‘Look,’ said Naomi, ‘your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.’ But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God’.
Ruth 1:15-16 (NIV)
Read: Ruth 1
Consider: Elimelek and Naomi moved to Moab with their children to avoid a famine. The move in itself wasn’t wrong as Elimelek was trying to protect his family. In fact, in Ruth 1:1 we are told that their intention was not to make this a permanent move, but only to stay in Moab for a while.
Once there things didn’t work out as expected. Elimelek died, leaving Naomi under the protection of her two sons. The sons married local women, but later both died. Naomi then found herself, with two daughters-in-law and no obvious way to provide for herself or them. At this point the decision was made by Naomi to return to Bethlehem, in Judah.
Naomi tried to persuade Orpah and Ruth to return to their own families and after some persuasion Orpah did so. Ruth, on the other hand, wanted to go with Naomi and it was her that said – ‘Your people will be my people and your God my God’. This was a brave thing to do as she would be seen as a foreigner and neither Naomi, nor Ruth, knew how they would be received in Bethlehem. Naomi did know the Law that allowed a ‘kinsman redeemer’ to take on responsibility for her son’s wife, thus keeping his family name alive. The Book of Ruth is about this kinsman redeemer and how Ruth would be ‘saved’.
The thing to remember about the Book of Ruth is that a whole series of events started here that finally led to Jesus coming as Saviour. Think about it –
- If Elimelek and Naomi had not moved to Moab;
- If Elimelek had not died;
- If Mahlon and Kilion had not married Moabite women;
- If Mahlon and Kilion had not died;
- If Naomi had not decided to return to Bethlehem;
- If Ruth had not decided to go with Naomi;
and as we will see in later chapters:
- If Boaz as kinsman redeemer had chosen not to marry Ruth – then this would not have led to the birth of King David and eventually Jesus (see Matthew 1).
While Naomi (and Ruth) would probably have preferred to live their lives in comfort with their husbands, God could use even these tragic circumstances to achieve his purposes.
Pray: Father, help us to see that although life throws good and bad things at us, you are able to use all these to achieve your purposes. Amen