Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Faithfulness of Ruth
"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 1:16
Ruth was a young woman. She had her life to look forward to but her husband died... But she still had her mother in law. Not much consolation there because her mother in law Naomi was a widow herself! Widows in that day did not have it very easy. There were no Federal benefits and jobs for women where next to nothing. As Naomi looked into her future she could only imagine the shame of begging on the streets of her hometown. But Ruth was young and attractive she could probably find another husband in her home land of Moab but she was determined to stand by Naomi her mother in law who was heading out for good. The distance from Moab to Bethlehem was so far that this was permanent and there were no phones to call home or busses available for a return trip.
Perhaps Naomi had the right idea to send her daughter in law back home where she could find a new husbands. Naomi was surely not going to find a new husband and raise more sons for Ruth. However, Ruth refused to leave the side of her mother in law. Once again I point out that Naomi was Ruth's "mother in law" and Naomi was from the far away foreign country. You might look at Ruth's decision as a very foolish death sentence. If Ruth was going to die why not do it in her homeland where she might have a chance among her own people.
This would make more sense, right? But when Ruth left her father and mother to be joined with her husband, she also joined with her husbands family and their faith. To that she would remain..... faithful.
You might ask why? Yes, her loyalty is commendable and it would be rewarded greatly but Ruth would have no idea of what was in the future. Personally I believe that there was something compelling that Ruth saw in the faith of her husband and Naomi that inspired her and yes transformed her. Ruth was a believer and her wonderful statement (see above) is evidence of her loyalty to Naomi but also her faith in the God of Israel. Yes, Ruth could have stayed in Moab but to do so would have meant that she had to leave the God that she loved! For her it would be better to die with Naomi and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob than to live in Moab..... alone. She had amazing faith and amazing love and she would be rewarded by the providence of God. In addition her faith would save Naomi as well. Just read the entire book and you will marvel at Ruth and at God's faithfulness. (If you haven't read the complete story yet. Your missing out because it is a great one!)
Today lets consider the idea of faithfulness to God and the people of God. The question is this. Would you follow God if you knew that the path would probably lead to your death on earth? Now mind you most, if not all of us, will never have to make that choice. But we are all called to be faithful to our God and faithful to our families.
It's not like faithfulness to Naomi would be easy. As I read the first couple chapters, Naomi wasn't exactly the most optimistic and encouraging person to live with. If you look at the text you could get the impression that Naomi really didn't want Ruth around. Perhaps it would have only added to her shame to return home to Bethlehem without her husband and sons but with a pagan woman from Moab. In the text Ruth is called a Moabites. That was even a less complementary title then what it sounds like to our ears. It sounds a lot like arthritis or gingivitis or some other awful infection. That's surely how the people of Bethlehem might have treated Ruth. But that didn't matter to Ruth she would be faithful!
I pray that we can be so faithful to God, to our families and dare I say our in laws.....
to ponder: What does my faithfulness to God cost me? What blessings have I received because of my faithfulness to God in a less than Christian world?
Of course there is no guarantee that our faithfulness to God will be rewarded here on earth. Just read the great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 to see evidence to this fact but we can be assured that God will be faithful and we will be rewarded in heaven!