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 Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
The book of Ruth is another good book to read. As…of course everything else in the Bible. The story of Ruth is a story of love, devotion, faithfulness, trust and redemption. The story of Ruth can teach us many things, especially the value of trusting God in our circumstance. This afternoon we will look into a sinful choice a husband made, which came with serious consequences that involved the whole family. I Recommend that you read the book of Ruth in order to get the full story.
It is said that "decisions determine destiny". Your life tomorrow will be the direct result of the decisions you make today. There will be consequences for each and every one of those decisions. These consequences may not be immediate, but they are inevitable, they will come.
If you choose to spend more money than you take in, eventually you will go bankrupt. If you choose to lazy at work, eventually you will find yourself unemployed. If you choose to eat too much, you will gain weight. If you choose to neglect your spouse, it may cost you your marriage. In the spiritual realm choices have eternal consequences. When our choices are sinful... there will be severe consequences! Just ask Noah, David, Samson, Elijah, The Children of Israel, The Apostles, and many, many others!
The book of Ruth tells us about the choices and consequences in the actions of a man named Elimelech and the impact that those choices had on his family. There was a famine in the land and he chose to take matters into his own hands instead of trusting God. His decision brought about a downward spiral of events that impacted each member of his family. There are many great truths to be found in the Book of Ruth and in the first 5 verses we will see a great lesson concerning people who choose to walk away from God. We can all relate with, “The Choices We Make”.
Elimelech's story illustrates the fact that "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 far more than you want to pay". Let's walk through this portion of scripture and see the severe consequences of “The Choices We Make”.
Sometimes people know what is right…but they consciously choose to do what is wrong. This was true for Elimelech and unfortunately it is sometimes true in our lives as well. Let's take a moment and consider… The sinful choices that we make!
Why is it that people who belong to God can still make choices that are sinful? Unfortunately, there are many answers to this question. The reason for Elimelech’s sinful choice…
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 Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
There was "a famine in the land." A famine is a shortage of food, lack of resources. Verse 1 says that these events took place during the time of the Judges. (Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”)
This speaks of a time of lawlessness, idolatry, false religion, theft, drunkenness, homosexuality, sexual perversion, violence, and division. That sounds like a description of the times that we live in now! We live in a time when men and women “do what is right in their own eyes”. In our time…it is alright to live together without being married, it is ok to commit fornication and adultery, men can marry men and women can marry women. It is ok to get drunk and “have a good time…it is ok to partake in illegal drugs. Keep in mind, that anything mind altering is a form of sorcery in the Bible. In our time, it is ok to kill unborn babies. Though many think that it is perfectly fine to do these things, GOD SAYS THAT THEY ARE SIN and there are severe consequences for sinful choices.
Several times in the Bible, when God's people turned from Him, He would send a famine to their land as a means of discipline. Elimelech and his family were in the midst of one of those times of famine. As a result, Elimelech decided to take matters into his own hands. He chose to leave "Bethlehem-Judah" for the country of Moab. Bethlehem means “house of bread” and Judah means “praise.” Psalms 108:9 God described Moab as His "washpot". The idea here is that Moab was like a pot that was used to wash feet in. God is simply saying that Moab is a filthy place!
Even though there was a famine in Bethlehem, Elimelech should have stayed. This was the place that God had designed for Elimelech and his family. If he had remained, God would have taken care of them all. The Book of Ruth tells us about a close relative of Elimelech’s named Boaz. Boaz faced the same famine that Elimelech was facing and was sustained by the Lord. But trouble came and Elimelech left Bethlehem-Judah for Moab. Moab was located just across the Jordan River, east of the Promised Land. It was inhabited by people who worshiped pagan gods.
So…God did not want them there.
Elimelech did not take time to think about all that he would be leaving behind. In Bethlehem-Judah he could worship at the Temple, he could present his offerings to the Lord and he could keep the feasts that were commanded by the Law. In Moab he and his family were totally isolated from everything related to God. Elimelech took his family away from the things of the Lord and brought them into the midst of wickedness and evil.
When we face times of difficulty we often make decisions without consulting God. Sometimes we purposely… disobey God and go our own way. You may have faced a time of trouble and as a result you have walked away from God. Because of that decision you are now dwelling in a place of wickedness. You are far away from the things of God. I must warn you that there are severe consequences for sinful choices!
Do we even realize that our choices have an impact on those closest to us (Family) That was certainly the case for Elimelech, his sin had a devastating impact on his entire family. Notice if you will, the effect of his sinful choice….
The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.
“Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah”, meaning…a citizen of Ephratah, the old name of Bethlehem, or Bethlehem-Judah. So... from what we had just read, he brought along his family, with his sinful decision.
Elimelech had a wife named Naomi and they had two sons named Mahlon and Chilion. If you had asked Elimelech he would have told you that he made this move in order to help his family. We can’t really look down on the decision that he made. The land was in famine, he was worried about the welfare of his family. Any father would have made the same decision. His mistake was “disobedience”, he took matters into his own hands. The same thing can happen to us, if we…willfully disobey His commands, or make a decision without seeking His will. His choices had a devastating impact on his family. By the time the story is over Elimelech will be dead, Mahlon will be dead, Chilion will be dead! and Naomi will be devastated!
Things got rough and this man made a choice to flee the place that God had given him. He chose to go to a wretched land filled with pagans, wickedness and idol worship! He subjected his family to things that he should have been protecting them from!
If you are here today…you have professed faith in God, then you faced a period of difficulty, as a result you abandoned God and you have taken your family with that decision. You made a choice to flee the place that God put you in. You chose to go your own way and now you find yourself back in the world and away from God. Because of this you are subjecting your family to the very things that you should be protecting them from!
You may find that the consequences to sin are far greater than you had ever imagined. There are several truths concerning the consequences of sin that are revealed in this text. Notice that:
v2b went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.
So…by staying in Moab, where God did not want them to be, this was the result. This family went from Bethlehem-Judah (the house of bread & praise) to Moab, a pagan land of wickedness. Elimelech likely intended to wait out the famine and then head back to Bethlehem-Judah. Though it seems he planned on a short stay in Moab but, v2 says that they “remained there”. Again…not where God wanted them to be.
Many have walked away from the Lord. They took matters into their own hands and instead of making things better, things got much worse. That is exactly what Elimelech did! The word "remained" in verse 2 literally means "to exist or to become." Elimelech's family became like the Moabites and if you "remain"…. to remain out in the world you will become more and more like the world!
But what did Jesus say about those that belongs to Him…
19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
James 4:4 (NIV)
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
You and I know that we need the Lord, we need to remain where He wants us be… to do what He has commanded us to do. If you have slipped off track, return to the Lord before it’s too late. Don’t remain in a place where God doesn’t want you to be. Each day you get farther and farther away from the Lord. You are learning the hard way that sin will take you farther than you want to go, and the consequences are severe.
Not only will sin take you farther than you want to go, we also see that, sin will keep you longer than you would want to stay…
Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years.
Elimelech took his family to Moab… then he died. Now his family is left to pick up the pieces without him. His sons, already immersed into the wicked culture of Moab by now, chose to marry women from Moab. This was a direct violation of the Mosaic Law. These men dwelled in the land of Moab for 10 years! This means that they were immersed in wickedness for the better part of a decade.
IF we are TRULY saved, the Holy Spirit will let us know when we begin to drift away from God. The Holy Spirit will convict you of your sins and reveal to you that you need to return to the Father! You also know that you need to do something about it. And I have no doubt that some of you here today have every intention of making things right...eventually! Let me encourage you to take those steps to get back to God today, especially…since we will be partaking in the Lords Supper, because if you don't there will be a price to pay.
You see, not only will sin take you farther than you want to go, and keep you longer than you want to stay...sin will cost you more than you would like to pay…
Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
Elimelech, Mahlon & Chilion all died and now Naomi is devastated. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were left desolate. In that society, the poorest of the poor were widows with no children to care for them. These women were left with nothing but desolation, discouragement and defeat. The consequences that Naomi had to endure were severe. Sadly, this devastating situation can all be traced back to one sinful choice that her husband made. And that one sinful choice bread another and another and another.
You will notice that Elimelech didn't jump right into grave sin. We are not told that he worshipped idols. He didn't get involved in adultery. He wasn't a thief or a murderer. It seems that he was a loving family man who wanted to provide for his wife and children. But the problem was that he was willing to walk away from God to do it.
Elimelech was a man whose name means "God is my King" but he did not trust God to protect and provide for him in the midst of troubling time. So, he took matters into his own hands. He did what was right in his own sight and the consequences of his rebellion were severe!
One of the saddest parts of this story is when you realize how simple the solution to his problem was. All Elimelech had to do was turn around and go back to "the house of praise" (Bethlehem). For those who have made a decision similar to Elimelech, that is the answer for you as well. If you have walked away from the Lord, simply turn around (repent) and return to the One who loves you, gave His life for you. (Jesus)
Church…nobody in here can live a perfect life. That is why we will always need Jesus. I don’t know your circumstances right now, but I do know that He (Jesus) does. If you are in a place of “Moab”, in your life…let this message be a guide and a lesson for you. Before we take matters into our own hands…regardless that we may think it’s right, it may not be what God wants for us. And again…the consequences may be severe! These are the result of, “The Choices We Make”.
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.