The Old Testament story of Ruth, told in four chapters in the book of Ruth, is a beautiful story about hardship, faithfulness and redemption.
Naomi, with her husband and two sons had previously left Israel during a time of famine, to go and settle in neighbouring Moab. Naomi’s husband later dies, and their sons grow up and marry Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth, contrary to Jewish teaching. In time both sons also die, and Naomi is left in a foreign land with two foreign daughters-in-law. Hearing that there is food back in Israel, Naomi decides to return, with her tail between her legs, but urges her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab and make new lives for themselves. Ruth, though, pledges her loyalty to Naomi and travels back with her to Bethlehem.
Bible Reading: Ruth 1:16-22
Ruth said to Naomi, "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." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 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?" "Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 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." So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
The story of Ruth and Naomi has a happy ending. Ruth works in the harvest to provide for the two of them. There she meets and later marries Boaz, the wealthy landowner and a distant relative of Naomi. Boaz and Ruth become the parents of Obed and subsequently the great grandparents of King David, from whom Jesus was a direct descendant.
We all make decisions in life that don’t always turn out for the best; it is arguable whether Naomi’s family should have left their own people to settle in a foreign land, or that their sons should have married Moabite women.
But in spite of mistakes of adverse circumstances, God was still graciously at work in Naomi’s life, redeeming the situation, not just for her, but also for Ruth and for all future generations through the birth, a thousand years later, of the Saviour of the world.
Have you made mistakes in life? Acknowledge them before God and know his forgiveness. He will redeem the situation for you and for all those who follow after you.
And if you are feeling the bitterness that Naomi initially felt, bring that to him as well, and allow the grace of God to bring you peace and joy. As the women said to Naomi, at the birth of Obed ‘He will renew your life and sustain you.’
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are my great redeemer, yesterday, today and forever.
‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay’.
There is a redeemer