Journey in the Word

Karen Ingrid Clark

Ruth: Loss to Legacy

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WK01D01Week One – Day One – Read Ruth 1:1 -3; Lev. 26:1 – 4 ; 18-20    SOAP Ruth 1: 1 -3

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.   The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

Leviticus 26:1-4, 18-20 (ESV)

26 “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.  “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

O – The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the judges, when famine had struck the land.  Bethlehem (“house of bread”) was affected, so Elimelech took his wife and two sons to “sojourn” (live temporarily) in Moab.   Moab was the land established by the son of Lot and Lot’s oldest daughter, named Moab. (Gen. 19:37) It was a land of people foreign to the Israelites.  In fact, they were enemies, due to the mistreatments of the Israelites during their time of wandering in the wilderness. (Duet. 23:3-6)  Marriage to Moabites was not expressly forbidden, as in the case of the Canaanites, but Moabites were forbidden to enter the “assembly” of Yahweh until the 10th generation.   After dwelling there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi a widow in a foreign land

The names of the family are interesting:  Elimelech (God is my king), Naomi (pleasant), Mahlon ( sickly, unhealthy ) and Chilion (weakness, puny ) .

One version uses the word “sojourn” (hayah) for the word remained.   It means “to exist, to be or to come to pass. They were “existing” in Moab. What began as just a “sojourn” (temporary) turned into a settled existence.” (preceptaustin)

The passage from Leviticus is interesting in the fact that it talks about idols, keeping God’s commands, and listening to Him.  If we do what He commands, obeying Him, then He will “give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”  (Lev. 26:4 – ESV)  BUT – “if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again… and I will break the pride of your power.”  (v. 18,19)   Is this a form of the health and wealth “gospel?”  Is this what happened to Elimelech and his family?  Whatever the case, it seems that this passage is stating if the Israelites obeyed God, then they would be fruitful and successful.

A – I have been pondering the fact that Elimilech moved his family from Bethlehem to an area that was obviously not following God.   What happened when Lot did this?   He lost his home, his wife – and his daughters committed an incestuous relationship with him when he was drunk.  And – the result was Moab – and the Moabites.

Did Elimilech count that cost when he moved his family?  Or – were things so bad in Bethlehem that he thought that moving to a more fertile area would help his family?  Should he have “stuck it out” – like the other people who remained in Bethlehem?  Was his stay in Moab to be only temporary?  Since he died there, it is not clear.

But, there was an interesting question in the preceptaustin commentary on these verses.  Woodrow Kroll observes that…  “Sometimes we intend for situations to be only temporary. We think, Just as soon as the kids are through college, we’ll start tithing again. Or perhaps you reason, “As soon as I get through this busy period at work, I’ll get back to having a daily quiet time.” But days turn into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it, circumstances that were only going to be temporary have become a way of life. Have you allowed something that was intended as transient to become a permanent fixture in your life? Have you been waiting for a more convenient time to do what you know you should be doing now? If time has slipped away for you, don’t linger another day “in a distant land.” If you’re not where you should be, this is the day to do something about it. Don’t expect time to stand still just because you do.”

That question sticks in my head.  I read it a few days ago – and it still lingers…..   “Have you allowed something that was intended as transient to become a permanent fixture in your life?  Have you been waiting for a more convenient time to do what you know you should be doing now?”  Ouch.  How many times have I put off what I KNOW I should do?  Or – put off STOPPING what I am doing – to do what I know is right?

The other thing I gleaned is this passage from Habakkuk.   Hab. 3:17-19 (ESV)

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.

Can I, like Habakkuk, say…..  “whatever happens…. YET will I rejoice?”  Why?  Because God is my strength.  He is my provider.  He is my God.  THAT is the mindset that I want to develop – and practice in my own life.  Whatever the circumstances, YET will I rejoice in the Lord.  Oh, may it be today.

P – Father God, thank You for this reminder.  Keep me in Your Word, in Your will, in Your care, and to rest in Your provision.  Help me not to run from my challenges, but to see them as opportunities to develop my trust in You.  Father, may I not look at circumstances, and “sojourn” in lands that are foreign to You.   May I, instead, trust in You as Jehovah Jireh, my Provider.  Yes, Lord, You are my Provider, my Salvation, my God.  Amen.

Notes from Precept Austin:

Ruth is part of the unfolding narrative of how God will carry out His covenant promise to redeem a people who will be His own. The book of Ruth focuses particularly on the details of divine providence in the day to day affairs of ordinary people and how these details play an intimate role in the unfolding of the grand redemptive plan of God. An apropos title of Ruth might be

An Extraordinary God
In the Lives of
Ordinary People

Remember that any choice that takes us away from God (from Bethlehem to Moab so to speak) is a sojourn in the wrong direction. Elimelech’s choice which he made to preserve life, ultimately brought death to himself and his two sons. No matter how desperate the situation, it is always better to face what our sovereign God has allowed and trust His hand of mercy and provision than to run from the circumstances. If you are going through a “famine”, seek to make your choice based on clear direction from God as revealed in His all sufficient Word and prayer supplemented by the counsel from godly men and women.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Pr 14:12)

Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl died on September 2, 1997 at the age of 93. During World War II, Dr. Frankl was imprisoned at Auschwitz, where he was stripped of his identity as a medical doctor and forced to work as a common laborer. His father, mother, brother, and wife died in the concentration camps. All his notes, which represented his life’s work, were destroyed. Yet Frankl emerged from Auschwitz believing that

“everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

In Christ Alone –

In Christ alone
My hope is found
He is my life, my strength, my song
This cornerstone , this solid rock
Firm through the fierces, drought and storm
What heights of Love, what depths of Peace,
When fears are stilled, when Strivings cease!
my comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe
This gift of Love and righteousness,
scorned by the ones He came to save,
Till on that cross as jesus died
The wrath of god was satisfied;
For every sin on him was laid
Here in the depth of Christ I live

There in the ground , His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again!

And as he stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This the pow’r of Christ in me,
From life’s first cry, to final braeth.
Jesus commands my destiny
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or call me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand …..


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