Ruth: No One Wants To Wait
Struggle, loss of control…the unexpected left unchecked can challenge our walk with God.
At times, it they can cause us to wonder, “Is God really good?”
That thought left to simmer can lead us away from our promise.
Join me in this first episode as we journey through the book of Ruth and learn the power of waiting.
This Study is going to be a deep dive of sorts, a little different then what we’ve been doing. I’m going to ask if you want to start reading through the Book of Ruth it’s 4 chapters – read it through each week, if you want, and let’s come ready to talk. so here we go!
High-level – what we see play out with this book – God calls us all home – but we have a choice to make, will we follow, or not?
Background of Ruth:
Theme of Ruth is Kindness and Redemption. Ruth connects the theme of redemption to the harvest festival of Pentecost. It’s a foreshadow of Gentiles being welcomed into and essential to God’s plan.
I said this is also a book with a theme of Kindness. Unfortunately, this is one of those examples where kindness doesn’t do the original word justice. This kindness is more then what we know. It’s covenant kindness; more of a nothing coming in the way of, loyalty. It’s deep and more meaningful then what we typically see playout around us.
When was it written? 1375-1050 BC after the era of the Judges. The events of Ruth took place during the time of the judges. We learn that by Reading Ruth 1:1 – which we’ll do later on.
Who wrote it? Some say Samuel, some say Ezra. Some say Solomon. Some say it has to be a woman due to the level of detail and focus, but really there is nothing that says with certainty. All that to say we don’t know.
Original Audience: This was written to the Israelite’s as a way of explaining the history of this Moabite woman that married Boaz who gave birth to a son who was grand father of King David. They wanted their community to know this beautiful story. These details were important for them to know, and they’re important for us to know. Today, it serves as a message to us as the Bride of Christ – keep that in mind as we examine what all this has to say to us.
Where does it take place? From Bethlehem to Moab, and back to Bethlehem 50-60 miles which would have taken about 7-10 days to travel.
Fun Fact: Jews study this book every year during Shavout also known as the Festival of Weeks which we know as Pentecost. This festival signifies the coming the Holy Ghost – and the birth of the first church.
We find out all about the 7 feasts the Israelites were commanded to celebrate in Leviticus 23.
Leviticus 23 speaks of the feasts These feasts all point to the Gospel. We need to take a Gospel centered approach to all of scripture. It’s not about us – it’s about HIM, the more we learn about Him, the more we’re refined, and molded into HIS image. So we have to stop viewing scripture from a lens of us, to a lens of Him. We often find people, women specifically try to take the book of Ruth and make it about finding a husband. Please don’t do that. That is a superficial way of examining this book. It’s abour our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
More Background on the Festival of Weeks
During the time this was written they were celebrating the festival of weeks – this was harvest time.
Harvest time, the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and their acceptance of it. We celebrate the same as a type of Harvest time, a harvest of souls for the Kingdom. The Giving of the Holy Ghost, and our acceptance of it.
During this festival the people were required to leave the corners of their fields untouched in order to provide for the poor and strangers. Part of their celebration involved a wave offering where they took 2 loaves of leavened bread. This is the only feast that allows for leaven. This is symbolic of jews and gentiles becoming one. We see that here in this book. This is the only feast where leavened bread is used. It’s symbolic of sin still being in the church and how it will be until Jesus returns.
The book of Acts continues to record the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit that began on the Feast of Pentecost.
Points to Pentecost – Jesus told his disciples 40 days before his ascension that they should go to Jerusalem and wait for the comforter. They gathered in Jerusalem 10 days after Jesus’ ascension. While they were praying tongues of fire descended. From there they were to go out and proclaim the words of Jesus.
This book is so rich with personal applications, pictures, foreshadows so we’re going to tip toe through.
“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. 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. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.”
This story begins dark. Elimelech, his names means God his King. Which is appropriate because this is written during the time of the Judges. Left his home in Bethlehem (means House of Bread). Bethlehem was located in Judah, The Promised Land. He left his home, the Promise Land and went 50-60 miles into enemy territory.
How do we know Moab is enemy territory?
We’re going to find out…
To find out where they came from we have to go back to the beginning. Let’s look to Genesis.
Gen 19:36-37 “As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites.”
Lot and his daughters had just escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. His daughters began to worry about how they would carry on, so they make a plan that their continuation will come through their father. Lot’s daughter becomes pregnant and gives birth to Moab. His other daughter gives birth and names her son Ammon. This is the beginning of the Ammonites and the Moabites. As we read throughout the Old Testament we find both of these groups of people creating lots of problems for the Israelites.
This verses hang a backdrop for us. Elimelech took his family to live in this place. God is very clear throughout scripture saying things like, don’t do this, don’t do that. He gives clear warnings. Elimelech chose not to listen.
He only wanted to sojourn there in Moab, wait things out, but that isn’t what happens. He leaves Bethlehem, and journeys to Moab. We find later on that he dies outside of the Promised Land.
Let’s pause to consider this for a second. So often we look at Elimelech and we think, how could he do such a thing? However, when we stop to consider him for a little bit we start to see – yes, he made a bad choice, however we at times can be a whole lot like him.
How many times does life get tough, and we too are tempted to leave the Promised Land?
How many times do we have that same thought – we may be tempted to leave God’s Promised Land. We’re tired of waiting, so we back off, and think I’ll camp out over here for a little while. Elimelech, I imagine him to be experiencing some resistance that he wasn’t willing to push against. Sometimes for us, conviction comes and our initial reaction says we want to flee. When we look to his life I feel like we’re seeing a backslidden life play out here.
There is a famine going on in Bethlehem. We don’t know what triggered this famine, but we do know. But we do know that famines were often triggered by disobedience. This warning is found in Deuteronomy 28:15-18;
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”
Again we have no idea what triggered this famine, but it could very well have been a judgement. Perhaps there was disobedience taking place in Bethlehem. God does a very good job of telling us how to live. He uses judgements as a way to call us back to him. It’s possible this was happening to them.
Unfortunately, Elimelech decides rather than to stand against the resistance to move, and to sojourn else where.
This choice leads to his death outside of the Promised Land. This decision however doesn’t stop with Elimelech’s death we find also, his sons take Moabite wives, which we also know is not something God wanted for His people.
We tend to skip through uncomfortable things.
We don’t like acknowledging there are things God doesn’t like, or seeing hard things about ourselves. However, it’s important we take time to see these uncomfortable things. Because as we all know, there are uncomfortable portions of life. None of us are perfect. Here we’re seeing when we take a step of disobedience, we push a boundary and there is a consequence.
Proverbs tells us Do not move the ancient landmarks. Here we see a why.
When we look to Elimelech and we see him from the perspective of a backslider we can see how sin starts with a thought, move to our heart, move to our actions. It’s the same scenario we see playout with Eve in the Garden. She had a thought, the thought lingered and made it’s way into her heart and then turned in to her reaching for the fruit.
Applying this to Elimelch, experiencing trouble – he has a thought to protect his family, moves to his heart, then moves to his actions. We often want to run away from the pressure of God. We really can connect with him if we’re honest. We all can experience pressures like he experienced. Perhaps the pressure comes in the form of a loss of a job, stress of life, raising children, loss of a loved one.
Resentment can settle in.
The resistance gets to a place where we feel like it’s too much – and we start to question… Is God good?
Which really amplifies our need to learn to find joy in ordinary, and learn what it means to walk in faith, it all teaches us to activate our mustard seed.
Elimelech gives us an example of what not to do when the pressure is applied, and it’s a really great example. But where do we look to find how do we handle these things? We all know pressure will happen. It rains on the just and unjust.
What do we do when pressure sets in?
We look to David. David, one of the beautiful results of this story. God truly does work all things for His good. We’ll get to that at a later point in this study. Back to it, what do we do when pressure sets in and we too are tempted to leave our Promise and exchange it for Moab?
We look to Psalm 55:
1 Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
2 Please listen and answer me,
for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
3 My enemies shout at me,
making loud and wicked threats.
They bring trouble on me
and angrily hunt me down.
4 My heart pounds in my chest.
The terror of death assaults me.
5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
and I can’t stop shaking.
6 Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
7 I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness. Interlude
8 How quickly I would escape—
far from this wild storm of hatred.
9 Confuse them, Lord, and frustrate their plans,
for I see violence and conflict in the city.
10 Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders,
but the real danger is wickedness within the city.
11 Everything is falling apart;
threats and cheating are rampant in the streets.
12 It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
15 Let death stalk my enemies;
let the grave[b] swallow them alive,
for evil makes its home within them.
16 But I will call on God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
17 Morning, noon, and night
I cry out in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice.
18 He ransoms me and keeps me safe
from the battle waged against me,
though many still oppose me.
19 God, who has ruled forever,
will hear me and humble them. Interlude
For my enemies refuse to change their ways;
they do not fear God.
20 As for my companion, he betrayed his friends;
he broke his promises.
21 His words are as smooth as butter,
but in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers!
22 Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
23 But you, O God, will send the wicked
down to the pit of destruction.
Murderers and liars will die young,
but I am trusting you to save me.
You’ll notice in verses 1-8, David acknowledges the pressure. We have to acknowledge it too, but we have to be careful not to camp out there. We have to follow his lead in verses 16-20. In these verses he moves to say, “But I called to God.” He starts declaring what he knows about God, and that is the game changer here. It becomes his strength. This is the foundation that will not allow him to be moved.
Elimelech should have done this. He should have laid out his pain out to God, just like David. David wasn’t afraid to do that. We can’t be afraid to do that. We must remember no matter what, God sits enthroned above the Flood. His Sovereignty is never challenged no matter what our present circumstance looks like.
David sat in the challenge. We must sit in the challenge. See the uncomfortable and wait.
Thankfully God doesn’t leave this family here… and we’ll continue our journey next week.
Questions to Consider:
1) Have you found yourself like Elimilech – tempted to leave the Promise of God?
Perhaps you’re thinking, things in life are looking too uncertain right now, maybe taking the mindset, “I’m just going to step off to the side, and camp out for just a little while until things settle down.” God I’ll serve you when this gets figured out.
2) The struggle you’re facing in your life, have you looked at it as a way to draw closer to God, or is it causing you to question God’s goodness?
Too often we let struggle open a door where we can step back away from God, rather than taking time to consider what if God wants to show me something about who He is. What if this is an opportunity to see the majesty of God. What if rather than giving myself an excuse to step back, instead this is an invitation to bow myself to His Sovereignty?
3) Take Psalm 55, and the struggle your facing, and follow David’s lead. Turn this into a prayer, and learn to wait in the presence of the Almighty who works all things for our good.
We want to skip the pain of circumstance. The death of a dream, the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, battle of addiction.
We want to rush through the hurtful circumstance, rather then feel the pain of it. We want to deny it’s existence by running into a Moab trying to forget it all. I can’t imagine the struggle that happens in a seed as it’s placed in the ground. It can’t be an easy thing for that seed to die, and give way for a beautiful flower to emerge. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those roots to push through the soil to stretch in such a way that allows it to get to a depth where it has a place to hold the plant up against the elements once the plant has broke the surface.
Struggle is real. It is painful, but it is purposeful, and it’s so necessary to endure and feel the pain, and allow it to draw closer to our Heavenly Father.
I don’t want to be an Elimelech. I don’t want to chance dying outside of the Land of God’s promise. Let’s choose together to learn to wait in the uncertain and resist the temptation to move from the presence of God.