In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Ruth 1, verses 1 and 2.
Have you ever moved to a new place? Because they might die, Jesus’ ancestral family did and it made all the difference in the world.
The days when Ruth lived were before the time of King David. This was the time in the centuries after God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Back then, Canaan/Israel was a savage place, a land where the conquest of a hostile people by powerful invaders was fresh in the memory of all. And Moab wasn’t some ski area in Utah: it was populated by people who hated the Israelites who had come to live there. People actively hated each other over a piece of land; isn’t it ironic how that hasn’t changed, especially over that same piece of ground?
Elimelek and Naomi were the great great grandparents of King David. They were most likely commoners, shepherds or farmers or people familiar with gleaning their living from a harsh land. And they were starving. The ancestors of the kings of Israel, of the King of Kings Himself, were starving to death. Not unlike the famines in sub-Saharan Africa in our time, there was a famine in Israel and the people who lived there had no food. When you get hungry, you eat; if you’re in America, Europe, or developed Asia, food is usually plentiful. Not so in most of the world, though. Most of today’s world still lives like Naomi and Elimelek lived. Their next meal may or may not happen, and ditto the dozen meals after it.
What did Naomi and Elimelek do? They moved. Now, I’ve moved 27 times in my life. Just this past weekend, I moved my mom out of her house into an assisted living facility near my Texas home. It isn’t easy to pick up and move, cutting your ties with your home. When Elimelek and Naomi decided to move, they took all they could with them, including their family, and moved to a different country, one that openly hated them, their God, and their way of life. It was no easy decision, but they had no other choice. If they didn’t move, they would die.
So they moved to Moab and made their life there. There, they remained faithful to God, but they constantly lived as strangers in a strange land. This is the setting for the story.
Lord, thank You for providing so much. Please provide even more than You do for me for those in hunger and starvation. Teach me how I can help.
Once again, read Ruth 1, verses 1 through 5.
If you’ve ever moved, how did it feel to live in a place strange to you?
Have you ever been hungry, or starving?
What can you do to help those who are hungry in our world today?