“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: . . . Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).”
—Matthew 1:1, 5b NLT
The Moabites were sworn enemies of Israel.
Descended from one of the sons of Lot (Abraham’s nephew), they were blood relatives of the Israelites but did not share their customs and primarily worshiped the god Chemosh (see Num. 21:29). Located on the border of ancient Israel, Moab was an almost constant source of conflict and was deeply hated by the Israelites.
It might be surprising, then, to learn that Ruth, a major character in the story of God, was a Moabite woman.
You can find her story in the book of Ruth (it is worth the read), but to summarize it, she moved from Moab to Israel, married a man named Boaz, and became the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus.
It is easy for faith to become nationalistic. In other words, to believe that God is exclusively in favor of your nation as opposed to others. That God is only for “people like you.”
I believe that God included people like Ruth in his story because he wanted to teach us not to make enemies out of people he loves.
Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, who died for his enemies and forgave those who crucified him.
In this season of Advent, may we learn to recognize that God is close even to those we hate.
Here is a simple prayer to carry with you today:
Breathe in: God of Ruth,
Breathe out: Help me love like you.