The Grass Is Always Greener?
Lift Up …
Father, thank You that there is nowhere I can escape from Your presence. When I walk through the valleys of this life, it’s comforting to know that You are right beside me. Help me to take Your hand as You guide me through. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Look At …
In today’s lesson, we meet the characters in the book of Ruth and gain an understanding of life during the time of the judges. We discover the choice one family made to seek greener pastures outside of the Promised Land and God’s will.
Read Ruth 1:1–2.
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 Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Ruth 1:1–2
Q1: In what days did the story of Ruth take place?
Fill in the following chart to discover the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel during the time of the judges.
Scripture • Spiritual Condition
Q2: Judges 2:10
Q3: Judges 2:11–12
Q4: Judges 17:6
The book of Judges depicts Israel’s tragic cycle of sin: disobedience to God’s Word, discipline from the Lord, her cry of despair, followed by God’s deliverance. If your life is spinning out of control, maybe you’re stuck in the sin cycle too. Call on God and discover “deliverance is of the LORD” (Prov. 21:31).
Q5: According to Ruth 1:1, what natural disaster was Israel experiencing?
Q6: Read Leviticus 26:18–20. How do these verses lead you to believe God was chastening His people?
Q7: How did this man of Bethlehem respond to the famine?
This family made a bad trade, exchanging the Promised Land for a land of pagans. They left Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”) for Moab, an enemy nation called “My washpot” (in other words, a pan of dirty water) in Psalm 60:8. The family turned away from glory and landed in the gutter.
Q8: What were the names of the man and his wife?
We know about the Prodigal Son of the New Testament. He ran away, repented, and returned home (Luke 15:11–32). J. Vernon McGee said that the book of Ruth is “the story of a prodigal family.” They ran to Moab when they should have stayed in the Promised Land; later they realized they needed to return home.
Q9: What were the names of the sons? How are the sons described?
Q10: How long did the family stay in Moab?
Live Out …
Today we discovered the four stages of Israel’s sin cycle. Think about your life. Are you at times caught in the same cycle? Describe a time when you have gone through these phases:
Q11: Disobedience (Example: I didn’t trust God to provide financially so I went into debt.)
Q12: Discipline (Example: I was turned over to collection agencies.)
Q13: Despair (Example: “God, if You rescue me, I’ll never do it again.”)
Q14: Deliverance (Example: A godly adviser showed me how to pay off my debt.)
God disciplines His children for good reasons: to get their attention, correct their behavior, or express His love: “Don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline.… For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (Heb. 12:5–6 NLT).
Q15: In the days of the judges, there was no king in Israel, and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6). Check the boxes that indicate how you have sometimes made yourself the ruler, the queen of your world.
Elimelech means “God is king,” but Elimelech didn’t let God rule his life. He led his family astray instead of submitting to God’s sovereignty and recognizing that “the LORD is king forever” (Ps. 10:16 NLT).
Q16: Take time to think about the areas you want to control in your life. Then offer these up to God.
Q17: Journal the following verses into a personal prayer, submitting your “domain” to the lordship of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords:
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10–11 NLT)
The word Lord denotes ownership with absolute control. It refers to owners of slaves or kings as the lords of their subjects. Revelation 17:14 identifies Jesus as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus holds complete control over all of humanity, including you and me.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That’s how Elimelech chose to live his life. People often imagine that the grass will be greener somewhere else and mistakenly think that they can run away from their problems. The reality is, their problems usually follow them because they are the problem. A change of scenery doesn’t change the heart, but turning to God can. Moses had taught the children of Israel that famine was a form of divine discipline but that repentance of their sin would restore God’s blessing. Turning a famine into a feast was just a prayer away.
I (Lenya) have discovered that when the going gets tough, the tough should stay put. When I was a little girl and misbehaved, my dad would spank my bottom with a wooden spoon. Wiggling away from the spoon seemed like the smart thing to do. Then one day I figured out that the closer I was to Dad, the less the spanking hurt because there was less momentum. And if I crawled onto his lap and apologized for my behavior, the spanking never happened. Running away from your problems or from your heavenly Father will only make things worse. Instead of running, try my philosophy: When the going gets tough, the tough get closer to God, because forgiveness is just a prayer away.
Listen To …
Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.