November 22 Sermon Excerpt
The story of Ruth begins with a famine, a food shortage in the land, and a man named Elimelech, his wife and two sons left their homeland in search of food and a sustainable land. Elimelech is standing at a crossroad in his life. He could stay in his homeland of Bethlehem in Judea or he could lead his family elsewhere in search of food. Elimelech leads his family away from their homeland toward the land of Moab.
His decision to leave will turn out to be significant, but also tragic, as we’ll see in the coming weeks, but why? Well, Elimelech was called by God like all of the Israelites to stay in the land that God had given to them, the Promised Land. So even in the midst of famine he should have never left his homeland.
Stop there just for a moment. Instantly our thought probably runs to, “But, he had to provide for his family.” Yes, but the best way to provide for our families is by being obedient to God. You see, the Lord always provides even in the most bleak of situations.
Walking away from God has consequences. We think it won’t. We can even be so arrogant to think nothing should happen to us if we choose the wrong road. Consider this, have faith, walk with Jesus. When you take the road less traveled, the road to Jesus, you’re not missing out. Maybe, just maybe He is sparing you from sin and brokenness.
For Elimelech his choice to take the wrong road would have consequences. He left the Promised Land and, the Bible says, went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons (1:1). Taking your family to Moab was like taking your family to 42nd Street in Manhattan in the 70’s and 80’s, it just wasn’t wise.
The Moabites originated from the incestuous relationship that Lot had with his daughters following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. So for someone, like Elimelech who was called to follow God to be hanging around with a people that were a little loose morally and spiritually was just a bad move. At this point in Biblical history the Israelites were called to stay and live in the Promised Land.
It is important to note that Elimelech’s name in Hebrew meant, “My God is King.” You might be thinking, “What does that have to do with anything?” Well, by leaving the land that God called him to live, Elimelech disobeyed God. He did not live out the reality of his name. For him, God wasn’t King, he was king…he had to lead, not the Lord.
Is God your King? Does He play pivotal role your life? When you’re standing at a crossroad, do you pray and seek the will of God or do you just pursue the best option? Following Jesus takes faith. We sometimes make bad decisions because we walk by sight and not faith, don’t we? We try to take control of our lives. The result is anxiety, stress, and heartache.
Now contrast that with what the Apostle Paul said to the church in Corinth: So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6-7).
We can be completely confident and courageous in this life because of Jesus. So when we’re standing at the crossroads of life and we’ve got to make a decision, even a difficult one, follow Jesus. Walk by faith. God’s road is only one that leads to life.