Wednesday

"But Ruth said, 'Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.'" (v. 16)

Ruth 1:1-18 Wednesday 17 September 2014


Background

According to verse 1, the story of Ruth is placed at the time ofthe judges (approx 1380 to 1050 BC). In the book of Judges therewas unfaithfulness, which led to failure and oppression, and thenGod raised judges to deliver the people, but after being saved theyturned away from God again. As we still see today when there ispolitical instability, unfaithfulness and violence, the poor arethe ones who suffer most and migration is still a commonresponse.

In contrast to the expectations of the time we have this amazingpicture of faithfulness in Ruth. Widows were at the bottom of theeconomic pile, and yet here we see faithfulness and loyalty whichmirrors that of God.

The commitment by Ruth that we see in verse 16 is radical. It goesfar beyond what can be expected and is not at all in her own bestinterests. Pledging yourself to another, knowing that you arealigning yourself with poverty; that you will be an outsider in aforeign country; and accepting a god who appears to have abandonedpeople is an incredibly humbling and powerful statement ofloyalty.

In this declaration by Ruth we see a beautiful illustration ofwhat it means for God to be on the side of the poor. Like Ruth, Goddemonstrates faithfulness and loyalty without seeking a reward.Christians see that supremely in the self-giving of Jesus to deathon the Cross.

There is also a strong message about power in this story whichconnects with the teaching of Jesus. Both Ruth and Naomi aresupposedly powerless within their culture and situation. Yet Ruthtakes the initiative, and through her loving commitment and servicebecomes powerful. This has echoes of the way Jesus models power andwhat he demands of disciples. A good example of that would be fromthe Last Supper where he washes the disciples' feet (see John 13) anddirects his followers to do the same. In this stunning verse fromthe Old Testament Ruth is an amazing example of how to followJesus.

To Ponder

  • Where do you see declarations of loyalty and support for thepoor today, such as that Ruth made?
  • How do you think Jesus expects you to be a servant? What is theequivalent for you of making a declaration like Ruth's, or washingpeople's feet?
  • Reflect on your own experiences of loyalty and commitment. Howdo you feel about them? How have you responded?
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