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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Lessons from Ruth: Day 2

Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you will go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God, my God…
Ruth 1:16

After the boys were in be
d, on the night before they left Bethlehem, I am pretty sure that Elimelech (“my God is King”) and his wife Naomi (“pleasant, lovely”) had a talk. They assured each other that this move to a heathen country was temporary, was for their children’s good (judging by their names, both boys had health issues) and was, in no way, a forsaking of their faith. Furthermore, they surely promised each other that when they set up housekeeping in Moab, they would be as devout as in the observance of their religion as in Bethlehem.
But they stayed in Moab longer than they had planned. The boys reached marriageable age and brought home Moabite wives. I have no doubt that those young women were exposed to their practice of their in-law’s Hebrew faith. Otherwise, how would Ruth know what she was choosing? Whatever their failings, through their customs and faithfulness to the Law, the home of lovely and pleasant Naomi and strong, devout Elimilach was a haven of godliness in an idolatrous culture.
Recently, I received the newsletter of mission organization that sends satellite television programs into the Middle East. In it was the transcript of a call they received from a young woman. I will quote in part:
…When I came across your network, you talked about family and the love of a father. It was as though you knew the emptiness I was feeling inside. As you spoke, that emptiness was being filled with your words, with something I longed for. That day I felt so close to you at Iran Alive, even though you were on television. It felt as though I have known you all my life. That day I said I need to belong to this family, (emphasis mine) and I called and prayed with you to receive Christ. (Iran Alive 4-19-2016)
Those words could have been Ruth’s. In Naomi and Elimilach, Ruth saw a different kind of life and a different kind of god than that worshipped by Moab. And in them, Ruth saw something her heart had longed for her whole life, a future, unknown, yet certain, and a God, unseen, yet worthy of her trust.

Nancy Shirah

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