, order, and regularity of the family. One should not work against another. All should unitedly engage in the good work of encouraging one another; they should exercise gentleness, forbearance, and patience; speak in low, calm tones, shunning confusion; and each doing his utmost to lighten the burdens of the mother….

“The family firm is a sacred, social society, in which each member is to act a part, each helping the other. The work of the household is to move smoothly, like the different parts of well-regulated machinery.” –The Adventist Home, p. 179.

4. In contrast to Orpah, what was Ruth’s answer and firm decision? Do you know of another daughter-in-law with such great love and affection for her mother-in-law?

Ruth 1:14, last part-16, first part … But Ruth clave unto her. 15And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:…

“In ancient times, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses with his meekness and wisdom, and Joshua with his varied capabilities, were all enlisted in God’s service. The music of Miriam, the courage and piety of Deborah, the filial affection of Ruth, the obedience and faithfulness of Samuel, the stern fidelity of Elijah, the softening, subduing influence of Elisha–all were needed. So now all upon whom God’s blessing has been bestowed are to respond by actual service; every gift is to be employed for the advancement of His kingdom and the glory of His name.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 301.

Faith and decision

5. Was Ruth’s decision based only on kindness and love for her mother-in-law, or was it much more? What shows that she had experienced a conversion through faith in the true God? What city did the two widows reach together?

Ruth 1:16-18, 22 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. 18When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.… 22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. 

“All who, like Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God, were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased, they were to enlarge their borders, until their kingdom should embrace the world.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 290.

“The redeemed will meet and recognize those whose attention they have directed to the uplifted Saviour. What blessed converse they have with these souls! ‘I was a sinner,’ it will be said, ‘without God and without hope in the world, and you came to me and drew my attention to the precious Saviour as my only hope.’… Others will say, ‘I was a heathen in heathen lands. You left your friends and comfortable home and came to teach me how to find Jesus and believe in Him as the only true God. I demolished my idols and worshiped God, and now I see Him face to face. I am saved, eternally saved, ever to behold Him whom I love….” –My Life Today, p. 353.

From gleaner to ancestor of the Messiah

6. What hard life did Ruth find in Bethlehem? What did she do to obtain food for herself and her mother-in-law? In the meantime, what become known among Naomi’s relatives?

Ruth 2:2, 3, 11, 12 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. 3And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech…. 11And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. 12The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

“A good character is a capital of more value than gold or silver. It is unaffected by panics or failures, and in that day when earthly possessions shall be swept away, it will bring rich returns. Integrity, firmness, and perseverance are qualities that all should seek earnestly to cultivate; for they clothe the possessor with a power which is irresistible–a power which makes him strong to do good, strong to resist evil, strong to bear adversity.” –Child Guidance, p. 161.

“The spirit of unselfish labor for others gives depth, stability, and Christlike loveliness to the character and brings peace and happiness to its possessor. The aspirations are elevated. There is no room for sloth or selfishness. Those who exercise the Christian graces will grow. They will have spiritual sinew and muscle, and will be strong to work for God. They will have clear spiritual perceptions, a steady, increasing faith, and prevailing power in prayer.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 607.

7. What wonderful plan did the Lord have for this faithful young woman? Who were some of her noble descendants? Would you like to have the same kindness and faith as Ruth?

Ruth 4:11-13, 17 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: 12And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman. 13So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son…. 17And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Matthew 1:5, 6, first part And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6And Jesse begat David the king;… 

“By faith we are to appropriate the promises of God, and to provide ourselves with the abundant blessings which have been secured for us through Christ Jesus. Hope has been set before us, even the hope of eternal life. Nothing short of this blessing for us will satisfy our Redeemer; but it is our part to lay hold upon this hope by faith in Him who has promised. We may expect to suffer; for it is those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings, who shall be partakers with Him in His glory. He has purchased forgiveness and immortality for the sinful, perishing souls of men; but it is our part to receive these gifts by faith. Believing in Him, we have this hope as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast.” –Review and Herald, June 9, 1896.

For further study

Proverbs 12:4; 17:17; 18:24

“Those who accept Christ as their personal Saviour are not left as orphans, to bear the trials of life alone. He receives them as members of the heavenly family; He bids them call His Father their Father. They are His ‘little ones,’ dear to the heart of God, bound to Him by the most tender and abiding ties. He has toward them an exceeding tenderness, as far surpassing what our father or mother has felt toward us in our helplessness as the divine is above the human.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 327.

For reflection

After having lost their husbands, did Naomi or Ruth show any trace of bitterness?

What foundational choice did Ruth make in choosing to go with her mother-in-law? 

Where do you see the hand of God in these two women’s lives? 

Did the Lord supply Ruth’s need?

In Canaan did the Lord provide only her daily food? 

What made Ruth such a noble person?

Do you wish to have the same wonderful connection with the church as Ruth had with her mother-in-law?

On what does that depend?

When can we say that we love others?

How easily we love–from a distance! We consider the heroes of faith and all our acquaintances such wonderful people. The Lord should shut us up in Noah’s ark with our relatives and acquaintances; a few days would be quite sufficient. Then we would know not just the Sabbath morning faces of our friends but also their less favorable sides, which they always try to hide as much as we do. Only then, if we still “love” them, will we really use this word correctly. 

Both things are fatal–to surround oneself with a false halo, or to look at others through rose-colored glasses. Someone has said: “When, in people to whom we look up too much, we see things that contribute to our disillusionment with them, that is God’s mercy, because we should not look to people but solely to Jesus.”

Ruth and Naomi lived together for not just a few days but for years (Ruth 1:4); with the Lord’s help, they passed this test. How many mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law have achieved such wonderful harmony? How many brothers and sisters in the church love each other so much? Looking to Jesus, we may be completely transformed and be able to develop love, even under difficult circumstances, as was the case with them. –Adapted from Paul Dietenbeck, quoted in H. Schäfer, In Bilder reden (Speaking in Pictures), p. 256. 

* * *

Missionary Report
from The Good Samaritan Department

To be read on April 30, 2016

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered
on Sabbath, May 7, 2016

Dear brothers and sisters in the whole world,

Greetings with Isaiah 58:6-8: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.” Isaiah 58:6-8.

It is now more than twenty years that the Good Samaritan Department has been working tirelessly to relieve the suffering of those who face particularly difficult situations–children, orphans, widows, and the elderly. 

Disparity between rich and poor is a sad reality in every nation of this planet. As strange as it may seem, where one finds the poorest people is also where the richest are found. This is often the result of exploitation of the underprivileged classes by those in power.

Summarizing the situation that characterizes the world all through the centuries, Jesus said, “For ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always.” Matthew 26:11. The fulfillment of Jesus’ words is a tangible reality. Today, even in “economically advanced” countries, there are poor people who are not able to satisfy all their needs.

Over the past ten years, the General Conference has invested a lot of effort to enter new countries with the eternal gospel. More than thirty countries have been reached with the heavenly message of hope. Most of the people in these countries live with incomes that are under the poverty line, with the consequence that the number of requests for help from the Good Samaritan Department is increasing every day.

In the news, we hear of huge waves of migrants coming from poor countries to richer ones with a dream that often vanishes like a soap bubble. Considering the poverty these people represent, we can be overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness; however, the Spirit of prophecy encourages us: “As we see the necessities of the poor, the ignorant, the afflicted, how often our hearts sink. We question, ‘What avail our feeble strength and slender resources to supply this terrible necessity? Shall we not wait for someone of greater ability to direct the work, or for some organization to undertake it?’ Christ says, ‘Give ye them to eat.’ Use the means, the time, the ability, you have. Bring your barley loaves to Jesus. 

“Though your resources may not be sufficient to feed thousands, they may suffice to feed one. In the hand of Christ they may feed many. Like the disciples, give what you have. Christ will multiply the gift. He will reward honest, simple reliance upon Him. That which seemed but a meager supply will prove to be a rich feast.

“ ‘He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth with blessings shall reap also with blessings….” – The Ministry of Healing, pp. 49, 50 (italics added).

Surely we cannot eliminate poverty from our planet, but we can relieve the suffering of some with this multiplying effect. With five loaves and two fish, thousands of people were nourished, thanks to Christ’s blessing. Today the same miracle can happen again. Let us put the little bread that we can at the disposal of those in need, and tomorrow we will realize how many received nourishment from our small humanitarian deed.

Many times God’s word teaches us that small everyday deeds can bring great blessings; remember the widow of Zarephath and the poor widow’s two mites, to mention a few examples of generosity blessed by our heavenly Father. In every church, no matter how small it may be, we always find a weak brother who needs the help of a stronger brother and those who will deny themselves to help their neighbor.

Self-denial is the key word. What am I willing to give up for my Lord? If I follow my selfish heart, I will not be able to give up anything; if I concentrate on my own real or supposed needs, I will continue to look for new ways to acquire things every day–that something extra that will gratify me.

Our Lord is our great example, including of self-denial. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 (italics added).

The Son of God gave up heaven and His very life to give to all of us the possibility of redemption. What are we willing to give up to offer something to our neighbors? The offering pleasing to God is that which proceeds from denying ourselves. The monetary value is irrelevant to our heavenly Father; what is most important is the heartfelt motive of the gesture. We are called to give to others not only that which is ours, but also that which we actually need.

Every one of us has his or her own list of priorities to satisfy. If we compare them, we will see differences that make us think and that will even give us the strength to give up something we may cling to.

I need new clothes, and the sales are on! Am I able to deny myself of that garment to offer it to someone who has a greater need than I? At this moment, this is what we are asking of you–a deed of self-denial to help a brother, a friend, a stranger who, from thousands of miles away, is pleading for your help.

Recently several countries were struck by natural disasters, and many of our brothers and sisters lost everything but their lives. Offerings were collected and sent, but there are still needs, so, in the interest of those who were affected as well as many others who are suffering and needy, we feel moved to appeal to you to join us in helping them. On the occasion of this special offering for the Good Samaritan Department, let us show our strength and courage through a deed of self-denial!

“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth:…” “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.” Psalm 41:1, 2; Proverbs 19:17.

In the name of the Department, from the Good Samaritan team, and from all who have been given help, we thank you in anticipation of your offering and your self-denying deed!

Your brother and fellow servant in the Lord,

–Stefano La Corte
General Conference Good Samaritan Department Leader

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