Summary: In these first seven verses of Ruth we are introduced to the family of a man named Elimelech who lived during the days of the judges (v. 1). It is the sad tale of a man who chooses to walk out on the Lord and on God's plan for his life. As a result of his
Studies in the Book of Ruth
“The Story Behind The Story.”
Only two books of the Bible bear the names of women; they are Ruth and Esther. Ruth was a Gentile who married a Jew and Esther was a Jew who married a Gentile. Only three women appear in the genealogy of Jesus and she was one of them.
The book of Ruth is a great story but perhaps not a universally known story. “When Benjamin Franklin was abroad as our representative in Europe, he would sometimes gather together a fashionable company, and telling them that he had come upon a most remarkable piece of Oriental literature, read to them the Book of Ruth. When he finished, all would express their great delight and ask him how he came upon such a gem of litera-ture. Then he would tell them it was in the Bible.” [Clarence Edward Macartney. “Great Women of the Bible.” (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974) p. 10]
“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 (ma-lone) and Chilion (chil-e-un) 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. 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
In these first seven verses of Ruth we are introduced to the family of a man named Elimelech who lived during the days of the judges (v. 1). It is the sad tale of a man who chooses to walk out on the Lord and on God's plan for his life. As a result of his decision, he and his family pay a terribly high price.
First, It Is Easy to Turn From God During A Time of General Wickedness. (1:1a)
“Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled,…” (v. 1a)
The historical setting of this story is important. The Bible says, “…in the days when the judges ruled” (1:1) The period of the Judges was one of the most wicked in Israel’s history. Joshua and Caleb were dead, so the Israelites didn’t have any spirit-ual leaders. The people turned to idolatry and immorality. This entire period can be summarized by the last verse in Judges: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
That was written over 3000 years ago, but I think it is a perfect description of the American culture in our day. There was a time when our society was founded on the bedrock of Biblical truth. We didn’t have to argue over what cons-titutes a marriage because the Bible says that marriage is a union between a man and woman. We did have to argue over the ethics of abortion because the Bible taught that life was sacred from the moment of conception. We did have to argue over whether a cross or the Ten Commandments could be displayed in a public place. But America changed when we no longer got our standards from the Bible. We live in an age of moral relativity where we are told there is no such thing as absolute standards. It is up to every individual to decide what is right or wrong for themselves. It is exactly the problem described in Judges, “And every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
It Is Easy to Turn From God During A Time of General Wickedness and…
Second, You Start To Turn From God When You Stop Trusting Him! (1:1b)
“there was a famine in the land.
There was famine in the “land” and although it is not further described for the Hebrew there was only one “land” – the land given to Israel by God “The Promised Land.”
When the famine came Elimelech faced the same choice that we have. Do I stay here and pray and seek God’s direction and then trust Him to provide for us? Or will I go take things into my own hands. His choice was to go back across the Jordan River, back among the pagan Moabites because he heard they have some food? It seems the Elimelech devised his own solution instead of calling on God for mercy and repenting of the sins that had caused the withdrawal of God’s favor.