March 7, 2021: Day 1 – Ruth 1

I love the book of Ruth.  The first chapter contains so much and it is one that has ramifications not only for the period of the Judges, in which this was written (see vs.1), but also impacted the days of Jesus as well.  Ruth was a foreign, pagan daughter-in-law to Naomi who then became Mara.  Do you find it somewhat puzzling that a book of the Bible is named after a pagan from Moab?  She is very similar in history and in the Bible to Rahab.

If you look at Jesus' genealogy you will find that Ruth, along with Rahab, is in Jesus' lineage (Matthew 1:5).  Jesus had not one but two people within his ancestry who were not from the people of God but who were embraced and welcomed into the community by the people of God.  They were outsiders religiously, culturally, and even their gender was not that which normally gave them space to be in the line for the Messiah.  But they were.

I often use Ruth 1:16-17 in funeral services for people that I do not know very well and that I do not know what their relationship with Jesus was like.  I love the foreign pagan telling Naomi, who was supposedly part of God's chosen people: "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.  Where you die, I will die - and there will I be buried.  May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you."

You can hear the voice of God ringing in Naomi's ears as it comes from her daughter in law telling her that she can never escape the presence of God no matter how far she tried to run away.  Normally in the Bible when people experience God often their names are changed from something drab to something promising and important.  Here, instead, the name is changed from pleasant to bitter.  Not a great transition and not a great time in the life of Naomi.  But Ruth makes it all worth while, and this will become especially true as we look further on in this book of the Bible.

Welcome back to the challenge.  It is hard to believe that we are almost near the end of the entire Bible.  What a great way to start.  Hearing the voice of God from a place where you would least expect it.  A pagan daughter-in-law who acts more godly than most who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ today.  What a great example!

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