Ruth 1: If God Is for Us, Who Can Be Against Us?
April 23, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Ruth is one of the most beautiful stories in the Old Testament. Finely crafted, it resonates with romance and intrigue, the soft light of summer evenings and the warmth of long summer days. Throughout this story there is an emphasis upon the sovereignty of God and his particular care for a particular woman—all part of his saving plan for Israel, and indeed for the whole world.
Chapter 1 sets the scene in the chaotic time known as “the days when the judges ruled” (v. 1). Against that sometimes hideous backdrop of “Game of Thrones”-like violence, the perspective focuses in on one little family. Whatever the social and cultural circumstances of our day, God cares for our family and for us as an individual. We are not forgotten or ignored, and good can come out of even Moab. Naomi goes there (v. 2), suffers calamity (v. 3-5), and comes back again with her two daughters-in-law, having lost her husband and her two sons (v. 6-7). She persuades one of her daughters-in-law to turn back (v. 8-14), but the other, Ruth, refuses (v. 14-18). In words that resonant with passionate significance, Ruth says:
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. (v. 16)
Whether or not Ruth understands all the ramifications of her commitment to the God of the Bible and to the people of that God, and whether she interprets all that through her personal commitment to Naomi, is really beside the point. She knows what she knows, and on the basis of that she offers up her life to follow God and be a part of his people. Sometimes individuals come to faith not because they understand every detail of our creeds, but because they love and understand the heart of a believer who is close to them. Through that personality they interpret the God of the Bible, and because of that view through the lens of that friend or family, they come to faith. Simple compassion, care, relationship, love, community is a key witness to our lonely, fractured world today.
Naomi and Ruth return (v. 19), Naomi filled with bitterness believing that God’s hand has gone out against her (v. 21). She even suggests a name change: no longer “pleasant” but “bitter” (v. 20). Nonetheless, the narrator of the story indicates, change is about to take place.
And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. (v. 22)
Far from being the end of something, Naomi’s experience was really the beginning of something. And it was the beginning of a time of harvest, spiritually as well as physically. Sometimes it is darkest before the dawn, and the hand of God that seems so obviously to be against us is really for us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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