Character Studies from the Book of Ruth – Part 1

There are five basic types of Bible Study:

  1. Topical – study of topics such as love, faith, healing, etc. You research the Bible starting with that topic.
  2. Character – a study of a person or place in the Bible. These can benefit when you want to know the heart, attitude, and personality of a person or the importance of a particular location.
  3. Chronological – you study through the Bible chronologically. Studying this way can help you make connections between passages and books that are often overlooked.
  4. Book – studying a book in the Bible systematically helps you develop a sense of context from a book. Often this is a verse by verse study.
  5. Word – this is a study where you may begin using another type of study but you get caught on a word and desire to see the deeper insight that examining the original text or language brings.

We are going to do a character study from the Book of Ruth.

We will look at:

  • Elimelech
  • Naomi
  • Ruth
  • Boaz

Why is studying this book important? 

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NLT)  These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

Elimelech – Lessons from a Backslider 

Ruth 1:1-5 (NKJV)  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.  (2)  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.  (3)  Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.  (4)  Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years.  (5)  Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. 

  • Bethlehem was one of the oldest cities in Judah. Its name means “place of bread” (The Word of God) and “place of worship.”
  • Elimelech left the land of Israel and went to Moab simply because there was a famine in the land and took his family with him.

Both Elimelech and Lot had a lot in common. Both knew the Lord and yet became carnal and turned their backs on the Lord. They knew the right way to go and yet went after their own eyes and the desires of their flesh. 

Lot’s prosperity occurred because of his relationship with Abram. He was sanctified by his relationship with Abram. 

Abram gave Lot a choice and a decision when it came time for them to part ways. It came time for Lot to no longer be able to ride on Abram’s coat-tails in his relationship with God. 

Genesis 13:8-13 (NKJV)  So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.  (9)  Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”  (10)  And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.  (11)  Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.  (12)  Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.  (13)  But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.

Genesis 19:1 (NKJV)  Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 

  • Lot chose the land that was more appealing to the eyes and faced Sodom. 
  • The next thing that we read is that Lot pitched his tents toward Sodom. 
  • Next we see him living at the gate of Sodom and then next we see him living in Sodom. 

Most of the time, someone moving away from the things of God is not an overnight event but rather a long process and series of decisions. 

2 Peter 2:7-8 (NLT)  But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him.  (8)  Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. 

Lot’s family became so entrenched in the city that his family members had to be drug out of Sodom.

After Lot and his family fled Sodom, his wife was turned into a pillar of salt and then later that night as they camped in the mountains, Lot’s daughters became concerned about not having children. 

  • Moabites and Ammonites were descendents of Lot and came as a result of Lot’s drunken nights of incest with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38).

Genesis 19:36-38 (NKJV) (36)  Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.  (37)  The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.  (38)  And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.

The name Moab means “son of incest or my father”.

Ammonites were into blatant sexual perversions but the Moabites were more subtle but they had it out to try and overthrow Israel. 

King Balak of Moab hired Balaam to go and try to overthrow the Israelites by cursing them but when he tried that three times and it did not work, they had to change their strategies. Balaam then told Balak to send prostitutes in to infiltrate the people and lead them away from the Lord. 

The chief god of Moab was Baalpeor. He was worshipped by child sacrifices by the burning of children alive to appease their god. 

The children of Israel were warned not to co-habitat with these people because they were so wicked. 

Elimelech should have remembered the wicked ruler Eglon and should not have gone to Moab.

Judges 3:12-26 (NKJV)  And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.  (13)  Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms.  (14)  So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.  (15)  But when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab.  (16)  Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh.  (17)  So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)  (18)  And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.  (19)  But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.  (20)  So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat.  (21)  Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly.  (22)  Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.  (23)  Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.  (24)  When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, “He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.”  (25)  So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.  (26)  But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah.  

Elimelech fled to the land of Moab which was so evil because he saw it as an answer to meet their natural needs. 

Elimelech chose to go his own way. He took his life into his own hands. 

Elimelech – means, “God is King.” 

He should have eventually changed his name to, “I am king.” He took God off the throne and put himself on the throne. 

Backsliding never involves just you but you take others with you. 

Ruth 1:2 (NKJV)  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. 

Elimelech died and yet his sons never changed and desired to go back to the Lord. They ended up marrying Moabite women. 

  • Mahlon (sickly) married Ruth (friend).
  • Chilion (pining) married Orpah (stiff-necked)

The two sons eventually died and left Naomi a widow and son-less. Naomi is left alone in Moab.

Your life is made up of your choices! Your success or your failure is dependent on your choice to go after God and His will or to choose to follow those around you. You cannot blame anyone except you. 

Naomi decides that she is going to go back to the place of God’s blessing and the Word of God against all odds. 

If you are miserable today because you are out of the will of God, simply repent and go back to the last known place of the will of God. 

Ruth 1:6-7 (NKJV)  Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread.  (7)  Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

God can take those experiences in your life that maybe someone caused to happen in your life because of their bad decisions and turn them around and bring you into your destiny.

Matthew 1:1-6 (NKJV)  The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:  (2)  Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.  (3)  Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.  (4)  Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.  (5)  Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,  (6)  and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.