Have you heard intending couples say marital vows?
I bet, yes.
They voice out words affirming their devotion, loyalty, and love for each other, “till death do us part.”
I remembered these marital vows while studying today’s verses.
In the last study, we discussed how Orpah couldn’t bear the cost of following Naomi to Bethlehem. She said goodbye to them.
But Naomi was bent on pressing her to have a rethink.
And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
Orpah went back to embrace the gods, culture and people of Moab.
When you discuss with some people who walk away from the path of righteousness, to embrace the lifestyle of the world, you hear them say things like, “I’m still a Christian. My not coming to church anymore or associating with these unbelievers or my showy dressing doesn’t mean I’m no more a child of God.”
But there’s no sitting on the fence in the spirit, you know. Either you’re on God’s side or on satan’s. You walk away from the path of righteousness, the only route left is the pathway of unrighteousness.
Orpah went back to her people and her gods.
A very deciding moment for Ruth.
Watching the person you started the race with suddenly turn back. You know, there’s this tendency in man to flock, to go with the flow. To walk with friends. Not to be the last man standing. Lonely.
Have you had friends or family members who walked away from God? How painful it must be!
I remember in my earlier days of following and serving God. I remember some older sisters in the Lord, some even my leaders… very dear people. We fellowship together, sang in the choir, and served God together. I looked up to and learnt from some of them.
Some got into the university and got lost. Some walked away at the time of marriage.
I remember praying for myself. Because already, some people guessed I’ll likely backslide. “When you get out of mum and dad’s watchful eyes, you’ll likely start to live life,” they said.
But God saw the sincerity in my heart of hearts. He heard my prayers. And here am I still standing by God’s grace.
I imagined Ruth making such sincere prayers and commitment to God prior to this time. While they listened to Naomi recount the greatness of the God of Israel, Ruth soaked it in. Meditated. Repented. Surrendered.
And so at this point when Orpah turned back, the faith and courage she’s built up over the years helped her remain steadfast.
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:
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.
At this point, Ruth voiced her absolute dedication. For God, man and the devil to hear and bear witness.
Naomi, my mind is made up!
Yes, I know the journey to Bethlehem won’t be easy. Nothing to ride on. The steep mountains, dry deserts, dangerous paths. We’ll travel on foot for days. No weapons to defend ourselves with if an enemy attack.
But we’ll go together.
I remember what you said about the Israelites seeing Moabites as strangers. I don’t mind what they’ll think of, or how they’ll act towards me. Your people will be my people.
I’ve received your God as my God. I’m ready to die and be buried with you.
And she sealed it with a curse on herself:
May the hand of the Lord rest upon me if anything but death separate us.
What an utterance. What a pledge. What a consecration.
Can you make that kind of vow to the Lord? To follow Him no matter how bleak the future looks.
You must be willing to boldly declare your stand for God.
Your union with God must be sealed with a vow. A covenant.
Like Psalm 50: 5 says, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9: 23)
Finally, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8: 35)
What is your answer?