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By: Larry Shaffer
Ruth, part 2
After the death of her husband and two sons in Moab, Naomi determined to go home to Bethlehem. The famine had ended in Judah and there was no reason for her to stay. She asked her two surviving daughter-in-laws to remain in their homeland, Moab. Naomi told them she was old and had no sons for them to marry. She urged them to go home, find a husband and make a life for themselves, “for the hand of the Lord has gone against me,” verse 13. Orpah wept and kissed Naomi and departed but Ruth clung to her mother-in-law and would not leave.
Your God is my God
With love and affection, Naomi said to Ruth, “Behold your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Then Ruth responds with one of the key verses in Ruth. This response reveals not only Ruth’s devotion to Naomi but also her heart’s conversion to the true God of Israel and her unwillingness to return to the gods of her people, the Moabites. Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.” Orpah and Ruth had spent 10 years with this Jewish family. Orpah, I’m sure, followed the rules of the house and participated in the Jewish rituals. She was a faithful wife to Naomi’s son. But when the opportunity presented itself and when it appeared that the God of Israel was against Naomi, Orpah went back to her old family and her old gods. Ruth, on the other hand, reveals her true heart’s transformation to the God of Israel. The rituals of Judaism were not just rituals to Ruth as they were to Orpah. They had become a true expression of Ruth’s heart. She was not willing to leave her spiritual mentor and was not willing to forsake her God, the true God of Israel. Even though it appeared that the God of Israel was against Naomi, Ruth knew by faith that God was true and faithful. Her devotion to God and therefore, to Naomi, was firm, faithful and enduring.
There’s much we can learn from Ruth. First, she knew by faith that the dire circumstances they were in were NOT an indication that God was against them, even though her mentor stated as such. Her faith was true, and it was fortified in the fire of the trials and the uncertainty of their future. Have you ever been there? Secondly, the thought of returning to the false gods of Moab were unacceptable to a Ruth. Through her faith in the true God, she could see the emptiness of a life apart from Him. Did that happen to you when you placed your genuine faith in God? I hope so because it is a sign of true faith.
You are for us!
Lord, this morning, let us learn from Ruth. Fortify our faith through whatever trials we face, whether today or in the future. You will never turn against us even when we feel like Naomi when she said, “for the hand of the Lord has gone against me,”. You are always for us! Let us believe in you and be strengthened and encouraged. May we never return to our old gods. Amen!