We pick up the story with Orpah making the decision to return to Moab. As she turns to go back home, Ruth is standing there clinging to her mother-in-law. The tension builds as the readers wonder what decision Ruth will make. Naomi cuts through the tension with one word, “Look!” There is no mistaking the tone in her voice. She does not want to return home with a Moabite daughter-in-law in tow.
Naomi just sent Orpah back to her false gods and now she is encouraging Ruth to do the same. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and point out all of Naomi’s faults, but how many times have you and I done the same thing – keeping our faith to ourselves? God is interested in everyone and we are to go and reach others for Him. No matter what Naomi’s motive was God had other plans for Ruth.
Verse 16 starts with a small word, “but” that changes the whole thing. God is working in and changing Ruth. Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi was all about God. I love the reminder that Liz gives us, “God’s plans for you were already in place” (46). We have been painted into God’s masterpiece. Sometimes we don’t understand, but beloved He has plans for each and every one of us. Ruth didn’t know what wonderful things awaited her in Bethlehem; she was just being obedient to the nudging of the Spirit of God. That is the same choice we all face, will we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit even when it is not necessarily the easy path?
Ruth takes it farther, not only is she promising never to leave Naomi, but that “Your people will be my people…” (Ruth 1:16). Ruth is leaving everything behind and committing herself to the unknown – talk about a leap of faith. It is easy for us to sit back and cheer Ruth on and say, “way to go”, but we are called to do the very same thing with the body of Christ. We have to get beyond the exterior and love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ just as God loves us.
After all of Ruth’s vows to Naomi, it is her turn to respond. Evidently, she decides that nothing is going to change Ruth’s mind, so she doesn’t say anymore. Naomi needs to gain a new perspective on the situation. She will soon discover that Ruth is a blessing, not a burden.
Questions to Consider:
- Ruth is leaving behind all that is familiar – her country, her family and her home. How easy or difficult would it be for you to do the very same thing?
- To whom could you say, “Where you go I will go”?
- Reading through Ruth 1:14-18, what is your one take-away or aha moment from this passage?