The Legacy of Christmas

This Christmas take some time and read the book of Ruth in the Bible.  That’s right-Ruth.  I am always amazed at the grand story line of the Bible.  There is one over arching theme to the entire volume made up of 66 individual books.  In one sense it is the story of Christmas and Easter wrapped into one.  It is the story of our Redeemer-Jesus Christ come to earth, His life, His death and resurrection, and His providential reign.

Ruth is a short story right after the book of Judges in the Old Testament.  It carries three crescendos that strongly echo a coming Messiah.  It is about an Israelite family that is forced to move to enemy territory because of famine.  All the men in the family die-we don’t even know why.  But we are left ultimately with a wife (Naomi) and a daughter in law (Ruth) that are faced with ultimate poverty.  The first highlight is here as Ruth forcefully declares her allegiance to Naomi’s God and people.  Listen to what Ruth says in 1:16-17.

“For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.   Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

They move back to Bethlehem with no promise of a desirable future.  But God in His providence is arranging the circumstances.  Naomi encourages Ruth to go into the fields to recover any grain left over from the harvesters.  She unknowingly goes into the field of Boaz-a relative of Naomi who has the possibility of redeeming them.  Boaz comes to find out the story of Naomi and Ruth and seeks to fulfill his moral obligation to save them and provide for them-listen to the promise of Boaz and hear the language of redemption in Ruth 3:11-13.

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you.”

There was another “redeemer” standing in line ahead of Boaz-but he chooses to give up his right of redemption and Boaz fulfills his promise to redeem Naomi and Ruth.  No longer will these women be destitute.  No longer will they worry over their own heritage and family line.  The promise of fulness and rest have covered them in the form of a kinsman redeemer.

But now we actually have the punch line to the whole story.  This little story about a Jewish family is going to reveal Messiah.  We learn in Ruth 4:17 that the offspring of Boaz and Ruth is Obed.  Obed is the father of Jesse who is the father of King David.

The legacy of Christmas is revealed in Matthew 1:1-17.  Ruth’s name is prominently mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in verse 5.  Ruth, a Moabite, not an Israelite, enters into the story line of Messiah.  Ruth, a woman, enters into the story line of Messiah.  An interracial marriage is part of the story line of Messiah.

What does this tell us this Christmas day?  It shows us that God’s ways are not man’s ways.  We would have never scripted this story into history.  It shows us that God cares about the whole world-every people, tongue, tribe and nation.  It shows us that God can take everyone of our little stories and fit it into His grander story line of salvation history.  It shows us that true fulness and rest are only found by completely abandoning ourselves to a providential Messiah who entered the world through a humble manger-but took Him all the way to the cross for you and me.  Take 15 minutes today and read the little book of Ruth through the eyes of Christmas.  Buon Natale-Merry Chrstmas!

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