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which had been so long their home. There were many friends, no doubt, who were dear to them; and these it was painful to leave behind. And sadder still was their journey; for every step carried them farther from all they loved on earth ; and every step made them feel that their portion now was to be among strangers.
At length they reached the land of Moab. And now, the question we feel inclined to ask is, Were they wise in taking this step ? For some reasons they were wise. There was an abundance in the land of Moab, and a scarcity in the land of Judah. Want and suffering were certain to have been their portion, if they had remained. Worldly prudence then seemed to point out some other spot as thei:
dwelling place. But one thing they did not sufficiently consider—they were leaving behind them many of their religious advantages, and were going to sojourn in the country of Moab, which was a land of Heathens. They found a maintenance there, it is true : but there was a scarcity of spiritual food : “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.” When they got there, they found no House of God to worship in; no Ministers to guide them; no godly Friends with whom they could “take sweet counsel.”
Do you not think that often, when they were in their new home, their minds wandered back to Bethlehem, their own beloved Bethlehem? Do you not suppose that, more than once,
the wish came across them that they had never left it? The miseries of the land which they had forsaken now seemed sweeter to them, than the joys which were opened to them in their new abode. Often, as they sat down by the plains of Moab, they “remembered Zion.” And as they tried to be cheerful, they could not help exclaiming, “How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land ? If I do not remember thee, O Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
Yes, there is no doubt that Elimelech was wrong, very wrong, in leaving the land of Judah with his family, and settling in the godless country of Moab. Nothing short of absolute necessity, and the dread of actual starvation, should have induced him.
It is a fearful thing to set little store by our religious advantages and blessings, when God has given them to us.
When, for instance, a person chooses a new home, how apt he is to reckon how far he will be a gainer in a worldly point of view, putting aside altogether his gain or loss in spiritual things. How sad, if he should gain ever so much, even the whole world, and yet lose his own soul! How sad, if he should grow richer for this life, but poorer for eternity!
Again, when a servant chooses a fresh situation, is he not apt to measure the goodness of it by the wages he is to receive, instead of thinking seriously how far his soul is likely to
prosper in his new home? But take my word for it, it is of the greatest importance, in choosing a place, where you may perhaps dwell for years, to consider well whether you are likely to meet with helps, or hindrances, on your way to heaven.
Now, if you should ever be called upon to make such a choice, I advise you to let it be a matter of earnest prayer to God, that He would guide and direct your steps. And then, after having done this, you will have the comfort of feeling that your situation in life is that which God Himself approves of, and in which therefore He will bless you.
And now, though this family had left the land of troubles, yet trouble still follows them in their new restingplace. They had not been long there,