Posted by: Esther | April 22, 2008

Running Away

Ruth 1:1a Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.

The events in the book of Judges took place about 1380-1050 BC. The book of Ruth, however, is thought to be written sometime after these events and after David became king, since it includes him in the genealogy. Some believe it may have been written around 990BC.

The time of the Judges begins after Joshua’s death when the Israelites request a king to lead them into battle against the Cannanites (Judges 1:1) and ends when Samuel is confirmed as a prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:19, 20). The time is characterized as the period in which the people did not know the Lord, nor the work which He had done for the Israelites. The people did evil in the site of the Lord, and served the idol gods Baal and Asheroth.

Judges 2:10 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Judges 3:7 The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

There should be no surprise, then, that there was famine in the land.

Lev 26:18-20 ‘If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. ‘I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. ‘Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.

Ruth 1:1b And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.

Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Judah means “Praise.” If we praise God through our trials, we will receive a bread that will sustain us unto eternity.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

But instead of staying in the “House of Bread,” this man decided to run from his trials. He ran to the enemy of God’s people. Moabites were Lot’s descendents. They were descendants of an insestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters after being saved from the destruction of Soddom (Genesis 19:30-38). The Moabites were forbidden to enter the house of the Lord because they did not help the Israelites during their pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan.

Deut. 23:3-4 “No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their {descendants,} even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.

Moab even ruled over Israel for 18 years during the time of the Judges (Judges 3:12-13). One might think it absurd to seek help from these people, but how often do we seek help from the world before reaching out to God. When our children are sick, the first thing we do is seek the advice of a doctor, when we should lift the child up in prayer and seek wisdom and council from our Creator first. When we are broke, we seek out governmental programs such as welfare, instead of coming before the Lord broken to receive the bread of life in order to sustain our souls.

Instead of seeking the Lord, this man sought the enemy of the Lord in order to satisfy his hunger. Beware of this temptation. It is the first temptation by Satan which Jesus overcame after fasting 40 days and 40 nights.

Matt. 4:2-4 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’ “

Notice that Jesus rebukes Satan with the Word. It is important for us, therefore, to know the Word, in order to resist temptation, which will inevitably come when we are desperate and hungry. Here is a promise to memorize for just those times:

Revelations 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be {any} death; there will no longer be {any} mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Ruth 1:2 The name of the man {was} Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons {were} Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there.

Elimelech means “my God is king.” Yet his decision to seek the world in a time of famine suggests just the opposite. Perhaps it is because of a rebellion in Elimelech’s heart that he had two sons named Mahlon which means “sick” and Chilion which means “failing.”

And they remain in Moab, thus the tradgedy begins…

Ruth 1:3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.

Naomi means “pleasant.” Pleasant was left with Sick and Failing, which is what will happen when we do not seek the Lord for guidance through our trials. But the Lord causes all things to work for the good of those who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

And we see the good begin in this next verse.

Ruth 1:4 They took for themselves Moabite women {as} wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.

Granted, the Jews were forbidden to marry Moabite women (Deut. 7:1-11) for they seduced them into immorality and idolatry (Numbers 25), but I believe that Naomi was honoring the Lord in submitting to her husband’s will and following him to Moab. Because of Naomi’s obedience, the Lord rewards her with a daughter-in-law named Ruth, which means “friendship.” Yet, with a friend this time, even more tradgedy occurs.

Ruth 1:5-6 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.

Sick and Failing die and Naomi can finally hear the Lord. Perhaps this is the meaning of Paul’s council to unmarried women.

1Cor. 7:34 The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Unlike her husband, however, Naomi does not run away from the Lord in this trial, but instead, runs to Him. For she hears that He has visited His people and is giving them food.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.Ruth


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