Many times when tragedy or in times of disaster the question is asked “Where was God” or “How could God let this happen”? According to the account of Elimelech’s family in the first chapter of Ruth, tragedy was the story of their life. First there was a famine in the land resulting in emigration to the land of Moab. The second tragedy to Naomi was the loss of her husband (Elimelech) in the land of Moab. The next tragic event is that both of her sons perish in the land leaving Naomi with no covering, nor the ability to provide husbands for her two daughters-in-law, Orpha and Ruth. It behooves us to reason from cause to effect, and as in the case of all tragedy, one must find the root cause in order to understand the effects which inevitability follow. Man’s natural response to tragedy is most often to be lame by blaming God for what has befallen and this is evidenced by Naomi’s own words in Ruth 1:19-21.
So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and [YHWH] hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? (RNKJV)
We must step back a little farther to get the full picture. The story of Eimelech’s family takes place in the time of the Judges of Israel and when one considers the promises given Israel that the land of Canaan was to be a land flowing with milk and honey, yet we find Elimelech living in a time of famine not fullness. Early in the book of Judges we find the account of why Israel was having problems thus the cause of this family´s plight. Judges 2:10-15 (RNKJV) gives us the record,
And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not , nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of , and served Baalim: And they forsook Elohim of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other elohim, of the elohim of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked to anger. And they forsook , and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of was against them for evil, as had said, and as had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
One must consider that in the time of the kings when Ahab and Jezebel reigned there was another famine in the land. This was at the time of prophet Elijah and we find this account in 1Kings 16:31,
And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
This was addressed by the prophet in 1 Kings 17:1
And EliYah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As Elohim of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
You can see that the foundation of worshiping a false god is was what brought famine into the land by Israel as they “went a whoring after other elohim” Judges 2:17. It was in this environment of false worship and famine that Elimelech made his move to Moab and yet tragedy followed him there as well.
What does one do when one has his/her temporal covering removed as Naomi did? Your business fails, your spouse leaves you for another lover, your spouse dies, or you lose you job? What if fire destroys your home or your transportation breaks down so you cannot commute to work? There are many ways that each of us may lose our temporal robe of covering in an evil age, and we do live in an evil age. Let me sequence the experience of Naomi so as to explain what I am driving at.
Yahuah had provided the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey for His people and He had married the people to the land. The land was the covering for Elimelech, Naomi, and the boys. Because of the evil resulting from Israel whoring after false elohim the covering of the land was lost, so Elimelech moves his family to Moab. Elimelech dies, so now Naomi has lost two coverings–the land and her husband. However, she is in good shape as she still has two sons. Both sons die leaving Naomi with no covering in Moab and no way to provide for her daughters-in-law. So what is she to do when she hears the report from Israel as recorded in Ruth 1:6?
Then she 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 had visited his people in giving them bread.
It is with great interest that it only takes six verses for there to be hope in spite of the tragic loss Naomi has suffered. Goelism shows the dual aspect of Yahushua’s character — He is our Kinsman Redeemer (our covering) and the Avenger of our enemies; He is our great Goel. Our great Goel is referred to as “the Bread of Life.”
Bread is again the focal point of a famine in the life of Yahushua. Yahushua depended on the eternal word that He authored through the prophets when He was tempted to step out of the Father’s will after He had fasted for forty days. We find this recorded in Matthew 4:1-4
Then was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of Elohim, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of .
Yahushua’s time of diaster was to be tempted at the point of His weakest physical strength.
There is no burden we are asked to bear which our Saviour has not already bourn, for in His time of famine He is tempted to have His temporal needs met first, but he refuses the temporal bread. Yahushua knew that the bread of life is “every word” which proceeds from the mouth of YHWH. Likewise Naomi hears that YHWH was providing bread and her faith responds. She must return home in order to partake of the bread which flows from the throne of heaven. In this report the seed of hope grows into a plant bearing fruit and action was taken.
You see my friend above every cloud is clear beautiful skies. When your world is torn apart, the Creator of the world still has a repair manual and the power to accomplish all that needs to be repaired and make it better. When my mother was killed in a car accident I was only 17 years old; my world crumbled around me. The righteousness which she lived was gone in a moment, and now I was left to deal with my own personal demons of anger towards my father. Through this tragic event my father and I were able to be reconciled to each other before his death. It is my blessed hope to see both Mom and Dad on that great resurrection morning and embrace each other as we view our Saviour’s return. But what makes this hope possible? Is it not the bread from heaven which is outlined in John 6:50-51,
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
When times of disaster strike it is that Eternal Word dwelling in us that provides the covering of righteousness and comfort. It is our response to this evidence as provided in Scripture and nature which brings us into this relationship with our Creator. May you be blessed as you consider these things.
This is the final installment of the Goelism series. If you have missed any of it here are the links.