Full Stomach, Empty Heart: A Sermon Outline from Ruth 1, Part 2

Last time we looked at how Elimelech’s departure from Bethlehem to Moab revealed that he failed to, Discern the Purposes of God, Delight in the Precepts of God, and Dwell in the Presence of God. We have two final points to mention in today’s post.

Elimelech’s departure from Bethlehem meant he failed to:

Depend on the Promises of God

So, perhaps you’re feeling a little bad for Elimelech. I feel that too. There is a famine in the land and you look at your starving wife and children and you decide, I’m going to fix this. I can’t stand it any longer.

I get that. And I think we would be heartless not to sympathize there. Perhaps you look around at your own situation and you think “I just cannot take it anymore” and you’re tempted to find a supposed solution in your own power and strength.

And you hear me saying in this sermon “don’t go to Moab!” And you say, “Fine. But what then am I supposed to do with my pain? What am I supposed to do with this problem? How can I fix this current situation?”

I don’t have neat and tidy answers for you, but I can exhort you to this: Depend on God’s promises! (Proverbs 3:5). Lean hard upon Jesus. And it’s ok to say to Him: “I don’t know what to do, or where to go, or how to move on, help me trust You!” He is a good and faithful Shepherd. The answer is not to run away from Him, but to run to Him. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He is the unchanging One.

Elimelech was a man of Bethlehem. That was his town. He knew the people of the town. He knew the backroads. He knew the inside jokes. And he knew what the name of the town meant too. In Hebrew, Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread.’ The very name of the town reminds us of some of God’s glorious promises.

On Israel’s journey from Egypt God had provided them with bread from heaven. God had continually shown His people that He was their provider. That He promised to be their God, to show them, steadfast love, to dwell with them. But during the time of the Judges God’s people rejected Him.

The name of Elimelech’s town served as a reminder that God is a faithful God and the famine served as a reminder that God doesn’t shirk His warnings either. That all of God’s promises can be trusted. He is trustworthy. But Elimelech didn’t depend on God’s promises. He took matters into his own hands and sought first his own kingdom.

I don’t mean to suggest that waiting on God is easy. I don’t mean to suggest that we aren’t tempted to get results now. But I do mean to point out that waiting on God, and trusting God, and resting in God’s promises are always what God calls us to do, even if it’s difficult. In fact, sometimes difficult matters arise because God is teaching us to depend on Him all the more. And it is His love & grace toward us that cause Him to do that.

And what I want us to see on this side of the New Testament is that Bethlehem carries even more significance for us doesn’t it? The House of Bread is the very place the Bread of Life was housed at His birth.

God, robed in human flesh, came to give us life. To redeem us from our lawlessness and to clothe us in His righteous robes. To show us that all that we are looking for isn’t found in Moab. It’s in Him. The Bread of Life is the only thing that can end our hunger forever.

I don’t know your situation. And I don’t know all that God has for you in it. But I do know this: God calls us to seek Him. To trust His promises. To rest in Christ. Stake your life upon the promises of God which all find their yes in Christ Jesus.

Don’t go looking for bread in Moab. It may fill your stomach, but it will empty your heart.

Elimelech failed to discern the purposes of God, delight in the precepts of God, dwell in the presence of God, depend on the promises of God and:

Discover the Pleasures of God

When we disregard the precepts of God, and dwell outside the presence of God, and fail to depend on the promises of God, we will never discover the pleasures of God.

Elimelech, like all mankind, was made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Did you catch that? Enjoy Him forever. But you can’t enjoy God if you’re living in Moab. If you’re dwelling outside of where God would have you to be.

Many people sort-of think they give God a trial run where they go through the motions of Christianity for a while but never really find rest for their souls, and then they move on. Or other people try to make up the joy of the Lord and they think it’s found in a certain music style of worship or whatever. Still, others think they are delighting in God but really it’s only themselves.

But here’s what David says in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

God made us to enjoy Him. When we disregard the precepts of God, and dwell outside the presence of God, and fail to depend on the promises of God, we will never discover the pleasures of God we were made for.

You won’t find fullness in you. And you won’t find fullness in your well-laid plans. You won’t find fullness in God and something: A full stomach, a content baby, a clean house, a well-paying job, a Moabite Mansion, etc.

If you are outside of where God wants you to be, you won’t find the contentment promised in Christ. I’m not saying contentment is easy. It’s cultivated. Oh but the rivers of grace are flowing today from Christ’s throne! Come and drink!

If you are a Christian but outside of where God wants you to be today, if you’ve forsaken holiness for a full belly, I implore you to repent. Repent and turn back to Christ. Moab only leads to death (Ruth 1:3-5).

Look to Jesus! Fix your thoughts and eyes on Him and His work. A deep grasp of the gospel is important for Believers of all ages because we can continually dwell upon it and its benefits for us – Christ’s curse bearing, no more condemnation, the riches of our inheritance, God’s favor upon us, the blessings of adoption, justification, sanctification, etc.

Spend regular time in God’s Word. Christ’s face is all over Scripture. And so we should drink regularly and plentifully from its grace abounding streams.

Look to Christ and turn away from Moab.

If you’ve never truly trusted Christ, come to Him. You’re a Moabite dwelling under wrath. But guess what? The book of Ruth shows us God saves Moabites. Do not refuse Him. I plead with you to repent and believe the gospel of Christ. Trust His work. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Forsake all else and trust Him.

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