July 13, 2015
Introduction to Ruth
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. Ruth 1:1
LET IT GLOW
There are only two books in the Old Testament with women's names who are the main characters-Ruth and Esther. The only other time Ruth is mentioned is once in the New Testament found in Matthew 1:5. That put Ruth as an ancestress in the line of Jesus Christ.
The author is not for sure to be Samuel, though Jewish tradition credits him, since he died after David was chosen king of Israel. (Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David.) This would have put Samuel quite young.
The time in which this story took place is assumed to have been during the time of the book of Judges. Some place the events closer to the time of Gideon. Falwell tells us Ruth serves as a bridge between the books of Judges and Samuel.
During the time of Judges, we learned that the Hebrews often turned from worshiping God to idols, turned back to Him in times of punishment, but forgot Him during seasons of prosperity.
There are four definite scenes found in Ruth:
- in Moab,
- in the fields of Bethlehem,
- at the threshing floor of Boaz,
- in the city gate.
The city of Bethlehem, where Elimilech's family lived, was a hill country in the land of Judah and part of the promised land of Canaan.
Moab was a predominantly rural country; a mostly desolate region; a high tableland bounded on the west by the Dead Sea and on the east by arid desert wasteland, with the boundaries on the north and south being two deep river gorges; was virtually dry most of the year, yet fertile so it was good for grazing flocks and herds; largely destitute of trees.
The Moabites were descendants of Lot's eldest daughter through her incestuous relationship with her own father. Moab was a second cousin of Jacob. Their ancestors generally despised one another.(Twelve Extraordinary Men, Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur)
LET IT GROW
Before we pick up the story, this word nerd found that the names within the family of man named Elimelech (means my God is King), included his wife Naomi (means pleasant), and their two sons, Mahlon (means puny) and Chilion (means pining).(Liberty Bible Commentary)
It was during the time when the judges ruled and there was a famine in the land of Judah. (verse 1)
This covered a span of 450 years, so apparently this story occurred sometime then.
Now, this question comes to mind: If God gave the Israelites this permanent place to live, and He promised to provide for them, why the famine?
My speculation is that in order for Naomi to bring Ruth into the Jewish family so she could marry Boaz and be an ancestress of David and Jesus. He had to get them into Moab some way, right? So why not use a famine?
This family had a decision to make-stay in the arid land of God's choosing or to flee to the bountiful one God had forbidden. We know which they chose. They decide to sojourn, which means to turn aside from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose).
Which will you choose? If you are in difficult circumstances and you have a type of land of Moab alluring us away, what will you do?
Been there, done that. Many a time my husband had to decide whether to go or to stay at a church. Sometime we left when we should have stayed and sometimes we left when we were supposed to go.
Escaping to easier terrain is all too tempting when we're weary in hardship. (Kelly Minter's Ruth)
*A possible solution would have been working for cousin Boaz, but then Ruth would not have come to Bethlehem, would she?
LET IT GO
Don't go unless God is leading me, no matter how difficult my circumstances are.
Don't move unless it is time to move, according to God's timing.
Depend on my Father God to provide for my needs as He desires.
Pray for my family daily.