August 7

August 7
by Pastor Judy
Ruth devotional 5 of 5
Friday: For You

The Book of Ruth is surely a rich and intriguing story: of faithfulness and loyalty, of blessings, of redemption, and is made richer by the very names given to places and to people.  The story itself is delightful, following the plight of two poor, widowed women and their reception into a family, being given place and future because of the kindness of one man.

But the sting is in the tail.  Did you catch it? Look at Ruth 4:16-17 (and the genealogy that follows):

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

It has been made clear from the beginning of the book that Ruth is from Moab; she is a Moabite.  So who were the Moabites?  And why is this detail of Ruth’s nationality and ancestry important?  A small section of the Law, noted in Deuteronomy, gives us insight:

No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you.

Well, that’s pretty strong!  Moabites were definitely on the “Do not enter” list of Jewish history.  Originally, they come from the same ethnic stock as the Jews, from the line of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.  But succeeding events tarnished their reputation among the Jews.  Moabites served a different god (Chemosh), not the one true God.  They had refused to provide common hospitality to the Israelite refugees, and later fought against them.  Moab was considered an enemy of the people of God.

This makes the story much more interesting, doesn’t it?  Ruth’s nationality is listed no less than 7 times in these 4 short chapters.  And yet, she was received by the Jewish people politely (at first), and finally with warmth and honor.  Even more significantly, Ruth is listed in the genealogy of David.  There was a Gentile – a woman of Moab – in King David’s family tree! That makes her an ancestress, also, of Jesus.  In fact, she is named in his genealogy according to Matthew 1:5.

As we study the book of Acts in worship, we are reminded of God’s love for the Gentiles over and over.  And it’s a good thing, because most of us reading this devotion, are not of Jewish lineage.  If we are welcomed, grafted (as Paul says later) into the family tree, then we must be open and welcoming to all. 

Our family in Christ is rich in its diversity.  The message of the cross is bigger than all of us, and isn’t that good news?   He has opened his arms to embrace a bigger family than we know — including you and me.  He is with you and He for you.  Be blessed!

This next song illustrates the blessing God gives — for all; FOR YOU.

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