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Ruth 1

May 18, 2023

Groundworks Ministries Daily Bible Challenge

“Now it came to pass in those days when the judges ruled that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the land of Moab...”

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Ruth 1

“Now it came to pass in those days when the judges ruled that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the land of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion – Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.” Ruth 1:1-2 (NKJV)

So that we understand the message of Ruth’s story, its author emphasizes that the events depicted here occurred during the time of the Judges. It was a time after Joshua’s leadership when men did what was right in their own eyes. More than walking away from God’s Word, the generation that arose after Joshua’s generation did not even know God’s Word enough to have walked away from it! The generation after Joshua had not been taught God’s Word by their fathers (Judges 2:10), who had obviously mixed worldly, pagan ideas with God’s prescribed way of worshiping Him, believing it was kosher to do so.

The story of Ruth begins with a man and his family leaving Bethlehem, Ephratha (Micah 5:2). Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?” But names are very important in the book of Ruth! First, we have the father, Elimelech, whose name means “God is my king.” Next is Naomi, whose name means “Pleasant.” Their names denote that when God is King of your family, life is pleasant. But there was a problem. Elimelech abandoned God’s “promised” land because of famine in Israel, representing a spiritual famine among God’s people. Israel could not persevere faithfully. Elimelech sought refuge in worldly Moab. At this point, we are told the names of Elimelech’s sons: Mahlon and Chilion, whose names mean “Sick and Tired.” Lesson: When you forsake God as King, the fruit of your worldly pursuits leaves you sick and tired. As Naomi will say later, “Do not call me ‘Naomi’ (Pleasant), call me ‘Mara’ (Bitter). In contrast to the children of Israel disregarding God as King, we meet a Moabite girl, Ruth (her name means “friend”), who receives Him, by faith.

“But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me more also, if anything but death parts you and me.’” Ruth 1:16-17 (NKJV)

Compare God’s acceptance of a penitent Moabite with Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah.

“And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength); indeed He said, ‘It is too small a thing that You shall be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel: I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My Salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:5-6 (NKJV)

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©Steve Wiggins 2021

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