Facing Danger in Moab

Bible Book: Ruth  1 : 1-5
Subject: Backsliding
Series: Ruth - Flaming Hearts in Fields of Hope

Ruth 1:1-5 (KJV) 1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.


In this section we are going to be introduced to a specific family that lives in the city of Bethlehem Judah. The father chooses to lead his family 50 down the road to the Pagan land of Moab. The decision will prove to be a very fatal mistake in the wellbeing of this family. Let it be noted, “It is better to go through the famine with God, than to leave the famine without God.”

Consider the Downward Course of this Family:

a. The place that they left

b. The place that they landed

Consider the Deathly Consequences of this Family:

a. The harsh demise

b. The hastened death

I -The Forcefulness of the Famine - The Lack

The first thing that God allows us to see is that Israel was in the midst of a mighty famine. Elimelech and his family lived in Bethlehem Judah, the house of bread and praise; even they faced this horrible famine. It seems as if we fail to recognize the hand of God in human affairs.

In past days one had no difficulty in acknowledging the hand of God in natural calamity and disaster. We live in a day of “PCism” which stands for “Politically Correct”. It is difficult for the man of God to speak the truth without aggravating or alienating those that disagree. The truth of the matter is that God often intercedes in the daily affairs of mankind. In this frame of mind let us consider the upward workings that were happening concerning this famine and Israel. The famine that was causing so much grief in the lives of Israel may have been sent by the Lord himself, did he not do this with Elijah and Ahab?

A) The Reason of Famines - Biblically Speaking

In the bible we actually read of 13 famines, let us look at them:

1 - Genesis 12:10 (KJV) And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

2 - Genesis 26:1 (KJV) And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.

3 - Genesis 41:54 (KJV) And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

4 - Ruth 1:1 (KJV) Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

5 - 2 Samuel 21:1 (KJV) Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

6 - 1 Kings 18:2 (KJV) And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.

7 - 2 Kings 4:38 (KJV) And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

8 - 2 Kings 7:4 (KJV) If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.

9 - 2 Kings 25:3 (KJV) And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.

10 - Nehemiah 5:3 (KJV) Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.

11 - Jeremiah 14:1 (KJV) The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.

12 - Luke 15:14 (KJV) And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

13 - Acts 11:28 (KJV) And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

It can be said with full biblical backing that God often sent the famines into the land of his People. The famine came because of the sinfulness of his people and the forget fullness of his people. It seemed as if God needed a famine to bring about repentance and remembrance in the congregation of the Lord. This is not popular teaching or preaching in this day of easy beliefs. In our day and age we readily reject that God interferes in the human affairs of our daily living. This famine was sent in the days of the judges of Israel. Sin ran rampant throughout the land and man had abandoned justice and had forsaken Godliness. God declared that he would send grief and famine when his people chose to abandon him.

1 - The Reason for the Famines: Sinfulness & Forgetfulness

2 - The Reason for the Famines: Repentance & Remembrance

B) The Results of Famines - Spiritually Speaking

The famine was harsh and horrible in that it wrecked havoc upon the land and the people. It would have destroyed their crops and dried up any water system. It is likely that most people and many countries abandon God during good times. Often God is required to send difficulty to stir our souls toward him.

Let us consider church attendance before 09/11/2001, the day that America was shaken to her very core. The greatest nation in the world proved to be unprepared for the onslaught of terrorism. The faith of this country was aroused as never before in this wayward generation.

· According to Foxnews.com: On the 1st anniversary of 911 church attendances was evaluated and compared to before 911 and after 911. In Dallas Texas on the Sunday after the trade center attacks Ed Young saw his attendance rise from the mid teens to over 20,000 plus. In the next few weeks his church pews had lots of room as the crowd had dwindled back to where it previously had been.

· According to Foxnews.com: It is estimated that nearly half of the adult population attending a religious service the Sunday after 911. In the coming weeks it begins to drop and by November the numbers were back to where they had been previously.

· According to Barna Research: Within one year the spiritual thermometer of America was back to the same numbers as before 911.

1. Attendance before 911: 42 %

2. Attendance after 911: 43% (1 year later)

3. Prayer before 911: 84%

4. Prayer after 911: 83% (1 year later)

· Foxnews.com: Young attributes the initial attendance spike to human nature. "I think when we are riddled with fear, when things fall apart around us especially when we are struck at the heart of who we are, people suddenly respond and they're turning to God and asking those deep questions in an even deeper way," he said."When things are going bad we want to turn to God and want to get right with him and we want to attend to church," Young said. "When things level out we tend to forget the most important things and drift away."

In the days following 911 the church attendance numbers crept close to 50% but by November the spiritual inquiry had fizzled back to 43%.

Let it be said that God allowed the famine to bring Israel into a state of repentance and remembrance. The fact of the matter is that we are feeble human beings and we tend to forget the good hand of God in our life. When things are going good we tend to drift toward sin and selfishness:

Negative Trend:

Satisfaction - Fullness

Selfishness - Forgetfulness

Sin - Failure

Positive Trend:

Famine - Difficulty

Faith - Desperation

Fervor - Devotion

II - The Faithlessness of the Father - The Landing

The scene now moves from Bethlehem to Moab, it was only fifty 50 to the east on the other side of the Dead Sea. Elimelech displayed a great lack of faith in moving his family from Bethlehem to Moab.

1 - The Distance was Close & Easy

2 - The Decision was Costly & Enormous

Is this not the way of departing from the will of God, easy access to the doors that Satan himself will open. It is so easy to drift and to depart into a state of waywardness, but the cost will be monstrous and momentous. I believe that before Elimelech took one step towards Moab he had already abandoned God in his heart. The lack that he faced in Bethlehem would be nothing to the landing he would encounter in the pagan land of Moab. Bethlehem’s famine would be nothing compared to Moab’s funerals.

A) Displayed Faithlessness: In whom he trusted

The bible declares that we are to walk by faith and not by sight. In walking by site we fail to recognize the unseen hand of God in our circumstances. The man Elimelech was a husband and a father that must have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to secure the means to take care of his family. This pressure pushed him to trust in himself rather than in God.

1 - The Terrible Problem that Elimelech Faced

2 - The Tremendous Pressure that Elimelech Felt

We must not be hasty in condemning this man, because many of us have departed for much less critical circumstances.

B) Demonstrated Faithlessness: In where he traveled

The famine seemingly was not going to break and the anxiousness got the best of this man and off he goes to Moab. The news from Moab must have been very exciting and enticing. The distance from Bethlehem to Moab was on 50 miles which he could travel in a few days time. It was only 50 miles from Bethlehem but it was millions of miles from God’s plan for his life. The man that moves from God’s protection to pulverization has no idea what has hit him.

1 - The Pleasurable Enticement of Moab

2 - The Pagan Environment of Moab

It seems as if we always go for the money, for the prestige of things. Elimelech desired the best for his family, is this not ringing loud in our times? America has proven this to be true time after time, follow the money and the materialistic. It is for lack of judgment that we allow ourselves to lead our family into the lions den of sin and shame.

1 - Moab offered Food, but no Faith

2 - Moab offered gods, but no God

The lack of real faith was going to be very costly to this dear family. In walking by our flesh we will get only what the flesh can give.

III - The Foolishness of the Family - The Longevity

If we could hear the family discussing their move to Moab, we would have realized that it was to be only for a short period of time. This is usually the case when one departs from the will of God. The lack of food in Bethlehem inspired them to move to Moab for a brief period, this briefness turned into 10 years. I recently watched a video of a song called, “Slow Fade”, by Casting Crowns:

Slow Fade
by Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

In looking at this song we see the reality of what happened in the life of this family moving down to Moab, the short intent turned into a “Slow Fade” of 10 years. It would be the most horrible 10 years one could experience. The backslider normally fades slowly into his backslidden condition. The foolish person expects his backsliding to be loud and noticeable.

A) Their Limited Stay - Foolishly Desired (sojourn)

The idea of this passage was that the family only intended to “sojourn” down to Moab. The idea is to dwell only temporarily in a place:

1) To sojourn, abide, dwell in, dwell with, remain, inhabit, be a stranger, be continuing, surely

1) To sojourn, dwell for a time

2) To abide, stay, temporarily dwell

1) To seek hospitality with

2) To assemble oneself

It is a fool that thinks one can dabble in Satan’s Sewer in not come out smelling and stinking. This man only wanted a limited stay in the pit of pagan country, but it would not be so. It has often been said that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay” and so it was with Elimelech.

The prodigal desired the sinful pleasures of life not the stinking pigpen of life. It is necessary for us to consider where we are and where we are heading in our spiritual journey. We must not allow ourselves to make foolish decisions that can harm our family and our faith, we cannot allow this!

B) Their Lengthy Stay - Foolishly Documented (continued)

It would be remarkable to see this family assimilate themselves to the people and the pleasures of Moab. The boys would have been enticed to the worldly ways of Moab; they then desired the worldly women of Moab. The foolishness of their ways ends up being written in the very word of God.

1 - The Grassy Land of Moab

2 - The Glowing Lights of Moab

3 - The Godless Lure of Moab

4 - The Godly Lull of Moab

5 - The Grievous Lesson of Moab

6 - The Growing Love of Moab

7 - The Guiltless Limits of Moab

8 - The Great Loss of Moab

In this section we are considering the length of their stay in the land of Moab. It was intended to be for a short time, not long at all. The family would shoot down to Moab and wait for the end of the famine, and then before everyone knew it they would swiftly shoot back up to the land of Bethlehem. The only issue is that when we move out of the will of God we open our lives up to tragedy and the discipline of God.

IV - The Fiercefulness of the Funerals - The Loss

The family has ended up staying considerably longer than expected. In reading the story it seems as if Elimelech was the first to die, then the young men chose themselves some wives of Moab. The men remain alive for a period of time, then they die, the passing of time has extended to 10 treacherous tragic tearful years.
A) The Description of these Men - In Name

The names of these men tell us much about their lives, this was especially so in the Old Testament times. Let us consider the meaning of their biblical names:

1 - Elimelech “My God is King” It is apparent that Elimelech did not act as though his God was the king. The poor decision that Elimelech made ended up being very costly to his family.

2 - Mahlon - “Unhealthy or Sickly” The young man apparently had much difficulty with his health. Mahlon must have been a person of continual sickness.

3 - Chilion - “Pining or Puny” This one was not to be outdone by his sibling, for he was also a son that experienced continual unhealthiness. It must have been overbearing and overwhelming as Naomi tried to raise these sick sons.

B) The Death of these Men - In Nature

The men died and probably ended up being buried in the pagan God forsaken land of Moab. It would have been such a sad day as Naomi laid her husband in that cold rocky tomb, with much sorrow and grief. Then one by one the boys, her boys, caught deathly illness and they died. The lonely grieving mom wept bitterly and endlessly as she walked back to her dwelling place in Moab.

In verses 3 - 6 it is stated that when Elimelech died Naomi was left, only her and her boys. One funeral is down, and unknowingly two more to go, then the two young men die and now only Naomi is “left”. When all is said and done what does the backsliders have left? Naomi stood before her God empty handed and empty hearted, with nothing left that is near and dear to her heart.


I dare say that it is a serious thing to end up backslidden in a pagan land. We must reach our families and tell this story to our children, please stay out of Moab. The Christian mom and dad must avoid Moab with every ounce of resistance that we can muster.