Ruth is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Although it is super short with just four chapters, it has loads of goodies that teach all of us about loyalty, commitment, faith, trust, and God’s will.
In the past, chapter 1 has never been the one I studied heavily compared to chapters two and three. However, reading it this time around, the word that I believe describes the beginning verses is impatience. For those who do not know, the book begins with some backstory. Verse one, states, “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.” The husband and wife mentioned were Naomi and Elimelek, and their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion.
I want you to notice what was missing in verse one: God. Did God instruct this family to leave Judah and move to Moab? What follows in this post is what I believe God has revealed to me about this chapter. I do pray this post can speak in some way to each person reading. Regardless, please ask God to reveal TO YOU what he wants you to know about these verses whether it is while reading this blog post, or in your private time of reading the chapter.
To begin, I’d like to answer the query I posed in the previous paragraph. I believe that God never gave Elimelek and his family instructions to leave Judah in favor of Moab. This was their choice. Why would they move if God didn’t say it? Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, maybe nothing is changing in your circumstance. The right man hasn’t come along; you still aren’t pregnant; things aren’t going well at home; you can’t wait until high school or college is over; that person you’ve been praying for to accept Jesus still hasn’t. What do you do in those situations after a year, two years, or three years have gone by? Do you give up on waiting for God to change it? Do you try to fix the situation yourself? For example, you date that man who doesn’t meet God’s standards.
For Elimelek and his family, the circumstance they faced was a famine. He as leader of his home made a decision to take the matter into his own hands by taking his family to a land without famine. Now here’s the thing when we step away from God’s will, there can be a moment of satisfaction. You quench your thirst for whatever you desire. But be warned, in the long run it’ll lead to anguish. That man you settled for isn’t meeting the desires you have in your heart for a husband. For this family, verses 3-5 reveal the consequences of their decision. Elimelek died, but unfortunately, there are no details of how long they were in Moab before his death. We do know that approximately ten years after arriving to Moab, the two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, died also.
One might be asking, why didn’t God say something before the sons died? First, I do believe that God does speak to us even when we step out of his will. The problem is when we do step away, we think we have it all figured out and don’t bother listening to what God has to say about our situation. The scriptures don’t provide much on what happened during the years after Elimelek died except, one key thing. Verse four states, “[Mahlon and Kilion] married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.” These two men decided to settle even more into Moab by taking wives from a foreign country. They had permanently established ties in Moab, which means (I believe) they were unlikely even to think of going back to their former famine-riddled home. They were happy with the life they now had.
As I indicated, “happiness” away from God doesn’t last, for Naomi she had the pain of losing her husband and her sons. That leads us to verse six where we read, “When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.” Oftentimes, when we choose to do things on our own away from God it takes a significant moment to point us back to God. Where we’re open to hearing what God’s been trying to tell us.
Let’s use the lessons in what happened to Naomi’s family by not allowing our desires to become a greater priority over God. Moreover, let’s seek God FIRST for his answer in regards to what he wants us to do until he brings the desires we have to fruition.
All Bible Verses are from: The Holy Bible: New International Version.