On that day when the Law of Moses was read aloud to everyone, it was discovered that Ammonites and Moabites were forbidden to belong to the people of God. Nehemiah 13:1 (CEV)

For those who think there is no hope; who feel that you’ve messed up too bad, that your rebellion has exhausted God’s ability or desire to forgive; who have resigned yourself to the ‘fact’ that the bad choices of your past have will plague you for the rest of your life, take a look behind the scenes of Nehemiah 13:1.

It had been years since the Law of Moses had been read to the people of God. At that time there were no dusty scrolls sitting on the coffee table. The only way to know the word of God was to go to the priest and have them read it to you. With the Israelite exile, and rebuilding the wall, there had been little time for reading.

When the scrolls were opened, the people were awakened to God’s demands for purity among his people. The Israelites had defiled themselves by associating with Moabites and Ammonites. This was a great issue for all those who wanted to follow God.

When the people found out they were living against God they removed all the ammonites and Moabites. Cruel, you say? Perhaps. But God didn’t forget the Moabites. Turn the clock back a few hundred years.

Picture a young Moabite woman in a strange land. She’s still mourning the death of her young husband. He’d died way too soon. He left no son, no legacy to be remembered by. Now, all she has was memories, the challenges of being a Moabite woman in a strange culture, and a mother-in-law who gave her love, but no guarantees of a future.

Ah, yes, Ruth. Remember her? Young, alone and widowed in a foreign land. Looked down upon by most, pitied by few…that is until Boaz came along. Then her world changed Fear turned to confidence. Loneliness melted into hope. Poverty gave way to wealth. Separation from God dissolved in grace.

The result? A place in the lineage of the Messiah, the son of the Living God! There was nothing she could do to deserve her position of grace. She was unworthy of any sort of blessing or privilege. But God sought her out and blessed her richly.

God sees hope in us regardless of our actions or our past. No matter how alone you feel; how deeply you have been hurt; how forgotten you feel; how hopeless the situation you find yourself in, the God of Heaven has provided a path through the wilderness to bring you home.

PRAYER: Father, I worship you today for the reminder that I am never far from your loving, merciful and guiding hand. I thank you for the provision of Jesus and the hope we have through your grace. Amen.