Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.Ruth 1:1(NASB)
The story of Ruth has a wonderful ending which reminds us that we have a Kinsman-Redeemer Who was willing to lay down His life to make us His Bride. But the beginning of this well-loved narrative from Israel's historical record, serves to remind us that all too often we can ignore the many warnings that we receive to set our spiritual house in order, and that we should trust the Lord in every situation, however shocking, painful, distressing, or difficult it may appear.
In the period of the Judges: "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes," and so in a time of spiritual, social, governmental, and moral decline in the nation of Israel, a certain man and his family took matters into their own hands. Instead of trusting God to protect and guide them through the nation's deterioration and mounting difficulties, they went their own way and moved outside of God's plan for their lives.
Elimelech and his family were part of God's holy nation, but like every individual in the household of God, they were able to exercise their free will. And so they had a choice EITHER to believe God's promise of protection and to trust their future into His hand, OR to follow the path of unbelief and try to work out their own problems independently of Him. Sadly, and like so many of us today, they chose the latter.
Like all of God's children who choose to live independently of His will for their life, Elimelech and his family were permitted to go their own way. But when faith is replaced with unbelief and when God's will is set aside for self-will, the difficulties and problems of life become insurmountable and everything seems to fall apart. But when Christ is seated in His rightful position on the throne of our heart, we have God's never-failing promise that He will lead us along the right path and guide us through every problem we may have to face.
"Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land." God wanted to use this natural disaster to call His people back from their moral decline and spiritual adultery, to a trusting faith in His promised provision. This famine at Bethlehem-Judah was God's call to them to once again do that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, to trust the Lord with all their heart, and not to rely on their own imperfect plans and purposes. But "a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah," was not inclined to repent of his own part in the nation's spiritual adultery and its gross, moral decline, and so "he went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons."
Sadly, like this certain man from Bethlehem-Judah, we too often walk away from God's will for our life, and drink from broken cisterns and eat the unfruitful works of darkness, instead of walking in spirit and truth and trusting in His perfect will for our life and future. Let us take a warning from Israel's history and start by putting our own house in order. Let us seek, day by day, to pray, "Thy will not mine be done." Let us believe all that God has spoken to us in His Word and trust Him in every eventuality of life and not rely on our own imperfect and flawed self-will. And let us seek to do only that which is right in the eyes of the Lord: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer."
Heavenly Father, how blessed we are to have Your Word which reminds us, in so many ways, what a faithful God You are. It is so necessary to trust You in all things. Help me to examine my own life so that I may set my house in order. I want to be in the middle of Your will, moment by moment, and day by day. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.