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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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.  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. And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.  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.  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."  Ruth 1:1-5

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

THERE ARE 20 LESSONS IN THIS VERSE-BY-VERSE BIBLE STUDY SERIES.

 

LESSON 1:

The Lord has  laid a "text" on my heart today that I must study!

It's the opening paragraph of the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament.

It indeed tells a sad story.

However over the week-end I learned something "new" about this Passage of Scripture, and I MUST tell you about it!

First of all, let me "print" it here for  you.

"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.  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.  And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.  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.  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."  Ruth 1:1-5

This Bible account opens during the days of the "judges."

The Book of Judges is one of the "darkest" books of the Bible!  Such confusion reigns!  Wickedness everywhere!  In fact, the "key" description of that terrible time is this:  "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."  Judges 17:6 and 21:25

That's when our "Ruth Story" occurs!

Elimelech left Bethlehem while one of the judges ruled Israel.

He too "did that which was right in his own eyes!"

And what did his little decision cost him?

His life!

His two sons!

His reputation!

And no telling what in eternal consequences!

All because he fell "victim" to the spirit of the times!

Listen to me today.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."  Proverbs 14:12

Elimelech's life proves that!

Instead of following our own "ways" ... walk in God's Way.  It is so much "better!"

Solomon put it this way in Proverbs 3:5-6.  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  

Friend, don't fall into the deceptive philosophy of the age in which we live!

That's what "got" Elimelech.

God could have fed him and his family ... even in Bethlehem, which indeed means "house of bread!"  Even during a famine!

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  1st John 2:15

                                                                                     Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

I guess I'd not noticed before.

Here's how the Book of Judges ends.  Judges 21:25 --- "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

"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."  And that's the next verse in our Bible! Ruth 1:1!

Look how the Holy Spirit "links" those two facts!

(Leaping over Book divisions to do so!)

Elimelech's decision can easily be defended ... with purely human reasoning!

"Providing for his family!"

"Not sitting around waiting to die!"

"At least he did something!"

"Real leadership!"

But according to our two verses this morning, all of the above are wrong assessments of the situation!

He should have stayed faithful right where God had him!  (Even if they went a little hungry and lost weight ... what lessons about God's punishment for sin could have been learned!  God chastens His Own children, you know!)

Bethlehem is a city that by name means "house of bread!"

"Beth" = house and "lechem" = bread or food!

"Judah" means praise!

Elimelech left the "house of bread" and the land of "praise!"  Bethlehem was in the tribal area belonging to Judah!

DO NOT LEAVE THE PLACE GOD PUT YOU ... AT LEAST NOT WITHOUT DIRECT LEADING FROM THE LORD!

God's Will for your life has a geographical dimension also!

Oh, had Elimelech only lived up to the meaning of his name!  "God is my King!" ("El" = The Strong God!  "Eli" = my God! And "melech" = king!)

I'll guarantee you that one "certain man" who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho regretted it!  He fell among thieves and was left half-dead!  Wrong PLACE at wrong time!  (Luke 10:30)

And Paul certainly should have stayed out of Jerusalem that last time ... just like many preachers and Christians had asked him to do!  (Not even counting the Lord!)

And many a Preacher has left a place of service outside God's Will too!

Not only must we be WHAT He wants us to be ... but also WHERE He wants us to be!

Remember what Abraham's servant said after God had led him to the right Bride for Isaac.  "I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren." Genesis 24:27

If you are where God wants you ... don't leave!

Even if things get a little unpleasant!

(They will!)

Let your "green lights" all come from the Lord!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

The man's name was Elimelech.

He was a Jew.

We learn of him in the Old Testament Book of Ruth.

He lived in Bethlehem Ephrath (Genesis 35:19), in the territory belonging to Judah.

We are told that a "problem" came his way.

Simply stated:  "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."  Ruth 1:1

Notice the words:  "There was a famine in the land."

The noun used for "famine" is "raab" in Hebrew and means a time of great hunger or dearth.  The word dearth means "a scarcity that makes something dear."

This famine is what made Elimelech leave his God-given land and move to Moab, an exceedingly ungodly place!

Of course with this move he also took his family of one wife and two boys.

Now why would God allow a famine in His Land?

The first time this verb is used in the Bible (Genesis 12:10) a godly man makes the same mistake Elimelech made!  "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." And he no sooner got to Egypt (a picture of the "world") when he started "lying" about his wife!

The next Biblically recorded "famine" occurs in Genesis 26:1.  It affects Isaac ... and he leaves God's promised Land too!  And he got into sin as well!

I think the Scriptures are clear.

When problems come, even "famine," stay where you are ... until God says "go!" Don't sell our your God-given place of duty because hardships have come your way!

Besides, Deuteronomy 8:3 implies that when God allows "famine," He has some blessing planned that He can only send through the hunger!  "And he (the Lord) humbled thee (Israel, His people), and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Without that famine ... no manna might have come!

No learning of the Lesson ... "The Word of God alone can feed us!"

Additionally, God numerous times in the Bible tells His people that if they disobey Him ... He will chasten them ... often with "famine."  Let's read Deuteronomy 28:47-48.  "Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things."

The famine Elimelech faced was likely one of this nature, God's "chastening" Hand of discipline!

Even then ... don't run!

He "whips" us because He loves us!

Hebrews 12 explains this beautifully.  "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."  Hebrews 12:6

Yes, God has a Lesson in all His "famines!"  He is seeking to make us more humble and prayerful and godly and mature!  "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."  Hebrews 12:11

Wow!

Today we have glanced at God's Doctrine of Discipline!

At least enough to conclude this:  don't run!

Stay and learn ... from God's chastening (but protecting) Hand!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

I do not believe Christians always "plan" to do wrong!

Often our "intentions" are better than they appear!

For example, Elimelech in Ruth 1:1-2 did NOT plan to move to Moab and stay!

He only was going to be there "temporarily!"

This fact surfaces in the use of one key verb in our text.

"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."  Ruth 1:1

See the word "sojourn?"

It in Hebrew is "gur" and means to live temporarily in a place!  One Lexicon I use indicates this definition:  to dwell for a time!

This good man did not PLAN to stay in the place of sin!

It was simply a "short-cut" to a little food, drink and comfort!

After all, things were pretty hard over in God's Country!

But by the time we get to Ruth 1:2, something has happened!  "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."

Se the verb now!

They came into Moab ... and "continued" there!

This word indicates a much longer stay!

Often spiritually speaking ... "temporary" things become "permanent!"

Be careful, Christian friend!

What you might plan as "short-term" ... can become habitual!

Oh, the deceitfulness of sin!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

The Bible says this.

I shall give you its exact words.

"Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled ...."  Ruth 1:1

That is a recipe ("judges ruling") that led to spiritual disaster for Israel and the people of God!

There was no real leader in those days, no King, so a bunch of mediocre "judges" handled things!

Now don't misunderstand me.

The Bible does tell us that God was in control of the situation even back then, bad as it was!  However, when a nation drastically backslides against God ... He often gives them low caliber leaders!  He has done so again and again through human history.

Read where God says:  "For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah ... the mighty man, and the man of war, the (real) judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.  And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them."  (Isaiah 3:1-4)  The wise leaders are gone!  Inferiority reigns!

"As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."  (Isaiah 3:12)  The more the Nation sinned ... the more God gave them "children and women" to be their leaders!

And even their "preachers" were government appointed and wicked at heart! "After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places."  (1 Kings 13:33)  Naturally they wouldn't raise their voices against the "politically correct" establishment!

In was in such an environment that the Book of Ruth was written!

The "Judges" were ruling.

And some of them worshipped idols.

Others were immoral.

Some were liars.

Some were selfish.

Little wonder the protagonist (main character) in Ruth chapter 1 (a Jewish man from Bethlehem named Elimelech) made some of the unwise decisions he did!

Decisions that cost him his life ... and the lives of his two sons!

BUT what I see in Ruth 1:1, "judges ruling," has now become true in America.

We have sinned and sinned (perhaps irrevocably) as a nation.

Gone are leaders of strong godly moral fiber!

Women (physically) rule the land!

Children (mentally) sit on the benches of justice!

Judges, "activist" judges some now call them ... who basically deny God in every area of life ... "rule" the land!

You don't think so?

Who kicked the Bible out of our public schools?  Judges!

Who "legalized" abortion (murder of babies)?  Judges!

Who is approving more and more sexual perversion day by day?  Judges!

Who is removing the Ten Commandments from our land?  Judges!

Who will ultimately take "in God we trust" off our coinage?  Judges!

Who stopped prayers in public places?  Judges?

Who now kills innocent people?  Judges!

They have "legislating" everything just the opposite of what it should be ... and what it used to be!  "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"  (Isaiah 5:20)

Yes, the dark days of Judges and Ruth are about to repeat themselves.

And both situations (Israel's of old and ours of this day and hour) developed due to one thing:  God was forgotten ... and sin ran rampant!

Of course, we need not worry.

God knows the answer.

He severely judged Israel.  In fact, she's not over it yet.

And for sure ... He will soon judge America!

Then the "Righteous Judge" will be vindicated!  (That's what Paul calls the Lord in 2 Timothy 4:8!)

I suspect Bible reading will be allowed again then!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

The land of Moab.

That's where Elimelech took his family when the famine came to Israel!

The name alone tells us a lot!

It means (in Hebrew) "of father!"

The tribal originator, a little boy named Moab, was the product of the incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters after God so violently judged Sodom!  You can read about it in Genesis 19.

Now a child can't help his or her background, but God so hated this situation that He forbade a Moabite even entering into the congregation of the Lord for ten generations!  See Deuteronomy 23:3.

That information alone should have kept Abimelech from moving to Moab!

But in addition to the history of the Moabite people ... add their politics!  They hated Israel with a passion!  They even hired a soothsayer named Balaam to "curse" God's chosen people!  This animosity lasted for generations!  (In a way it's still going!)

That too should have been a pretty good "hint" to Abimelech!

But I am told this geographically.  One, from the fields outside town near Bethlehem, can look southeastward and see the green well-watered plains of Moab! Things just LOOKED better over there!  (Sounds like Lot choosing Sodom, doesn't it?)  Plenty of food!  Lots of water!  Of course sin abounded also ... but one "must" care for himself!

So Amimelech reasoned ... all the way to the graveyard!

Our lesson today:  Be careful where you live!

Be careful how you allow the influence of the world into your life and home!

It may cost you dearly!

God did not teach us to move in with them.  Rather to ... "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."  2 Corinthians 6:17

Add to that:  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  2 Corinthians 6:14

And ... "Abstain from all appearance of evil."  1 Thessalonians 5:22

The man of God condoning a wicked environment ... that never works!

And it's not about to start now!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

The Bible is filled with names!

And almost without exception they seem to have significant meaning!

In fact, God occasionally "changes" someone's name to better suit His purposes for them!

(Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Simon to Peter are three examples.)

Nearly every preacher will tell you that in Scripture these names are actually expressions of a person's character!

Peter, the stone!

Paul, small and humble!

John, gracious one!

A composite example of such "name significance" is found in the Book of Ruth!

The man who left Bethlehem (God's House of Bread) and went to Moab to find food later died!  (Hereafter the "name meanings" are in parenthesis.)

His name was Elimelech (God is my King), but he ruled his own life instead!  He seems to have died prematurely.

His wife's name was Naomi (Delightful, Pleasant) whose once blessed life became a horror ... only to be later doubly blessed by our Lord!

The man's two boys, Mahlon (Sick) and Chilion (Pining, Wasting away), true to their names ... died in a strange land, just like their Father!

See the significance of all these name "meanings?"

The two boys had married prior to their deaths.  Naomi's two daughters in law were named Orpah (Neck or Back) who turned her back on the family ... and Ruth (Friendship) who was loyal to the core!

It's almost as if their names were little "prophecies" of their coming lives!

Now ... when a liberal or a modernist or a Bible hater sees all this, he immediately cries "non-historical!"  Folks like that cannot believe such people ever really lived ... and especially cannot believe that their lives so precisely "fit" their names!

That crowd takes the Book of Ruth and calls it fiction!  They say it has been "editorialized" and bears no semblance to reality.

LET ME SAY THIS TODAY:

I accept the Bible Book of Ruth as FACT!

Our great God, Who created this whole universe, has no trouble with "little things" like names and events and world history!

I do believe Abimelech was a REAL man!  (Although one who hade a big mistake in moving from the House of Bread to the grain fields of the world!)

I understand each character in the Book of Ruth to be literal people, not made-up individuals!

Even Boaz, the hero of the story, has a name that's true to his life, meaning Fleetness.  He "quickly" supplies all that Ruth needs!

And just WHY is it that important?  Whether these names represent real people or just fictional characters?

Because Boaz and Ruth are the great Grandparents of David (King of Israel) who is a Type of Jesus the Christ!  Often, according to His humanity (not His deity), Jesus is called a son of David!

Without Ruth and Boaz, God would have had to devise some other way to bring Jesus into the world!

Now, see their importance?

And, if Jesus is REAL (which He is) ... those in His "earthly" line had to be real too!  And real they were!

What a dependable Bible we have!

Be sure and study the Word of God sometime today!

It's the Truth!

That's exactly what Daniel 10:21 calls the Bible:  "But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth."

Amen!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

A little word in Ruth 1:2 just might give us a critical "hint" about Elimelech's and Naomi's background.

It's the word "Ephrathite."

"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."  Ruth 1:2

The name itself means "fruitful," which is good.

However, two sources I researched have told me that an Ephrathite was one who had enjoyed a rather fine lifestyle!  One who was from a noble family and likely accustomed to wealth and ease!

Hard times just may have not "fit" into Abimelech's plans!

This could be why he moved away from Bethlehem ... while many others (if not most others) stayed!

Folks, sometimes we just love "ease" too much!

Amos specifically preached against such luxury:  "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria ... that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;  that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed." Amos 6:1, 4-7

Sometimes it is good for us to have "problems!"

They "toughen" us for the battles ahead!

Listen to the Psalmist:  "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."  Psalm 119:71

Of course, with an attitude like that ... one might even "welcome" troubles then they came!  "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" ... knowing that such trials will cause you to grow spiritually!  James 1:2

Wow!

Could his soft easy background have made Abimelech flee Bethlehem?

Here's what may be another "hint."

Look where he moved!

Moab!

An ease-loving money-minded society that had experienced (so far) little hardship in its national life!

Listen to Jeremiah:  "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed."  Jeremiah 48:11 just described Moab as a "comfortable" society!

I fear America has become such a luxury loving nation too!

Folks, do not make spiritual decisions based upon love of ease or love for the world or money or fame or any such thing!

Maybe we had best get back to heeding Paul's advice to young Timothy:  "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."  2 Timothy 2:3

That's amazing!

Soldiers of Christ, Attention!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

The protagonist (main character) of Ruth chapter 1 is a man named Abimelech.

He was obviously a believer in Jehovah God and belonged to the "chosen" people of Israel.

He even lived in a city of Judah named Bethlehem.

But once a famine came, he (taking his family with him) moved away from the people of God and the city of his inheritance, perhaps even turning his back on his faith!

Now the next thing we learn about him, having moved to the detestable (in the eyes of the Lord God) and severely wicked land of Moab, Abimelech died!

"And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons." Ruth 1:3

See, he suddenly died!

Without any mention of even a sickness!

Did God have anything to do with his death?  (Friend, God has something to do with everything!)

(Of course we have to leave open the possibility that perhaps he died of natural causes, but that information is just NOT obvious in the text!)

I believe that Elimelech's disobedience just kept on compounding and growing and building until God just had ... "enough!"

There are times, especially with His Own Children, that God steps in and "disciplines" ... just like an earthly father with his kids!

If we could put New Testament vocabulary into this Old Testament situation (something one cannot always do I realize), we might say that Abimelech committed "the sin unto death!"

My "proof" verse?

1st John 5:16 --- "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."

Now lest we get "carried away" with this fact, the very next verse cautions us: "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death."

The fact is simply this.  Once one becomes the Lord's (by faith in Jesus) ... he is "in the family,"  God's family!

Now God the Father ... as His children grow and mature ... guides them and chastens them and disciplines them and "child-trains" them as need be!

Listen.

"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him."

"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"

"But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."

Remembering "That He (God chastens us) for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness."

And ... "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

This series of verses is taken from Hebrews 12.

It sure sounds to me like Elimelech belonged to the Lord!

And if a Christian sins and sins and sins ... NOT responding to the Lord's chastening Hand ... things get tougher and rougher until finally DEATH can ensue!

That's the "sin unto death" I believe.

God just takes His rebelling child on to heaven ... prematurely!

In Paul's great 1st Corinthians 5:5 wording:  "For the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Now let me try to give you some examples of this "sin unto death!"

Christians whom God "called home" early!

Moses!  (Due to his sin!)

Ananias and Sapphira!  (Due to their lies!)

Certain Corinthians! (Due to their misbehavior and irreverence at the Lord's Table!)  "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." 1st Corinthians 11:30  (The word "sleep" here means death!)

Probably we need to include Elimelech's two sons, Mahlon and Chilion too!  "And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."   Ruth 1:5

And there are others too.

Again, let me say that some preachers and commentators do NOT believe Abimelech committed any such sin.

But it sure looks to me like this:  As soon as he left Bethlehem (God's House Of Bread) things rapidly began going downhill!

I know there's a famine in the land.

But which is better?

Physical hunger or spiritual disaster?

Ask the dear Lord Jesus!

His first temptation from the devil in the wilderness was all about this very subject.

"Jesus ... don't wait on your Father to feed you.  It's been forty days now!  Take matters into your own hands!  Turn this stone into bread!  Hurry!"   ... So said Satan!

And Jesus, staying hungry a while longer, responded:  "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  Matthew 4:4

Amen!

Christians, living for our Lord is serious business!

"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  1st Corinthians 6:20

Reverently I ask to to think about it!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

All the way through this opening paragraph of Ruth ... the one person who suffers again and again is the lady named Naomi!  The wife of Abimelech!

Watch.

"And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons."  Ruth 1:3

Then later, upon the death of her two adult sons,  "And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."  Ruth 1:5

See!

It was Abimelech's short-sightedness and unbelief that got them into this bad situation ... but Naomi suffered!

The suffering at first made her bitter too!  In Ruth 1:20 she said:  "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me."

The lady whose name meant "Delight" ... now sadly embittered!

Hear me!

Sin robs one of peace and happiness and joy!

The husband sinned.  The wife suffered!

How often that is the story!

Daddy, husband, sir ... be careful how you live!

Live to please and glorify your Lord above!

Seek Him first with all your heart!

And as you do THAT ... you will indirectly bless your wife and family beyond measure!

However, the obverse is true also.  If a Daddy or Husband sins (especially repeatedly) ... consequences of that rebellion against God (the definition of sin) will fall upon his family!

I hear much today about what the world calls "victimless crimes."  There are no such things!

Neither are there victimless sins!

Dad, in sinfully getting what YOU want ... your wife and children well may suffer later!

Be careful!

"And Naomi was left alone!"

There are three reasons every truly Christian man should want to live for God:

1.  Foremostly, to glorify the One Who saved you, the Lord Jesus Christ!

2. Secondly, for your family (then others in an ever widening circle) to enjoy God's "best" in their lives!

3. Lastly, for yourself!  God will bless you if you love Him and serve Him diligently!

Those 3 "reasons" spell JOY!   Jesus, Others, then You!

And I'll just add one more verse ... especially for any "doubters" today ... "I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me!"  Exodus 20:5 but repeated in Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18 and Deuteronomy 5:9!

If you love your family ... live for Jesus!

"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace."  Psalm 144:12

That ... "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table."  Psalm 128:3

In fact, as I close, read the entire 128th Psalm for a summary of God's blessings upon the family of the righteous man!

Apart from the Grace of God ...Elimelech's sin would have destroyed his family for sure!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11:

If someone who once believed the Bible, the Bible as the pure Word of God ... ever departs from that belief ... the consequences will be terrible!

There's no telling where that "downhill slide" will end!

That's "departing from The Faith" in its truest sense!

In a way I believe that's what Abimelech (Ruth 1:1-2) did!

He, living in Bethlehem, decided to move on ... even to dwell in a godless wicked land that hated the God of Israel.

Now I know I'm going to be using "Bethelehem" (a city near Jerusalem) in a symbolic manner.  It is of course a real village, but the meaning of its name is not accidental, "the house of bread!"

I am today taking that to be a picture of the Bible, the Word of God!  (Get it?  The House of Bread!)

As you know, the Bible again and again is compared to "food," food that helps us Believers grow in Christ.

The Bible is "milk" to us in 1st Peter 2:2.

It is "honey" in Psalm 19:10.

It is "meat" in Hebrews 5:12.

It certainly is edible in a number of passages.  "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."  Jeremiah 15:16

But ... back to Elimelech, who left God's House of Bread ... the "food" there just no longer being sufficient ... and went into the world for its "better things!" (Moab is certainly a type of the world!)

His decision certainly cost him dearly.

Tragedy, death, sorrow, loss of reputation and testimony ... and so much more!

My point today is just this.

Stay with God's appointed means of feeding you!

Stick with the Word of God!

Live in God's "House of Bread," the Bible!

But preacher, it does not excite me any more (or feed me or enlighten me or encourage me)!

I'm "moving on" to other things!

No!

You are making the same mistake Abimelech made!

"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.  And the name of the man was Elimelech."  Ruth 1:1-2a

NEVER depart from the land of the Word!

NEVER minimize the Bible!

NEVER forsake The Faith!  (With the article "The" attached, Bible Faith is describing the Word of God, our blessed Book of Truth!)

But Brother Bagwell, I'm in a spiritual "dry place" right now.  I think I'll go on and become a news addict or a reader of novels or a television watcher!

Friend, you would spiritually be leaving Bethlehem ... and it's an unwise thing to do!

Do like Boaz did in that little Book we're studying (Ruth) ... STAY in the city, the city that means "House of Bread!"

If the "food" gets "light" occasionally ... God is just showing us something deeper that we've ever seen before!  (All lessons are not learned with the same ease!)

With the Lord's help, I plan to remain faithful to my precious old Bible!  Like Paul I believe:  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  2nd Timothy 3:16-17

Go to Church today.

Listen more intently than ever to the Preacher as he feeds you from the great Table of Grace, God's infallible Word!

Do NOT be numbered among the group of whom Paul said:  "In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."  See, the downhill "slide" has already begun!  Depart from the faith (the Word of God) ... and watch out!

Lover of God's Word ... don't move!

Live in the Book!

All the great men and women of God have done so through the ages!

Be counted among the faithful!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12:

In our last Lesson I suggested to you that Bethlehem (meaning "House of Bread") just might be a "picture" or a "symbol" of the Word of God!

The Bible truly is our meat and our drink spiritually!

Listen to godly Job as he tells us:  "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."  Job 23:12

I thought it might be wise to look back over the Bible history of Bethlehem and see if any "hints" existed there ... suggesting the city to be an emblem of the Scriptures!

I'll just list three or four of them:

First I remembered that's where Jesus was born!  (Matthew 2:1,5)  That's Jesus Who IS the Bread of Life!  And where do we learn of this Virgin Birth?  In the Word of God!

And there surely must have been something about the water in Bethlehem too! David one day longed for a drink of it ... so much so that three of his "mighty men" broke through  the battle lines to get him some!  And you know that water is a picture of the salvation we have in Jesus.  A salvation of which we learn in the pages of God's Book, the Bible!  (2 Samuel 23:14-16)

And guess where King David, man after God's Own heart, was first anointed? Bethlehem! (1 Samuel 16:4 then 12-13)  And what Book exalts Jesus, the greater Son of David? Why, the Word of God!

And even more in our context here, where did Ruth meet Boaz (a type of the church and Christ Jesus her Lord)?  In Bethlehem of course!  And where do we learn the Truth of that Bridegroom/Bride relationship?  In the Word again!

(Put all four of these together and you have a "hint" of God the Son (Virgin Birth), God the Holy Spirit (springs of water), God the Father (whose Heart David resembled in his greater days) and the Christ/Church union (the purpose of our Triune God's work on earth)!

Now I've just typed a sentence that summarizes the whole scope of God's written word!

It sure looks to me like Bethlehem is often associated with Truth ... the Truth we glean only from Scripture!

I have preached that Elimelech's leaving Bethlehem literally is parallel to a Christian leaving the Word of God spiritually!  Both moves are big mistakes!

Dear believing friend, stay with the Word!

To leave it would be the worst mistake you ever made!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 13:

Some time ago I learned of a practicing psychologist in a distant state who has dedicated her practice to helping people who want to leave old-fashioned Bible-believing "fundamentalism!"

She was reared in a strictly "Christian" home and has rebelled against all those "rules!"

As bad as all that is ... this individual is NOT THE FIRST professing Believer who has "departed" from God's will and God's way!

On the "heavy" end of the scale ... Demas did!

On the "light" end ... John Mark, who later got everything back in order!

In the Old Testament add Cain, Esau, Solomon and many of the later Kings of Judah too!

But today I especially want to mention a man who simply "left" his homeland and possessions and style of life ... many would say with good reason, a famine had gripped the land ... and moved to the most ungodly place he could find!

His name is Abimelech.  He is the husband of Naomi and the father of Mahlon and Chilion.

He left Bethlehem Judah (meaning God's House Of Bread in the Land Of Praise) and went to Moab (meaning I am my Grandfather's child) to live!

This is a classic case of selling out to the world!

Get the pattern:

Abimelech left the inheritance God gave him ... moved to sin city ... and soon died!  As did his 2 sons!  He left a widow who was soon without any visible means of support!

Wouldn't you agree with me that for our main character here ... that move led to disaster?

If you're not quite convinced ... let me show you two more stories that I think will "prove" my point!

I would have missed this had it not been for an observant Bible Teacher one day.

The Text that relates Abimelech's story is found in Ruth 1:1-5.  That's a paragraph of Scripture that opens with the word "now!"  Only a few Bible Books do that ... and all use that literary "tool" to show "linkage" to the previous Scripture (even though in another Book).  This is called studying the "context" of a passage.

Interestingly, the two previous Bible "accounts" or true "stories" (ending the Book of Judges) are also about people who left Bethlehem ... and met disaster!

God is telling us something!

Three times in a row (Judges 17-18 ... then Judges 19-21 ... then Ruth 1:1-5) ... Heaven illustrates for us all:  STAY where God's Bread is found!  Stay there even during the hard times!  Do not leave the land of Praise and the House of Bread for any reason!

As a Christian you MUST have the Bread God provides (the Word of God) on a daily basis!

Christian don't let anything take the place of the Bible (Bread) in your life!

Live it!  Study it!  Memorize it!  Meditate in it!  Obey it!  Live it!  Speak of it! Teach it to your family and other loved ones!  Honor it as the written Word that tells you of Jesus, the Living Word!

The next two Lessons in this Ruth 1 Bible Study Series will analyze those two situations in Judges.  Times when others left Bethlehem ... and got into big trouble

The Psalmist sure sets us a good example in Psalm 119:147 --- "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in Thy Word."  Before dawn every day ... he was "in the Word of God!"

Good idea!

That will keep you in "Bethlehem!"

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 14:

The story is told in the Book of Judges, near the end.  Chapters 17 and 18 give us the terrible details.

A young man lived in Bethlehem.  "And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there."  He lived in Bethlehem according to this verse from Judges 17:7.

BUT (and here's the "key") he moved away (just like Abimelech did)!

"And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed."  Judges 17:8

This Micah was a thief and an idolater and a whole lot more!

So ... the young Levite, as soon as he left God's House of Bread (Bethlehem) linked up with a scoundrel!  Read Judges 17:1-6.

Next he allowed himself to be "hired" as Micah's "priest!"  Now he's a "hireling!" Priest for sale!

Soon he found himself "hired" (more money, better opportunity, sweeter benefits) by a bunch of renegade Danites (Jews from the Tribe of Dan).

Then he participated (by assent, by compromise, by approval, by refusing to rebuke sin) in outright murder! 

This young Levite (now we know his name "Jonathan" ... Judges 18:30) left Bethlehem ... and slid downward in a hurry! 

Now he's the "preacher" for a group of hateful murderous lying stealing people who sin incessantly ... mixing Jehovah worship with the corrupt idolatrous practices of the wicked who lived nearby!

And by Judges 18:30 we have learned that Jonathan has sons ... who've followed in his unfaithful ways (as did Abimelech)!

Daddy, live for God!  Do so even for your children's sakes!

They WILL follow in your steps!

Another tragedy ... brought on by leaving Bethlehem!

Jonathan should simply have STAYED in Bethlehem!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 15:

The other sad account of someone leaving Bethlehem is found in Judges 19-21.

This incident deals with a young woman.

She had led an immoral life, but as our story opens, she has returned to Bethlehem, the home of her father (so her home too)!  She is identified as "a concubine out of Bethlehem-Judah."  Judges 19:1

She, having left her cruel backslidden husband, has again been living in Bethlehem for four months now, having no doubt been raised there from infancy. 

Granted, she has been immoral, but has returned to the safety of her father's house.

Her husband comes to get her, to take her away.

The father is reluctant.

The girl needs to stay in Bethlehem!

He (the father) is able to delay the departure for three full days!  JUdges 19:4 says the father "retained" them!  The Hebrew verb, "chazaq," means to prevail or to be strong against someone!

Then he persuaded the couple to stay in Bethlehem another night (the 4th)!

Dad is obviously fearful of the girl leaving town!

But the young husband will hear no more.  He leaves with his wife late that fifth day!

Big mistake ... at least for her!

Now watch what happens as soon as she leaves her home town, her "House of Bread!"  A picture of someone leaving the Word of God!

1. At first they couldn't find a place to stay!  (Minor problem!)  Judges 19:15

2. Next they stayed with a stranger!  (Bigger problem!)  Judges 19:20-21

3. During the night the house was attacked by some sexual perverts who "wanted" the man in an obviously wicked (sensual) way!  Judges 19:22

4. The young husband, not wanting to be molested by that crowd, sent (forced) his young wife (who had just left Bethlehem) out to them!  "But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go."  Judges 19:25

5.  They so abused her ... she died!  Judges 19:27

Leaving Bethlehem has again led to sorrow and tragedy ... and death!  As it has in the cases of Abimelech (Ruth 1) and Jonathan (Judges 17-18, the death of hundreds really, the population of a whole city)!

6. Next this disloyal low-down husband cuts the dead body of his wife into 12 pieces!  Then he sent a piece of her to each of the 12 Tribes of Israel!  "And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel."  Judges 19:29

7. As a result of that came civil war in Israel, leading to thousands of other deaths, including the near-extinction of one of the Tribes of Israel, the Benjamites.

What a bad situation has developed ... largely because one young lady did not STAY in Bethlehem!

I've got enough information.  I shall (with God's help) stay in my "Bethlehem!"  In my "House of Bread!"  In my Bible!

Friend, DO NOT ... I repeat DO NOT ... leave God's Word to do anything!  There is no Book like it! 

To depart from God's Bread ... is to take a giant step ... downward!

Such an action always leads to sorrow!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 16:

It is surprising how often the devil uses "food" to lead us astray!

In reality he tried that with Jesus!

"And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."   Matthew 4:3

Now it would have been no sin for Jesus to eat out there in that wilderness ... had His Father provided the meal!

But Jesus absolutely refused to listen to Satan and "get ahead" of God's Will!

Iíve heard of "short-cake," but the devil offered Jesus a serving of "short-cut" that day!  "Don't wait on God to meet your needs ... go ahead, do it Yourself! After all, You're the Son of God!  Take matters into your Own Hands!  Surely you are hungry!  How long has it been since you've eaten, Jesus?  You look a little pale," the liar (devil) might have said!

But Jesus was NOT going to let something like a meal of bread (which offers only temporary nourishment anyway) detour Him from pleasing His Father!

No sir!  Not food!

But when Abimelech (of Ruth chapter 1 fame) faced the same decision ... the scarcity of food in Bethlehem ... he yielded to the tempter and moved out of town ... right into the jaws of the most wicked nation in their part of the world, Moab!  Now, remember, Bethlehem means:  House Of Bread!

He failed ... over food!

I started to write that Abimelech left Bethlehem because there was NO food, but that would have been wrong!  Hundreds of faithful folks did NOT leave town during that "famine!"  People like Boaz!  They stayed ... and Scripture mentions nothing about them being extra "slim" either!  And, if you recall, Boaz was a relative to Abimelech and his family!  Had they gone to Him in chapter 1 (before Moab instead of after) ... 3 less funerals might have occurred!  Boaz in the Book of Ruth is a Type of the Lord Jesus Christ!  If we would only go to Him (our Saviour and Lord) sooner ... rather than later, what problems we would avert!

Food misled Abimelech!

But not Boaz!

I am thinking of others who got into spiritual trouble over "food" also!

Esau comes to mind!  Hebrews 12:16 briefly talks about:  "Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."  He actually "sold out" for one meal of soup!

Even the godly Isaac loved "food" too much!  It was his "taste buds" that had propelled Esau to favorite son status!  Genesis 25:28 explains:  "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." What tragedy this began!

Samson loved food ("honey") so much he violated his Nazarite Vow to reach into the carcase of a DEAD lion ... simple to get "dessert!"  Read with me Judges 14:9 --- "And he (Samson) took thereof (honey) in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion."  Nazarites could not touch anything dead (the lion)!  I guess by then one more act of disobedience no longer mattered to Samson!

But, again, the culprit is food!

Even in the New Testament Church it happened!  Folks in Corinth wanted "meat" so badly, they were willing to eat that which had previously been sacrificed to idols, even if it meant "hurting" younger and weaker brothers in Christ who could not (in good conscience) eat such food!  Paul wisely taught them:  "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."  1st Corinthians 8:13

Here's the point of today's Lesson ... We can't let lesser needs overrun the greatest need in our lives! 

Certainly food, clothing and shelter are critically important ... but not as important as being right with God!

And when it comes to certain food "cravings," we will just have to conquer that little matter with the help of the Holy Spirit of God!

Here's how Jesus did so back that the time of His wilderness Temptation:  He said to the devil ... "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4:4)  I don't know all that means ... but I do know the Lord didn't eat then!  He waited on His Father!  By the way, Matthew 4:11 (only 7 verses later) tells us:  "Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."  Here's what I think: When those angels arrived they prepared Him food!  (Angel food?)  God did not fail His darling Son that day!

As Jesus just taught us, there are some things more important than food itself!

And one of them is ... "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!"  That's another way of saying ... "the Bible!"

Abimelech turned away from the divine House of Bread ... and it cost him dearly!

Beloved, do not forsake God's Word!

Carefully watch your cravings!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 17:

The Bible Book of Ruth has many "surprises!"

One of which is the plain fact that even after their Dad had died ... likely because he was way out of God's Will ... Mahlon and Chilion still married (also out of God's Will) heathen women!

"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."  Ruth 1:4

Yes, I know Ruth the Moabitess is an ancestress of Jesus ... in the godly line ... but only because of the marvellous grace of God!  (As is true for each of us too!)  But that fact does not justify these boys marrying unbelievers in disobedience to God's perfect Word!

It just seems that Abimelech (their Father) did NOT teach and adhere to a strong standard of "separation" in their home!

He apparently saw (with the slightest provocation) no problem in moving to a godless country and setting up shop!

Therefore his sons would likely see no problem in marrying those young ladies of that wicked nation either!

Like Father ... like sons!

The same mistake is being made yet today!

We ignore these promises to our peril ... and to the detriment of our children:

2 Corinthians 6:14 --- "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

2 Corinthians 6:17 --- "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."

1 Thessalonians 5:22 --- "Abstain from all appearance of evil."

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."  Ephesians 5:11-12

I guess if one is wrong on his theology (which Abimelech was) ... he'll be wrong on everything else too!

If you are wrong about the "sin" issue ... the "marriage" issue does not have much of a chance either!

To this day (and I'm almost 59 years old) I remember clearly my Daddy saying, "Boys we will NOT attend Hollywood Movies!  They are filthy and no place for a Christian to be!"  And attend we did NOT! 

I recall one night on the television (a little old black and white set) some woman was shown immodestly dressed!  Little eyes were watching!  My Dad exploded!  "Not in this house!"  Off went the television!  Dad has some standards he would uphold ... no matter what!

What an impression he was making on those two sons!

And let me tell you about the Bible Version issue!

The Church we were attending used Sunday School literature from a national publisher.  One month there was a reference (not a printed verse ... just a reference) to what my Dad called a "liberal" Bible!  It was printed like this: RSV.  That meant Revised Standard Version!  My Dad's blood boiled.  He said to his family:  "That Bible downplays the Virgin Birth of Jesus!"  He used Isaiah 7:14 as his "text!"  (No, my Dad was not a called Preacher ... but that didn't stop him ... thank God!  He preached to our family ... as every Daddy should do!)  In that Bible, which is liberal ... the word "virgin" is changed to the term "young woman!"

Well, that Bible situation did not go away ... and the Church refused to act on that literature ... so Dad packed his family up and went down the road to another (more fundamental) Church where they still used our old Bible!

Now if you don't think that standard of "separation" impacted this old boy ... you are wrong!

Thank God for a Daddy who stood for what was right ... and stayed in a Church that was indeed a House of Bread!  That Bread of course is a picture of the Word of God! Not in some modernized form either!

I just had to say that today.

Daddy reading these Pages today, teach your family to stay away from sin!

If you give them an "inch" toward ungodliness ... honestly, without even knowing it sometimes ... they will take a "mile!"

When you have time read Psalm 101 ... and live by it!

(I have a felling that when we all get to heaven some day, a few of you precious men will drop by and thank me for this Lesson!  To God be the Glory!)

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 18:

These Pages are NOT for "political" purposes.

Understand that clearly please.

However, each Presidential Election (and to a lesser degree each national or statewide election of any kind) this discussion occurs countless times. "Will America vote her moral convictions (addressing issues such a abortion or sexual perversion or the ejection of religion from our society) ... or ... will America vote for whatever candidate most promises financial ($$$) prosperity?"

And, as you well know, too often the electorate jumps into the "money" category far more quickly than into the "moral" category!

I believe thatís the same mistake a man named Elimelech made in the Old Testament Book of Ruth.

Here's the scene:

Financially distressing times came.

Especially in the town where this manís inherited land was located, Bethlehem-Judah.

But what good was land and heritage and godliness if one was starving to death?

Elimelech decided to vote ... with his feet!

He moved away!

Away from the "House of Bread" and the land of "Praise!"

Those are the meanings ascribed by most teachers to Bethlehem-Judah.

After all, Moab was a green fertile financially prosperous territory less than 100 miles away!

No doubt it was an ungodly land ... but one has to eat, you know!

BUT ... The rest of the story does not end so well!

Within a short time: Elimelech died! His two sons died! His wife (Naomi) was widowed, as were his two daughters-in-law! His God was forsaken! His land relinquished!  In fact, all was gone!

Now the only way to properly analyze this situation is to see if we can locate someone who stayed at "home," back in Bethlehem!

Of course they may all be in the grave ... starved to death, you know!

Hark!

Yonder is a man who also has land!

His name is Boaz.

Letís look at him a minute.

Wow!  The famine did not discourage him!

Plenty of crops!

Seemingly wealthy too!

And in good health!

How did HE survive the hard times that drove Elimelech so far away?

Wait a minute!

That famine was not all that bad ... or else it sure ended in a hurry!

Or ... maybe it was not the famine that drove Elimelech away in the first place ... but a wondering heart?

Perhaps he, like Lot, has "lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." Genesis 13:10

Then of course he, again as Lot of old, would have "pitched his tent toward Sodom." Except it was Moab this time, both wicked ungodly places! Genesis 13:12

Either way both men lost most of their families due to sin!

What is the answer to this age-old dilemma?

It is still (and will be again in 2008) re-enacted in American politics!

(That is IF there is a 2008 for America.)

"I gotta vote for the money," has said many a misguided Baptist!

BUT ... what if I told you voting against God is a sure way to fall into judgment ... and that standing with God (putting Him first) is a sure way of blessing!

It is!

This is a Bible Promise ... straight from the lips of Jesus!

Matthew 6:33 records His precious Words: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Jesus just said that if we will put God first ... ahead of money, houses, clothes and everything else ... He would provide all we need!

The "all these things" Jesus had in mind are: food and drink, clothing and shelter! (Plus everything else needed I assume!)

I have personally never know that Promise to fail!

It would have been good if Elimelech had enjoyed access to it!

He might would have stayed at home, in Bethlehem, Godís House Of Bread!

I feel the Lord has spoken through His Word today!

The real question is ... are we listening?

                                                                                Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 19:

Now whatís so special about Bethlehem?

It historically was considered nothing but a village ... and a little known one at that!

Why is it that in the whole Bible anyone leaving (permanently moving away, turning their back upon this little hamlet and what it represented) always met with heartache?

Could these "judgments" deal with the meaning of little Bethlehemís name: "The House of Bread?"

And furthermore, how can this City be a symbol of Godís Word? Or is it?

Well, Scripture constantly talks about finding Godís Word ... and eating it, consuming it, internalizing it, chewing and meditating on it day and night!  (Sounds like Bread to me!)

I have found five or six things "special" about Bethlehem that might point to the Bible as Godís Word too!

1. The first time itís mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 35:19 --- "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." This place is holy because someone precious is buried there! "Rachel" means a little ewe lamb!

Do you know why Godís Word is so special? Because precious things are buried in its 1189 chapters! Itís there that Godís little lambs come and feed and drink and rest!

2. Then Bethlehem is where David was found the day he was first anointed King of Israel! 1st Samuel 16:4 --- "And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem." And finding David ... "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah."  1st Samuel 16:13

So as the King (David) was at Bethlehem ... so is the King of Kings (The Greater Son Of David, Jesus) found in the Bible! Thatís where we learn of our Saviour and His love!

3. Then the water at Bethlehem was special ... at least to David! "And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!" 2nd Samuel 23:14

And the water we find in the Word of God is special too! The bubbling moving fountain-like water of the Holy Spirit!

4. And something about the "future" was always associated with Bethlehem too! When Micah made his prophetic declaration about the Messiahís birth in this city of David ... he was talking about an event still 500 years away! "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Micah 5:2

So does our Bible yet today describe events not yet here! Like the Rapture and Second Coming! The antichrist and his terrible doom! The new heavens and new earth and new Jerusalem!

5. Next, Jesus was born there. To think of Bethlehem is to think of the Saviour, the Virgin Born Saviour! 

And isnít that fact so parallel to the Scriptures of Truth, to the Bible? Isn't that blessed old Book exactly where we find Jesus in all His glory? Thatís where we learn of His miracles, His sermons, His Death, Burial and Resurrection!

6. And lastly ... attacks from the enemy and dangers of all kind lurked in Bethlehem ... after baby Jesus came to the city! Herod killed all the little boys he could, seeking to destroy the Saviour as an Infant!

And isnít the Bible still under attack yet today? Why? Because it exalts Jesus and the way to life eternal found through Jesusí shed Blood!

There you have them!

Six ways Bethlehem is so like the Word of God!

Do NOT turn your back on the Bible!

Stay IN the Word!

Those who depart from It ... surely regret it again and again!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 20:

There are some Bible teachers who would disagree with my thoughts on Ruth 1:1-5.

I believe that Elimelech, husband of Naomi and Father of Mahlon and Chilion, made a BIG mistake when he left his home city of Bethlehem (meaning "House of Bread) and moved his whole family to Moab (a wicked ungodly city meaning "I'm my Grandfather's child)!

Numerous Bible experts say they see nothing wrong with his decision to move away from God's land and God's people and God's ways!

While I'm certainly NOT going to get into an "argument" with anyone today, one more thing needs to be mentioned about Ruth 1:1-5 and the overall "mood" of that Passage.

In all its content (all five verses ... every verb, every noun and adjective, every part of speech no matter how large or small) there is NO reference to God at all! His Name does not occur once!

Now when we meet many a Bible character, his relationship to God is immediately given!  For example, Job 1:1 --- "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil."

But this is NOT the case with Elimelech!

This Father in Israel made a decision to move away from his godly inheritance, the family land, forfeiting it all in the process ... with absolutely no reference to His seeking God's counsel in any way!

Paul would have never done that!  Luke tells us how Paul journeyed ... at the Holy Spirit's direction. "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not."  Acts 16:7

And even if God had allowed a move ... Elimelech shows no sign of seeking God's will on where to take his family!

Paul did!  "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us."  Acts 16:9

I realize that you can't build a whole system of doctrine around the point of God's Name not being used here ... BUT it is a good "hint" of the state of Elimelech's heart at that time.

By the way, God's Name IS used in verse 6 of Ruth chapter 1:  "Then she (Naomi, after the deaths of Elimelech and Mahlon and Chilion) arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread."

God is named ... in reference to Bethlehem again!

That's where you will find Him ... at His House of Bread (Bethlehem)!

Let me close this Lesson and this whole Series by saying one more time:  DO NOT LEAVE GOD'S HOUSE!  STAY IN YOUR SPIRITUAL BETHLEHEM, THE HOUSE OF BREAD!  STICK WITH THE WORD OF GOD!  ATTEND A HOUSE OF GOD WHERE YOU WILL DILIGENTLY HEAR IT PREACHED!  READ IT, STUDY IT, MEMORIZE IT, MEDITATE UPON IT, OBEY IT, LIVE IT ALL THE TIME!

If any of us ever departs from the "House Of Bread," I'll guarantee you ... we're headed for trouble!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

 

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