( June 3, 2020)

From Ruth 1:16-18

…Your people shall be my people, and your God my God…. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.” 

Sometimes we resist God’s call, like Jonah.  Other times we eagerly embrace it, like Ruth.  When the above verses say that Ruth was “determined to go with her,” the Hebrew verb here for “determined” tells us two things: First, it is a reflexive verb.  No one coerced Ruth; this was her own deep desire to go to Israel.  Second, there is a durative sense to the verb; this was no knee-jerk wishy-washy decision.  This was profound.

I believe Ruth insisted on going with Naomi because she fell in love with Naomi’s God.  There is a sense of ethos in Ruth’s statement as it culminates, “Your God shall be my God.”  Unlike Orpah, Ruth gives up her Moabite gods.  She refuses to worship the disgusting god Chemosh and pursues Yahweh.  It does not matter what Ruth has to give up, endure or suffer: she wants God.

Clearly this kind of desire comes from the Lord.  It is beautiful, passionate, deep.  But how did Ruth the Moabite come to know the God of Israel?  I think it is related to Elimelech – that passionate, believing, “My God is King” man.  It is provocative to wonder if Elimelech and Ruth ever met.  Yet, it does seem clear that the close Elimelech-Naomi union had a faithful witness in their family’s DNA.  …After all, there was no one else that could have told Ruth about Yahweh.

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We never know how we might touch another person’s life.  Sometimes even a brief encounter or a kind, well-timed word can be treasured for years.  The reason I like to wonder if Ruth met Elimelech is because I imagine she saw something in his life.  That she simply saw who he really was: a grace-filled, God loving person who rejoiced in the Lord.  I imagine that Elimelech was not striving to do anything – but that he was simply being himself.  He was simply growing into who God created him to be.  He was being a child of God.  And that is perhaps the most powerful witness there is.

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Father, we may be completely unaware of who might be looking at us and seeing a glimpse of You.  So today may we delight in You and be filled with joy.  For you are the Great King.  Amen!