Today, we will look at one woman’s courageous decision of faith that change the course of her family’s history forever. Ruth’s story is a story of acceptance and the dramatic redirection of destiny for an entire family line. It was forbidden for any Moabite to enter the assembly of the Lord. And yet, because of her faith, submitted heart and committed resolve, Ruth gained acceptance into the family of God. What was forbidden and deemed as unworthy, was now allowed by a merciful, loving and just God.
“But Ruth replied: “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me, and ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to persuade her.” (Ruth 1:15-18)
Ruth’s bold commitment positioned her to completely change her family line.
“No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation.” Deuteronomy 23:3
Long before Naomi and Ruth’s story, God made it clear that the people of Moab were not to be allowed in His Assembly. He states His reason in verses 4-6 of Deuteronomy 23:
“For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.” Deuteronomy 23:4-6
Their hostility and unwelcoming attitude toward the Israelites cast them out of God’s favor and the Israelites were instructed not to even seek friendship with them. And yet, here is Naomi, a woman of faith in a foreign land. Both of her sons had married women of Moab during their time there and now, they are dead, along with their father, leaving behind a widowed Naomi and her daughter-in-laws. I suspect that Naomi taught the women at least some of the words of her God because she speaks plainly with them about their current status, announcing that it is time to return to her homeland.
“With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Ruth 1:7-9
One daughter-in-law, Orpah, chooses to go back home, while the other remains with Naomi, clinging to her.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; follow her back home.” Ruth 1:15
At the cross roads of decision, Ruth makes one that will change her life and future forever. She decides to continue on with Naomi, forsaking her past entirely and adopting an Israelite’s way of life completely. This one act of faith qualifies her for the blessing of the Lord.
They return home to Israel and some time later we see something audacious:
“One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek a place for you, that it may be well with you?” Ruth 3:1
I can’t help but think that Naomi knew the word of God as stated in the book of Deuteronomy concerning the Moabites. And yet, displays her own act of faith here by instructing Ruth and seeking her well-being, her peace and prosperity! One thing I clearly see is that these women were counting on the character and kindness of God rather than His wrath from the law. They had faith in God’s loving and merciful character. Ruth would not be in the genealogy of the Messiah if she hadn’t listened to Naomi.
There truly is nothing that faith can’t do!
Ruth made the decision that Naomi’s God would be her God and Naomi’s people would be her people by faith. She crossed over from being a forbidden Moabite to an accepted, adopted daughter of the Most High. God, in His great mercy and loving-kindness then pours out His blessing upon the gentile Ruth that no one could have foreseen coming: He grafts her in to the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.” (Matthew 1:1-6)
Sister, you never know what your faith will truly accomplish!
Most times, we see our acts of faith as a means to an end. We try to simply resolve our own particular set of circumstances. Ruth committed to completely turn her back on the old in order to embrace the new. And she changed her destiny for all the generations that followed her. Her future looked so bleak prior to that one decision. Her resolve to see her decision through led to entirely different lifestyle for her and her family.
What commitment is God asking of you today?
We all have areas of our lives that God is asking for a bold commitment from us. Strengthen your resolve to step out in faith regardless of what the future may look like. Decide that, no matter what, you will stay the course with God and His ways. Obey whatever direction he leads you in and trust that He has only your good in mind. More often than not, your acts of faith will lead to much more than you can imagine!
Elaine Stores says
The story of Ruth always stands out to me. She knew who God was from Naomi’s family and she boldly chose Him over familiarity, and all she had ever known. And what blessing she received. For nothing will be impossible with God…
Elaine, yes! Thank you for your comments!
Pam Morrison says
I love the story of Ruth – so many things to mine from it. I loved that you pointed out Deuteronomy 23:3 and the lack of welcome for Moabites due to their historic bad treatment of the Israelites. Ruth’s acceptance was an undeserved, unmerited blessing from God.