Summary: Orpah had the truth, but turned her back on God.

Orpah – 10th August 2008 am

Ruth 1:1-18

Orpah was a Moabitess, a member of an accursed race. She was born and bread in paganism. The gods of her people were fearful demon gods, the most feared of all these gods was Chemosh.

The priests of Moab were powerful and cruel. If any disaster threatened Moab – Plague, famine, or the possibility of war – then these priests turned to Chemosh. Fires would be lit underneath this image and Chemosh’s lap was constructed so that little children placed on its red hot surface would roll down a declined plane and into his fiery belly.

The priests would come around to the homes to inspect children, looking for possible victims, especially firstborn sons. With a red dye from the sea shore, they would stain the wrists of these future sacrifices – there was no court of appeal from this decision. Children with these stained wrists were doomed to a horrible death.

I wonder how many nights did Opah spent listening in on her parents whispering about this and her heart would be filled with fear and then her dreams turning into nightmares.

Then when Orpah was old enough to play with other girls, she heard about another god – a fertility goddess who offered the Moabites regeneration, also the fertility of fields and farms depended on the sexual practices in her temple.

Just as the priests kept their eyes open for firstborn sons that could be fed to Chemosh, they also kept their lustful eyes open for promising young girls who could be used for the foul trade of the temple.

These children would either grow up in fear or they would just view this as the norm. Events were about to take place in Orpah’s life that had the possibility of freeing her from all of this.

I. A Famine – 1:1-2

During the rule of the Judges, Israel suffered a serious famine which was deemed to be one of the punishments visited upon the people when they had sinned Leviticus 26:14-16 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; [15] And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgements, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: [16] I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you a terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

Elimelech decided to emigrate – he took his family to another land where there was plenty of food. Was this the right move? Had it worked in the past?


In taking the initiative to move his family to a foreign country, Elimelech stepped out of the will of God. If famine was a judgement upon the nation then he should have repented and tried to help his brethren back to God, and prayed for the removal of this famine -

Psalm 34:9-10 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: For there is no want to them that fear him. [10] The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: [17] The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, And deliver them out of all their troubles.

Elimelech should have stayed and allowed God to do something for him there and through him there. He should have allowed God to be God in his life. He should have said, “There has to be a reason for this dryness and bareness and I want to be part of the solution.” Instead, he quit.

Here’s the problem, backsliding never takes place in a vacuum, it always involves other members of the family. Elimelech took his family from Bethlehem-Judah (House of Bread and Praise) to Moab (Waste). Of the four that went to Moab, only one would come back.

What do we do when famine happens in our spiritual lives – don’t run away, rely on God, learn from it and move on in God’s will.

II. A Family – 1:4

One day a family moved into the life of Orpah, she had never met anyone like them before and she became friendly with them, especially one of their sons, she even ended up marrying Chilon.

It was a t the supper table that Orpah began to hear about their God, even though Elimelech was a backslider, he was still a believer. Maybe she asked questions about the differences between her gods and the true and living God.

She would hear stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Exodus, Moses and the Passover lamb. They would describe the wilderness wanderings and how Balak, king of Moab had hired Balaam to curse the Hebrew people and after failing, he taught Balak how to corrupt them.

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