14 Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Follow your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow 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. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me. 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped talking to her.
Because of a famine in their native Bethlehem, Naomi and Elimelech relocated to Moab. It turned out to be a poor choice, because it was there where heartbreak struck their family. Elimelech died, and some time later, both of his sons died. This left three women, Naomi, Orpah and Ruth, as widows in a foreign land.
Despite their shared anguish, Naomi encouraged her faithful daughters-in-law to stay in the land of their mothers. With grievous tears, the women prepared to part ways. Naomi prayed blessings over them and believed God would supply all their needs. The women kissed and wept loudly because they did not want to part with their mother-in-law. But eventually, Orpah did return to her people.
However, Ruth insisted on going with Naomi. Naomi protested. She felt her life was too bitter and lonely, and she didn’t want to Ruth to be part of that. But Ruth declared that wherever Naomi went, she would go. She promised Naomi, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” She vowed to let nothing but death separate them.
Ruth’s words are often used in marriage ceremonies as part of the vows couples speak to one another. Would you be this faithful to someone you loved? Could you leave a land where you lived, where your husband was buried, to follow your mother-in-law? Do you have Ruth’s ability to persist when you feel that strongly about an issue?
How difficult it must have been for Ruth! We, like Ruth, must exercise our faith, trusting that God knows what is best and will direct our paths. As someone has said, “We may not know what our future holds, but we know who holds the future.”
While it isn’t mentioned in these verses, we should be aware that when Ruth followed Naomi to this new land, she met Boaz, who eventually became her new husband. This is important to remember because in marrying Ruth, Boaz not only revived Elimelech’s lineage, but even more significantly, this union produced the genealogical line of Obed, David, Jesse and ultimately Jesus.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What kind of love and determination did Ruth’s action require? Why do you think she had this much resolve?
- If you were in a similar situation, could you be as strong as Ruth?
- Think about Jesus. What brought about His resolve to follow God’s plan for the crucifixion?
- Thank God for His plan, and praise Him for securing our future in Him.
Pray that everything our mission journey teams do this year is useful in bringing the gospel to those without Jesus. From painting, to gardening, to medical clinics, prayer walking, music, and more, pray that it all plays a part in the work God is already doing in every location.