Faith is not gendered specific. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that men can exclusively serve the Lord, pray, fast, or exude tremendous courage and trust in the Lord. In fact, women make many appearances throughout the story of the Bible in key roles. This series is devoted to the great women of faith, past, present, and future.
The last post began this series by looking at Rahab who makes her arrival in Joshua chapter two. Today, we look at Rahab’s daughter-in-law. Ruth is one of my favorite women of the Bible for several reasons which I’ll talk about in this post. Let’s talk about her story.
Ruth was a woman of Moab. This was land on the southeast border of Israel. It was a people often opposed to the people of Israel. Here again, we see God about to use a woman from a pagan people to fulfill His promises. Just like Rahab, she will be plucked out of a people for greater things.
Ruth was also a daughter of hardship. In the book of Ruth, we read that she left her family to be married and not long after, she lost her husband. She also lost her father in law and saw the death of her sister’s husband. Times were not favorable. Out of these conditions, Ruth will endure and go on to see greater days. She was not weak and did not succumb to hardship.
Ruth was extremely devoted. This is one of the character traits that I have been inspired by the most when it comes to her. In the wake of so much loss, Ruth’s mother in law Naomi decides to head back to Israel. Ruth can choose to either stay and start again with someone else in a land that she knew. Or she could follow Naomi. Option one is far easier. But anyone familiar with the story knows that she didn’t take the easy route.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17 NIV
In my opinion, this is one of the great expressions and statements of love in the Old Testament. If more of us were like Ruth, divorce would be demolished, businesses would not fracture, politics would not be plagued with scandals, and everything else rooted in self-interest would dissipate. This is a person emptying herself to care for another. Apart from Ruth, Naomi could have been destined to be destitute. Her love was the driving force of her life and it took tremendous faith to leave everything behind for what she knew mattered the most.
Ruth’s faith-driven obedience didn’t end here. As the story progresses, Ruth does all she can to uphold her promise to Naomi. That obedience eventually leads her to Boaz…the son of Rahab. The story made short, they fall in love and they marry. Naomi’s life is preserved, she is taken care of, her family’s land in Israel is redeemed by Boaz, and the happy couple eventually becomes the proud great grandparents of a king…King David. Her life is proof that our personal faith will have expanding influence and impact. A Moabite woman’s faith preserved the kingly lineage. A Moabite woman’s faith saved a life. A Moabite woman’s faith demonstrated love on a level that many of us only aspire to. Praise God for this Moabite woman’s faith.