Wisdom from God

Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Mathew 10:16

King Solomon was known for his wisdom, yet as we look at the beginning of Ruth 4, I believe Boaz too showed great wisdom from God. Boaz was on a mission. A mission to redeem Ruth as his bride. However, there is one who stands in his way, for there is another who is a closer kin.

So Boaz goes up to the gate and sat down. Now this is important, city gates were the main place of business and activity in biblical times. It was at the gates that business transactions were made, court was held and announcements were given. Knowing this, Boaz goes to the city gates and waits for the close relative to come. When this close relative arrives, Boaz greets him and ask him to sit and talk. Now, here we see the wisdom of Boaz, for he does not talk with this close relative alone, he takes ten elders and ask them to sit as well. Then Boaz begins his speech. Using the wisdom from God, Boaz begins by telling the close relative their relative Naomi has to sell the land she and Elmimelech had. He says, I wanted to inform you of this, in front of the elders. For if you want to redeem it, redeem it. But, if not I will. Well, this man is no fool, the chance to redeem land was a great thing and the close relative agrees swiftly to do this. Then, Boaz, knowing just when to tell him of Ruth, says, “On the same day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabites, the widow of the deceased in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” As was custom according to Jewish law (Deut. 25:5-10).

Can’t you just picture the scene. Here sits Boaz, he knows this close relative will want the land, so he lures him in and then as if an after thought, throws him the punch. That in order to get this land, he must also marry Ruth and have an heir for the deceased.

Immediately its as if you can see this man begin to sweat, and instead of being ready to redeem the land and Ruth, suddenly he says, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance (v 6).” This man after realizing it was a package deal, no longer is interested in the land. Knowing the land would not be his, but would be the heir of the deceased. Easy come, easy go you might say. For the close relative is no longer ready to redeem the land.

I’m sure Boaz knew this would be the case. I find his tactics very wise, an idea I’m sure given to him by God. It wasn’t as if he did anything wrong, yet, he knew exactly what to say and how.  So there in view of the ten elders, so it might be legal, Boaz says, ” You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabites, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are my witnesses today.”

The close relative was only interested in the land, yet, Boaz cared not for the land, nor that the land would be the inheritance of Ruth’s child. He cared for Ruth and Ruth alone.

As children of God, we too are told to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Jesus spoke often using parables, and was wise in how he would reply to the Pharisees. We too because of the Holy Spirit  who indwells us as believers, have the wisdom that comes from God, when we are filled with the Spirit. Wisdom and discernment to know what to do, and how to do it. Wisdom to know what to say and how to say it. May we be wise in all that we do and in all that we say.

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Trusting and Waiting……….

Trusting God and waiting on God, neither are easy and yet both are necessary in our walks with the Lord. Trusting God displays our faith in God. Trusting God says I believe God is bigger than anything I’m going through. Waiting on God is a form of trusting God for it declares that we aren’t going to figure things out on our own or get ahead of God. Instead we are going to wait, believing and trusting He is in control. Yet, waiting on God also doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. At times we are to follow His leading, but then we are left to wait and trust as to how things turn out.

In Chapter three of Ruth, we find a similar situation. Ruth has been ever caring for Naomi and has done a great job. She has respected Naomi and it appears they have a great relationship. At the beginning of chapter three, Naomi tells Ruth to do something that I’m not sure Ruth would have ever done on her own. Naomi is seeking to secure Ruth’s relationship with Boaz as the next of kin. Naomi apparently has thought out the details of her instruction, for she has it seems worked everything out.  She tells Naomi to go, wash, anoint herself and put on her best clothes. Then she tells her to go to the threshing floor where she knows Boaz will be and after he has eaten to watch where Boaz lies down. Then she tells her to uncover his feet and then lay down.

Now to us, these seem like strange instructions, but according to commentaries I have ready seeking to understand this, this was not risky, it was a way of letting Boaz know she is willing to marry him as her kinsman redeemer. I’ve always wondered at the uncovering of the feet, but I guess it was a way of making sure he would wake up at some point to find her. Which is exactly what happens.

Yet here we find Ruth trusting her mother-in-law‘s love advice, doing exactly as she has been instructed and then lying down to wait to see what will happen. I can’t imagine she slept a wink, I’m sure her heart was racing, wondering what Boaz was going to think of her. Yet, she trusted and she waited.

As Naomi had expected, Boaz awakens and is quite startled to find someone at his feet. Ruth’s reply signifies her request for marriage. For she ask him to spread his covering over her, his servant, letting him know he is a close relative.  Boaz is amazed. He can’t believe she has chosen him and has not gone after someone younger. He tells her he will do what she request but also lets her know there is another who is a closer relative who has to be spoken to first. Boaz makes it clear that if this man does not wish to redeem Ruth, he will. Then he tells her to lie down until morning. Once more, Ruth is left waiting for morning. I’m sure she wondered about this other next of kin, she wondered what would happen. I’m sure she was left praying for the Lord’s leading and direction.

Early the next morning, Ruth leaves, but not before Boaz gives her 6 ephas of barley to take to her mother in law. When Ruth arrives home, Naomi is right there waiting to hear what has happened. She too, I’m sure hasn’t slept much, in anticipation of what has transpired. Though the Scripture doesn’t say, I’m sure Ruth shared the whole story and Boaz response to Naomi. For Naomi says, “Wait, my daughter until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.

I’m sure Ruth was feeling a bit anxious, wondering what was going to happen. Yet, Naomi encourages her telling her to wait, knowing that Boaz will take care of everything.

In this chapter, Ruth has had to trust and wait, trust and wait. She has had to trust Naomi, trust Boaz, and ultimately trust God. Then she has had to wait to see what will be the result.

If we are honest none of us like to wait and trusting while waiting are extra hard. Our minds go into overdrive, seeking to figure our own way out. We live in an instant world, instant microwave, instant internet access, instant meals, etc. We are all in a hurry to get where we are going and all struggle with impatience. Yet, we are told again and again in the Bible to trust God, to wait on God.

I’ve found in times of waiting, I must cling to God’s Word and spend as much time as needed in prayer. Some days it seems my heart cries out to the Lord moment by moment. I know first hand, waiting is not easy but I also know from experience from times when I’ve had to wait, that the Lord has been faithful and He always blesses me for it.

I’m always reminded of King David. As a young boy he was anointed as King, but it was not until many years later before this came to pass. Years spent in subject to King Saul, years spent running from King Saul and I’m sure years spent wondering when the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled. There were many times he could have gotten ahead of God, a couple of  times he could have killed Saul and made his own way. Yet, he waited on God’s timing and trusted God.

So if you are trusting and waiting on God. Please know that He sees and knows. The Lord is pleased with your faith and trust in Him. He is honored by your desire not to get ahead of Him, but to trust His guiding hand. And in due time, He will bring you through to the other side.

A Servants Heart

Have you ever had a Martha moment? You know when you have been working really hard serving and wish for some help and some recognition from others? If we are honest, I’m sure we all have. In our churches today, we have many Martha’s, many who truly have a servant’s heart and who work relentlessly behind the scenes. If you think carefully, you can pick them out, these are the ones who come early and stay late. These are the ones who are always serving, always there to fill in, and always give of themselves.

I imagine Ruth was one of these with a servants heart. We know she didn’t have to come back to Bethlehem with Naomi, but she did. She didn’t have to take care of Naomi, but she did. Ruth didn’t have to go glean in the fields but she does. When Boaz takes notice of her, she is overwhelmed and wonders why. To which Boaz replies, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth and came to a people who you did not previously know. May the Lord reward your work and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wigs you have come to seek refuge.”

Though Ruth may have thought no one noticed, no one cared. Everything she had done, everything she had given up, everything she had endured had been reported to Boaz and he wants to bless her in return for her servant’s heart.

I want to encourage you. When it seems no one notices, God does. When it seems no one cares what you’re going through or is thankful for your diligent, hard work, God cares. He notices, He sees, and He is pleased with your servant’s heart and He will bless you for this.

As we continue reading chapter 2, we find Boaz does bless Ruth. He invites her to eat at his table and he (the owner, the boss) serves her, he purposely allows her to glean more than normal and instructs his servants not to insult her and in fact, to pull out some grain and leave it for her to pick up. By the time Ruth leaves to go home she has an ephah of barley, which is equivalent to about a bushel of barley.

I’m telling you, Boaz goes above and beyond. Yet, our God does even more for His own. As children of the King of Kings, He goes above and beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine. In fact Colossians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” And in I Cor. 2:9 we are told, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–” I believe it brings the Lord great pleasure to bless us, just as it pleased Boaz to bless Ruth.

When Naomi sees all of this she is amazed and wonders where Ruth has been. The ice around Naomi’s heart begins to thaw as she comes to realize that Ruth has been in Boaz field. Of all the fields Ruth could have gone to, she has ended up in the field of Boaz. Naomi begins to see the hand of God. For she exclaims, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withheld his kindness to the living and to the dead.” She’s come a long way from Mara of chapter one, praying the Lord’s blessing on Boaz and recognizing His grace.

Then Naomi lets Ruth in on the exciting news, that this kind man who has blessed them so, is a close relative. So Ruth remained in Boaz fields working each day until the barley harvest was over.

Not only has the Lord provided a way for two widows to survive, He has blessed them beyond measure. The same God who took care of these, is the same God we serve today. He delights in those who serve Him, so much so that He pours out His blessings upon them.

I have seen this again and again in our own lives. Serving in full-time Christian service is not always popular and many times things go unnoticed or seem unappreciated. Yet, the Lord who is faithful always provides and always blesses us beyond what we could ever imagine. Ruth may have thought what she had done for Naomi was unnoticed, but it was not hidden from God’s eyes. Her servant’s heart was noticed and blessed.

May we serve the Lord with gladness, coming into His presence with thanksgiving because we know He is God and we are the sheep of His pasture. (Ps. 100) May we serve the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength because He is worthy.

Who Am I??

Have you ever wondered at the grace of God? Have you ever considered how amazing His grace is, that He chose to save you? Have you ever pondered why you have heard the life changing Gospel and so many have not? These questions often enter my thoughts and lead me to praise and worship the Lord, for I know if not for His grace, I too would still be dead in my sins.

As we continue in our study of Ruth today, Boaz finally enters the picture. As Boaz comes to the field this day, he takes notice of Ruth working in the field and immediately he goes to ask his servant who is this? His servant tells him, this is the Moabite who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. Right away Boaz is made aware that this is the woman, I’m sure the whole town was buzzing about. He also learns how hardworking Ruth is, for Boaz servant tells him, she came this morning and has just now taken a break.

In order to understand Boaz instant affection for Ruth, we must understand who Boaz is. From the passage we have read thus far, we know him to be a wealthy man who is also well-respected by his workers and who is kind. Yet if we dig deeper, we find that Boaz is also the son of Rahab. In the genealogy of Christ found in Mathew, it says in 1:5, “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab….” Which means that Boaz is half gentile and half jew, thus a half-breed in the eyes of most Jews. This is huge! You do remember who Rahab was right? Rahab was the prostitute we find in the beginning of the book of Joshua who protects the spies sent into Jericho. She is the one who hangs the scarlet thread out of her window so that she and her family are not destroyed. This same Rahab is the mother of Boaz.

With that understanding, we can now gleam why Boaz would be so taken with Ruth a Moabite. I’m sure Boaz knew what it was like not to belong. I’m sure he knew what it was like not to fit in and to be whispered about. My guess is this described most of his growing up years. So we can understand the sympathy he would feel toward Ruth.

Therefore, when Boaz finds Ruth working in his fields, he longs to show her kindness. So he comes to Ruth as we find in verses 8-9 and tells her, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go gleam in another field, furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”

Ruth is as many of us would be overwhelmed. “Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner’ (2:10)?” Ruth could not understand why Boaz, this wealthy land owner, who does not even know her, would show her such kindness. Especially since she is nothing more than a foreigner, as I’m sure many have pointed out to her. She can’t grasp what would cause him to treat her with such compassion and is truly overcome by this display of grace, so much so that she falls to her face, bowing to the ground to him.

This part of the story always gives me chills and leads me to fall to my face in worship to my God, who took notice of me, a sinner, an enemy of God and in His amazing grace, opened my eyes and poured out His kindness upon me thus leading me to repentance.

I nor you deserve the grace of God. Neither of us deserve salvation, none of us are good enough or have ever done enough good works to earn such salvation. The Bible makes it clear in Eph. 2:8-9 that it’s not even by our good works. For it says, “For by grace have you been saved and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works so that no man may boast.” What we truly deserve is Hell and damnation, BUT GOD, in His mercy and grace took notice of us and saved us.

Oh may we fall down on our faces in worship to our Lord and King who by grace through faith saved us. May our lives be lived in complete surrender for all He has done. Who am I? I am no one but a servant of the King of Kings!

The Providence of God

Have you ever wondered if things just happen or if  each detail of our life is orchestrated by God? There are many who believe things just happen and life is all a matter of luck or good fortune. I however do not believe this. I do not believe anything just happens, I believe the Lord truly is in control. A great picture of this is found in Ruth 2:1-3 Verse one says,  “Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” Here we find bitter Naomi has returned at the beginning of the barley harvest (providence) and has a kinsman named Boaz who is a man of great wealth (providence).

To grasp how wonderful this is, we have to understand what a kinsman is. The word kinsman means, “a man of the same family, related by blood who according to law had the privilege or responsibility to act for a relative in need. The kinsman had the responsibility to deliver or rescue, to redeem property, or a person, to avenge the murder of a relative and to receive restitution for wrong done to a relative. (Leviticus 25:23-55) To be a kinsman-redeemer, a man had to meet four specific criteria. He had to be a near kinsman, as set forth in Leviticus 25:25 and 48-50. He must, himself, be free. He must be able to perform the redemption. And he must be willing to perform the redemption

So in chapter two we find Naomi has a kinsman redeemer who we later learn is highly respected and kind. The Lord knew that Naomi’s husband and sons would die. He knew she would need to return to Bethlehem. The Lord knew she would return at the beginning of the barley harvest and He had it all worked out for Boaz to be in the right place at just the right time. In verse two we find Ruth willing to work hard. Ruth knows it is barely harvest and she knows the laws concerning gleaning. She isn’t afraid of hard work and in fact sees it as her responsibility to provide for Naomi. In humility she sets out to glean in the fields. Even the fact that Ruth who has such a servant heart has returned with Naomi, is an act of God.

My favorite verse is verse three for the Scripture says, “So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reaps and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” I’m telling you this was no accident. Ruth didn’t just happen to glean in the fields of Boaz, she was led there by the Mighty hand of God. The Lord knew Ruth would go and glean in the fields and He led her in His providence to the field belonging to no other than her kinsman redeemer!

Nothing happens by accident, for all is under the authority and control of the Lord who holds all things in His hands. It is He who tells the sea how far it can come on shore (Job 38:11). God who stores the winds and tells them where to blow (Ps. 135:7). It is God who calls each star by name (Ps. 147:4) and knows the number of hairs on each head (Lu. 12:7). This same God led Ruth in His great mercy and grace to the field of Boaz.

As children of God He too leads us today. He controls all that happens and uses each circumstance in our lives to mold, shape and direct the plans for our lives. The good works He has planned for us since the foundation of the world (Eph. 2:10). Nothing takes the Lord by surprise. He knows the number of days we will live and where we will live and what we will do.

I take great comfort in the fact that God truly is in control of all things. I can’t imagine believing everything happens by chance or by luck. Struggling to do the right thing all the time in fear of messing up or missing out on whats somehow meant for me.  No, I have great peace believing my God is sovereign, that no matter what happens, He has it all worked out. What a joy we can have today, for  indeed He holds the whole world and our very lives in His hands.

 

The Story of Ruth (Day One)

As previously stated in Love Stories, the book of Ruth begins during a dark time. A time when all were living as they saw fit and as a result a famine has come upon the land. Leading to Elimelech taking his wife and two sons to the land of Moab.

In chapter one we find that soon after the arrival of Elimelech and his family that he dies. Now, Naomi is in a foreign land with no husband. If this isn’t bad enough, her two sons take Moabite women as brides. We aren’t told much concerning this, but I can’t imagine this is what Naomi had in mind for her sons while they were growing up. I”m sure she had envisioned them marrying good Jewish women and yet now they are married to foreigners and to most Jews, the worst kind, Moabites. Yet for ten years Mahlon and Kilion are married to Oprah and Ruth. Then they too, die. We aren’t told a whole lot as to the deaths of these men or their father, but I believe there deaths were results of disobedience to the Lord and his commands. Elimelech should never have brought his family to Moab, but he did and as a result dies. Mahlon and Kilion should never have married Moabite women, but they did and eventually they too die without an heir to carry on the family name. Now Naomi is left alone other than her two Moabite daughter in-laws.

In verse six, we find that Naomi hears that the famine has ended in Bethlehem and she and the girls prepare to return. By this point it has been at least 10 years and most likely a bit more. I can’t imagine the anxiety she must have felt as she prepared to leave Moab and return home. Any move is stressful but especially when you have been gone for a long time.  For over ten years Naomi has lived in the land of Moab and though I’m sure she sought to keep to the traditions of her family and followed Jewish custom, things were entirely different.  However, now that her sons are dead, Naomi must return home, for no longer does she have a male to provide for her.

So Naomi and her daughter in-laws left the place they had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to Judah. Not only must Naomi experienced anxiety, she also must have experienced great grief. Her husband and two sons are now dead and have been buried in Moab. Her last memories of them were in the home she is now forced to leave.

As they set out, Naomi turns to her daughter in-laws and tells them they should return to their mother’s home. Naomi knows she has nothing to offer them, that they are better off staying in Moab among their own people, their own gods, their own customs. I’m sure she knows from experience what they as foreigners will encounter if they return to Judah with her. If they come with her, they too will be dependent on the generosity of others, for Naomi knows it is highly unlikely they will ever have the chance to remarry in this land. This too must have been difficult for Naomi because these two girls are all she has left. They are her family and though they might not have seen eye to eye in the beginning, we know from the Scripture, that there is much love at this time. They have been through a lot together.

At first they both refuse to leave her, but in the end Orpah leaves to return home, yet, Ruth is determined to go. The Bible says Ruth clung to Naomi and then she says the verses we often hear today. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

I find it so interesting that many couples use these verses in their marriage vows today, when this is not the context. Yet, regardless you see in these words the devotion of Ruth to Naomi. I can only conclude that Orpah and Naomi were not as close. Yet a deep bond has been formed between Ruth and Naomi through the hardship they have walked through together. Ruth is willing to give up ever having a family, every seeing her own family again and ever having children in order to go with Naomi.

When Naomi sees Ruth is determined to go, the Bible says she stopped urging her. So the two women traveled until they reached Bethlehem. When they arrive the city is stirred up by their coming. In this day, there weren’t phones but the word of mouth flew quickly. For the Scriptures tell us the whole town was stirred and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

Naomi replies, “Don’t call me Naomi,(which means joy, delight, beauty) call me Mara (which means bitter) because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi: The Lord has afflicted me, the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me (Ruth 1:20-21).”

You can just hear the bitterness and anger in her voice. You can easily see whom she blamed for all of her troubles. Her finger is pointed straight at God. So much anger, so much bitterness that she fails to see what she does have. Did you catch what she said? I went away full, but the Lord brought me back empty. Ruth is standing right there with her, but she fails to see her, she is consumed by bitterness.

Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow and will lead to a hard heart, which always leads to sin (Hebrews 3).  We are told as Christians to put away all bitterness (Eph. 4;31) for such a thing does not imitate God, but the world. When we are hurt by others, we must forgive or we are the ones held captive. We must let go of bitterness or it will consume us.

Naomi is so consumed by bitterness that she fails to see God at work. The last verse of chapter ones is a picture of God’s grace. For it says, “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabites, her daughter in law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.”

This is huge, for during the harvest time, the Lord had commanded his people concerning the widows and how they were not to pick everything, but to leave some for the alien, the widow and the fatherless (Deut. 24:19). We see the Lord has brought them back at a opprotune time, for they are now able to go into the fields and get the food they need.

Ruth chapter one is full of lessons to be learned.

1. Even in harsh circumstances it is better to trust God. Had Elimemlech stayed with his family, much harm could have been avoided, yet he gave into fear thinking they would all die if they did not leave. In the end, he leads them to a foreign land where he and his sons die anyway.

2. Obedience is always best and disobedience will be punished. Today TV shows make a mockery of sin, they lead us to laugh at sin and excuse sin. Yet God hates sin and we can be sure our sin will always find us out. I pray daily that I will understand the seriousness of sin and hate it as God does.

3. Bitterness leads to sin. An unforgiving spirit leads to a hard heart and a hard heart leads to sin. As Christians we are to love as Christ loves, to forgive as we have been forgiven and not to hold on to grudges which will only punish us. We must turn such grievances over to God and allow Him to heal our hurts.

4. God’s grace is amazing. Though Naomi is angry with God and blames God for all that has happened, He who is rich in mercy blesses her with a daughter in law who loves her so much she is willing to give up everything . And the Lord brings them back at the beginning of the barley harvest. Had they come back a few months earlier or later, they would have missed out, yet God brings them back at just the right time.

Let us learn from the mistakes of Elimelech and hold fast and stand firm during difficult time. Let us seek to obey the Lord and to hate sin. May we learn to forgive as Christ has forgiven us and may we never underestimate the grace of our Lord.

Love Stories

I love a good love story, the mushier the better. One of my favorite love stories is found in the Bible and before you think love stories in the Bible, I’m here to tell you there are many. Take Issac and Rebekah or the Shulamite woman in Song of Solomon. Yet, my favorite is the story of Ruth and Boaz. So for the next week or so I’d like to explore and learn from this with you. However, before we can even begin to dig, we have to understand the context and what is taking place.

The events of this book took place during the final days of the judges. It was a dark time. Judges 21:25 describes this time as follows. “In those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit.” To understand why it was a dark time, we have to look way back to the book of Exodus. Here we see the Lord deliver His people from slavery and in Deuteronomy and Joshua we find the Lord preparing His people to enter the Promised Land. He promises to bless them and care for them, to fight their enemies as long as they serve Him. Deut. 6:13-15 says, “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and He will destroy you from the face of the land. They are told again and again not to fear for the Lord is with them and will fight for them. However they are also warned to serve the Lord alone with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Deut. 8:20 says, “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 

Yet by the end of the book of Judges, we find they have served others gods, they have intermarried with other people (which was also a no-no) and they are living and doing whatever they want. The days were dark, but they were dark because the Israelites had brought much of this upon themselves. They had heard the warnings many time, they had heard the stories of how God had delivered them from Egypt and brought them into the promised land. However, they didn’t care. So the Lord, who always fulfills His word, brought upon them suffering. This suffering resulted in famine and war.

The book of Ruth opens explaining the famine that is in the land. a famine that according to Biblical scholars was the result of the Midianites invasion which we can find in Judges 6. Here it tells us that because the Israelites had done evil in they eyes of the Lord, that for 7 years, He gave them into the hands of the Midianites. This was an intense time of oppression that resulted in many fleeing to caves and finding shelters in the mountains. In Jud.6:3 we are told that every time the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern people invaded the country and ruined the crops and killed livestock.

If Ruth did take place during this time, one can begin to understand the desperation of Elimelech. For in verse one of Ruth we find that he, his wife, and their two sons leave Judah and move to live in the land of Moab. To understand the severity of what Elimelech did, we have to understand who the Moabites were.

In Gen. 19:30-38 we learn that the Moabites were the result of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter. After leaving Egypt, we see the Israelites passing by the land of Moab and when the king of Moab sees this huge mob, he is terrified and calls Balaam to come and call down curses on them (which of course God turns to blessings).  We encounter the Moabites again in Numbers 25 when we see the men were led astray by the Moabite women, whom they indulged in sexual immorality with and who led them to sacrifice to their gods. As we observe the Moabites throughout the Old Testament, we find that they like the Philistines are used by God to punish the Israelites when they turn away from Him.

So, Elimelech made a grave mistake in moving to Moab, but also according to Jewish law he also made a blunder in allowing his sons to marry Moabite women. Nehemiah 13:1-2 says, “On that day the book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God; because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call curses down on them. The Lord knew the Moabite women would be used to lead the Israelites astray and yet in this great love story we see God using none other than a Moabite to bring about Jesus. But, lets not get ahead of ourselves.

As you can see, the book of Ruth begins in a dark time, a dark time that was a result of the sins of God’s people. The book begins with a man leading his family out of the protection of God into a land of sin because he feared the famine. The book begins with little hope. Oh, but just wait, as we dig deeper into this book, we will find the great mercy and grace of our Lord, who will discipline us for a time out of love, but is always there to restore us when we cry out to Him. I don’t  know about you, but I’m excited about this study and the great truths waiting to be unveiled.