A Baby Born in Bethlehem

Before we get started I want to share with you a great video called I Love Ruth: The Story of Ruth by Phil Smouse. It is taken from “My Big Book of Bible Stories.” After hearing the poem I can’t wait to find the book.

httpv://youtu.be/dXgCJVNx1fk

 

Scott Schram 13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.

Last week we saw Boaz go to court and acquire Naomi’s land as her kinsman redeemer and he acquired Ruth as his wife along with the land which was what he really wanted. The closer nameless kinsman redeemer could not or was not willing to acquire Naomi’s land once he learned, the land came with Ruth the Moabitess because it put his own families inheritance at risk. It could have been, he was already married and had children, or that he planned on building his own family in the future and this interfered with those plans. We don’t know and are not given much information except that he would not because it risked his own families’ inheritance if he married Ruth.

It would have cost him a large sum of money to acquire the land, part of his own families inheritance and if Ruth had a son, all this land would go to him. He would not be able to recover the investment and the boy would carry another man’s name, so his own inheritance would be reduced and his name would not be remembered.

Boaz was also already a wealthy, powerful man and was not seeking to grow more wealth, more power by this transaction. He was willing to pay the price in order to acquire Ruth so great was his love for her. Sound familiar? This is a great picture of us, we too had been sold unto sin, the world which we were give dominion over from God when we were created was sold unto Satan and we too came under his authority. We had no hope of redeeming ourselves or this world from his ownership once Satan came into power. We needed a kinsman, more powerful, willing, and able, to redeem us. Because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. —by grace you have been saved—(Eph 2: 4-5)

If they have a son, which they did – as we will see in the next sentence all Boaz acquires in this transaction, (except Ruth) will go to this firstborn son as an inheritance from Emilech as Emilech’s son, so that the deceased’s name would not be forgotten, the family inheritance would not be lost in being passed down.

And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception,

Ruth who was once barren, bore a son. We do not know the cause of her barrenness before, why her or her sister-in-law were not able to conceive with their husbands before they passed away. But we do know that ultimately it is God who opens and closes a womb, all life begins and ends with him. If a woman is to conceive, barrenness is not an issue with God. I would even say that in the lineage of Jesus, there is a long history of supernatural conception starting before Mary. In Genesis 21 we have Sarah in her 90’s, the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah, giving birth to Isaac. In Genesis 25:21 we have Isaac praying for his barren wife Rebekah to conceive. “And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” The twin nations Jacob & Esau were born. In Genesis 29:31 we see Leah, Jacob’s wife barren, but the Lord had mercy on her who was not loved as much as Rachel and opened her womb. “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” In Genesis 30:22 we see God remembering Rachel and opening her womb, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And Joseph was born. Between these two barren women, and their maidservants, the twelve tribes of Israel were born. These are only a handful of women in the bible who were barren yet gave birth. Let’s not forget Elizabeth, the barren mother of John the Baptist who was also advanced in years, Hannah the barren mother who birthed the great prophet Samuel, or Samson’s mother in Judges 13 who gave birth to the powerful Nazirite. She too was once barren. Think about these amazing men and women who did so much to serve God, to protect his people, to advance his Gospel and to advance the lineage of Jesus as some did, they came from barren wombs. Now we have Ruth to add. God opened her womb to conceive. What do you think God is trying to communicate to us, teach us through His choosing the barren women to do his work?

Conception, i.e. strength to conceive and retain seed.

All life comes from the Lord. It is he who gives us the strength to conceive and retain seed. Not only physically in our wombs but also spiritually as the word of God takes up root in our hearts and in the hearts of our loved ones. No one can experience the rebirth, except that the Holy Spirit comes upon them and gives them his own life. The Lord enables them to retain the seed of his word, and prevents the enemy from snatching it away, the thorns from chocking it, and the daily cares from uprooting it. Once God plants the living word of God in someone’ heart, there is no getting away from it, it begins to grow a new life inside them that gives them no rest until the life of Christ grows so big inside your heart, it begins to work itself outward, it breaks through your old life and slowly but surely you become a new man.

and she bore a son.

We remember how important in this time period it is to have a son. Opening Ruth’s womb was one sign of God’s favor, giving her a son was another. He would be seen like the first bud after a long drought, the times of barrenness, of fruitlessness was over.

Psalm 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

How sad it is today, that many see children as a burden instead of a blessing from the Lord.

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

Then the women said to Naomi,

Here we see again the bevy of women from Bethlehem, the same we saw approach her at the beginning of the story, approach her once again, once again remarking at her overwhelming condition, only this time it is one of overwhelming blessing instead of overwhelming bitterness. She who was also left barren at the loss of her two sons, and considered herself old and well past child bearing years to have any hope of having another son, is now holding her son. For Ruth’s son is her son too. He will share a unique relationship with Naomi his grandmother as the son of Emilech. He will grow up to care for and provide for Naomi as one of her own sons would have.

Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

The women sing praises to the Lord, for he has not left Naomi without a redeemer. Ruth had Boaz. Naomi’s redeemer was this small child she held in her hands. Her deceased husband Emilech’s name would not die out, he would be remembered, his inheritance would not go to another family member, but would stay in Emilech’s family and it would grow. It is almost as if a dead vine that had no hope of ever thriving again, of ever growing and continuing on, had suddenly came back to life. Emilech’s family tree branch would not stop at just him and his two sons as dead ends, but would be continuing into the future bearing fruit through this small child. He was a small seed that contained many seeds within him. In that Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

The women continue to bless him and say “may his name be famous and celebrated in Israel!”. They knew this tiny boy was a gift from God himself. They knew this was a miracle birth they were witnessing. Barrenness had once again been overcame by God and when God overcomes barrenness to bring a child into this world, that child often has a God given purpose as the children we looked at. This child would be no different for a line of Kings would be coming forth from him. King David and his sons and King Jesus. It goes back to the first blessing spoken over Boaz at the wedding ceremony of the shoes, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.” – (Ruth 4:11-12)

15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Just when Naomi thought her life was over, we see new life coming to Naomi. This small child would restore Naomi’s life. He would rejuvenate her, giving her new life and new energy as only a small baby can. He would be a nourisher of her old age. He would nurture and sustain Naomi in her old age, taking care of her as a son would. She had no more fear that she was a widow with no husband to give her rest, no children to take her and care for her in her old age. Like Ruth finding rest in her husband, Naomi would find rest in this small child who was born to serve her needs and take care of her as her kinsman, as her redeemer.

for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

What a blessing Naomi had found in Ruth. God restored Job’s fortune in Job 42:11 giving him twice as much as he had before. So God had also restored Naomi’s fortunes in one amazing daughter-in-law who loved her more than seven sons. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

Here we see Naomi taking the small child, probably for the first time, from the woman of Bethlehem who were probably with Ruth in her labor and handing the small child over to his grandmother. Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom. Some translations say lap, but I am sure as all you other grandmothers that the KJV had it right when it translated this verse “and laid it in her bosom.” I have no doubt, she held this child close to her chest, close to heart and simply marveled at the greatness of God. It is the same place where God carries us.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. – Isaiah 40:11

Naomi became his nurse. Naomi cared for the child. This doesn’t mean this child left Ruth’s home or Ruth was out of the picture, just that Ruth didn’t have hire help, or get a maidservant to assist with taking care of this child. Naomi became his nurse, his caregiver. She helped take care of him and raise him. She was beside him all the way.

17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth’s son was in a special way Naomi’s son. He was named by the blevy of women, Obed which means serving or one who serves. This son was born to serve Naomi. He would serve Naomi by fulfilling the role of a son in her life, restoring her to life, redeeming her land and caring for her in old age. He would grow up and raise a son himself and name him Jesse. Who would later have a son who was a small shepherd boy, who grew up knowing and loving God and would later be chosen by God to be King of Israel in place of Saul. We can be sure much of his heritage, much of his devotion to God can be attributed to the godly heritage instilled by his great-great grandmother Naomi. David probably never knew Naomi personally but his grandfather Obed, I am sure told him stories while walking in the pasture gathering the sheep of his own mother Ruth and his grandmother, David’s great-great grandmother Naomi.

18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Here we come to the genealogy section of the book of Ruth, the family tree that this baby Obed was born into. Some of these names are easy to recognize, and their stories quickly come to mind.

It starts with Perez or Pharez, the son of Tamar & Judah, her father-in-law who she tricked into sleeping with her by pretending to be a prostitute in order to gain a son, since she was barren and her own husband had died because he was wicked. Judah had his second born son fulfill his duties of brother-in-law to her but he spilled his semen on the ground because he knew the offspring would not be his. The Lord saw this and put him to death because of his wickedness. Judah had a third son he told Tamar to wait until he grows up and he would give Tamar to him in marriage, but he didn’t because Judah feared this youngest son would die too. From sleeping with her father-in-law, Tamar had twins, Perez & Zerah. (Genesis 38)

Then there is Hezron or Esrom, which we don’t know too much about along with his son Ram/Aram, and his son Amminadab/Aminadab.

We come to Amminadab’s son Nahshon. He was Aaron’s brother-in-law. He was appointed by Moses as the Prince of the Tribe of Judah. Among the twelve tribes, he was the first to bring his dedication offering to the Tabernacle which may be because of an act of valor according to the Jewish Midrash. There is a popular Yiddish “to be a Nachshon” means to be an “initiator.”

Then we come to Nahshon’s son, Salmon. He would have been of the second generation of Israelites who traveled into the Promise Land. His father Nahshon would have been of the generation who perished in the wilderness. Salmon was Boaz’s father by Rahab. And once again we see a familiar face, we may not be that familiar with Salmon but we remember Rahab. She was the prostitute who hid the spies.

And Boaz another familiar face. Obed his son, just staring at him as a baby in Naomi’s bosom and considering the blessings and the Prophecies we read about him bringing life to Naomi and taking care of her in her old age, we almost feel as if we know him.

Then we come to Jesse, Ruth and Boaz’s grandson. He was a Bethlehemite. A farmer and a shepherd who looks to have lived a quiet life while he raised eight son’s. David was the youngest. It is by this youngest son, the Jesse is most known for.

David, the shepherd boy, the man after God’s own heart, the king that God provided for himself. We cannot say enough about him. The beloved King of Israel. There is so much to say about him. Here the genealogy stops, because this was what the author of Ruth was emphasizing, this wonderful story of two women God brought together, and a man and woman that God brought together, all comes together to form the lineage of King David.

As we look at this genealogy line, it is here to remind us that there is a divine purpose behind all the events of life. Nothing is by chance, coincidence or random or insignificant. I know our lives often feel this way, because we just see such a small, small portion. God’s purposes are so much bigger than us. Sometimes they don’t play out in our lives, during our life time. Instead they stretch across generations. Abraham never got to see God’s promise fulfilled in his lifetime. We would like for God’s purposes to be revealed in our lifetime. Some are. Sometimes we understand events, sufferings and why God allowed them into our lives, years down the road after we get some distance, perspective and revelation. But many times we are still left wondering why and must by faith trust in God’s goodness, sovereignty, plans and purposes when he doesn’t tell us why.

Why, is the question we all want to know. Why did this happen? What is the reason behind this? What is the cause behind this, what intention or purpose is before this situation? We are reasoning creatures, and we know there must be, there is a purpose. There is a reason even if we don’t get to know it. Job didn’t get an answer to his why. God did reveal it to us generations later . Naomi did not get an answer to the bitter circumstances in her life. But at the end of the chapter, in the lineage of of Obed we see an answer as we see who his grandson is, and then see Jesus who comes from the same line, and we step back and say wow. This was of God. God did this. This was not by coincidence that this child was born.

We could ask of Naomi the same question we ask of Mary, “Naomi, did you know? Did you know this baby boy would one day deliver you?” Did Naomi know that he would be part of the great lineage of Jesus Christ? An angel never appeared to her. Did she know what God was up to? What he was working out through her live, through Ruth’s life, through Boez’s life as he tied them all so neatly together to form this one life she now held? Did she know? I don’t think she did. We get to see the bigger picture. This story was recorded for us. To remind us that God can be trusted to fulfill his plans and purposes in our lives, which are always good because he can be nothing less, no matter what happens to us, no matter what seems so wrong or accidental in our lives that tries to cause us to doubt God’s purpose in our life. God is worthy of our trust. He is the ultimate author and he takes all our stories and weaves them into the Greatest Love Story of All, his own that he has drawn us into.

All these lives are just single strands that are darker and lighter shades throughout their length, like a multicolored strand of yarn. We me not understand why a single shade was used at a particular point, until the other strands are placed beside it and woven in and slowly but surely a picture, a tapestry begins to reveal itself of God’s design. A story of God’s great unfailing love revealing itself to a fallen mankind.

When I am working on portrait, I am working on close up detail work. It’s difficult for me because when I am working this close, all I can see is the flaws. I see the dark spots that I am trying to make darker and worry if they are dark enough or too dark, and the light spots that I am trying to keep clean or trying to go as light as I can. Then there area middle tones and half tones and soon they are begin to blur together. Drawing is a love hate relationship for me, because as I am working I go through about 40 hours of negative thoughts on how horrible the drawing is, and how everything is off and I should just give up. I have to fight these thoughts. As I fix the flaws new ones always appear and so I never find any rest. Until I step back. Once I step back I can see the whole picture, the dark areas recede and the light areas come forward and suddenly everything fits together, even most of the accident strokes that I placed. Our lives are like that. Each day is a stroke. Most of them don’t make sense. Some are darker than others and give us depth, some are lighter than others and really pop out. Most of our days are various midtones and half tones. We live and we wonder what was the point of this conversation, this trial, this illness that has came into our lives? We think our lives are just a mess, no rhythm, no artwork, just haphazard of daily accidents and coincidences. On day we will be able to step back and see the work of God in our lives, and we will see how everything fits together and could be no different. And then we will see our stories intertwine with the story of Jesus and we will be amazed at the magnificence and wisdom and authorship of God on how each stroke in our life was precisely placed when we thought it was out of place.

The story of Ruth began with a famine but ended with riches. It began with sorrow but ended with joy. It began with loneliness but ended with family. It began with despair but ended with hope. It began with an end but ended with a beginning. It began with death and ended with life. It began with a corpse and ended with a baby. It began with a widow and ended with a mother. It began with barrenness and ended with birth. It began in Moab and ended in Bethlehem. It is the Redeemer that changes everything. – Author Unknown

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