Who kicked the Bible out of our public
Who "legalized" abortion (murder of
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?
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!"
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
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
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
So Amimelech reasoned ... all the way to the
Our lesson today: Be careful where you
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
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
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
The Bible is
filled with names!
without exception they seem to have significant meaning!
In fact, God
occasionally "changes" someone's name to better suit His
purposes for them!
Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Simon to Peter are three examples.)
preacher will tell you that in Scripture these names are
actually expressions of a person's character!
Paul, small and
example of such "name significance" is found in the Book of
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!
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
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
each character in the Book of Ruth to be literal people, not
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
And, if Jesus is
REAL (which He is) ... those in His "earthly" line had to be
real too! And real they were!
dependable Bible we have!
Be sure and
study the Word of God sometime today!
It's the Truth!
what Daniel 10:21 calls the Bible:
"But I will shew thee that which is noted in
the scripture of truth."
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
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
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
This could be why he moved away from
Bethlehem ... while many others (if not most others) stayed!
Folks, sometimes we just love "ease" too
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
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
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
Could his soft easy background have made
Abimelech flee Bethlehem?
Here's what may be another "hint."
Look where he moved!
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
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
Soldiers of Christ, Attention!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The protagonist (main character) of Ruth chapter 1 is a man
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!
Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two
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
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
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!
son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when
thou art rebuked of him."
whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom
endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what
son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
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
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
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
Christians, living for our Lord is serious business!
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
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!
"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."
It was Abimelech's short-sightedness and
unbelief that got them into this bad situation ... but Naomi
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
The lady whose name meant "Delight" ... now
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 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!
"And Naomi was left
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
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
In fact, as I close, read the entire 128th
Psalm for a summary of God's blessings upon the family of the
Apart from the Grace of God ...Elimelech's
sin would have destroyed his family for sure!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
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!
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
It is "meat" in
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
certainly cost him dearly.
sorrow, loss of reputation and testimony ... and so much more!
My point today is
Stay with God's
appointed means of feeding you!
Stick with the Word
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
I'm "moving on" to
You are making the
same mistake Abimelech made!
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."
NEVER depart from
the land of the Word!
NEVER minimize the
The Faith! (With the article "The" attached, Bible Faith is
describing the Word of God, our blessed Book of Truth!)
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
Friend, you would
spiritually be leaving Bethlehem ... and it's an unwise thing to
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.
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
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
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."
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
I'll just list three or four of
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
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
To leave it would be the worst
mistake you ever made!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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!"
That will keep you
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The story is told in the Book of
Judges, near the end. Chapters 17 and 18 give us the
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
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
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
Jonathan should simply have STAYED
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The other sad account of someone
leaving Bethlehem is found in Judges 19-21.
This incident deals with a young
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."
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
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
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
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
To depart from God's Bread ... is
to take a giant step ... downward!
Such an action always
leads to sorrow!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
It is surprising
how often the devil uses "food" to lead us astray!
In reality he tried
that with Jesus!
when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of
God, command that these stones be made bread."
Now it would have
been no sin for Jesus to eat out there in that wilderness ...
had His Father provided the meal!
absolutely refused to listen to Satan and "get ahead" of God's
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
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
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!
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
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
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
And one of them is
... "every word that proceedeth out of
the mouth of God!" That's another way of saying ... "the
away from the divine House of Bread ... and it cost him dearly!
Beloved, do not
forsake God's Word!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The Bible Book of Ruth has many
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!
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
Like Father ... like sons!
The same mistake is being made yet
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
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
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
And let me tell you about the Bible Version
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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!
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
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
The real question is ... are we listening?
Dr. Mike Bagwell
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
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
And the water we find in the Word of God is
special too! The bubbling moving fountain-like water of the Holy
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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