FBC Earlville, N.Y. December 23, 2018 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

TODAY’S “SPECIAL”: “A Squirrel Funny” – an oldie but goodie
A small town had three churches — and all three were virtually overrun with pesky squirrels.
The first church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that God must have wanted the squirrels there, and the church shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will.
The second church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creations, so they humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.
The third church came up with the best and most effective solution: they baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they see them only on Christmas and Easter.

We are in the Book of Ruth, what I call the “Christmas Book of the O.T.”. We have been following the life of Ruth the Moabitess, who, by virtue of her being born in the family of the enemies of Israel, had absolutely no hope to be under the umbrella of the grace of God. It would take a miracle for her. It would take the initiative of someone to show her undeserved kindness, breaking the centuries old Jewish law which forbad Moabites from entering the kingdom of God. Ruth had no hope. Ruth 3 shows hope arriving through a most unusual vehicle, her kinsman-redeemer. PRAYER

The kinsman-redeemer is one who is a relative of one who is in need. Naomi recognized that Ruth is one in need. She had no rights as an Israelite, because she was a Moabitess – a clan of the enemies of the people of Israel. But Naomi was of a higher vision. While at the beginning of the story, she simply looked at the facts and not at faith, by Chapter 3 she is looking at faith. She has seen what God has already done – put Ruth as a servant girl in the field of a relative of Naomi’s late husband. Naomi is overwhelmed by the God-sightings in her life. “God-sightings” – do you know what they are? They are seemingly “happenstances” in our lives which, when really considered, show no earthly reason for their occurring. Like the other night: “happening” to meet at supper a fellow police department retiree who now owns a moving company. He said, “I’ll be glad to move you – and since you are a fellow police department retiree, I will give you a discount that will amaze you.”
But Naomi’s happenstances were greater than finding a moving company. In the beginning, she thought God had deserted her, but instead, God had never left her at all. The Lord of Israel gave Naomi – and Ruth – a provider, one who would be her “kinsman-redeemer”.
Listen to Numbers 27:8-11: “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
Boaz was a near relative to Naomi’s late husband. He could do the impossible. He could bring Ruth, the one with no rights in Israel, to a position of belonging to the family of God.
With such a possibility in sight, Naomi gives interesting instructions to Ruth.

Look what one does when one is getting ready to meet one’s provider! Ruth was instructed to “wash and perfume” herself, and put on her best clothes! She takes a bathe and coats herself in “come hither” perfume! She sprays on her Channel # 4. She puts on her duds that say, “whoa! Where have you been all my life?” But most of all she displays an attraction which draws her suitor, Boaz, to the inner woman – the real person that Ruth is.
Peter says the same of godly women: In 1 Peter 3:3-4 he instructs, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Ruth had that inner beauty which had already attracted herself to Boaz without her even saying a word. Boaz knew, he KNEW, that Ruth was of a godly character, a Proverbs 31 woman – a woman of excellence.
And he knew, he KNEW, that if he didn’t have Ruth as his wife, he would be, well, Ruth-less! Yeah.
But Ruth also does another interesting reaction. Our NIV says that in the middle of the night, after she observed Boaz fall asleep, she went near to where he was sleeping, uncovered his feet and lay down. And when Boaz does awake and is shocked to find a woman at his feet, she requests that he spreads his garment over her – a symbol of coming under his protection.
Do you remember Ruth 2:12? Boaz commended Ruth for her godly character – even as a Moabitess, a member of those who had no godly heritage. She has wisely come under Naomi’s care – and in turn, according to Boaz, she had learned to come under the protection and refuge of the living God. The Psalmist said it well, too. In Psalm 17:8 (and others!), he writes, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings…”.
Ruth – through the insight of Naomi – was to seek Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer. And the Lord Jesus desires to be that Redeemer for us! Philippians 2:6-8 says, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

In Ruth 3:1, Naomi says to Ruth, “should I not try to find a home for you?” The word “home” is the Hebrew word for “rest”. She is saying, “shouldn’t I try to find rest for you, a place where you are no longer wandering, no longer going from field to field? Shouldn’t I try to find, well, a husband for you?”
In Ruth 3:18, Naomi instructs Ruth to “wait”, because Boaz will not rest – there it is again – until the matter of Ruth’s redemption is settled.
In Matthew 11:28, the Lord Jesus said, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is the true Kinsman-Redeemer. There is none like Him.
But He doesn’t force His love upon us. Nor do we have to wear “come hither” perfume on to gain His attention. Rather, He simply asks us to “learn of Me.” Find out for ourselves that He alone is worthy of our eternal trust.
Ruth needed rest. You and I need rest. We hunger for rest. God has placed in each of our hearts an eternal hunger for substance, for truth, for rest – knowing full well that He alone is the One Who can provide that rest. He alone would send His one and only Son to earth at Christmas time. Baby Jesus would have a body and a mission – His Father’s business – to go to the cross for our sins, that “whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Is the Lord Jesus your Kinsman-Redeemer? He invites you today to “come unto Him”.

Close in prayer

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