“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.”
A desire to dig deeper into the story of Ruth has recently been birthed in my heart. The book starts off with Elimelek and his wife Naomi. They had two sons Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, also commonly know as God’s chosen people. But when a famine struck, Elimelek packed up his family and went to the country of Moab where the harvest was plentiful. At first, I thought nothing about this; they needed food so they went where they knew it was. But after reading Genesis 19:30-38 and discovering the origin of the Moab nation, I soon came to realized this was far from not being a big deal. In this passage of scripture Lot’s daughters are talking back and forth about how there is not man for them to marry, so out of desperation they decide to get their father drunk and sleep with him. The oldest daughter later conceived a son by her father and named him Moab. The start of the Moab nation.
Do you ever find yourself packing up and walking away from what you know is right just to go where something is easy?
So, a family packs up and leaves God’s people and goes to where the harvest is. Do you ever find yourself doing that? Packing up and walking away from what you know is right just to go where something is easy. What is right is not always what is easy. Running from where God has called you? I run from where God has called me. I run from where I have been placed in life. No, my life hasn’t been easy, and I have faced trials of every kind and I have tried to run, but every time I always come to realize where I am is where God wants me to be. What will I choose as my life goes on and I am faced with more and more situations where it seems like God won’t be enough? Stay in the land of God’s choosing or flee to the bountiful one?
“No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.”
Scripture clearly tells us no Moabite was to be included in the assembly of the Lord’s people, so Elimelek went against what he knew and took his family to Moab, and even more than that had arranged marriages for his sons with Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Elimelek soon dies after arriving in Moab, and his two sons follow after. So now you have Naomi widowed, Orpah widowed, and Ruth widowed. With nothing left, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law pack up to go back to Bethlehem. Ruth 1:6-7 tells us that Naomi returns to Bethlehem because there was a harvest again. This is a prime example of turning back to God out of desperation. When things go right it’s so much easier to seek the Lord. But we aren’t called to seek the Lord only when there is a harvest; we are called to seek the Lord all the day long. Thankfully God pursues us even we are in a far of place. Naomi returned for food but the Lord drew her back in.
No matter where I am or where you are, chasing God or not chasing God,
there is always a seat at the table for anyone willing to return.
Ruth goes with her mother-in-law. A heart I pray the Lord can give me for Him. To go where He goes, to love who He loves, and for His people to be my people. But there is another sister in this story. Orpah first denies Naomi’s request to leave, but later agrees. Don’t be an Orpah who made the right decision at first but couldn’t hang after further persuasions. Be a Ruth. Sometimes we think obedience is a one time thing, but it’s an everyday choice. We can’t last if our motivation is based on anything but our relationship with God. If I don’t base my motivation on God, I might be able to resist once or twice like Orpah, but only a love for God will sustain a long-term commitment to obedience. If we aren’t committed to God it’s easy to to justify our actions or lack of disobedience.
He can handle our anger, and it is okay.
One thing I think so many people miss from this story is the great loss Naomi faces. She loses both her sons, and her husband. Naomi isn’t hesitant to admit that she is angry with God and blames Him. She states three times in Ruth 1:20-21 that she accuses God of her heartache. So often are we scared to be honest that we are mad at God. But why? Do we not think God can handle it? Or that it isn’t okay? Let me reassure you… He can handle it, and it is okay.
Pause to consider…
- Are you willing to be ready at all times to go wherever God calls you? Or are you tempted to take the easy way out and only go where the harvest seems to be? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us a hunger to be where the Lord’s presence is–nowhere else.
- Who do you most identify with in this situation? Are you, like Orpah, only able to hold your ground for a little while and then falling into persuasions? Are you, like Ruth, completely devoted and obedient?
- Are you feeling more like Naomi, feeling forgotten by God and downright angry at Him? Let’s ask to know more of our faithful God. He alone can move our hearts to trust Him completely.
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