“Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:17).
Ruth was a foreigner. But she had caught a glimpse of the God of Naomi. After her husband had died, and Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, she urged her daughter-in-law to return to her homeland of Moab. But Ruth would have no part of it: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth’s devotion is unparalleled. We see the text fulfilled in the love of the new believer for Jesus. Nothing will ever part them. Ruth may perish, but only in the arms of her Savior. When she is asked, “Do you want to go away too?” the answer is quite clear. To death do them part.
What if this is what our intercession looked like? What if we bound ourselves fast to yet unbelieving friends–or nations–with this resolve? What if we told the Lord that if they perish, we perish with them? “Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” I believe our problem is that we don’t think this way. If countries in the 10-40 will be saved, then praise God. But if not, the Lord is sovereign, after-all. That is not right theology. That is the theology of hell. That was not Jesus’ theology when he came to this planet. It was not the theology of Abraham standing over Sodom. It was not the theology of Moses as he pled with God to blot out his name from the book of life instead of the sons of Israel. It was not the theology of Paul, who testified that if it was possible, he would have given his own eternity for the sake of his kinsmen according to the flesh (Rom.9:1-4).