But those who turn to crooked ways, the LORD will banish with the evildoers.Psalm 125:5
This picture reminds me of how the Lord taught my heart many years ago depicting a path similar in some ways to the one above, and it remains a vivid memory to this day. The issue was my lack of forgiveness towards a person. It is not a great challenge to prioritize personal perspectives and agree with our opinions that relational problems are usually the other person’s fault, while our behavior remains justified. The Lord showed me that if I continued on the path of unforgiveness, it would corrupt me, but if I choose the way that initially appeared more demanding, it would lead to purity. What I remember to be so visually startling was the path I was walking seemed more pleasant than the path the Lord invited me on. He showed me what my eyes could not see – that up ahead, my seemingly pleasant path was darkening and turning barren. His way, although it was initially difficult (killing pride is always strenuous), turned into a beautiful garden path. Please remember that just because something looks easy and makes sense to your intellect does not always mean it is best; it might just lead you into spiritual darkness. Let’s take note of Orpah’s fork-in-the-road result.
Orpah married Chilion, whose Hebrew family had moved to her native Moab. After Chilion died, Orpah, along with Ruth, her widowed sister-in-law, vowed to return with their mother-in-law, Naomi, to Israel to begin a new life. Maybe Naomi’s kindness over the years influenced Orpah to consider leaving her own family. Perhaps Orpah had grown to appreciate Naomi’s God.
But Naomi, grieving her dead husband and sons, painted a dismal picture of the young widow’s future with her. Because of this, most likely, Orpah decided to stay. Since her well-being depended on marriage, Orpah’s choice made sense. Her country and Israel had clashed for centuries; most Jewish men, unlike Kilion, would hesitate to wed an enemy. A man who shared Orpah’s background presented a far better marriage prospect. Besides, though Orph admired Naomi and her God, Yahweh seemed stricter than Moab’s Chemosh and his female counterpart Astarte, the goddess of fertility. Perhaps Orpah questioned whether she wanted to spend a lifetime keeping all those commandments. She decided to take the path that appealed to her and seemed to make the most sense. She returned to her people and their gods.
The Old Testament does not mention Orpah again, but rabbinical literature connects her with promiscuity resulting in pagan offspring who fought God’s people – a marked contrast to Ruth’s descendants, who include King David and Jesus Christ.
When the road forks never allow fear, pride, or comfort, keep you from making a godly decision. We need God’s vision along every step on the path, particularly when it forks.
In His grace,
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