Ruth 1:1: “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land…”
Think for a moment about what you would do as a farmer, a husband, and a father of two ailing sons, when no rain has fallen for a year or more. You have a good size field, but crops don’t grow without rain. Irrigation would be an alternative if water weren’t so scarce. You’ve sold everything of value except your field. But, even if it were to rain this moment, it would take months for crops to grow.
How did drought and famine happen in a place whose names literally mean “House of Bread and Praise”? Moreover, how can you let your children and wife die of starvation?
Today you take your final trip to town where you will fight the crowds and use the little money you have left to buy a meager food ration. Still, this will last only a short time and then what.
What would you do?
These may have been the thoughts of Elimelech, our farmer of Bethlehem, in the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah. It was a desperate time. Pain and death were everywhere and unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten God. These were the Lord’s chosen people, but where was the abundance of blessing?
Famine in Israel meant only one thing. It was a physical consequence of spiritual disobedience.
God through Moses, and then Joshua, had warned Israel about what would happen if they followed other gods and allowed the remaining natives to entice them with abominable practices. Sadly, they did not listen.
What should have happened when they realized the Lord had shut up the heavens and no rain was falling on the land?
According to the God’s Law, immediate, corporate repentance – turning from their sin and calling on Jehovah-jireh, the Lord our Provider. This should have been their first response, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t even Elimelech’s response to his personal dilemma.
Through earthly, spiritually blinded eyes, Elimelech, whose name means "My God is King", looked at what he deemed a hopeless and deadly situation in Bethlehem. Then, he did what he thought was right. Instead of repentance, he chose to leave his field and move his family to Moab, a godless country southeast of Bethlehem, across the Dead Sea, and far from the land of promise.
Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
For more study, the following scriptures may help: Ruth 1:1-2; Deut. 11:13-14, 26-28; Deut. 28:1, 12, 15, 23-24; Deut. 30:11-20; Joshua 23.