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You Can’t Run Away Studies from Ruth, Article 2

by Larry Miles

Trying to run from our problems. (Ruth 1:1-5) 

The Time — The setting for the Book of Ruth is found in verse 1 “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land,” In Judges 21:25 we read these words: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” It was a low point in Israel’s history.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Like Israel in past, many of God’s people today are living in unbelief and disobedience and are not enjoying the blessings of God.”

The Place – Bethlehem. The word in Hebrew means “house of bread.” How ironic that in this setting would come the famine mentioned. God used the famine in the OT as part of His discipline for his people. As we read in Ruth 1:1 this narrative took place in “the time of the Judges.” But many times, and we find it hear, the godly suffer as well as the ungodly.

The Decision — But sometimes the godly do not live like it and do not trust in the Lord to get them through, as we find in the family of Elimelech and Naomi.

It is inevitable that troubles will come even to godly people. We are not promised a “Bed of Roses” as the health and wealth Gospel (Name It and Claim It) advocates promise. We read in 2 Tim 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

Wiersbe writes, “When trouble comes to our lives, we can do one of three things: endure it, escape it, or enlist it.” In our story, Elimelech took the second option. Why was it the wrong decision?

He walked by sight not by the Spirit – Many times in the OT we find individuals and groups making the same mis- take, sometimes running ahead of God and sometimes wanting to help God out. Can you think of any instances of this?

Is it easy to “wait upon God?” Do you think that we/you are a people of patience? Lamentations 3:25 reads as follows: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

How Do we “walk by faith?” We do this by claiming the promises of God, obeying His Word and trusting in Him to meet our daily needs. Jesus said “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” It will take a life of commitment. All of us are committed to something in life. We all have our “anchors of life.” What are some of these anchors? And are all the anchors wrong? We need to build Christian character

He majored on the physical not the spiritual – A man must take care of the needs of his family and provide for them. If he does not do that Paul said he was worse than an infidel. But he must not do it at the expense of losing God’s blessings. This is one of the areas where Elimelech and Naomi later failed. We are to do as Matt. 6:30 says and seek God’s will first and he will bring us through the trial. We must as Paul said in Col. 3:1-3 “seek the things that are above and not the things on the earth.” We must Love the things of God and not major on the things of the World (I John 2:15-17).

He honored the enemy and not the Lord – One does not have to travel as far as Elimelech did to disobey God and not honor God. He traveled about fifty-Seventy-five miles away and went to live with the enemies of Israel. They were not the people of God; in fact, they were idol worshipers and served pagan gods. But as the saying goes, “the grass is greener on the other side.” But sometimes, and it is true here, you have to take the septic tank along with the green grass. Things may seem better and easier than back home, but there are consequences for disobeying God and leaving his people and not trusting Him to take care of you.

The Consequences – Names meant things in the past and it was true here in Biblical times. But sadly, sometimes we do not live up to what our name means. Does anyone know what their name means? Elimelech means “my God is king.” We sing a song called “King of my life I crown Him now.” But he did not live up to his name—he made decisions that left God completely out of the picture as we will see in the rest of the 1st chapter.

His first wrong decision was to go to Moab. Secondly his two sons married Moabite women, clearly against God’s will and law, especially from Ammon and Moab. Then they stayed there. They had planned a short sojourn but stayed ten years (Ruth 1:4)

All three men died in a pagan land, and left three widows. Everything was gone because of unbelief.


Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ                     in New Albany, IN.

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33