Ruth made a radical break with everything she had ever known in life when she told her mother-in-law, Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16, NLT). From this point forward, the young widow’s life would never be the same.
Ruth’s story portrays sacrificial love and redemption despite overwhelming odds. Ruth, a Moabite woman, married into a Jewish family but soon became a destitute widow, along with her mother-in-law, Naomi. After the death of her husband and two sons, the Israelite Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem in her homeland. She had heard that “the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food” (Ruth 1:16).
Before leaving Moab, Naomi urged her two daughters-in-law to return to their families, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side, saying, “Wherever you go, I will go.” Together, they traveled to Bethlehem, where Ruth gleaned in the barley fields to put food on their table. Ruth then married Boaz, a relative (and “kinsman-redeemer”) of Naomi’s husband. The couple gave Naomi a grandchild, rescued her from poverty, and restored her joy.
Redemption is the central theme of Ruth’s story. The young widow’s unwavering commitment to follow Naomi provides a beautiful depiction of Christian conversion. With her words, “Wherever you go, I will go,” Ruth made a definitive separation from her past way of life. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ likewise involves a pivotal decision and breaking away from the past.
By leaving her homeland and going with Naomi, Ruth renounced her citizenship in Moab. With the words, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live,” Ruth separated herself from her country of origin. She abandoned one kingdom to be joined to another. Similarly, when we choose to follow Christ, we are brought into His kingdom. Jesus Christ died to rescue believers from the kingdom of darkness and transfer them into His kingdom of light (Matthew 5:3; 13:43; Colossians 1:13; James 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).
As new creations in Christ, we are separated from the dominion of sin through the death of Christ on the cross. We become a wholly “new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).
Ruth renounced her people and claimed Naomi’s people—the people of God—as her own. Living as a pagan in Moab, Ruth would have worshipped many gods. But by the young woman’s confession, the older woman’s God—the God of Israel—became Ruth’s God. Now Ruth worshipped the One True God. The apostle Peter asserts that Christians are “a chosen people . . . royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” Believers “show others the goodness of God” who calls us “out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” Before salvation, we “had no identity as a people.” But now we “are God’s people” (1 Peter 2:9–10, NLT).
Ruth identified herself completely and totally with Naomi. Scripture says, “Ruth clung to her” (Ruth 1:14). The verb translated “clung to” is the same term used in Genesis 2:24 to define the “cleaving, uniting, or holding fast” of a man and woman in marriage. Ruth’s identity was now fully involved in Naomi’s. She had made a radical and absolute dedication to Naomi, her people, and her God. Ruth had surrendered every aspect of her life into Naomi’s hands.
Ruth’s statement to Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go,” is analogous to a new believer saying, “I have decided to follow Jesus. Wherever you go, Lord, I will go.”
To become a Christian means to be united with Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23). By grace through faith, we cling to Him (Ephesians 2:8; 1 John 2:28). We leave our old citizenship and identity behind and become new creations in Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). We say goodbye to the darkness of sin and live in the light of His kingdom (Ephesians 5:8–14). The Sovereign Lord becomes our God, and His people become our people (Ephesians 2:19–22). We give up our old way of living for ourselves; we take up our cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34).