Devotional Series on Faith
Wednesday June 14, 2017
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 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. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
- Naomi had experienced a great deal of personal loss and heartache. Due to famine her husband made the hasty decision to relocate the family to Moab. Ironically the place where Elimelek and Naomi had lived was in Bethlehem, a name signifying “House of Bread”. Moab was the name for a land just short of the Land of Promise and that nation had been a perpetual enemy of Israel. So Elimelek allowed circumstances to move him away from the Promise of God to a foreign and hostile land. This is what happens to us every time we get our focus off seeking the Lord and allow our circumstances to dictate to us what we should do.
- Elimelek’s decision carried with it dire consequences, first he died away from his God ordained inheritance and was buried in a foreign land and then his two sons after marrying Moabite women also died suddenly, far from the happy ending you can be certain Elimelek envisioned when he uprooted his family. Following the deaths of her two sons, Naomi decided to head home – we often times turn back to the familiar and a place of safety when the bottom drops out. Naomi’s return home also carried with it significant spiritual implications not only for her but also for at least one of her daughters-in-law. Naomi told the girls to go back to their homes in Moab, but Ruth refused to go.
- Now, Ruth’s decision was perhaps far bolder than you might think. She was a Moabite which included a religious belief system very different from Judaism. She too had observed the tragedies that unfolded in Naomi’s family – three deaths, the men were now gone and the women left alone, very vulnerable. Where was the benefit for Ruth in sticking with Naomi? Elimelek walked away from the blessing and inheritance of the Lord because of circumstances far less grievous than what currently faced these women; yet Ruth chose to go with Naomi. Ruth valued what Elimelek so easily walked away from. Despite the hardship, the difficulty, the incredible challenges they had already encountered, Ruth chose to embrace not only her mother-in-law, but her life, her religion, her people and her God! This is true faith! Faith that perseveres despite the pressure, Faith that keeps on giving despite the sacrificial cost! Why? Only a deeply felt conviction, and a desire to live by faith could compel such a decision!