There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:17b KJV
I love the story of Ruth. So much so that my daughter is named after this amazing woman. In my most recent study of this book, I began to receive a deeper understanding of covenantal relationships and the generational dimension of God being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What do I mean by this? I’ll try my best to explain.
In Ruth, chapter 1, we see Naomi, a widow who has also lost her two sons and has chosen to return home to Judah from Moab. Naomi has two Moabite daughters-in-law, sisters, Orpah and Ruth. She emotionally appeals to them that they must leave her and return to their mother because she is unable to fulfill Jewish law and culture and provide them a son to carry on her husband’s name. The Scripture tells us that after this appeal from Naomi, they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. (Ruth 1:14 KJV) This moment shows what stepping into or out of covenantal relationship means. Orpah decided, although emotionally, that it was easier and better for her to separate from Naomi and return to her old way of life. Ruth decides the complete opposite. Ruth clave unto Naomi, equally as emotional, and then gives what I believe is one of the most powerful and prophetic declarations ever recorded in history.
16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
The next 3 chapters of Ruth are God’s fulfillment of this total abandonment of life and utter embrace of God’s plans and purposes. We see God fulfill and restore Naomi’s life and bring Ruth into the fold of His grand narrative of the redemptive story of mankind. The book concludes with Ruth being written into the royal lineage of King David, which we also know means into the Messianic lineage of our King, Jesus of Nazareth. But, that’s not the end of the story or the only lesson that we can learn from Orpah and Ruth.
Jewish Scholars and Rabbis teach that when Orpah returned to Moab she became the mother of the four Philistine giants, one of whom was Goliath. That means that when a young David faced Goliath in the valley of Elah, he was not only fighting a sworn enemy of his people; he was fighting his cousin. Orpah’s disconnection of relationship from Naomi produced a genealogical and generational curse against Naomi and her people, the Jewish people. Inversely, Ruth’s cleaving to Naomi produced the faithful genealogical and generational lineage that would have to war against this cruse, but would ultimately birth our Savior.
To coin Paul Harvey, “that’s the rest of the story.”
I end with this. If we considered how our relationships today will affect our children and their children, would we treat each other the same way? If we were to take a generational view of our lives and realize that it’s not just about us and what we “need” or “want” during our lifetime and has much more to do about what we’re going to birth, would it change our ability to live in unity? Will our seed be one of curse or blessing?
Striving for deeper relationships and a better future for my children’s children,
Pastor Joshua Ogle