“In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. 

Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland.” Ruth 1:1-7 (NLT)


The Israelites followed God throughout the life of Joshua, who had brought them into the Promised Land under God’s direction. After Joshua died, the people’s hearts were led astray by their foreign neighbors. The Lord would send judgement on the Israelites then raise up judges in response to the cry of the people to deliver them.  This cycle became the norm for decades. On top of the instability in the country, a famine had settled on the land, and the people were desperate. Joshua had told the people, “But as surely as the Lord your God has given you the good things he promised, he will also bring disaster on you if you disobey him. He will completely destroy you from this good land he has given you” (Joshua 23:15 NLT).  The same land that was flowing with milk and honey when Joshua and the Israelites settled in it became fruitless in response to God’s judgement. So Elimelech decided to move his family from his homeland to Moab, an enemy country. When they arrived in Moab, it went from bad to worse. The patriarch of the family died, the sons married foreign women, and then Naomi’s sons died. Elimelech tried to solve their problems by moving them only to have the challenges accumulate. He was trying to save his family from the family only to lose the very thing he tried to preserve. The weight of the family was now on Naomi who decided to return home to Judah. Changing their location did nothing to bring provision when God was not in the move.

When things are not going well, we can want to change – change our job, house, career, location, or something else in our life. Some decisions hold more weight and impact our future significantly. Elimelech decided to take matters into his own hands and change his location, but it ended up drastically changing everything about his family’s life. If God is not in the changes we make in our lives, then we can find ourselves worse off than before. One decision can start a domino effect that leads to other decisions pointing you in a completely different direction. Instead of seeking provision elsewhere, what if we looked to God right where we are? We have to be sensitive to the Spirit of God in our decisions. He may be calling us to a new place, but we only want to go if He is going before us.  Allow God’s Word to instruct you instead of following your own way. When our hearts are fixated on Him, we can trust Him to lead us to the right move at the right time.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

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About Hona Amer

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