Summary: Logically Ruth should not be in the genealogy of Jesus. As a Moabite she is from a despised nation and the only person seeking to be an example to her is Naomi - a woman who is bitter and angry at God. Yet God moves in myseterious ways to include Ruth.
“Ruth - an outsider welcomed in”
Have you ever heard the saying, “The Lord moves in mysterious ways?”
Every year at Christmas Margaret send a box of special gifts from America to a missionary couple working in Algeria on the edge of the Sahara desert. One year, after the box had been sent Margaret realised that she had accidently packed her reading glasses into the box. A couple of weeks later she received a thank you card from the Missionary couple. “Thank you for all the special gifts – the glasses are especially useful. How did you know what my wife’s prescription was? She can now see perfectly”.
God moves in mysterious ways. He does it through events. He does it through people. One of those events and people is spoken about in Ruth 1:1-22 (Read)
How is this a passage about the Lord moving in mysterious ways?
First let’s start with Naomi.
She has moved from the Promised Land to Moab. The times when the judges ruled was very destabilising and unsettling. So Elimelech and Naomi and their sons moved to Moab to try and find a better life. That seems to make a lot of sense doesn’t it? Until we realise who the Moabites are. Firstly let’s see how the nation started. Genesis 19:30-37
"Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, they lived in a cave." This is Lot who lived in Sodom – the town destroyed by fire and brimstone. Lot’s wife was the woman who turned to salt.
One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him. That night the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it." How drunk do you have to be for that to happen? How desperate do you need to be to come up with such a plan?
"Lot’s daughter became pregnant by her father and she had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today." That is how the nation of Moab started. Through deception, drunkenness, and an incestuous relationship.
Such was the distain for these people that this was one of the laws God had written, "No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation." Deuteronomy 23:3
When you are looking for real stability you don’t go to Moab – it’s the place that destroys your spiritual life. Which is exactly what happened.
Firstly Naomi becomes immersed in the ungodly culture. Both of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws are Moabite woman. Which means the religion and the spiritual practises of the Moabite people have been welcomed into the family home. Naomi spends a decade in that culture … only going back because now there is a better offer in Israel. Naomi was at home in the Moabite culture.
But that is not all. Naomi has also become disillusioned with God. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:20-21