The Story of Ruth and Naomi is a beautiful picture of the kind of relationship that should exist between the Church and Israel.
Orpah's relationship to Naomi as a picture of the way much of the church has often related to the Jewish people. Orpah is a picture of much of the Gentile segment of the Church that has not been able to understand the inseparable bond between the Church and Israel. Instead of identifying herself with the Jews, the Orpah church has maintained a religious culture that is virtually cut off from its Hebrew roots.
Although the church owes its very salvation to the Jews (John 4:22) too often, abandons the very same Jews in their time of need.
Some of this may be difficult to accept but consider these words for the history is painful and undeniable.
Within a generation of Jesus' crucifixion, the Roman army ransacked Jerusalem and totally destroyed the Temple and much of the indigenous Jewish culture of Israel. Like Naomi in Moab, the Jews found themselves in foreign lands.
within a few hundred years, the Church, for the most part, came to disregard the significance of the Jewish people. There arose a number of Christian theologians who saw the Jews in cooperation with the Romans in the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple as a sign that God has rejected Israel once and for all. God would now form a new chosen people. A belief was formed and still exists that Israel is the new Israel of God.
Anti- Semitism was justified - all done in the name of good theology. John Chrysostom wrote; "they are murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil ..." And to think Chrysostom is deemed a saint.
Six centuries later the Crusaders unveiled a virulent hatred for the Jews while claiming to be Christian. By the time the Crusaders left the scene less than 200 years later only 1000 Jewish families still remained.
Anti- Semitism is evident in the writings of the Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther, at first sympathetic to the Jews, believing they would gladly receive his gospel of justification by faith. But when they rejected the message, he became deeply embittered against the Jewish people. He called for the expulsion of Jews from Germany and the destruction of their synagogues and books.
It should come as no surprise that when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they used the writings of theologians like Luther to justify their policies.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 11:11, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. However, in reality, the Jews do not envy our faith.
Will the Church be like Orpah and turn our backs on Israel in her time of need? Or will we be like Ruth and cling to Israel, always ready to give her support and encouragement, especially as God is bring her back to her homeland and ultimately to her God?