Ruth

The Expository Pulpit Series

Ruth

Romance and Redemption

by

Dr. Glen Spencer Jr.

Introduction

The book of Ruth is one of the most precious pictures of the grace and mercy of God to be found in all the Bible. It is the account of Ruth a Gentile woman who comes out of the pagan land of Moab and finds rest and redemption with Boaz, her kinsman redeemer.

Ruth is the Book of Gloom and Grace, a book of Retreat and Redemption. It is a Book of Sob and Song, of Failure and Faith. It is a Book of Romance, but the word love is not in it. Ruth and Esther are the only two books of the Bible named after women.

Ruth is a type of the sinner who turns from the world to Christ. She cast herself at Boaz feet (Ruth 3:4-6) She claimed him as her redeemer (Ruth 3:9) She believed and received the promises of Boaz (Ruth 3:10-13) She accepted his invitation and became his bride (Ruth 4:13) Ruth means satisfied, and she illustrates how the soul is dissatisfied and restless until it finds rest in the Redeemer.

Boaz is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. The kinsman redeemer had to meet three qualifications:

  1. He had to be a near kinsman—a blood relative.
  2. He had to be willing to redeem.
  3. He had to be able to pay the redemption price.

The kinsman redeemer is a beautiful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, who met all these qualifications (Luke 19:10; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Naomi is a type of a backslider whose life was restored. She left Bethlehem, the House of Bread, and went to the land of Moab. But she heard of His blessing and returned to find God's gracious restoration.

We see Ruth...

  1. Destitute of Rest (chapter 1)
  2. Rest (chapter 2)
  3. Delivered into Rest (chapter 3)
  4. Delighted in Rest (chapter 4)

In the characters of the book of Ruth we see...

  1. The Regressing Saint in Elimelech
  2. The Roaming Sons in Mahlon & Chilion
  3. The Rejecting Sinner in Orpah
  4. The Repenting Sinner in Ruth
  5. The Returning Saint in Naomi
  6. The Redeeming Saviour in Boaz

You Can't Run From Your Problems

Ruth 1:1-5

You can't run away from your problems, but here we are introduced to a man who tried. Elimelech and his family lived during the days of the Judges and when hard times hit he chose to walk out on God and go to the world to have his needs met. As a result of his decision, he and his family paid an awful price. There are many lessons to be learned in these first five verses.

The Desires that Challenge our Faith

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled. (Ruth 1:1) The famine was not Elimelech's biggest problem. The backdrop to the book of Ruth is the times known as the days when the judges ruled. These were times of great spiritual decline.

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim. (Judges 2:11)

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. (Judges 3:7)

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. (Judges 3:12)

During the times of the Judges men were self-sufficient, they acted as if they had no need of God. They were self-centered, they didn't care about God's will. They were self-serving, they didn't live for God, but for themselves. The Bible says that In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25) Those were days of great apostasy and wickedness. Even in our own day many want nothing to do with Christ and His rule. Without any concern whatsoever, people live as though there is no God and no coming judgment. They eat, sleep, work, play and go about their lives as if they themselves are their own god. They do what is right in their own eyes. That is how it was in Elimelech's day. At least to some degree, Elimelech must have been caught up in the spirit of the age. The desires of his heart was far from what God wanted for him.

The Difficulties that Confront our Faith

There was a famine in the land. (Ruth 1:1) No doubt famines are harsh and difficult to endure. These were difficult times in the land of Bethlehem Judah. Difficulties often confront our faith and what we do in those times of difficulty either strengthen our faith or spoil our faith. Notice how Elimelech responded to the difficulties that confronted his faith.

He Failed to Accept his Responsibility

God's people bear the responsibility for the conditions in which they live. We often blame the President, the government, the bars, the drug dealers and so on for the problems we have in our country. The fact of the matter is, that we are often the problem ourselves. When we fail to walk with God, He often removes His blessings in order to get our attention.

And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. (Leviticus 26:18- 20)

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. (Deut 28:15)

And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed... Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit. (Deuteronomy 28:23-24, 38-40)

God promised there would always be plenty in the land as long as Israel was obedient. The famine was the result of the disobedience of God's people. Elimelech bore some of the responsibility for the famine. The lack of revival in America is the result of God's people not meeting His conditions for revival. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) Notice God did not command the drunkard to sober up. He didn't command the harlot to clean up. He didn't command the bars to close up. He commanded believers to confess up. God does not send revival based upon the condition of the land, but based upon the condition of His people. The famine that had touched the lives of Elimelech's family was God's judgment upon the land because they had forsaken fellowship with their God. Elimelech failed to recognize and accept the fact that he was part of the problem. Not only did he fail to Accept his Responsibility, but...

He Failed To Act Upon The Remedy

Our God is a good God. He wants to fellowship with us and bless us beyond measure. God had given His people clear instructions as to what He expected from them.

Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. (Leviticus 26:1-9)

God never intended for His people to be a wayward and defeated people. The only reason that America does not burst forth into a mighty revival is because God's people do not walk with Him. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God... (1 Peter 4:17) My friend, God has no desire to starve His people, but He will do whatever is necessary to get our attention. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (Psalms 37:3) The Famine was the chastisement of God aimed at getting His people's attention and turning them back to Himself. Elimelech would have nothing to do with repentance. Instead he attempted to run from God's correcting hand. The Bible declares, He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13) Churches are full of Elimelechs today. When their sin is found out they pack up, sin and all, and head off to another Church.

Elimelech was a landowner in Bethlehem Judah and he was fairly well-off. He could have weathered the hard times with very little problems. He did not have to leave Bethlehem Judah due to lack of food and hard times. After all, Boaz didn't leave and he survived the famine. Elimelech left the place where God had put him because there was something that was more important to him than God's will. Elimelech's biggest problem was not the famine, but the desires of his depraved heart.

The Decisions That Corrupt Our Faith

And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. (Ruth 1:1-2) Elimelech made a bad decision that took not only himself, but his family out of the place where God had put them. Husbands, fathers, and leaders take note! Your decisions affect others.

People leave to run away from their troubles only to find that they have the same problems when they get to where they are going. You see, often the real problem isn't the famine, it's the heart and you take that with you where ever you go. The only help for a depraved heart is Repentance, Regeneration, and Restoration. Instead of accepting his responsibility, repenting of his sin, and calling upon God for mercy and restoration Elimelech took off. He attempted to run from his problems rather than face them.

The Initial Reasoning

And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. (Ruth 1:1) Imagine Elimelech's reasoning as he tried to defend his foolish plans to go to Moab! "I'm not going to stay in Moab, I'm just going down there until things get better." Elimelech soon found out that things do not get better when you leave the place where God has you. Elimelech had no intention of staying in Moab. The word sojourn means a "brief or temporary stay." Elimelech did not plan to stay in Moab permanently. He originally intended to go to Moab, enjoy the luxury, eat well and then return to Bethlehem as soon as the famine was over.

The Inevitable Result

And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. (Ruth 1:2) Sojourning went out the window fast. The Bible says they continued there. It didn't take long for Elimelech to go from sojourning to settling down in Moab. That is always the case. Once the Devil gets you away from where you belong he keeps you away. Lots of folks make foolish decisions with the excuse its only for a little while. Its never for a little while. Most Christians who step out from under the protection of God's will usually continue on in their sin. It didn't take long for Elimelech to become satisfied with Moab. There is also another sad note here. Moab was also satisfied with Elimelech and his family. The world has no use for the believer that is all out for God. However, the world has no problem with a Christian who will leave the will of God to be with them.

The Defilement That Condemns Our Faith

And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. (Ruth 1:3-4) Moab was no place to raise a family. It was a place forsaken of God. Twice in the Bible God says, Moab is my washpot. (Psalm 60:8, Psalm 108:9) This is an expression of great contempt. The washpot speaks of the basin where feet were washed. This is how God saw Moab. Notice that after Elimelech died his boys married pagan women. Intermarrying with unbelievers is absolutely forbidden throughout the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 7:3; Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23-27; 2 Corinthians 6:14) Notice the progression. Dad died, then the boys married. As long as Elimelech was alive he kept his boys from marrying into paganism. But after Elimelech died his boys found themselves to unsaved pagan women and married. They had no concern for the law of God. They were doing that which was right in their own eyes. After all, they were following in their father's footsteps.

The Discipline That Corrects Our Faith

And Elimelech Naomi's husband died... And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:4-5) Elimelech and his sons died in Moab out of the will of God. Like Jonah, Elimelech found out that you can run, but you can't hide. Their deaths were no doubt the result of God's discipline. The Bible makes it clear that There is a sin unto death. (1 John 5:16) There are several Bible examples of people who committed the sin unto death.

  1. Nadab and Abihu committed the sin unto death (Leviticus 10:1-2)
  2. Korah committed the sin unto death (Numbers 16:31-34)
  3. Achan died as a result of his sin (Joshua 7)
  4. Ananias and Sapphira committed the sin unto death (Acts 5)
  5. Several members of the Corinthian Church sinned the sin unto the death (1 Corinthians 11:30-32)

The Bible warns us about falling away from God. Elimelech and his sons serves as a picture of a backslidden Christian who refuses to repent and dies prematurely. Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? (Ecclesiastes 7:17) Elimelech traded a famine in Bethlehem for three graves in Moab. He got what he wanted, but he lost what he had.