In those days, there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his eyes. (Judges 21:25)
The Lord Rescues His People
16 Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers. 17 Yet Israel did not listen to the judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods. How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 So the Lord burned with anger against Israel. He said, “Because these people have violated my covenant, which I made with their ancestors, and have ignored my commands, 21 I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 22 I did this to test Israel—to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.” 23 That is why the Lord left those nations in place. He did not quickly drive them out or allow Joshua to conquer them all.</em
Here we have some more details a out the context of this story. The times of the JUDGES was a time before Israel had kings and God was there KING and yet the people did not follow their king but rather did what seemed right in their own eyes.
The book of Ruth was written about a time in Israelite history that we know from verse one was in the time of the Judges. It was, however written after David became King and was read and passed down as a way to honour the genealogy of King David.
It was known that a Son of David would become the Messiah and this story helped the Jewish people pass on the story to their children. The beauty of the time judges is that although there were some really dark times, God was at work and still orchestrating something beautiful not just with the individuals in the story but also with his people. The story of Deborah, Gideon and now Ruth are a beautiful way of seeing that God is at work not because of his people doing good or bad but in spite of his people doing evil. The stories in judges and Ruth are a constant reminder that God is gracious, incredibly patient and his providence in spite of what we do and what SEEMS to be right in our own eyes is a picture of what he is like with us. It is the story of grace and redemption. I enjoy reading the book of Judges because you can see so much darkness yet feel overwhelmed by God’s love for his people and his willingness to keep following his plan.
The times of the judges helps me feel compassion for Elimilech because everyone was in the same boat and everyone else was doing just what he did: Making decisions that seemed right to them but God doesn’t really factor into it. I have a feeling that if we were in the same predicament as Elimilech and given an opportunity to move away..we may well have made the same decision but this story makes me think twice and consider that maybe that isn’t the option I should be considering. Maybe ‘GOD is KING.’ Should be the real story.
The beauty of Ruth’s story is that in sprite of this God takes a bad personal decision on the part of Elimilech and weaves his grace into it and once again we get to read/ hear a story of salvation and redemption.
When I do what seems right but ends up being completely wrong, God can take the outcomes and weave them back into his story of redemption. the negative of Elimilech’s story is that he never got to see the outcome and the way. God wove his story into the future of Israel. What we know of Elimilech is that he simply made a decision that seems right but in the end it lead to he death. his story is not one of faith and hope and courage but rather one that lead to grief and trauma in his family. imagine if he had turned to God in a time of famine and a time when no one else was seeking a God…but he didn’t.
I want to allow his story to speak to me. Will I simply do what seems right when circumstances are hard or will I turn to God and seek him.
I don’t want to take advantage if this grace because even though it is a story of redemption …it comes with sever consequences, sadness, bitterness and grief.