Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Loyal Friendship


For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay;” – Ruth 1:16

God had sent famine to the Promised Land due to their disobedience.  But in spite of God’s promises that the Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey, Elimelech lost faith in God and took the lives of his family into his own hands.  He decided to move them to Moab, a country filled with idolatry.  Had he known what awaited him in Moab, he would have waited on God instead.

To get to Moab from Judah was no easy journey.  They had to walk over 50 miles through the wilderness of Judah, through an area called Jericho Pass, and cross the Jordan River.  But the famine was bad.  Elimelech and his wife Naomi had two boys, Mahlon and Chilon.  No doubt their urge to leave was fueled with worries over the lives of their boys during the famine.  So they left Judah, where they were surrounded by family and friends, and went to Moab. 

Soon after, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech dies, leaving her with two sons.  I would imagine this is when the regrets of leaving family began.  But her sons had married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, and they stayed in Moab and lived there for ten years.  Then the unthinkable happened.  Both of Naomi’s sons died.  She was left alone in a foreign country.  Not wanting to be alone, and hearing that God had restored Judah from the famine, Naomi decided to make the trip back to her homeland, alone.  Knowing how hard the trip had been to get to Moab, this had to be a tough decision for her to make.  But Naomi was old, and did not want to live out the rest of her years in a foreign land away from her people. 

As she left out, she begged her daughter-in laws to go back to their mother’s home, and prayed that God would grant them new husbands.  Orpah went back to her family and her idols, but not Ruth.  Ruth clung to her mother-in-law.  She begged her not to force her to leave her.  In Ruth 1:16-17 she speaks to Naomi and says,

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you stay, I will stay;
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 you and me.”

How sweet it is when Ruth says “wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay”. Ruth showed a kind of friendship to Naomi she may have never felt before.  When she left Judah and the famine, none of her family went with them.  But Ruth gave Naomi something hard to find – a loyal friendship.  With a journey of over 50 miles ahead, Ruth was not going to let Naomi go alone.  She had Naomi’s back. 

Why did Ruth react this way and Orpah go back to her family?  It had to do with their hearts.  Orpah went back to her family and their “gods”.  But Ruth’s God was God the Father, as she says “your people will be my people, and your God, my God”.  She had become a believer in the One True God. 

Believing in the One that is love (1 John 4:8) will change how you act.  In Ephesians 3:17 Paul prays that we would be “rooted and grounded in love”.  When love is your roots and your foundation, your fruit is sweet. 

We all have people around us each day that need what Naomi needed, a loyal friendship.  Our sweet elderly ladies alone fill many nursing homes.  Our single mothers working to provide for their children, and taking care of them at night get very little time to have a friend.  Our teens are seeking love in ways that only bring them harm.  Seek out those that you can strengthen with simply your presence.  Share the love of God that is in you.  You will find that the sweet fruit of your love is a blessing.

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