The Book of Ruth: What is your home town?
Devotional readings of Scripture are always a work in progress but I love talking them through with others. My aim is to post a few thoughts each Wednesday. At the moment I’m reading through the book of Ruth, so I’ll be sharing a few words on Ruth in the weeks to come. These posts will be short and unpolished! Let me know your own thoughts on the book of Ruth in the comments; I’d love to hear your encouragements from God’s Word. If you’re looking for a commentary on the Book of Ruth, try this great book by Barry Webb, * covering several of my favorite Bible books.
Ruth’s devotion is amazing
Ruth’s voice is amazing. In these verses at the end of the first chapter of the Book of Ruth, Naomi’s two daughters-in-law are named, and Ruth is heard. And the words she speaks, and the faith she professes, never fail to send tingles down my spine.
Naomi has been trying to send her back to Moab, to the house of Ruth’s mother. “Go, return each of you…” But Ruth won’t return; she clings to Naomi. She won’t be sent back; she’s determined to stay with Naomi. “Do not urge me to leave you…”
The words that follow are pure poetry:
For where you go I will go,and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.
The quality of Ruth’s devotion is truly moving. She is fiercely loyal, but it’s more than that – she considers herself united to Naomi, in life and in death.
Ruth’s faith is remarkable
I find Ruth’s character so appealing – her loyalty is beautiful and inspiring. But I don’t think it’s just a stubborn, setting her face like flint kind of quality. Ruth’s loyalty springs from faith. She has faith in the Lord – in Yahweh. Her devotion to Naomi is devotion to the Lord.
Ruth’s faith here, and throughout the book of Ruth, inspires me. She puts herself under the wings of Yahweh; she entrusts herself to His covenant promises; she places herself among the Lord’s people and entrusts herself to the Lord’s provision.
Here are two reasons I find Ruth’s faith so striking:
- She has suffered
I’m so used to celebrating the blessings Ruth experiences in Boaz and Obed that I’ve overlooked how the story begins. Ruth’s husband has died. She’s childless. She’s known hunger. Yet she turns to Yahweh rather than away from him.
- She’s from Moab
The Moabites were longstanding heartfelt enemies of Israel. She has no heritage of belonging to God’s people. She’s not drawing on truths she learnt as a child, or values modelled by her parents. She didn’t learn ‘Jesus loves you’ in Sunday School. Yet she turns to Yahweh and puts her trust in Him. She truly leaves Moab.
Ruth’s return home is genuine
So the two women keep travelling until they reach Bethlehem. Naomi’s words are still so sad; she’s returned, but she’s returned empty. Naomi has a healthy sense of the providence of the Lord but it isn’t encouraging her.
But the return is definitely hopeful. They’ve returned to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. The fields are holding food and promise and hope for a better future. The Lord has visited his people and given them food.
There’s a part here that I had to read several times to understand it:
S0 Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Yes, Naomi was returning to her hometown. But Ruth had never been there before. She wasn’t at all from there. How can she be returning to Bethlehem?
Except she is from there. Bethlehem is her hometown now.
Since Ruth has her put trust in the Lord, she has become one of His people. Absolutely, through and through, no half measures – one of His precious children. The promises are hers, the patriarchs are hers, the law is hers, the promised land is hers. She’s returning home.
Ruth’s God is our God
That stops me in my tracks. What a powerful transforming gracious God we have, that we are children of God! The promises are ours, the patriarchs are ours, the commandments are ours, the hope of the new creation is ours. Not in a half true, extra ticket, sneak in the back, kind of way. But 100 percent His own children.
It reminds me of Psalm 87. It says of Rahab: the Lord records that she was born in Zion. She was born into His family, in His city. We might remember that she came from Jericho, but the Lord knows her as His own. 100 percent His own. I’m resolving to listen more to the Lord’s verdict on my identity – wholly His.
Here’s week 1 of The Ruth Reflections: Naomi and the breaking in of grace
And week 2 of The Ruth Reflections: Where is your hometown?
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