There are 2 major points to learn from the first chapter of Ruth:
- What happens when you lay aside God’s promises, and
- How He brings you back into those promises.
Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
When was Ruth? Possibly just one generation after Joshua! (Boaz, son of Rahab – Matt 1:5). It seems that it doesn’t take us long to forget the blessings He bestows.
Ruth 1:1-5, “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 Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.”
NOTE: Bethlehem – House of bread – birthplace of the Bread of Life.
From these verses we see that there was a ‘falling-away’, a leaving of the promises, looking for the greener grass. In doing so they broke faith and found death. But what could a man do? He must have concern for his family, for to do otherwise would make him worse than an infidel. Yet we note that the famine could not have been so dire as to cause widespread starvation, for later we note that the rest of the villagers are still there to welcome Naomi home. Did Elimelech shamefully desert his friends and neighbours? You know the saying, “when the going gets tough – the weak shoot through”, and everyone else has to pick up the slack and the pieces. Or did he simply desire something else; something somewhere else; something forbidden?
Do you know the theory “that if God is in it, look for the 3 green lights and all will go well and to plan, easily”? Well it doesn’t happen that way very often, and in this “drive-through” age, too many Christians are giving up when the going gets tough, and running off to what seems to be greener pastures, and not being led by the Great Shepherd. From Genesis, note the times of famines: Abraham had dug shallow wells, but cleared-off to Egypt, Isaac too ran-off to Egypt, and Jacob ended up in Egypt because of famine. Yet in all this only Isaac bothered at any stage to make an effort to stay in the promised land. He re-dug the wells, making them reach down deeper into the life-giving water, and founded Beersheba – The Well of the Covenant. Sometimes we just have to go deeper into God’s promises, and not look elsewhere for empty offers from another god that suits us.
Note the names of the participants of this tragedy. Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon & Chilion. In one generation this family went from My God Is King (Elimelech) and Pleasantness (Naomi), to Sickness (Mahlon) and Consumption (Chilion). Such are the results of seeking the apparently greener grass away from, and contrary to, the Lord’s will: weakness, infirmity, fading and dying.
The commentator, Matthew Henry, says, “Jewish tradition holds that indeed their lives were shortened because they had transgressed the Law (but haven’t we all?). We cannot out-run or hide from death. We cannot expect to prosper when we leave our place of duty (ask any soldier). Jesus said, “He who wishes to save his life shall lose it”. So uncertain and transient are all of our enjoyments in this life. It should therefore be prudent of us to make sure of those comforts that will be made sure, and of which death cannot rob us – Lay up your treasure in heaven!”
(And speaking of Death. Death is certain –
We should appreciate death and be ready for it
Have a Will and your wishes known
Make sure your last words to others are not ones you’ll regret
Look forward to the fulfilled promises we have in Jesus
Encourage others in their struggles with living to better understand the goal found through death.)