Your God My God

There had been a famine and the food had run out in Judea. They didn’t have anything else, so Elimelek and Naomi took their sons and went to the Moabites so that they could survive. The people of Israel were not supposed to intermix with the other nations around them, but this was a matter of life or death.

The Moabites were the descendents of Moab, the son born out of an incestuous relationship between Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and his oldest daughter. They were pagans who did not serve the God of the Israelites, Yahweh, but instead worshiped the god Chemosh.

Now, however, Elimelek and Naomi’s sons have married Moabite women and then subsequently Elimelek and his sons both pass away, leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi urges them both to return back to the Moabites, to their own people. Orpah decides to return, but Ruth stays with Naomi. She refuses to leave and we see that she will stay, serving both Naomi as well as the God of the Israelites:

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. 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.

Ruth 1:16-17

The relationship between Naomi and Ruth is strong. Ruth is completely connected to her mother-in-law and desires to stay with her. Despite the fact that they come from different peoples with different customs, and completely different worship, Ruth desires to stay only with Naomi, and is willing to go so far as to completely change who she is to stay with Naomi.

What type of love is that, that someone would completely change who they are? Clearly, Naomi has cultivated an incredible relationship with Ruth. Clearly, she has given what she has to Ruth, and now Ruth will reciprocate. She will give all that she has back to Naomi and she will stay with her and that dedication in both directions will pay off. Naomi’s love for Ruth will be reciprocated, and Ruth’s love for Naomi will become known amongst all of the Israelite people with whom they will stay when they move back to Bethlehem.

Love makes an enormous difference. It can overcome many deficits. It can overcome many gaps. It can bring people to a place where they will make incredible changes because of their desire for the connection of love. What is our commitment to love for the other? In our family? Amongst our friends? Amongst those that are unlovable…amongst those that are very different from us. We see here that it caused an amazing change. Are we willing to love like that?

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