Summary: Exposition of Ruth 1:1-5
Text: Ruth 1:1-5, Title: Running From or Into Trouble? Date/Place: LSCC, 4/22/06, AM
A. Opening illustration: a story about pain being the indicator of something—leprosy, pig, crow, acorn, tree
B. Background to passage: Ruth is the only book in the OT named after someone who is not an Israelite. It is a short story that lays some marvelous foundations for the coming Messiah, and gives some hope during a time that was arguably one of the worst in Israel’s history. It is set during the time of the book of Judges, which spans about 400-year period of time before Israel had a king. It was characterized by the statement about people doing what was right in their own eyes. The book finished up with a story that symbolized the depth of depravity that Israel had succumbed to including idolatry, rape, murder, dismemberment, and genocide. Our story begins with a time of famine in the land. We have a hard time understanding the fact that death waited around every harvest for many people each year, but that was the reality.
C. Main thought: If you run from the pain in life, you may short-circuit your joy. Our text shows four consequences of designing our own deliverance from God’s pressure in our lives.
A. You may miss God’s best (v. 1)
1. Elimelech, as the leader and provider for the family, had a decision to make when famine came in Bethlehem. Ironic that the translation for Bethlehem is the “house of bread.” He chose to go to Moab. Let’s examine that decision. Tell about Moab’s past history with Israel, and their banishment from the religious life of Israel, and the worship of their God, Chemosh. Elimelech left the land that God had given him, and where God had promised to provide for him, to go to the land of the idol-worshipping enemies of God. He probably did not intend to stay long. Explain the instruction about the disobedience of Israel and the curse of God on them with famine. Pain in our lives can be an indication of where God is working.
2. Lev 26:19-20, 23, Jonah 1:3,
3. Illustration: think about the testimony of the widow that God miraculously provided for in 1 Kings 17, then witnessed her son being raised from the dead, divorce: 85% of couple surveyed five years after deciding for divorce, but not doing it, say that they are happier in their marriage than ever, 60% of divorcees with children wish they had not divorced, have you ever noticed that the deepest Christians are the ones that have gone through much pain?
4. It’s kind of ironic that God uses pain to bring about our greatest joy. But His glory shines through the darkest situations greater than if everything is going well. We don’t know what would have happened, if Elimelech had stayed in Israel. But the point is that God was calling for repentance through pain, and he just went another way. How foolish to think that one could run from God’s presence. If you run, God’s spirit will follow. Conviction, guilt, chastisement will be upon you until you repent and follow after Christ. Elimelech didn’t act in faith, but in sight. Therefore it cost him and his family blessings, and eventually his life. I am not saying that if you run from pain, God will kill you. If we face up to our problems, and deal with them biblically, we can be assured that we will fare far better than if we design our own escape route. What kind of problems and pain are you experiencing? Are you dealing with them biblically? What character trait or discipleship goal is God accomplishing in your life through it?
B. You may cause further sin (v. 4)
1. One of the results of Elimelech’s sin in going to Moab was that he set a powerful negative teaching example for his wife and children. They did some things to follow his lead. First, they stayed in Moab. They didn’t stay foreigners; they became residents. Next they wanted to marry Moabite women. Then Naomi didn’t stop these marriages as the new head of the household. What would Elimelech do? Who cares about what God thinks?
2. Deut 7:3-4, Ex 34:7
3. Illustration: have you seen the commercials that ask “what do you want to pass on to your kids? And the parents talk about all the good things, then the commercial reminds you that if you smoke, you kids are about 3 times as likely to smoke, regardless of what you tell them. King David’s example, state of MA making everyone have health insurance, the Dad on the TV show who kept undermining his wife,
4. Parents, what kind of example are you setting for your kids? Do you say one thing, and practice another? All of us have people that look to us for examples of how to handle problems. The world looks at us as the church to see if our God really can help. God’s honor is a stake by how you handle difficulty in the eyes of others. The great lie that we believe is that our sin only hurts us. Satan will help you make good arguments. Sure everyone is responsible for his own sin, but you may be too.