Do you know what I love about Christmas? Well, it’s not the eggnog or Santa imposters. Nor is it the trees, stockings, watching “Home Alone” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In truth, I have never celebrated Christmas. I did not grow up with it and, here in Israel, December 25this just another day. You could go through the entire day in Tel Aviv and have no idea that it was Christmas.
But what I do love about it, is that each year, at this time with so much focus on the story of the birth of Messiah, I find myself drawn afresh to Luke, chapter two. Over the past few years, I have really fallen in love with this story. And, then, something happened last April—something possibly earth-shattering. I saw something that I will share a few details about at the end of this series.
I urge you to read this until the end—the most exciting parts are in the middle.
But, first, there is much about the story of Yeshua’s birth that is slightly off and incorrect. So, let’s set the record straight.
Ruth Needs to be Honored
The story of Yeshua’s birth really starts with a Gentile who loved the Jewish people. You know Ruth’s story. She was the Moabitess whose husband died. Instead of going back to her own people, she clung to her mother-in-law Naomi and was eventually spotted by Boaz. Where was Boaz from? Why, Bethlehem, of course. Technically, it was Bethlehem Ephrathah.
“Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, ‘We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.’
“Ruth … gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.’” (Ruth 4:11-17)
Ruth is the great-grandmother of David, and Yeshua is the Son of David. Those blessings over Ruth were prophetic and referred to the coming Messiah. The women referred to Obed as the guardian-redeemer, just as Boaz was, and he would continue the line of Naomi’s deceased husband, but prophetically they were unknowingly speaking about the Redeemer of all redeemers, Yeshua!
I imagine those elders, who thought they were just taking care of some mundane business, suddenly felt the Spirit of God when Ruth legally was given to Boaz and they prophesied.
They said, “May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.” What a bizarre statement about an unknown gentile woman, who had already been rejected by the first potential kinsmen redeemer (Ruth 4:6). Why were they suddenly so enamored with Ruth? Surely they were prophesying where the Messiah would be born! Of course, this is confirmed by the prophet Micah, who said:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
When they said, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez,” they were saying was may your family be big and may your family line last. Perez was not only the largest clan of Judah, but Boaz was from the line of Perez. And Bethlehem was in Judah. Moreover, it would seem the narrator is thinking back to the story of Judah and Tamar. Judah, like Boaz, continued the family line of a deceased relative.
More than all that, they unwittingly prophesy about the Body of Messiah, “may your family…” that would come forth through the spiritual seed of Abraham. Wow!
God was always putting prophetic hints about Yeshua’s mission in the Hebrew Scriptures. They played out in the lives of Moses, Joseph, Ruth, David, and others, including Rachel, as we will see in part two next week.
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