Summary: Part one of series on Ruth
GODS HAND IN OUR SUFFERING
Redeeming Ruth, Part 1
Today we begin a six-week study in the Book of Ruth,
If you’ve got a Bible,
you can turn to Ruth, Chapter 1 [pew bible page 179]
Many people believe
Ruth is not only the finest short story in all of scripture,
but one of the finest stories in all of ancient literature.
So today we’re gonna do things a little bit differently…
it’ll feel a little more like storytime,
than it would normally.
It starts out:
“In the days when the Judges ruled”
This gives us our historical timeline.
The period of the Judges is roughly
1200BC to about 1020 BC,
It’s the time between the death of Joshua
to the coronation of Saul as the King in Israel.
The reason its called the period of Judges,
because there was no king or government in Israel,
instead there were a series of judges
who decided disputes between people,
and acted as the final authority.
You can read all about this period,
in the Book of Judges in the bible.
And if you do read it,
you’ll find that the time of the Judges,
is one of the most dark,
unfortunate periods in all of Israel’s history.
The people of Israel were surrounded
as we are today,
by many non-Christians,
And rather than becoming
a witness and example
to these other nations,
the people of Israel were constantly
turning away from God,
doing their own thing,
giving in to various temptations,
especially sexual temptations.
it actually sounds very much like our society today.
“In the days when the Judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.”
It leads us to wonder if the famine was actually
God’s judgment on his people,
because almost every time
famine is mentioned in scripture,
its connected with God’s discipline…
His people refuse to obey him,
so he refuses to feed them.
Of course, nowadays we don’t have famines in the US,
because we’re wealthy,
instead we have recessions,
and high unemployment,
but we still need to recognize that
our daily bread doesn’t come from Kroger,
it ultimately comes from God,
and he can take away what he gives.
“In the days when the Judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.”
Here’s a quiz for you bible experts.
What does Bethlehem, literally mean?
(House of Bread.)
You’re going to see several little ironies
throughout this book.
The first is is that in the House of Bread,
people are starving to death.
This is like somebody saying,
yeah, I work for WonderBread Company,
but all the employees there are hungry.
But there’s a famine in the House of Bread.
And this man is left with a decision,
“Do I stay with my family in Bethlehem,
where there is famine
Or do I move to Moab.” [map]
Moab is some 50 miles away, to the east,
and he decides,
“I’m going to Moab.”
And again it appears that this famine is discipline from God
because 50 miles away in Moab,
people seem to be just fine.
The famine seems to be local to the area around Bethlehem.
That should have made this guy think,
maybe I need to fix my spiritual problem, first,
and come to God for help.
But he doesn’t do that… instead – as many men do –
he simply looks at the economics
and job opportunity
and the upward mobility
and says, hey, lets go to Moab.
The problem is,
Moab is no place for God’s people to live.
The Moabites didn’t worship the true God,
They worshipped a false God named Chemosh,
and their worship included human sacrifice,
and their culture had a reputation
for degradation and perversion.
so God’s people weren’t to move to Moab.
But this man makes a bad decision,
as the head of his home,
and he takes his wife and sons.
moves them away from their family and friends,
away from church and fellowship,
to a place where they,
would be the only Christian family
in a place where there is no church or fellowship,
or opportunity to worship God.
And by the way, I use the term Christian in the OT,
because the followers of God back then
were looking forward to the Messiah, Christ,
even though they didn’t know him by that name yet.
The story continues, verse 2.
“The man’s name was Elimelech,”
which means “My God is King,”
That’s another subtle irony because
he doesn’t act like it, does he?
Elimelech means “my God is king.”
But he acts like,
God isn’t king, I’m king,
I run my own life,