Monday, October 13, 2008
Ruth: Where Deities Reign
Last time, we discussed Ruth’s status as a Moabite. She was a foreigner in a day when foreigners were definitely outsiders. But Ruth understood two cultures and two religions.
The people of Ruth’s day understood that gods governed territories. For example, it was believed that the god of Moabites – Chemosh – ruled in the land of Moab and basically nowhere else. In leaving Moab, Ruth was leaving Chemosh. She was no longer under his authority but walking into the authority of God.
The question then became, was God as limited as Chemosh? The book of Ruth wrestles with the idea that although false gods were considered to be territorial, God is not. God reached out to Ruth while she was in Moab and drew her to himself. She believed God and was drawn to his presence. This was symbolized by her move to Bethlehem. Yet God was not limited to Israel. He touched Ruth while she was still in Moab.
The reader was then challenged to consider whether a foreigner could be used by God. Did God have any use for a foreigner?
Obviously, in the case of Ruth, God provided her with protection, with food and with fruitfulness. She came to Bethlehem – the land of God – and received astonishing kindness and a rich share of God’s divine plan.
God embraces all of his creation, not just those in Israel, and he uses any means – including a Moabite believer – to accomplish his purposes.