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Ruth #1 Running from a Problem

Ruth #1 Running from a Problem

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Published by Ron Lair
Ruth Chapter 1
Ruth Chapter 1

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Published by: Ron Lair on Dec 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Chapter 1
Running From a Problem
“The efforts which we make to escape from our destiny only serve to lead us into it."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The book of Ruth is a superb piece of literature. Even if it were merely a work of fiction and not an inspired book of theBible, Ruth would still be worth reading. The author was a great story teller. His use of contrast, irony, and such literarydevice is brilliant. He is able to make his point without the reader even noticing. He's able to tell the story withoutcommentary or judgment, yet lead the reader exactly where he wants us to go. Ruth is a great story. If you haven't yet readall the way through it, I'd encourage you to. A great story of love, life, and hope. In fact, with a little minor editing and anfairly easy updating to modern life, Ruth could be a Lifetime movie of the week. It has all the elements tragedy, 'a strong, brave young woman against all odds', a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue, and a beautiful love story.A truely great story but, why is Ruth included in Scripture? What is it that the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us? How doesthe book of Ruth converge with theology? Here are a few themes that we'll discover during this study:
Contrasts the depravity of the time of the Judges with a family following Yahweh, showing thatin even the worst of times, God has His remnant.
Displays God's concern for Gentiles, giving us a glimpse of Gentiles being grafted into Israel'svine.
Gives a practical example of a kinsman redeemer and foretells of Christ, our kinsman redeemer.
Tells of God's working to provide a king for Israel and a Savior for the world.
Shows God's 'Hesed' - loving kindness to His people.
Shows how God works "behind the scenes" in everyday lives to accomplish His purposes.
In the Days When the Judges Ruled
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it wasthe epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, itwas the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, wewere all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way
What do we know about the days of the Judges?This was a low point of Jewish history. Israel, overall, was in a state of apostasy spiritual and moral corruption wascommonplace. The Jewish people were "Canaanized" for the most part, reflecting the pagan lifestyle of the people aroundthem.
 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Jdg 17:6, 21:25Why was there no king? God was to be their king. But, the people rejected God's kingship. When you have nospiritual king, no moral leadership, you're left with a situation like in the book of Judges - everyone does what's right intheir own eyes. I become my own king, my own judge, my own God. That sounds pretty modern. It sounds just like our day.But, keep in mind, "everyone was doing what
was right
in his own eyes." It's not like they didn't care about their decisions. They were trying to do the right thing. But, without God, they had no grounding. I think we live in a time likethat. It's not like people are purposely trying to do wrong. They try to do the right thing. But they tend to do what's right intheir own eyes. "You can't judge me. How can you say what I do is wrong? What makes you think your morality issuperior to mine?" And they'd be right
there is no moral authority. One person's morality would be as good as the next.
A Famine in the Land
So, in the midst of this atmosphere, came a famine. Here is our first instance of irony. There was a famine in Bethlehem.Do you know what the word "Bethlehem" means? Literally, it's "the house of bread." Bethlehem was Israel's bread basket.And yet, there's no food in the house of bread.Why was there a famine? Well, we're not told, exactly. The writer doesn't comment and there's no record of famine inJudges. But, we do know that Israel is a covenant community. Moses explained that there would be great blessings whenthe people kept the covenant and obeyed God's law. But, conversely there would be severe judgment when they strayed.God sent famine to Israel when she would turn her back on Yahweh. Given the times, I don't think it's a stretch to say thatwas the case here.So there was a famine... a severe food shortage in Israel. So what do you do? Well, for the Israelites, famine was meant to be a "warning light" like your "check engine" light. A signal that there's a problem. What do you do when the yellow lightcomes on? You need to get the car checked out, find out what's wrong & fix it. There's another way you could handle it.You could ignore it or run away from the problem.That's what one family decided to do. There was a man named Elimelech, which (irony #2) means "My God is king." In atime when there was no king in the land because God isn't recognized as king, we're introduced to Mr. My God Is King.Did he pay attention to the warning light? Did he bow to God's sovereignty and adjust his ways? No. He said "Well, if there's no food here, I'll go to where there is plenty to eat." Seems like a reasonable solution. What else is a guy to do? Itmakes a certain amount of sense. Doing what's right in your own eyes is usually justifiable as long as God's word is leftout of the equation.
Sometimes, when we try to fix a problem by doing what seems right, we only make things worse.Back in the mid 1800's millions of blackbirds deviating from their normal migratory patterndecided to land on the farm of Dr. Fredric Dorsey, in the state of Maryland. He tried everythingto get them to fly away, but to no avail. Guns and firecrackers were ineffective. So he scatteredwheat soaked in arsenic over his fields. The blackbirds, eager to wash the foreign substance fromtheir throats, rushed to the new by stream, and millions of them dropped dead in that stream. Bythe next morning the congestion of dead birds had dammed up the stream, and Dorsey's farm wasflooded and completely under water. His solution was worse than the problem.
Escape to the 'Far Country'
 So, Elimelech decided he'd take his family over to Moab. What do we know about Moab?Moab began out of incest between Lot and his daughter.Moab refused to help Israel when they were on their way to the Promise land.Balak, the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel.Eglon, another Moabite king defeated Israel and made her a vassal state for some 18 years.Moab worshipped a pagan god named Chemosh, a fertility god like Baal. Chemosh worship was known for fertilityrituals(orgies) and human sacrifices.Moab was a long-standing enemy of God's people. But, Elimelech's little family, never the less, decided that Moab wasthe place to be. He, his wife Naomi (meaning Pleasant), and his two sons Mahlon (sickly) and Chilion (frail) went off tosojourn in Moab, to stay "a little while"The funny thing about wandering off to the Far Country is it's always for "a little while." We might decide to 'take a break' from church and spiritual things for whatever reason (and we usually think it's a darn good one!), but just for awhile. We'll be back soon. We won't be gone long. But, it rarely works out that way. The longer we stay away, the harder it is to get back. So, the 'little while' becomes years, maybe decades of wasted time.For Elemelech's family it was at least 10 years. The sojourn of vs. 1 became 'remaining' in vs. 2. They had settled down inMoab. How attached they became to the culture of Moab, were not told. But, I'd suggest that it would be hard not to be pretty engrained into the culture after 10 years. If you're someplace for that long, it's home. Although, I think we haveevidence that they didn't completely abandon their Jewish roots and their belief in God.But, the two sons were involved in the culture enough to take Moabite wives - women from a pagan culture who knewnothing of Yahweh, who came out of a pagan religion worshipping a pagan god. Israel was commanded not to marryCanaanite women, not so for Moabite brides. However, there were restrictions on them from joining into the assembly of worship for 10 generations. (
Deut. 23:3-4) It may not have been completely forbidden, but there are plenty of warnings and examples in Scripture to suggest that marrying a pagan is unwise, to say the least.

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