A great love story - Ruth 1: 1-5
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The title of this series of devotionals is "A great love story." It is for this reason that we will begin this devotional with a quote from another great love story, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." In just a few words, Jane Austen gives us the great plot of the entire novel. Ruth has a similar beginning. In verse 1, with less than 40 words, the author of Ruth has described the context of the entire book to us: During the time of the judges (where each one did what he thought best), there was a famine in the land of Israel. And a man from Israel decides to take his family out of the Promised Land to live among the pagans.
Ruth, this great love story, is a story of bad decisions and bitterness. But it is also a story of generosity and dedication, as it presents us with noble and righteous characters. All of this prepares us for a wonderful ending: the weak and needy are rescued from their condition and restored by someone noble who is willing to make enormous sacrifices to benefit others. And this will help us to understand the coming great love story of Jesus who will rescue us from our desperate condition.
1. Who is with Elimelech?
V. 2 gives us the names of those who leave the Land: Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Chilion. In our previous devotional we saw that this man's decisions deny what his name indicates ("God is my king"). His wife was called Naomi ("sweetness"). His eldest son was Mahlon ("infirmity") and the youngest was named Kilion ("wasting away").
Our decisions affect others. When this head of a household decides to migrate from Israel to Moab, the whole family is affected. Our previous readings tell us that nothing good will come of this decision. If there is one thing to remember, it is that the 'sensible' decision is not always the right thing to do.
2. What is the family doing in Moab?
This family ‘stayed to live’ in Moab. This little detail can be just something descriptive, but it can also indicate something deeper. In this case, we will see that 'to live in Moab' in practice meant that this family abandoned God. As we have already seen, God had warned their ancestors of this danger. Here we see what happens when God is not the guide in our lives. The sons of Elimelech marry foreign women. This is staying to live in Moab: acting as if God does not exist.
3. What happens to this man and his sons and what is the condition of the women in the family?
Unfortunately, our story does not end with the weddings. All the males in the family die in a foreign land, leaving Naomi and his daughters-in-law completely destitute. There is no future for them. Our great love story has begun with a tragedy of great proportions. And what makes it even more painful is that it is an avoidable tragedy, if only they had trusted God.
Think: In our previous reading of just one verse, we were prepared for something that would not be good. The sons of Elimelech marry Moabites. They have abandoned the faith of their fathers. And finally, all the men in the family die and the women in the family are left completely unprotected. What happens when we do what is good in our eyes but do not honor God?
Ideas for prayer: Thank God for his Word, which guides and accompanies us always. Since your decisions can be affected by your sinful nature, ask him that his Word be for you a lamp to your feet and a light on your path.
Translated from the Chilean Book of Common Prayer. A prayer for faith, p. 130
Our God and creator, who has made us in Christ Jesus for good works and who says that faith without works is dead, make us show in our deeds and words the genuineness of our faith; through your Son our Savior. Amen.