Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jesse Tree: December 12

December 12
Hang ornament with Sheaves of Grain
Today we will be hanging an ornament with grain on it.  Can anyone take a guess about what we are going to discuss? 

We will begin our devotion with a reading from the book of Ruth.  I wish we had time to read the entire book, because this is such a wonderful little book in the bible!  

Ruth 1:15-2:3
15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; 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. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
The story continues... but we will stop there and discuss our way through it.

Ruth saw something different in Naomi.  Something real enough that compelled Ruth to leave her home country and make a pilgrimage to a foreign land.  Remember, Ruth couldn’t go get a job and provide for her mother in law, and she knew that she was not signing up for an easy task.  However, Ruth decided that it was worth it and told Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”  

They returned to Bethlehem from the land of Moab, and Ruth would have been known as the foreigner with Naomi.  She had not had any sons before her husband died, and now she needed a kinsman redeemer, someone who would provide for her needs and care for her.  

She went to work in the barley fields gathering grain, and one day she began working in the field of Boaz.  He noticed her and offered her water, protection, and extra grain.  When Ruth questioned his kindness toward her, he replied, 

“All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.  May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”  (Ruth 2:12-13, NASB)

When Ruth related the events of the day to Naomi, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was actually a close relative.  Naomi instructed Ruth on what to do next.  

So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” 10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. 12 Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.” (Ruth 3:6-13, NASB)

Ruth went to Boaz humbly, not with demands, and he covered her.  The closer relative was not interested in having Ruth for his wife, and so Boaz became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.  

They were married, and Ruth and Boaz became the parents of a son named Obed.  Obed grew up to be the father of Jesse, and we know that Jesse grew up to be the father of King David!

During this season of Advent, we remember Ruth and Boaz not only for being part of Jesus’ family tree, but also because it is a good time for us to think about our need for a Kinsman Redeemer.  Just like Ruth, we need a Redeemer.   Not to take care of our physical needs, but one who can give us a covering of righteousness and take care of our spiritual needs.  

In the same way Boaz showed compassion to Ruth and covered her, Christ does not turn away those who see their need and come to Him in faith and humility.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
As we hang the ornament with the grain and think about Ruth and Boaz, let’s rejoice in preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who came to this earth as a man in order to become OUR kinsman redeemer!  

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