While on a mission trip with my wife recently we read, studied and discussed the book of Ruth together and found it fascinating again. I say again because I often have read and studied this book, yet we found some new insights I had not considered before.
I looked afresh at the choices that were made by the characters: Elimelech, Naomi, their sons, Ruth and Orpa, and the two kinsman-redeemers. The basic truth I discovered is choices matter.
The book of Ruth begins with the fact that there was a famine in the land of Israel. It was in the days of the Judges when by and large the people were not following God, except for when He raised up Judges. But the renewals were usually short lived. God at times allowed conditions of famine to develop to make the Israelites realize He was not pleased with them. They needed to trust in God and obey Him. Famine was a discipline.
There were two responses one could make during a time like that. You could engage in self examination, humble yourself before God, repent, make sure you are on good terms with Him, and then wait for God to send rain again. Or you could do what you feel is necessary under the circumstance like trying to evade the conditions of famine by going to a country that looked more promising at the time.
Elimelech chose the latter: he “together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.” He wouldn’t abandon his homeland for good. That would be his son’s inheritance. He’d only go for a while. Choices matter. Some have unintended negative consequences.