Inseparable that’s what they were. They walked through the darkest of times together and had lived through the deepest of tragedies. The bond between them was special. Three women who were brought together and became a family. Their love for one another was strong. Their relationship was a unique one. No one would have expected that one like it could ever come into being due to the fact, that they were from very different cultures and had very different beliefs.
The story I speak of goes like this. A husband and wife and their two sons had left their homeland known as Judah due to the kingdom being in a time of famine. They went to live in a land called Moab. One day, the husband became sick and he passed away. The wife, now a widow, had the choice of returning to her home land Judah but, she decided that she needed to remain where she was with her sons.
Shortly after that both of her sons married. Then as time went on, her two sons became sick and died. The two daughters-in-law were left with no children and found themselves at a loss as to what to do.
The mother-in-law thought that it would be best to return to her homeland Judah as she heard how her God, who she believed in, had visited her people by giving them food. Rather than stay in their homeland, the two daughters-in-law decided to go with their mother-in-law. The thought of separating from her was foreign to them and unthinkable.
On the road toward Judah, the mother-in-law whose name was Naomi turned to her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah and said, Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find a home and rest, each in the house of her husband! Then she kissed them and they wept aloud.
And they said to her, No, we will return with you to your people. But Naomi said, Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband tonight and should bear sons, Would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; it is far more bitter for me than for you that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
Then they wept aloud again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law [good-bye], but Ruth clung to her. And Naomi said, See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.
And Ruth said, Urge me not to leave you or to turn back from following you; 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 Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts me from you.
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said no more. (Ruth 1:8-18)
In this story, you see a definite separation take place between Orpah and Naomi. Orpah was given the choice of continuing with Naomi and was presented with the fact that there was no guarantee of being able to receive something by continuing on in relationship with her. The path ahead could possibly be a difficult one by living in a different culture. She was faced with having to choose her people and her gods or to choose Naomi’s people and her God.
It’s so interesting how you can see Orpah’s true motive come to light. Although she seemed devoted to Naomi, when she saw what she would have to possibly give up she decided to turn back. Her relationship with Naomi was birthed out of obligation rather than out of commitment.
Rather than risking it all by going with Naomi, letting Naomi’s people become her people and Naomi’s God to become her God; she decided it was much better to live in the way she deemed best for herself. It became obvious that her loyalty was to what she thought would benefit herself in the long run. Her heart still lay with her own people and her own gods. Although she showed emotion toward Naomi and expressed sadness in leaving her, she chose to go back to the way that she had once lived before.
Ruth’s relationship with Naomi was one of commitment. It did not matter to her that the path ahead of her would possibly be a difficult one. She went to great lengths to show Naomi her loyalty. Nothing could sway her from her decision. Naomi’s people would become her people and Naomi’s God would become her God. She was dedicated to staying with her for life no matter what the cost was.
Because of Ruth’s choice to go with Naomi she served Naomi by going to a field to glean for grain so that they might have food. She met Boaz who turned out to be Naomi’s Kinsman Redeemer. A Kinsman Redeemer was a relative who restored or preserved the full community rights of disadvantaged family members. Boaz fell in love with Ruth and agreed to become both Ruth’s and Naomi’s Kinsman Redeemer.
Boaz was one of a kind. He was born to a harlot named Rahab. You can read about in the Bible. She was a woman full of great faith and helped the Israelite spies by hiding them when their enemy was searching for them.
When it came to Boaz’s background, he didn’t let it stop him from rising to the occasion to help Ruth and Naomi. He knew that they could do nothing for themselves when it came to redeeming the land that Naomi’s husband had previously owned.
Boaz stepped in and redeemed the land giving Naomi back her rightful inheritance. Because he redeemed the land, he could take Ruth to be his wife. and that way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.
Because Ruth made the choice to allow Naomi’s God to be her God, what looked as if it could be a great loss for her turned into great blessing. Boaz and Ruth married and they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named David. David was in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
I just want to encourage you if you are at a crossroads in your life and you aren’t sure of which way to turn. You can choose to go your own way because it seems more convenient to you and that it could give you what you think you want. But when you choose the road God offers for you to take, even if the road seems desolate and without fulfillment. In the end, you will receive a greater blessing than you could have if you had chosen to go your own way.