Setting the scene: Famine and Harvest
In Ruth 1 verses 1 we read that there was a famine in the land. Such an event not unnaturally concentrates the mind of the people, especially when you are dependent on your crops - you couldn't pop down to Tesco's nor would there be anyone to help; everyone was in the same boat. Later in 1:22 we read that the harvest began.
Harvest in Cana took place in April and May. It was a very different kind of operation compared to today; there were no combine harvesters, just the hard work of the whole community.
Everyone was involved, the men to do the hard work of mowing the corn alongside women and children to make sure that not a grain of corn was wasted.
We find Ruth and Naomi gleaning in the fields amongst the other women and children (vv 1ff.); it was a community "event". (Gleaning involved picking up the ears of corn lying on the ground which had been broken off by the harvesters; it was still done in England in the 1930's by poorer families).
To think about
Famine and Feast may strike a chord with you especially when it applies to your spiritual journey. There are times when God feels distant and we cry out in want of a response; at other times, we have seasons of abundant blessing.
- Reflect for a moment on times like these. What did/does it feel like to go through seasons of blessing and disappointment?
- How might the words of the old hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness help us at times like this?
- What struck you about last week’s study. Share with the group if you feel able
- What have we learned that might encourage others coping with hardship?
Reading - Please read Ruth 1 verse 19 to 2 verse 13
- To 21st century eyes, this chapter presents a very patriarchal perspective on life and relationships (“Who does that woman belong to?[vv. 5]”). How do we overcome any reserve we may have to find God’s meaning in this chapter?
- Consider the reactions of Boaz; Ruth and Naomi to one another. What does this tell us about them?
- Why is Boaz so helpful to Ruth? What does his kindness indicate?
- What do their reactions show us about how we should treat our families and how we should treat each other?
- There are lots of Naomi’s around us – people who have become embittered by how life (and others) have treated them. How might we help the to address this bitterness and find relief?
- How do these verses help us to see how God might be working through everyday circumstances?
Let's use what we have been studying and learning together to prompt our prayers. Whether in times of famine or feast, God is in control. He led Ruth and Naomi to place where they met Boaz who now begins to play a crucial part in the story.
Whatever our circumstances God provides for us through Christ; often this takes the form of something we can do for others or they for us. Ask God to show you who you can help today. Let's pray together with these lessons and observations in mind.
For Personal Study ...
Reread Ruth 1 - 2:13 on your own and consider what lessons you have learned up to now. Be ready to share them with the group next week, if you feel able.
For next week, please also read Ruth 2:14 - 3:13 - "Working with God"