Read Ruth 1:1-3
"In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilean. They are Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judea. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons," Ruth 1:1-3.
Welcome, ladies, to the book of Ruth! Wow- that was anything but uplifting on this first Monday of a new study. I think this calls for a little unpacking of history and a look at human nature.
We know that the book of Ruth takes place during a time period of the rule of the judges. These were dark days for israel when this book starts out. This is a time where everyone is doing what they think is right but ironically it is WRONG!! As we begin we see there is a huge famine in Bethlehem (which coincidentally means "House of Bread"). Elimelech (whose name means "My God is King") makes the executive decision to solve this problem and moves his family 50 miles away to the land of Moab where there IS food. I can't help but chuckle at these translations. "'My God is King" makes a life altering decision on his own to move his family away from "House of Bread" so they won't starve to death. We can see by taking a look at Elimelech's self driven will, there is not only a food famine but a huge spiritual famine with the people of Israel s well. No one is turning to God ; they are abandoning Him. They are running away rather than leaning in to what the Lord's will is.This story is a perfect example of where we can get ourselves without seeking the Lord. "Elimelech walked by sight and not by faith... No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, the safest and best place to be is the will of God."(Warren Weirsbe) . Oh! How true this quote proves to be over and over throughout history .
As we read to the end of our verses today, we see that after they relocate to Moab, Elimelech dies leaving a grieving Naomi in a strange and new place with two sons. How ALONE and hopeless she must have felt. This part of the story seems really grim but it's an important history lesson as well as a life lesson where we can ALL land when we are our own God. Here is some hope to hold on to as we dive deeper into this study in the next few weeks: 1.The Lord is determined to save not by ease but thru grace. He always has more grace then we have sin.
2. He is not going to bless our running away but He promises to meet us in the Word and wants us to walk by faith and not by sight.
3. He wants our attention, He wants relationship with us, and He desire to BLESS us.
4. Can we recognize the hand of God over our lives? His hands are always working in the heart of love.
Today let's think about those times we make executive decisions and do the logical thing we think is going to fix the problem at hand. Are we praying about these decisions or are we being our own little God? Are we walking by faith or by sight? Although many years separate us from the days of Naomi and Elimelech, not much is different at all. I can see myself in this story and I bet you can imagine this could be you as well. The hope is we can call on the One that can "fix it" better than we can even dream.
Let us not pass by this sobering passage we have looked at today without recognizing it's significance in our own lives. Thank You for these words as they give us a bird's eye view of what a world void of you looks like. Help us to remember You don't always show us the easiest route to salvation rather, "My grace is sufficient for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Oh Father in heaven, thank You for this grace, Your power, Your love and Your salvation from our self determined sin full ways. We ask that you open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds and make us teachable as we proceed through the Book of Ruth. Amen.full ways. We ask that you open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds and make us teachable as we proceed through the Book of Ruth. Amen.