1 During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there. 3 Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband.
We’ve heard it said that “desperate times call for desperate measures.” The book of Ruth is set during the period of the judges, one of the darkest times spiritually in Israel’s history. The famine indicated God’s apparent absence from the land and was thought to be God’s message of judgment and indictment upon His people for their immorality, cruelty, disobedience and pagan worship.
The book of Judges tells us that “in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (17:6), and that “the Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (2:11). The times were indeed desperate.
Determined to escape the severity of the famine and the spiritual emptiness of Judah, Elimelech and Naomi leave Bethlehem, taking their two sons to the territory of Moab, east of the Dead Sea. Over the next ten years, in an unfamiliar land with unfamiliar gods, Naomi would experience the heaviness of grief with the loss of her husband, her sons, and the seeming absence of God.
There are times when God’s presence feels absent from our lives, like He’s just not there when we need Him. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Although Naomi had a bleak perspective on her life, we see God working behind the scenes to orchestrate Naomi’s future. He gave her a daughter-in-law, Ruth, who would love and encourage her, who would be devoted to her God, and who would be faithful to God’s plan in her own life.
Perhaps the times we are living in seem desperate to you. Let the book of Ruth encourage you. It is a book of hope, showing us that God is still present and at work among the faithful remnant of His people, in the quiet, constant and even mundane affairs of life. The book of Ruth reminds us that God is the main character in the story of our lives, always working out His sovereign will even in the most difficult of times. If God feels distant or perhaps even absent in your times of grief or loss, remember that He is faithful. He is still present in your life, moving in ways you do not see.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are there areas in your life where difficult circumstances have you doubting God’s faithful presence in your life?
- Are you willing to trust God, knowing He is sovereign over your life and is always at work, even if it is “behind the scenes”?
- Will you be faithful to God, knowing that He is faithful to you, allowing Him to work in and through you to accomplish His will?
Pray for mission journeys that are scheduled to go from out from Brentwood Baptist Church in 2021. Pray that participants will be burdened for, and respond to, the need for the gospel around them as they prepare and go.