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 dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Ruth 1:1
If God is your King, then the notion of leaving the safe haven He provides for another location should seem ridiculous to you. Sadly, this is precisely what Elimelech does in this opening passage from the Book of Ruth. Elimelech is Naomi’s husband and his name just happens to mean ‘My God is King.’. What makes this ugly situation even worse is that in his search for a worldly solution to a physical problem, he opts for the worst possible place imaginable and as a result becomes the picture of the prodigal son who never makes it home.
Moab is My washpot Psalms 108:9
Does it really matter why Moab is so bad? Not really, but I found it interesting to recall that the Moabitish people are the result of a drunken, incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter, after fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:31-38). Lot’s son was named Moab and the Moabites are his direct descendants. Scripture goes on to tell us that they worshipped many false gods, that they were prideful, reproachful, arrogant and would ultimately suffer the same fate as Sodom (Zephaniah 2:9-11). Obviously, Elimelech should have known better and was not in touch with the Lord when he made this dreadful decision.
A Better Choice
The truth of the matter is that life in Bethlehem for Elimelech was not that bad. We know this to be true because Naomi would later in this same chapter bitterly lament, “I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty,” acknowledging that life with God as King was satiating and life without Him was hollow. It’s true. What the world offers is temporary at best and if you show me a Christian who doesn’t recognize this, I’ll show you a person who is headed for ruin.
I’m not minimizing famine; it’s a big deal. But while the difficulty seemed colossal, the reality was that the solution was only eighteen inches away; the average distance between a man’s knees and the floor. Do you believe that God is bigger than the problems we face? Then also believe that His remedy to these problems has not changed through the centuries.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14