A TRADITIONAL EVENT on the Feast of Shavuot is the reading aloud of the book of Ruth, the story of the young Moabite woman who wins Boaz's favour while gleaning behind his labourers at harvest time.

Christian Zionists hold Ruth in high regard because of her total dedication to her mother-in-law. Ruth, a gentile, saw that God was with the people of Naomi and pleaded to accompany her back to the land of Judah.

Naomi's other daughter-in-law, Orpah, also loved her, and wept tears at the prospect of leaving. In the end, however, faced with the prospect of an uncertain future, she chose to return to her own people and way of life.

Ruth, the Bible says, "clung to Naomi" and begged her: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."

Then she added the words that set in stone her pact with Naomi and the people of Israel: "Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)

For this gentile lover of Israel, there was no turning back. She willingly cut herself off from her land, nation and family, and tied her fate to that of the Jews. Her commitment to Israel was complete.

As the Jewish nation today grows increa-singly isolated in the international commu-nity, Christians who still believe in the Bible are being challenged to rally to her side in the unabashed and unre-strained spirit of Ruth. At times this may even mean oppos-ing their own govern-ments' actions-something the patrio-tically-inclined will find hard to do.

And yet there are a growing number of believers today who know that God's covenant with the Jews still stands, together with His promise to bless those who bless them. These men and women are mindful of the word of the LORD spoken through the prophet Zechariah: "In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'" (Zech 8:23)

For them, those days have come.

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