Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the Lord do to me if anything but death part me from you.(Ruth 1:16, 17)
The biblical character ‘Ruth’ has much intrigued me ever since I set my eyes on the scripture, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.“Aren’t these wonderful words of dedication, coming from a daughter-in-law who is widowed and is urged to hasten back home by her ever so concerned mother-in-law, who herself is widowed and lonely, and badly needed reassurance?
The Book of Ruth
Being one of the five women who distinctly find mention in the Gospel of Mathew as belonging to the genealogy of Jesus, Ruth was abundantly blessed by God, even though she was a gentile woman and considered unclean.
The story of Ruth begins in Moab as a self contained narrative, seemingly disconnected from the Biblical sequence starting from Genesis to the Kings. However, on closer perusal, we find that the book of Ruth holds a very significant position in contemporary times and strives to teach us a lesson or two in faith, loyalty and family relationships.
Being a Moabite woman and having married an Israelite, Ruth was treading on very dangerous territory. She could have been hated and treated as a foreigner by the Israelites because she was a Gentile – not worthy of any respect or position.
Biblical narrations depict several stories of believers who married foreigners being hauled into idolatry and similar belief systems that reject true God. Ruth is an exception among this Gentile territory. She not only renounces false Gods of her tribe, but also goes on to accept our God as her own. Widowed and desolate, she chose to follow her widowed mother-in-law Naomi back to Judah, leaving her country and her people in Moab.
She exhibited qualities not only of loyalty, love, and respect towards her mother-in-law, but also of faith, humility, hard work, and gratitude towards our God and His chosen people. She chose dedication and devotion to her husband’s family over her own wellbeing and happiness.
Qualities that shine through Ruth’s character
Ruth’s expression of loyalty, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge;” is perhaps the most celebrated in the Old Testament. These remarkable words of loyalty are at times incorporated in wedding vows of couples to pledge their solidarity towards one another.
Putting others’ welfare above one’s own is a quality that requires tremendous sacrificial mentality and kindness; qualities that are hard to come by in today’s times.
The story of Ruth has a direct relation to the scripture, ‘’ Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”(Matthew 6:33).
God showers ample blessings on Ruth for her abiding loyalty and faith by legally binding her with Boaz, a responsible and wealthy kinsman of her deceased husband. Ruth thus becomes a foreign ancestor of David and subsequently of Jesus Christ, a blessing that far exceeds the expectation of a Gentile woman. From an unknown name in the Bible who was introduced as, “the Moabite who came back with Naomi”, the God of Israel redeems her lost life back to one of glory and prosperity.
Humility, love, and obedience.
God’s ways are always astounding! Much before Ruth was born, God had made provisions for the poor and the brokenhearted.
Deuteronomy 24:19 dictates the people of Israel not to gather all the harvest from their fields, but to leave some areas unharvested for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that they may be blessed abundantly.
When Ruth returns to Judah, it happened to be the time of barley harvest. Sacrificing her social status, she humbles herself and decides to glean from the fields of Boaz, a kinsman redeemer of her father-in-law Elimelech. Despite being in great danger of getting molested in the fields, Ruth chooses to work hard and earn her bread. Ruth’s obedience and love for Naomi shines through in her actions of submissiveness and humility when Naomi asks her to request for redemption from Boaz to continue her family line.
Hard work and diligence
Even when God has made provisions for the poor, one must work hard to earn the blessings that He has in store. Ruth was hard working and diligent, loyal and responsible, not only towards herself, but also towards her mother-in-law. She did not wait for the right moment or person to come and bail her out of poverty. She went ahead and gleaned in the fields to sustain herself and her kin amidst troubled times.
The story of Ruth teaches us that God never forgets those who put Him before everything, be it a believer or a Gentile. Ruth made a huge sacrifice by forgoing the pleasures of being with her people, her gods and her customs. God saw her steadfastness and blesses her immediately.
My dear people of God, blessings from God need not always be begotten while we are on earth. Sometimes, the sufferings that we go through are a living purgatory on earth that will hold us in merit of gaining eternal life for our souls as soon as we leave this earthly realm.
But, sometimes God does see our terrible afflictions, and can be kind enough to restore us from destitution in this world itself. Consider yourself lucky if your sufferings on earth accompany a time of blessings and glory.
Let us all be loyal and devoted to our true God to gather blessings for eternal life.