Gleanings: Off to Moab

What if God has allowed all such blessings to be taken away from His people? Magtitiwala pa rin ba tayo sa Kanya?

“In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.” – Ruth 1:1, ESV

Elimelech wants to spare his family from famine. Tulad ng isang mapagmahal na ama, gusto lang naman niya ang best para sa kanyang asawa at mga anak. Sino ba naman ang ayaw na mapaayos ang sitwasyon ng kanyang pamilya?

Off to Moab

During the time of famine, life was hard for the Israelites. Remember Jacob’s family during famine? They even went as far as Egypt para lang makahanap ng pagkain. During this period in Elimelech’s life, even Bethlehem, also called as the “house of bread”, ay nawalan na rin ng supply. Kaya naman napilitan si Elimelech na dalhin ang kanyang pamilya somewhere na may maibibigay siyang pagkain.

Elimelech, whose name means “my God is king”, have forgotten his God and King when he faced a time of great need. Instead of trusting the Lord, he relied on his own wisdom to carry himself and his family through. May sarili siyang diskarte. Sabi ko nga, he just want to spare his family from famine.

OK lang sana kaso the problem is he will be moving from the land of promise to an “idolatrous” land. He will be moving out his family from under the hem of God’s protection to a place of temptation and idol worship. He will be exposing his family into a compromising environment. Their law even says not to give their children to the ungodly people for intermarriage. He’s putting his family in danger.

Maybe on his mind he’s thinking: “pansamantala lang ito. We’ll go back to Bethlehem when the famine ceased”. So off they went. They left their own country, trying to escape the famine, and headed to a land of uncertainty.

Elimelech went with his family: his wife, Naomi, which means “sweet, pleasant”, and his two sons, Mahlon, which means “sickly”, and Chilion, which means “wasting”. Ang weird di ba? Papangalanan mo ang mga anak mo na sakitin, at nanghihina, worse naghihingalo.

“But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years”. – Ruth 1:3-4

Unfortunate of Elimelech’s family, after they have settled in Moab, their place of refuge sana, they have lost the head of their family. So without their supposedly spiritual, financial and emotional leader, ang magkapatid ay naghanap ng kanilang mapapangasawa sa mga kababaihan ng Moab – a direct disobedience to their law. Along with the death of the father is the prolonging of their stint in Moab na umabot hanggang sampung taon, na dapat sana ay pansamantala lang.

“and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband”. Ruth 1:5

To top all the misfortunes Elimelech’s family has experienced in Moab, Mahlon and Chilion both died, giving justice to their names. Iniwan nila ang kanilang mga batang biyuda – Ruth and Orpah, both childless. #Sadlyf.

***

What I have gleaned from the account first few chapters of the book of Ruth is that we have the tendency to veer away from challenges na dumadating sa buhay natin. It was not mentioned in the Bible kung sila lang ba ang umalis at nagpunta sa Moab to find comfort, but it doesn’t matter. Looking into the life of Elimelech, he may have good intentions for his family’s welfare, pero he failed to trust how the Lord works on the welfare of His people.

God cares for us more than we care for ourselves.

Eh bakit may famine?

In the same way that there are sicknesses and trials and pains and challenges in our lives, famine represents a hurdle we must overcome for us to be strong spiritually. Bethlehem is a very blessed place, kaya nga siya “house of bread”. Ang lahat ay provided. Pero what if God has allowed all such blessings to be taken away from His people? Magtitiwala pa rin kaya sila sa Kanya? Unfortunately for Elimelech, he failed the test.

  • Tumatakbo din ba tayo kapag may mga challenges sa harapan natin?
  • Umiiwas rin ba tayo sa mga pagkakataon kung saan sinusubok ang pagtitiwala natin kay Lord?
  • When all His provisions went low, can we still trust in His love?

O baka naman instead of waiting upon the Lord, we begin charting our own plans and off we go to our own version of Moab. Isang lugar, isang sitwasyon na nako-kompromiso na ang ating sarili.

Saan nga ba ang ating Moab?

  • Rather than trusting in the Lord’s provision, nagpapa-rescue na tayo agad sa mga usurers kapag medyo na-challenge ang ating mga pitaka
  • Tumatakbo tayo sa anumang nakagawiang bisyo para humanap ng kapayapaan ng loob at solusyon sa problema
  • Ginagawa nating escape plan ang pagiging magagalitin at pala-away upang ilayo ang ating sarili sa mga tao
  • Eto worse, pero baka naman kapag may away kayo ng ka-relasyon mo e may “sidechick” ka na pinupuntahan
  • Sinusubo na natin ang ating integridad sa pamamagitan ng pangungupit, pandaraya o pangingikil ng iba pang ilegal na paraan para lang mapunan ang anumang kakulangan

Big or small, subtle or obvious, when we choose to run to other things as source of salvation and comfort other than the Lord, that’s the time we leave our “house of bread” for an idolatrous Moab. And like what happened to Elimelech, bad choice produces bad results. Mas may chance pa sana siya if he chose to stay.

God wants to make you strong in the face of difficulties. Don’t run from it – face it! It’s safer to be in the eye of the storm with the Lord on your side than in a stronghold where the Lord does not guide.

***

I am writing this at the eve of my father’s birthday. Well, he may not be a perfect father but I know that he loves us perfectly. We may have had arguments in the past, I may not approve of some of his opinions and principles in life, but still no one could ever take away his place in my heart.

We all have Elimelech tendencies within us. Kagaya ko, kagaya ng tatay ko, kagaya nating lahat. Yet the grace of God allows us to run back to Him when our Elimelech-ness urges us to sojourn to Moab. At kung napadpad ka na sa Moab, balik ka lang. Wag mo nang hayaan na mahuli pa ang lahat.