More than likely, you’ve read the account of Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In the days of the judges, there was a famine in the land of Israel. A man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, natives of Bethlehem, went to Moab to find food. While there, Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. In the course of time, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all died, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.
After some time, Naomi heard there was food once again in Israel, and she made plans to return. Naomi’s daughters-in-law intended to accompany her, but she told them to go back to their mothers’ homes and prayed that the Lord would grant them rest in the house of a husband. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and remained in her own land. Ruth clung to Naomi and said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1: 16 MEV).
Orpah made a common-sense decision to remain in her own land. Ruth made a faith decision to leave. She told Naomi she embraced Naomi’s God as her own and promised not to leave her. Ruth’s declaration of faith depended on God’s everlasting, covenantal love, His hesed. Translators have difficulty defining hesed in English. “Everlasting love,” “faithful love,” “eternal love,” “mercy,” “kindness,” and “everlasting kindness” fail to adequately describe the depths of God’s hesed.
Hesed is a pledge to act for the good of another person, often at great personal cost. When God passed by Moses on the mountain, He declared His hesed for His people. “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (hesed), maintaining love (hesed) to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV). “Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love (hesed); My covenant of peace will stand forever. So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you” (Isaiah 54:10 VOICE).
The greatest display of God’s hesed was when He sent His only Son to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the penalty for the sins of humankind - for your sin and for mine. God erased the "charges that were brought against us...He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 NOG). The death of Jesus made the way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father and become part of His family once again, just like it was in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. And because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can come “boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16 TLB).
God honoured Ruth’s trust in His hesed. In a wonderful way, He led her to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, who protected her and married her. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David, a descendent of our Lord Jesus. Ruth’s name is part of the ancestry of Jesus, the Son of the living God.
So my friend, whatever trials you are facing, whatever is happening in your life, never forget God’s hesed, His faithful love that does not quit. His eternal love is working on your behalf and will be with you always, “until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20 NOG).
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.