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Lessons from Ruth: Day 1

It is a small book; in my Bible, three and a half pages. And it is found between the big books of Judges and 1 Samuel, so the chances of just opening to the Old Testament book of Ruth are pretty slim. On the other hand, it is a love story. And doesn’t everybody love a love story?
But it is so much more...
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for awhile [sojourn] in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimilech, his wife’s name was Naomi… Ruth 1:1
If you have lots of free time on your hands, google “Should Elimilech have gone to Moab?” Apparently, this question has been a burr under the saddle of bible scholars for a very long time. Their speculations and judgments run from A to Z on the topic, with many being pretty hard on the old guy. However, it is plain that Elimelech didn’t intend to leave his people and his heritage, just ride out the famine in a more comfortable place. Why? Because he could.
Elimelech was an Ephrathite, a noble tribe. He was most certainly a man of wealth and had the resources to take care of his family in times of difficulty. I do not believe that he was purposefully turning his back on God; just doing what made sense to him. How can anyone argue with family first, especially when you are “blessed” with the means to make it happen?
It is not my purpose (nor of the book of Ruth) to second guess his choice; we, like Elimelech, have made a lot of bad choices. Most of them aren’t made from willful disobedience or raging rebellion. However, when we look back with the luxury of hindsight, we understand how a thoughtless choice or a lapse in faith was the beginning of a big problem.
And neither is Ruth the tale of an Old Testament Cinderella and her Prince Charming.
It is the story of how a sovereign God will take our mistakes and our short-sightedness as well as our obedience and faith, and use them in His eternal love story.

Nancy Shirah

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