Friday, September 10, 2010

Finding God in Unexpected Places

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 19

Read: Judges 15:13-1 Samuel 2:29

Verse that stood out: 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 will be 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 anything but death separates you and me" - Ruth 1:16-17

The book of Ruth begins, "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land." You could say that again. Not only was there a shortage of food, but there was likewise a shortage of justice, kindness, righteousness - you name it. The book of Judges, which describes this time period, is a book of violence, lawlessness, and misguided zeal in the name of the LORD, summed up well by the oft repeated phrase, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 20:25). The atrocities leave one wondering in dismay, "This is the story of God's people?! Where in the world do we find God in it?"

Remarkably, we find him present in the life of a Moabite widow. The contrast is startling. Those who are a part of God's family act no differently than their pagan neighbors, but here, a foreigner, reflects the faithfulness, the forgiveness, the kindness of Israel's God. Ruth's commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi serves as a model of God's hesed, that is the Hebrew concept of God's love. It's a love that's tied to the covenant. A love that never gives up, never grows tired. Ruth is the best human example we've had of that kind of love, yet. She's not even an Israelite!

The Old Testament often appears as if God is ungracious towards outsiders. And yet, throughout the pages of the Hebrew scriptures, there are outsiders who prove more faithful than the insiders. Ruth, and others like her, remind us that the from the very beginning, God intended the children of Abraham to be marked by their faith and love more than their genealogy. A point driven home by the fact that God not only makes Ruth a part of his family through her marriage to Boaz, he also gives her the privilege of being the great-grandmother of Israel's greatest king, King David, and an ancestor of the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

God's presence isn't always obvious in the pages of the Old Testament, but he's there, even in the famine, working where we least expect him. I'm pretty sure he does the same today.

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