Summary: Naomi found herself in a desperate situation in Moab. Having left Bethlehem due to a famine, Moab had not brought the abundance they desired. Losing her husband and sons to death in Moab, Naomi was left there with only her daughters-in-law, but hope and grace were available in Bethlehem.
The Truth About Moab
Ruth 1: 1-7
Today I want to begin our study in the wonderful book of Ruth. Within this portion of Scripture, we find one of the greatest pictures of grace presented in the Bible. This biblical account focuses on three main characters: Ruth, a pagan girl from Moab who received an abundant measure of grace; Naomi, her mother-in-law, who found herself away from God and in desperate need of returning; and Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi’s who provided hope and redemption for them as they returned to Bethlehem. The central theme of Ruth is the unmerited favor and grace of God to those who are undeserving.
The opening verses we have read provide insight to the conditions of Moab and the dangers associated with dwelling there. We find Elimelech had decided to move his family from Bethlehem to the land of Moab, just across the Jordan River to the east of the land of promise.
Moab was not a favorable place for those who trusted the Lord. The environment of Moab created an atmosphere that made it difficult to live for the Lord and continue serving Him. It was a land inhabited by those who worshipped idols and served strange gods, descendants of Moab, the son of Lot born out of an ungodly relationship with his daughter. They were a rebellious and sinful people who attacked and sought to defeat Israel as they journeyed in the wilderness.
God declared in Ps.60:8 - Moab is my washpot; viewed as a filthy and despised vessel used by slaves to wash the feet of a conquering victor. The world in which we live appeals to the flesh, but in the end, it always brings devastation and defeat. As we begin our study, I want to examine the realities of dwelling in a foreign land as we consider: The Truth about Moab.
I. A Destitute Land (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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. Here we find a three-fold famine in the land of Moab.
A. A Famine of Food – These were desperate times for the people of Israel and the other nations around them. We find that there was a famine in the land. They faced shortages concerning their food resources, caused by an extended period of drought. Simply obtaining enough food and provisions to survive was a difficult and overwhelming task.
B. A Famine of Faithfulness (1) – We also discover that this was during the days when the judges ruled. That may seem insignificant, but we must understand the philosophy of life during that time. A predominant theme is revealed several times in Judges. Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Men were not concerned with living according to the Word or ways of God. They did that which was right in their eyes, that which was accepted of society.
Would you not agree that we are living in a similar today? Most are not concerned with morality. They are not concerned with living in a manner that pleases the Lord. They live according to what they view as being right in their eyes. “If it feels good, do it!”
C. A Famine of Favor – In that day Israel no longer regarded the Lord or His ways, living only to please the flesh, and they paid a heavy price for their sinful living. The land of milk and honey was no longer producing its abundance. God had removed His hand of favor and the people were suffering from His absence in their lives.
I certainly don’t assume every tragedy humanity faces is the result of God’s judgment. However, we would be foolish and untruthful to deny the fact that turning away from the Lord bears consequence. America is suffering a famine of favor!
II. A Deceptive Land (1b-2) – V.2 – And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. Let’s consider:
A. Their Lineage – Elimelech brought his family from the land of his fathers, the land of promise. He dwelt in Bethlehem-Judah. Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Judah means “praise.” Granted there was a famine in the land, but Elimelech made a conscious decision to abandon the blessing and praise of God for a land of idolatry and sinful lusts. He could not claim ignorance for his decision. His lineage was in Bethlehem.