A very important concept in Scripture (beginning in Genesis, through the prophets, the Psalms, into the New Covenant and especially in the Book of Revelation) is Redemption.
If we are going to understand our Faith, correctly perceive the work of Messiah Yeshua, and understand our hope in the Kingdom of G-d then we need to understand Redemption. One of the best places to learn about redemption of people and redemption of land is by reading the Book of Ruth. Throughout this book we encounter principles that lay the foundation for a proper understanding of our faith in Messiah Yeshua.
So, with that said, let’s begin the book of Ruth. All comments will be out of the NKJV. We begin by reading Ruth 1:1-5.
v1: When the judges ruled: In the time of the Judges, everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). When we live out our lives “right in our own eyes” the Scripture tells us: “but they were doing evil in the eyes of the L-rd”. (Judges 2: 11, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1 6:1 etc). This teaches us a very important principle: “Our ways are not G-d’s ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts.” (Is 55:8). Left to ourselves (without revelation and instruction from G-d) we will do what is wrong – and will find ourselves in TROUBLE. G-d will not be pleased with our behaviour and therefore there will be consequences.
- Famine: In Scripture, famine often shows G-d’s displeasure (a consequence of people doing their own thing). G-d was dissatisfied with His people because they were not doing what He had instructed them to do.
- Bethlehem: This word is repeated many times in Scripture and is therefore emphasised. Bethlehem should remind us of the birthplace of King David, and prophetically is connected to the Son of David – Messiah.
- Sojourn in … Moab: This was a faithless thing to do. G-d had taken His people into the Promised Land. There they could expect G-d’s blessing (provision) in their lives. When they left the Land of Israel they turned away from G-d’s activity in their lives. Instead of G-d’s blessings they encountered His judgement.
v2: “EliMelech” is made up of two Hebrew words. “Eli” means “My G-d” and “Melech” means “king”. His name proclaimed that G-d was the King and Ruler of his life, but he did not live up to that name. His testimony, leaving Bethlehem, revealed that he was a man who:
- Did not trust in the provision of G-d, or
- Left because he was a very wealthy man (see 1:21). He knew that, when the time of famine was harsh, people would be in great need. He had resources, but he didn’t want to share his wealth. He didn’t want to live a life that reflected the love of G-d.
- Bethlehem is again mentioned. (When words are repeated it shows emphasis). There is a play on words here. Bethlehem is made up of two Hebrew words: ‘Bet’ meaning “house of” and “Lechem” meaning “bread”. It can be understood as a place of provision. Elimelech and his family lived in the place that spoke of G-d’s provision. They didn’t realise that a famine in the land showed that G-d was displeased and was calling people to repentance – to embrace His Word – so that when they did they could be blessed. This family did not trust in G-d’s provision though, and so they left Bethlehem.
- Remained there: The implication of these words is that this family had no intention of ever leaving Moab. This was a problem! G-d had not blessed Moab – in fact, because of their disobedience (the Moabites wanted to thwart the things of G-d) G-d said strong words against them. Elimelech had wilfully, and in rebelliousness, moved away from the things of G-d and aligned himself with a people who G-d was against.
v3: Notice that Naomi was left pretty much by herself (Her two sons had their own lives and families).
v4: Women of Moab: This was another problem. These wives were not from the proper heritage – they were not women who had left the Moabite culture and embraced the G-d of Israel. (At least, not initially) Marrying these girls was not the Biblical thing for Naomi’s sons to do. Marriage partners need to be on the same spiritual foundation. Believers in Messiah Yeshua should not marry anyone who is not a believer in Him. (2 Cor 6:14)
- Ten Years: Biblically the number 10 is the number of completion. This verse reveals to us that they had no desire to go back to Judea (the place of G-d’s provision). This family had left Israel with no intention of returning there.
v5: Naomi had left Israel with three men in her life – her husband and two sons. Now, other than two daughters-in-law, only Naomi remained alive. Living in Moab had brought Naomi despair, discouragement, and death.