There is a special good feeling of joy and a sense of blessing about coming home.
I think of:
-Service men who come home from the service or from war. What a joyful time that is!
-Children come home from college.
-Run away children who come home after living in decadence and as beggars and vagabonds.
-Husbands who come home after being away on business trips or working out of town.
-Wives who come home to their husbands and families after running home to mother.
-Families that come home to their native country or town after living away in foreign lands.
-Christians who come to the church after living in the world and in sin.
We could think of other examples of coming home. But in most cases, coming home is a joyful experience; and one of special blessing.
This morning we want to study the life of a Jewish family that moved away to live in a foreign land because there was a famine in the land. They experienced many hardships and sorrows, and even death in the foreign land where they went to live. We are going to study the family of Elemelech, Naomi and their children, who sojourned in the land of Moab during a famine in their native land of Judah. And then we will see Naomi, coming home with her daughter-in-law Ruth, after all her family had died in Moab.
We have just two thoughts this morning; 1) first, moving away from the blessings of God; 2) and secondly, coming home to God and His blessings.
1.† Elemelech & his family moved away from the blessings of God (vs. 1-5).
1). They were from Bethlehem-Judah, which means the house of bread. This was Godís country!
-This was the place of divine favor.
-This was the place of divine provision.
-This was the place of divine protection.
-This was the place of divine presence.
Today, I am made to think of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is all of these things to the children of God. How often today do professed believers move away from Jesus in their hearts and lives.
I am also made to think of the Lordís Church. How often do people disregard the church, and leave the church for worldly reasons. But the church is a place of divine favor, and provision, and protection, and presence! Oh that the children of God could all see this!
2). Elemelech left the house of bread because there was a famine in the land.
How soon are people removed from Godís country and the land of His blessings when hard times come? Beloved, this is called walking by sight, and not by faith! Hard times are going to come, rest assured. There will be famines in the land. Will we run away from God and His place of blessings, or will we walk by faith and trust that the Lord will restore our land again with the showers of His blessings. I donít believe that the Lord is pleased with those who run away from His place when troubles come, especially to when they go into the world for help and relief.
3). They Sojourned in the country of Moab.
Moab was an enemy of God and His people. Moab was founded upon the sin of incest (Lot and His daughter). Balaak, the Moabite King, hired Balaam to ensnare Israel by teaching them to sin. Moab was an idolatrous nation. They worshipped idols and not the God of Heaven. Moab was a type of the world. And though he knew these things, Elemelech still sojourned in the country of Moab.
The inclination of natural man is to go away from God into the world. We are made to think of Adam and Eve, Cain, mankind in general, Israel as a nation, and manyGodís people in hard times (Abraham, Isaac, Elemelech, etc.). The parables of the prodigal son and of the lost sheep teach about manís tendency to go away from God.
4). Moab, which is a type of the world, is a cursed place of sickness, sorrow, and death.
Elemelech died in Moab. He sojourned in Moab, which means to dwell in a place temporarily. He didnít plan on dying there. Poor leadership on the part of Elemelech brought trouble upon him and his family.
The two sons married Moabitish women, which were not of the Jewish faith. They worshipped strange gods, and such a marriage was against the God of Heaven. Both sons died and Naomi was left alone in Moab. That is where sin and this world will leave you!
The old saying was true for Naomiís family- Sin will take you farther than you want to go, it will keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you have to pay.
There was a famine in the house of bread, but how much worse was it in Moab? When Christians think that serving God in His Church is hard to bear, just remember this, the world is far, far worse.
2. Coming home to God and His blessings (verses 6-8, 14-22).
1). God blessed His people with bread (vs. 6).
Naomi heard that God had blessed His people with bread. The news of Godís blessings spreads quickly! Subsequently, Naomi made the decision to return. This took courage and humility, but it was worth it. Beloved, may we never be too proud to humble yourselves before the Lord and return unto to His place of joy and blessings.
2). Naomi lost her testimony in Moab (vs. 8 and 15).
She encouraged her daughters-in-law to stay in the world. She encouraged them to go back to their heathen idol gods! It is a shame and a pity when we as Godís people go so far away from the Lord, that we even discourage others from coming to Him.
3). Naomi was bitter from afflictions.
Her friends and kinsmen didnít hardly know her (vs. 19). Living outside of Godís will and His place of blessings is hard on a child of God. It takes its toll on you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. Naomi was haggard and worn out. She looked like she aged 20 years in only 10. The Bible says that the way of the sinner is hard!
Her name meant pleasant, but she said ďcall me bitterĒ (vs. 20). She acknowledged her sins and wayward life (vs. 21), and she acknowledged that it was the Almighty (El Shaddia) Who afflicted her. It is a good thing when the chastened child of God is honest, and willing to confess their sins and wrong doings, and admits that their affliction was Godís just judgment upon their sins. In this way they are restored, and God gets the glory.
4). There is mercy for sinners and for back-slidden saints (vs. 16-18).
God was merciful to Ruth, a gentile sinner woman of Moab. God was merciful even in spite of Naomiís bad testimony. Arenít you glad the Lord doesnít depend on us in the salvation of His elect? Ruth was an unworthy woman, who didnít deserve the least of Godís blessings; yet God was merciful unto her.
Ruth represents any one of us, who are gentile sinners saved by the grace of God. Ruth was a recipient of Godís irresistible grace to have such a powerful commitment to Naomi and to her God. This was certainly not the old nature speaking. Her sister-in-law didnít cling to Naomi, but she went back to her gods. It is obvious that Ruth was a beneficiary of the sovereign grace of God in salvation.
God was also merciful to Naomi. He gave her repentance and the grace to come home to the house of bread. He gave her Ruth, who was a wonderful blessing in her life. Ruth was used of the Lord in Naomiís life to restore her inheritance, and bring her back into a place of blessing among her own people. Often times God uses other people to help and to restore and to bless his wayward children. May God help us to be Ruths.
Perhaps as a child of God you have strayed away from the Lord and His blessings. Perhaps your life has suffered trials and hardships as a result of sojourning in the world. May God help you, and give you the courage, and the humility, and the grace to come home to the place of fellowship and blessings of the Lord.
Perhaps you are like Ruth this morning. Perhaps you have never known the God of Heaven in the pardon and remission of your sins. Perhaps you were raised in an unbelieving home, that doesnít worship the God of Heaven, but worships the gods of this world. May God give you the grace and the faith this morning to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. To believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the tomb the third day for you!
If God is pleased to give you this grace and to save you soul, then you, too, may come home to the place of His blessings and favor. You may come home, and be a part of His Church through confessing Jesus as your Savior, and surrendering to scriptural baptism.
Whatever your case may be, if you have been away from the Lord this morning, may God give you the grace to come home! May God bless this message to each one of you this morning.