I have been studying Ruth for our couples Bible Study this weekend. One of the interesting things that I have found is the setting for this book - the book of Judges. Ruth's in-laws (Elimelech and Naomi and their two boys) had fled Israel during a famine. They were from the town of Bethlehem and heard that there was food in Moab so they moved there. As near as historians can figure, their moved happened about 100ish years before Saul become king or about 260 years into the 360 year period of the judges.
A couple of things about Moab. Not a cool place for an Israelite to move. First of all, they were the nation that seduced the Israelites into sin a few centuries before. There was a running feud between Moab and Israel that was in some sort of detente during this period of time.
Another piece of the setting that is important is the "cycle" of sin that happens over and over again in the book of Judges. The nation of Israel put themselves on a cycle of worship-disobedience-judgement by God-cry to God-restoration. The issue becomes this was not a national trend - the WHOLE nation did not follow this cycle, but REGIONS of the nation fell into this cycle; usually only once. If you want a cool map that illustrates this, look at this link: http://biblemapper.com/gallery1_files/JudgesOfIsrael_2_mark.jpg. The nations that God used to judge the Israelites for their unfaithfulness to Him didn't attack the whole nation of Israel, just regions.
OK, so by now you are probably saying, and.......Why is this important? It speaks to me of the failure of Elimelech to spiritually lead his family. I mean, come on, he WATCHED as regions around him fell into sin, were judged by God with raiding parties, foreign government take-overs, slavery, etc. He had 200+ years of history repeating itself to serve as an example of what NOT to do. And yet his response to what God was attempting to do to his region was to run away. Not to worship and fall on his knees in repentance; but to run away to Moab of all places. When Elimelech left the promised land, he was fleeing his
heritage, his covering and his relationship with God. There was no
temple in Moab. There was no place to worship God there. He removed
his family from where God wanted them to be and placed them in a heathen
place. Not cool.
OK, so here is the hard part. How often do I make the same choice he did. How often do I ignorantly walk through life and follow the SAME path that generations before me have followed. How often does history repeat itself in my life and leadership of my family. Way to often I am afraid.
I don't write this to condemn, I write this to inform and hopefully open our eyes to our actions. I cannot change the past. I cannot changed what happened in history. However, I can learn from it and not do the SAME sins that my fore-fathers did or I have done in the past.
PS - Take time to look into the fall of the Roman Empire and compare that with America today. We are repeating the sins of the past and we WILL experience the same result. God will NOT be mocked. Start the revival in our country by starting it in you.