Learning from Ruth and Orpah

Ruth 1:16 (ESV)
16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

The story of Ruth is one of profound faithfulness and love and if we study it well, a foreshadowing of the Gospel of Christ can be discovered. In verse 16, Ruth made a conscious choice to abandon all of her natural relations and her own country, the land of her nativity, and all her former possessions there, for the sake of the God of Israel. Her words of “your people shall be my people, and your God my God” are a reminder of the central covenant of Genesis 17:7-8.
Compare this to the decision made by her sister-in-law Orpah, who, faced with the same choice, decided to return to the comfort of her known existence. In this simple example, we see a similar decision that every professing Christian must also make: to turn from a life drenched in worldly things and all of the sin we cling to and as an act of faith turn to our Savior and seek His righteousness. Notice also that Orpah started to go with Naomi and Ruth to Israel but then changed her mind—it was too difficult a path to endure.

How many of us can recognize our own selves in this? How many church services, revivals, and calls to repentance did we ignore before we finally opened our hearts to Him? Sadly, we do not learn of the fate of Orpah but one can assume she died without knowing the one true God. Many of us were given multiple opportunities to come to Christ (and we should be thankful for this), but here is an example of a single and possibly sole opportunity to choose Him. There are no guarantees of tomorrow.
Just as the choice was too difficult to make for Orpah, we see similarities in ourselves and the bondage of sin in our lives. Some try to leave it and follow what they know they should, but the draw of this world is too strong. We know in our hearts we should follow Christ, but the cost is too great. Such is the example of Orpah. Just as He does with us today, God provided a choice for both Orpah and Ruth to make: the gods of the world they have always known and the comfort of the present life or a path of new beginnings that might be filled with challenges and unknown trials. Whereas Orpah chose one direction, Ruth chose the other and in doing so provides a wonderful example of resoluteness.

There was certainly no promise of a better life waiting for her in Bethlehem, but yet she pressed forward. Ruth counted the costs and was determined to follow the right path no matter what (see Luke 14:33; Mark 10:29-31). Just as Ruth turned away from the false gods of Moab and set her eyes on the God of Israel, so should we repent (turn away from) from our sins and the gods we worship and turn towards Jesus.
Ruth is indeed a wonderful part of Scripture and provides a glimpse of God’s Providence in the redemption of His people. But if we look a little closer, we can also see parallels in the choices these two sisters faced and the choices we all must face in accepting Christ as our Savior.