We see the love of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law that is poured out without hesitation or reservation. This love story culminates in the love of the redeemer for his bride. The declaration that Ruth made is often quoted at weddings as she so poignantly declares her love for Naomi.
“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where 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 may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth was a sacred reminder that though Naomi had forsaken the Lord, the Lord had not forsaken Naomi. Ruth saw that the God of Israel had called her to minister in love to His people. Despite Naomi’s spiritual condition she was still one of His people.
During Yeshua’s earthly ministry He and His followers were committed to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as is beautifully pictured in Ruth (Matthew 10:5). God has called all believers not to forsake His people, and faith in God is seen in faithfulness to His calling. This applies to every area of our lives.
In Ruth’s declaration of love and loyalty she identifies with the people of God and the God of Israel in four areas of commitment: personal, national, spiritual, and mortal.
Ruth declared, “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge.” For all intents and purposes Ruth was saying, “My life will be intertwined with yours, both where you go and where you lodge. Where you go, though you leave the land of my birth, Moab, and where you lodge or settle, even in the land of Israel.” Ruth would rather follow a bitter believer like Naomi to the right destination, than to follow Orpah, a sweet non-believer, to the wrong destination.
Then she continued, “Your people shall be my people.” God’s blessing for the world is through the seed of Abraham, the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3). Identifying with God’s blessing means identifying with Israel. Paul uses the illustration of the Olive Tree in Romans 11:17-24 as a reminder for Gentile believers to show the kindness of the Lord as it was shown to them. The Olive Tree pictured the ministerial life of Israel and the priestly service; the roots are the promises made to the fathers.
These promises were to be ministered through Israel to the nations (Genesis 12:3, 22:18; Romans 15:8-12; Ephesians 2:11-22). Unbelief broke the natural branches off from this service. By faith in Messiah, Gentile believers are grafted into the Olive Tree alongside Jewish believers in order to minister the very same mercy and love they received to the Jewish people (Romans 11:30-31). Like Ruth, let us not only love Jewish people, but also be willing to identify with them for God’s sake.
“Your God will be my God,” Ruth implied, “I will identify with that which is unfamiliar but true, rather than that which is familiar, but untrue.” When Ruth declared, “your God will be my God” it made no sense to Naomi, because in her heart she believed that God was the cause of her problems (Ruth 1:13). Ruth’s declaration is similar to Rahab’s conversion and confession in Joshua 2:11, “for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.’’
Further she stated, “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” This commitment was an addition to that made in Ruth 1:16 and went beyond anything Naomi was thinking. Ruth was willing to give up her Moabite life rather than be disloyal to Naomi. Ruth did not fear death because she understood that the truth of eternal life overshadowed the terrors of death. Her trust in the God of Israel under whose wings Ruth rested, gave her the same confidence that all those of faith enjoy today (Romans 8:35-39).
Ruth then concludes her extraordinary response to Naomi’s counsel with the most eternal commitment: “Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:17). This language was a vow, a blood oath. But notice the language Ruth used: “May the LORD do to me!” She vowed in the sacred and covenant name of the God of Israel. She confessed the LORD as her Lord.
Ruth submitted to the Lord and His covenant relationship. She was saying, “My life is in His hands for death or for life –I trust Him!” Ruth “believed that He is; and that He is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Although our faith is continually tested, it is a biblical norm and is spiritually good for us (Deuteronomy 8:16; James 1:2-4). We are to resist the temptation to forsake the Lord through obedience and trust in God’s goodness and purposes, and we are to resist by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4-16). Those who pass the “test” using faith are also faithfully rewarded (James 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). God is revealed in the midst of the test. Testing produces testimony. Ruth’s faith was tested; Ruth triumphed by faith and the God of Israel was glorified in her. She truly loved as God loves without reservation or fear.