Was it God

Was it God’s will for Elimelech to move to Moab?


The story of Elimelech's decision is found in Ruth 1:

The answer to this seems obvious. God placed the tribes of Israel in their assigned area (Joshua 13:6). His purpose for His people was to possess that land for Him, so its produce would provide offerings for His honor. Elimelech left his God-given heritage. He may have ration-alized his decision because conditions in Bethlehem were not right, as the famine indicated. He may have reasoned that he had to take care of his family’s need for food. Such pragmatic reasoning based on the wrong of others and the justifiable needs of his family did not change his responsibility to produce worship for God according to God’s revealed will.

In addition, God warned Israel of the snares (Deuteronomy 12:30) they would encounter by association with the nations around them. They learned to live with them, become associated with them, and become like them (Judges 3:5, 6). In particular, the Lord made a clear distinction between His people and the Moabites (Deu 23:3). Eli-melech disobeyed the Lord both in leaving Bethlehem and in going to Moab.

To some, however, the answer is not so obvious, because of the good outcome of Elimelech’s action. In God’s grace, He brought Ruth into the royal lineage, thereby raised up David (Ruth 4:17), and preserved the promised lineage of Christ (Genesis 49:8-10; Mat 1:5, 16). But God’s Spirit rejects the argument, "Let us do evil, that good may come" (Romans 3:8). The end does not justify the means. Solomon’s conclusion in his search for wisdom was, "God will bring every deed into judgment . . . whether good or evil" (Ecc 12:14). We are accountable for the moral quality of our every action; God is responsible for the outcome. God graciously allows "redemptive good" to come from evil, but that doesn’t justify the evil. Judas’ betrayal of the Lord Jesus is a case in point.

David Oliver