Summary: When we face famines in our lives, we can stay and wait it out by faith in the land of bread and praise, where God is, or go to the world (Moab) for answers. If we choose the latter, there are consequences, amply illustrated by our text.
Famines and Failures
June 23, 2013
TEXT: Turn to Ruth 1
Last week we introduced the book of Ruth and looked at the background and setting of the book. We don’t want to go over the whole lesson again, but by way of a quick review, we saw that the book of Ruth takes place during the historical period of the Judges:
Note verse 1 – “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled.…” The period of the Judges was one of the darkest periods in Jewish history…
• a time when, as Judges 21:25 says, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
• a time of worldliness, apostasy, sin, immorality, and idolatry.
• a time of God’s discipline upon his wayward children, but also a time of God’s deliverance when His people repented and turned back to God.
• It was in this awful, violent period of human history that a beautiful love story takes place between a man named Boaz and a woman named Ruth.
The author of Ruth begins this love story by telling us about the family into which Ruth married, how she came to live with them, and how she eventually went to the land of her mother-in-law.
Let’s now read our text: 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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And 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. 3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”
This passage of Scripture is a picture of famines and failures in the lives of believers, God’s dealings when we fail and backslide, and the consequences of wrong decisions. Note with me the following three points:
I. FIRST, CONSIDER WITH ME THAT THERE WAS A FAMINE IN THE LAND – Ruth 1:1 – “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.…”
We all face personal famines in our lives, don’t we? (Use notes below or ask participants to share ways they can or have experienced famines of these kinds.)
1) You can experience a famine in your SPIRITUAL LIFE.
We can lose the excitement of the Christian life. The old fire sometimes fades and we lose the thrill and joy and expectancy of earlier days serving the Lord. We find ourselves in a spiritual rut, so to speak. We don’t witness like we used to. We fail to spend time in God’s Word like we should. Our prayer life becomes stale— and if we’re not careful, it can become non-existent. Maybe it is caused by sin (Psalm 51:9) or maybe God is just testing you (Psalm 13; 143), but, either way—it’s a famine.
I think we’ve all had such experiences before. What do you do when you face a famine in your spiritual life?
• First, examine your heart and confess sin.
Sin will make your spirit dry up. Confession opens the door again to close fellowship with the Lord.
• If there is no sin that is hindering your fellowship with the Lord, then just keep on serving Christ, keep on being faithful, keep on reading God’s Word, and keep on praying.
Do all the things you are supposed to do. Sometimes we face these famines from God, not because of sin in our lives, but because God is wanting to make us more thirsty for Him—to cause us to cry out to Him.
2) You can also experience a famine because of SUFFERING OR SORROW.
In this world broken by sin, we cannot escape at least some of these things that so often bring a famine to our souls.
Perhaps you’ve been sick. Maybe pain has been your daily companion. You know what it is to hurt—to REALLY hurt and to hurt often. Or maybe you went to the doctor and he said those dreaded, terrifying words, “Cancer! Malignant!” Or perhaps you have lost a loved one in death.
These experiences exhaust the soul, and sometimes even tempts a believer to question God. They’re difficult times that cause even the most godly saint to struggle in his spirit, producing a temporary famine in his life.