A Stranger Named Ruth 陌生人路得

大约在三千年以前,摩押和以色列相互为敌而两国人们相互憎恨。摩押长期以来一直向以色列挑衅,他们也曾经多次进攻以色列,摩押始终使以色列不安。以色列人恨摩押人,因为他们不敬拜独一的真神,而拜偶像,(摩押人甚至将自己的孩子作为祭物献给他们所拜的假神!)在以色列人的眼中,认为摩押人是邪恶的。

所以当以色列人读到路得的故事的时候,非常惊讶。路得是个摩押人!曾经在以色列有严重的饥荒,那饥荒是如此的厉害,以至于有一个在伯利恒的家庭搬到了摩押去寻找食物。当这个家庭在那里的时候,那丈夫去世了,他留下了他的的妻子拿俄米,和两个男孩。这两个男孩后来都与摩押女子结婚了。悲哀的是在十年以后,拿俄米的两个儿子也离开了世界。这样她就成为一个没有人来照顾的、既没有丈夫又没有孩子的寡妇。当拿俄米听说在以色列的饥荒已经过去了,就决定要回到她自己的故乡。她两个儿媳妇说她们都愿意与婆婆一起去。但是拿俄米请求她们继续留在摩押,回到她们自己的家里去。

圣经《路得记》第一章第八到第九节记载着说,“拿俄米对两个儿妇说,你们各人回娘家去吧,愿耶和华恩待你们,象你们恩待已死的人与我一样。”

经过拿俄米再三地请求,两个儿媳妇中的一个就离开了她回到自己的娘家去了。但是另外一个却拒绝离开婆婆。圣经记载了拿俄米就对她说:

“拿俄米说,看哪,你嫂子已经回她本国,和她所拜的神那里去了,你也跟着你嫂子回去吧。”

路得还是决定不离开她的婆婆。事实上在这个时候,路得已经没有义务必须继续与婆婆的关系,她也没有义务要离开她的家乡、她的国民、她的国家,而一定要去以色列。路得的决定使人很惊讶。

圣经记载,“路得说,不要催我回去不跟随你,你往哪里去,我也往哪里去。你在哪里住宿,我也在哪里住宿。你的国就是我的国,你的上帝就是我的上帝。你在哪里死,我也在哪里死,也葬在那里。除非死能使你我相离,不然,愿耶和华重重地降罚与我。”

我们把路得所说的这句话称为“契约”或者“盟约”或者简称“约”。这样的“约”与“合同”是不一样的。当我们买一辆汽车或者买一栋房子的时候,我们签一份贷款的合同,我们保证每一个月按规定付款给贷款给我们买车或者买房的银行,直到我们付清所有的贷款。如果不符每一个月应该付的款项,贷款的银行有权利来接收那辆车或者那栋房子,因为你没有按合同的规定付款。然而,“约”是个誓言,保证会做某件事情,无论对方怎样,都会去执行。路得说,如论拿俄米怎样说或者怎样做,她都会与婆婆一起走,一起住。“约”就是一个人真心诚意的保证。(在美国,路得所说的话常常用在基督徒婚礼中,这是一个佳美的结婚誓言。)

虽然路得是对拿俄米说,但是话中的关键是对上帝宣誓。她说,“除非死能使你我相离,不然,愿耶和华重重地降罚与我。”这表明路得是相信上帝的,也是敬拜全能的上帝,因为她直接使用了祂的名字,“自有永有的上帝”。这个摩押女人背叛了他们原来所拜的假神和偶像。她愿意离开她原来的家庭,来跟随她的婆婆拿俄米来依靠上帝。甚至当拿俄米要她回到她娘家去拜他们传统的偶像,路得说,“不,我不回去。”路得从此不再是一个陌生人,不是一个局外人,她真正成为拿俄米家里的一部分。路得是一位有勇气和有胆量的人,她将她的信心建立在上帝上,从而成为了上帝的子民。



讨论问题:

1.  你是如何极力想要离开你自己的家乡而搬到你仇人的地方去?

2.  你是不是觉得路得作出这样要与婆婆在一起的决定使你惊讶?

3.  合同和“约”的区别是什么?

4.  你是否觉得路得是一个大胆的人居然愿意与婆婆拿俄米一起回以色列?

5.  是因为上面愿意,路得离开了自己的家和她祖先一直敬拜的偶像?


Just over three thousand years ago the people of Moab and the people of Israel were enemies. Both groups of people hated one another. The people of Moab had long been a thorn in the side of Israel. They had attacked them numerous times in the past and were a constant danger to the people of Israel. The people of Israel hated the Moabites because they worshiped idols and did not worship the one true living God. (The Moabites would offer their own children as sacrifices to their false god!) The Moabites were considered evil in the eyes of the people of Israel.

So, imagine the great surprise for Jewish people when they read the story of Ruth. Ruth was from Moab! There was a severe famine in the land of Israel. It was so severe that a family from Bethlehem moved to Moab in search of food. While the family was there the husband died. His wife, Naomi, was left with her two sons. They both married women from Moab. After another ten years had passed both of Naomi’s sons died. Now she was a widow with no husband and no sons to provide for her. Naomi heard that the famine in Israel was over and she decided to return to her hometown. Her two daughters-in-law said they would go with her. Naomi pleaded with them to stay in Moab and to return to their own parents.

Ruth 1:8-9 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back to your mothers' homes instead of coming with me. And may the LORD reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the LORD bless you with the security of another marriage." Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

After much pleading by Naomi one of her daughters-in-law left to return to the home of her parents. The other one refused to leave. Naomi told her:

15 "See," Naomi said to her, "your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same."

Ruth refused to leave. Her decision is shocking to us. She is no longer obligated to remain with Naomi. She is not obligated to leave her home, her people, her country and go to Israel. The words of Ruth are recorded in the Bible.

16 But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!"

Ruth’s statement is what we call a covenant. A covenant is different from a contract. A contract is what you sign when you buy a car or a house. You promise to pay the bank every month a certain amount of money for the car until the amount is fully paid. If you do not pay, the bank will come and take the car because you did not fulfill your part of the contract. However, a covenant is a pledge to do something regardless of what the other person will do. Ruth says she will go and stay with Naomi regardless of what Naomi says or does to her. A covenant is a person’s pledge of honor. (In America, these words of Ruth are often used in Christian wedding ceremonies. It is a beautiful pledge of one’s vow of covenant to their spouse.)

A very important fact in Ruth’s statement to Naomi is seen in her vow to God. “May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” This indicates that Ruth is a believer and a worshipper of Almighty God and she refers to Him by His personal name, “I AM.” This woman from Moab had turned away from the worship of false gods and the idols of her own people. She was willing to leave her family and home to follow Naomi and to put her trust in God. Even when Naomi told her to leave and go home and return to the gods of her ancestors, Ruth said, “No. I will not turn back.” Ruth was no longer a stranger, an outsider, but she was now part of Naomi’s family. She was a courageous woman of faith. She placed her trust in God and became part of God’s people.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1.       How desperate would you have to be to leave your home and go to the land of your enemy?

2.       Does Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi surprise you?

3.       What is the difference between a covenant and a contract?

4.       Do you think Ruth was a courageous or brave woman to follow Naomi back to Israel?

5.       What caused Ruth to leave her family and the gods of her ancestors?

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