April 3, 2012
- By Ed Powell
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"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 Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons." Ruth 1:1
It's striking to me how God's Word says so much in so few words. "In the days when the judges ruled" has volumes to say of all that took place during those dark days when Israel turned from God to idolatry and sin. Israel would "reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end" (Psalm 107:27). Then they would "cry unto the Lord and He would bring them out of their distresses" (Psalm 107:6). There were repeated failures and departures from God. Time and again, God sent a famine as a customary method of judgment. There was no consistent commitment or dedication to God!
In these times of great need, Elimelech decided to leave Bethlehem-Judah and go to the country of Moab. Bethlehem-Judah means "house of bread and praise," which suggests God's presence and provision. Elimelech was a member of the tribe of Judah and one of God's chosen people. But now he made a choice to leave the wonderful house of the Father and to go to the "far country" of Moab, because of the famine in the land. The famine struck terror in the heart of Elimelech, but not unwavering trust in God. There is always trouble for the prodigal son in the "far country." Better to trust God in the famine, than to dwell in the far country with its food without God.
We are reminded of the prodigal son who, like Elimelech, left his father's house of plenty, took his inheritance, and dwelt in the "far country." It was there, away from God, they both had tears of sorrow instead of tears of joy in Bethlehem. The same thing took place with Abraham. God called him out of Ur of the Chaldees and instructed him to dwell in Canaan. Then we read, "There was a famine in the land; and Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there." Anytime we leave the place of blessing and stray from His presence, it is always a "downward path" that is never delightful, but is devastating, destructive, and ends in tragedy. God had given no instructions to Abraham to leave the Land of Promise, but the constant trek of multitudes passing before his tent, migrating to the land of Egypt, was too much for Abraham. He silently folded his tent, joined the crowd, and journeyed to Egypt.
It was in the land of Egypt, the "far country," that Abraham, like Elimelech and the Prodigal Son, acquired all his future trouble. He became wealthy and took an Egyptian maid, which contributed to his undoing. Notice that while Abraham dwelt in Egypt, God did not appear to him. When he returned, God immediately communicated with him.
All three of these men left the place of blessing to seek refuge in a "far country." All three saw the dilemma of their decision. Abraham and the Prodigal Son experienced the exceeding goodness and grace of God in returning to intimacy with the Father. How clear the message is to us! Dare to trust God "in" the time of need, "in" our difficulty, "in" our distress, and you will find Him ever faithful, Our Refuge, Our Hiding Place, and Our Sure Foundation. He will be OUR SUFFICIENCY FOR EVERY NEED, OUR EVER-PRESENT HELP!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?row=94&date=2012-04-03
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