You would think that a blog of this title would be written in June when we try to encourage or guilt men to step up and be better, but I am too impatient to wait for Father’s Day. Besides, the way time is speeding up it will be here next week.
“In the days when judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab…The man’s name was Elimelech” Ruth 1:1, 2
This verse tells us a man left, then it tells us his name was Elimelech. Why not just say Elimelech left Bethlehem? I don’t believe that anything written is by chance so there must be a lesson in there for us. The wording “a man” is the Hebrew word “eesh” — this word is used to indicate that Elimelech was a man of importance or an individual on a mission. This word is used many times in the Bible to indicate the importance of the man, but to keep this blog short, I will keep with this one instance.
During this time period, people did not move a lot so if you were born in Bethlehem, you lived and died there. This would cause a town like this to be comprised of a number of people related to each other. So during the famine, or time of stress and despair, an important individual in the family, deserted his family and went away. He did not step up during the stress but quit, allowing others to take the reigns of leadership for the family.
The Bible goes on to say that he did not just slip up and fail, he decided to live in Moab and make the place of his failure a dwelling place. It is one thing to make a mistake, but it is another to live in that mistake. Gripping, complaining, accusing others for the results of our choices. Elimelech, “the man” lead his family into a place of disaster as head his two sons ended up dying there. All this because he made a mistake and decided to live there.
Before you give up and say that’s me and blame yourself for every problem happening in the world, there is another example. The people of Israel are depressed about the situation that they are finding themselves in. It is not a famine, it is a country filled with huge enemies that want to destroy them. They don’t want to move to Moab, they want to go back to Egypt. Again, a decision is being made that will determine their destiny and the lives of their children.
The Bible says that one of the men in this group was named Caleb. Numbers 14:24 said Caleb had a different spirit than the others and remained loyal to God. He wasn’t perfect and he had to face the same enemy as the others. We are not immune to famines and events that want to destroy us, but we can have a different spirit if we ask for it.
Did it make a difference? Elimelech saw his family die because of his decision to dwell in his mistake, Caleb entered into the promises of God and set a standard that God compared his family too for generations. Nabal was crude and mean in all his dealings (1 Samuel 25: 3) yet the Bible makes sure to point out that he was a descendant of Caleb. Nabal lived about 500 years after Caleb. talked about setting a standard to live up to. God was saying Nabal was nothing like his great, great, great,(how many do I add) grandfather Caleb.
It is time to be the man of importance. One who has a different spirit, One who makes mistakes but doesn’t live there. One who says, by the power of the Holy Spirit I will be “the man” for my family.