Daily Devotional

Ruth and Naomi: No Looking Back

by Simon Whitton

14b Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.
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 anything but death separates you and me."

Ruth 1:14b-17(NIV)

Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi was Hebrew.  Naomi had moved to the foreign land of Moab with her husband and two sons.  Her sons had married Ruth and Orpah who were Moabite women; but then Naomi's husband and later her two sons all died.  With only her two daughters-in-law left, Naomi decided to return to her own country of Judah.

This placed Ruth and Orpah at a critical crossroads in their lives.  Do they remain in Moab and return to their own families, or do they go with their mother-in-law Naomi and travel to a foreign land?

The most sensible thing would be to stay in their own country.  This is what relatives and everyone else would expect.  Their families could no doubt offer more support than the homeless widow Naomi.  The people, customs and land would all be familiar, making this the safer, more secure choice.

On the other hand, they could go with Naomi to Judah. Follow a poor widow, whose life appeared cursed, to a foreign land that may not accept or assist outsiders.  The future would be far less certain.

This crossroads was ordained by God.  To go back to the security and comfort of their own people would also mean going back to the Moabite gods; but to go to Judah would mean following the God of Israel and putting themselves completely in His hands.  It would mean actually stepping out on the more difficult road, the road of faith.

As Ruth considered her future, she found herself having to come to terms with her own death.  This must not be underestimated, because once your own death and its circumstances are given over to the Lord, it frees you from all other fears.  Ruth left the gods of her culture behind and clung instead to the God of Israel.

It turned out well for Ruth. She married a wealthy Hebrew and bore a son Obed who would be the grandfather of King David, whose direct lineage led to Jesus! To follow the Lord is usually the more difficult path, but its rewards will be far greater; a path that eventually leads to Christ.

Perhaps God has brought you to a crossroads in your life, or you have a decision to make?  Will you walk the path of common sense and comfort, or of faith?

Spend some time praying, and give yourself completely to God.  Perhaps this means asking the Lord for a 'Garden of Gethsemane' experience, where you face your mortality and release it to Him.

Once you have placed your future in God's hands and have stepped out on the road of faith, it won't matter what comes your way; you will able to say with calm confidence, 'It is the Lord who has brought me to this place' even if 'this place' is burial in a foreign land among strangers, then so be it, 'not as I will, but as You will'.

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