Summary: One thing the Book of Ruth tells us is death of Fatherhood and rise of Motherhood. All the men died – all the women lived. In today's society, fatherhood is on the decline. Elimelech wanted the best for his family. But some things went wrong. He resembles many fathers today.


1. Ruth 1:1 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. 2 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. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 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. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.

2. Ruth 2:5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Wow! Whose Young Daughter Is That?”


SERIES: An Intro (God Can Change Your Story); Love Is More Than Kissing; Getting Out Of Mara – Dealing With Bitterness; Father’s Day Message - Where Did Elimelech Go Wrong?, Behold A Woman Lay At His Feet - Marriage Before Sex; Characteristics Of A Good Spouse; Here Comes The Bride; When The Honeymoon Is Over - How Satan Attacks Christian Marriages; What Do You Do When You Realize You’ve Married The Wrong Person; The In-Laws Factor; You Can Begin Again (About Divorce Or Death); Life Without A Spouse, Etc.


One Thing This Book Of Ruth Tells Us Is The Death Of Fatherhood And The Rise Of Motherhood. All the men died – all the women lived. In our society today, fathers or fatherhood is on the decline. I am not talking about fathering children – that is on the increase. I am talking about fatherhood. Elimelech wanted the best for his family. But some things went wrong. He resembles many fathers today. Fatherhood Is An Endangered Species. Endangered Species Act was signed December 28, 1973, and provides for the conservation of species (plant, animal, ecosystem) that are endangered or threatened or facing risk of extinction or disappearance. Put Spiritual Fathers are on the endangered species list. In politics, see fathers who call themselves Christians and lie & deceive openly. In churches, they care less about the things of God.

Elimelech Is A Picture Of A Backslidden Christian. Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above. Today, you don’t hear many preachers talk about hell or backsliding. Illustration: A pastor asked a church member if he knew what backsliding was: “Sure, I used to suffer from it, but I had surgery and fixed it up.” Another said it was a kind of dance they do in Texas. Backsliding isn’t a kind of dance or a medical problem. Backsliding happens when a Christian stops advancing in his / her walk with God; instead they are sliding back into their old sins and habits. From the life of Elimelech, a father of his family, let us make 4 observations about a backslidden Christian or father.


1. 7% of saved children will help lead both of their parents to faith in Jesus Christ.

2. 23% of saved wives & mothers will help lead their husbands & children to faith in Jesus Christ.

3. 94% of saved husbands & fathers will help lead their entire family to faith in Jesus Christ.


? Children With Fathers Are Less Likely To Live In Poverty.

? Children With Fathers Do Better In School.

? Children With Fathers Are Less Likely To Do Jail Time.

? Children With Fathers Are Less Likely To Abuse Drugs And Alcohol.

? Children With Fathers Are Less Likely To Be Sexually Active As Teenagers.

? Children With Fathers Are More Likely To Be Encouraged To Take Healthy Risks.

? Children With Fathers Gain Many Additional Benefits To Health And Happiness.

? Children With Spiritual Fathers Are Most Likely To Succeed.

? Children With Fathers Are Most Likely To Have Spiritual Homes.


1. It’s Very Easy For Fathers To Turn From God During A Time Of General Wickedness: The historical setting of this story is important. Ruth 1:1 “…In the days when the judges ruled”. The period of the Judges was one of the most wicked in Israel’s history. Joshua and Caleb were dead, so the Israelites lacked spiritual leaders. The people turned to idolatry & immorality. Judges came on the scene to call them back to repentance, but few were great leaders. This entire period can be summarized by the last verse in Judges 21:25: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”. How Did This Show In Elimelech’s Case?

? First, Elimelech’s family left God’s Land – Bethlehem (Israel).

? Second, Elimelech’s family left God’s People.

? Third, Elimelech’s family left God’s Office-Bearers; e.g. judges, prophets, priests, Levites.

? Fourth, Elimelech’s family left God’s Worship at the tabernacle (His manifested presence).

? Fifth, they left the God’s Fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:25).

Written 3,300 Years Ago, Judges 21:25 Is A Perfect Description Of The American Culture Today. It has gotten more ungodly. There was a time in the history of this nation when no one argued about what marriage was, whether you could have a cross in a public place, pray before a football game, or argue about which bathroom you entered. We live in an age of Moral Relativity and are told there are no absolute moral standards. The term “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” is the definition of moral relativity. They tell Christians: “Don’t tell me what is right or wrong. If it’s right to me, then it can’t be wrong.” Fathers anointed by God to be the leaders in their homes must be very careful. Because of the wickedness of our culture, it’s easier than ever before to slip away from God and dive into the corrupt culture around us. Millions of so-called Christians are living in the land of spiritual Moab - they are backslidden. Only 1 out of 5 Americans who claim to be a Christian even attend church regularly. For some fathers, physically they are here, but mentally they are in Moab – soccer games, tvs, beer, etc.

2. Fathers Start Turning From God When They Stop Trusting In Him. Ruth 1:1 “…There was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live in the country of Moab.” The journey from Bethlehem to Moab was about 100 miles, but was downhill all the way - geographically and spiritually. When famine came, Elimelech was faced with a choice: “Do I stay here and pray and seek God’s face and then trust Him to provide for us? Or will I go back across the Jordan River, back into the land of the pagan Moabites because I hear they have food?” He should have stayed and trusted God. The God of Israel is the same God of Psalm 37:25: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” But instead of trusting God, Elimelech loaded up his family and moved to Moab. He didn’t have a food shortage, he had a faith shortage. Elimelech’s name meant ‘My God is King.” But he decided to be his own king.

Here’s What God Said About Moab: Psalm 108:8-9: Judah is my scepter (that means a royal symbol); Moab is my wash-pot (garbage can). God was disrespectful of Moab because they were disrespectful of Him. A few generations back when the Israelites were moving toward the Promised Land, the King of Moab had cursed the Israelites. In response, God ordered the Israelites not to intermingle with the Moabites because they were cursed for 10 generations.

So Elimelech Moved From A Bethlehem, Which Means “House Of Bread” To A Place Called “Garbage Can.” That’s a big step backward spiritually speaking! Many fathers are moving from place of bread to living in garbage cans. A backsliding Christian is someone who has left the land of blessing and moved to the state of misery. The road away from God begins when you face a crisis, and instead of crying out to God or trusting Him, you decide to try to fix your problem on your own. Does the Bible say “God helps those who help themselves?” Nope - but Elimelech thought it did. What is the famine in your life right now? What shortage or crisis is beyond your ability to meet? You’re faced with the same choices that Elimelech had. Are you going to hang in there and seek God’s face and trust Him to carry you through this famine? Or are you going to turn away from God and go to Home Depot to fix your own problems? Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in a mess in Moab.

3. When A Father Turns From God, It Results In Heartache And Bitterness. The sad result of their life in Moab is reported with these words: Ruth 1:3, 5: “Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband died…after they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.” Life in Moab seemed to be fine for awhile. The boys found wives. Even though, God’s Word expressly prohibited them from marrying Moabite women, they were living in that culture, so what was the harm? But after a few years, life turned bitter. All 3 men died leaving 3 grieving widows. In Ruth 1:20, Naomi described her bitterness. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara because the Lord has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Naomi’s name meant, “Pleasant” but she was so full of pain she said, “Don’t call me ‘Pleasant,” call me ‘Bitter.’”

When You Drift Away From God, You May Think Everything Will Be Fine, and it may seem to be so for a while, but there is always a high price to play. Illustration: When the devil dangles the alluring bait of sin in front of a Christian, there’s always a sharp hook. Rebellion from God always leads to heartache, pain and bitterness. After David stumbled into two terrible sins, He lost his joy before the Lord. He was bitter and miserable. But as he repented he prayed - Psalm 51:12 - “Restore to me the JOY of your salvation.” Have you lost your joy? Some of you are messing around with a little sin right now and you’re thinking it won’t hurt you. And when you start backsliding, it doesn’t happen suddenly, it happens gradually. Illustration: Automobile mechanics will tell you that more tires go flat from a slow leak than from a blowout. Backsliding is a gradual process.

4. Fathers, No Matter How Far You Roam, God Invites You To Come Home. This is the turning point of the story. Ruth 1:6 “When she heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.” After she lost everything, Naomi decided to turn back to God and that meant returning to God’s land and to God’s people. Have you drifted away from God? Maybe there was a time in your life when you were more faithful to God - you were living in the House of Bread and God was blessing you on a regular basis. Do you hear the still small voice of your Father speaking this invitation to you? Joel 2:12-13 Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Do you hear your Father saying, “Come home, my child. I’ve missed you? I can’t bless you in the land of Moab, so come back to Me. Come back to My People. Come back to my land of blessing.” Don’t let the devil tell you you have gone too far away from God. You can return today.


Elimelech Is A Sad Example Of A Father Who Missed Out On His Potential. Go with me in your mind to the bed in Moab where Elimelech is lying as he realizes his life is slipping away. I wonder if he thought, “If only I’d trusted God and stayed in Bethlehem. If only I’d lived up to my name and shown everyone that God is my King.”

History is filled with people who missed out on great opportunities. They say: “If only.”

1. You know the name Alexander Graham Bell but have you heard of Elisha Gray? If only Elisha Gray had submitted his patent for the telephone 2 hours earlier there would have been a huge company called Gray Telephone instead of Bell Telephone. If only.

2. Jacob Davis was a Nevada tailor who first sewed pants made of denim. But he didn’t think there would be much demand, so another tailor, Levi Strauss, applied for the patent. If only Jacob had seen the potential you’d be wearing Jacob’s Jeans instead of Levi’s. If only.


1. The man who puts God's business above all other business.

2. The man who brings his children to church, rather than sending them.

3. The man who is willing to be the right example to every child he meets.

4. The man who thinks more of his Sunday worship than his Sunday sleep.

5. The man who measures his giving by what he has left, rather than by the amount he gives.

6. The man who goes to church for Christ's sake, rather than for himself or for someone else.

7. The man who has a willing mind, rather than a brilliant mind.

8. The man who has a passion to help, rather than a passion to be helped.

9. The man who can see his own faults before he sees the faults of others.

10. The man who’s more concerned about winning souls for Christ, than winning worldly honor.

If Elimelech Had Stayed In Bethlehem And Challenged The People To Repent Of Their Sin and turn to God, he might have been remembered as one of the great judges like Deborah or Gideon. We name our children Ruth, Naomi, Deborah, Gideon - but nobody names their son Elimelech. His name is a forgotten footnote and his life is a sad reminder of what might have been. Elimelech didn’t live up to his name. Are you living up to your name as a father or mother? So if you’re going the wrong way, make a U-turn on that road and seek God with your whole heart!


1. When You Make Decisions Based On Human Rationale Instead Of Divine Revelation, You Incur Tragic Consequences.

2. When You Make Decisions Based On Human Rationale Instead Of Divine Revelation, You Cause Others To Endure Consequences Also.