CHRISTMAS: “A TALE OF A THRILL OF HOPE” (Ruth 4)
CHRISTMAS EVE SERMONETTE
FBC Earlville, N.Y. December 24, 2018 7 PM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor
TONIGHT’S “SPECIAL”: “Flight to Egypt”
A little boy came home from Sunday school just before Christmas, proudly showing his dad the picture he drew in class. It looked very much like an airplane with passengers, so his father asked his son what the picture represented.
“It’s the flight to Egypt,” answered the boy.
“I see,” said the father. “And this must be Mary and the baby Jesus.”
“Yes!” said the son enthusiastically.
“Who is flying the plane?”, dad asked, pointing to the cockpit.
Without skipping a beat, the boy answered, “That’s Pontius, the pilot!”
“I see,” said dad. And pointing to a heavy set figure sitting at the back of the plane, he asked, “and who is this?”
“THAT’S Round John Virgin!”
Tomorrow is Christmas Day! Just the very thought of Christmas envisions family, food, and presents – perhaps many of which won’t be paid for for years to come. Yet despite all that it takes to make for a successful Christmas Day gathering, you know it is worth it all to bring family together.
Yet for many, Christmas is a rough time. One of my former neighbors and her husband were married on Christmas Day some 60 years earlier. When he passed away, Christmas was a tough day for her. Many of us have lost loved ones during the Christmas season. Those hurts, while softened with time, never really go away. We share that together.
What do we all need? We need “a thrill of hope”! We need a spark in the heart that God is not deaf to my heart, to my real world.
And into that season enters the Book of Ruth. Tonight we are going to be in Ruth 4, a wonderful chapter which culminates the story which I have called the “Christmas Book of the OT”.
And throughout the story, I will need your help to dramatize the story. OK?
1. MAIN CHARACTERS OF THE STORY !
#1. Elimelech: a Jewish man from a little town called Bethlehem [When you hear “Bethlehem”, please sing: “O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM”] In Judah, Israel. He lived about the time of the Judges – which the Bible says is when “every man did that which is right in his own eyes.” Sounds like today, doesn’t it. He cared for his family, and when times got tough, and food was scarce, he took his wife and 2 sons to the country of Moab. [“BOO” HISS” – they were the enemies of the Jews]
#2. Naomi: she was the wife of Elimelech. She was a very logical person. She thought through things. And when she heard that food was now plentiful in Bethlehem [“O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM”] once again, she decided to move her family back there. But in the years she was in Moab [“BOO HISS”] her husband had died, and her 2 sons had died, and all she had left were her two daughters-in-law, widows of her sons. They were from Moab [“BOO HISS”].
#3. Ruth she was from Moab [“BOO HISS”]. When Naomi saw the famine was over in Bethlehem [“O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM”] she told Naomi that she wanted to return there with Naomi.
She had made a choice! The Bible records her words to Naomi, her mother-in-law – perhaps you’ve heard them in a wedding:
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” WOW!
#4. Boaz he was a wealthy landowner from Bethlehem [“O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM”] and, here’s a key to the story, a close relative to Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband.
Being a close relative, Boaz had the legal right to buy back all of the property that Elimelech and Naomi lost after they moved to Moab [BOO HISS] where Elimelech and his sons died. Thus Boaz is what is known as a “kinsman redeemer” [HIP HIP HOORAY!].
Those are the main characters of our story.
#5 OH – one more character – one we will call Kinsman Redeemer # 2 [HIP HIP HOORAY} who is a closer relative to Elimelech than Boaz, thus having greater rights to the estate than Boaz.
#6 OH – one more important group: the elders and the townspeople who were witnesses. THEY ARE YOU! When you hear your name, say “I SEE”!
2. MEANWHILE – THE MEETING THIS IS FAST MOVING, WITH YOUR HELP!
Let’s read Ruth 4:1-6. With your well learned descriptive calls. OK? Here we go:
“Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the kinsman-redeemer [HIP HIP HOORAY!] he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.
2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town [I SEE!] and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.
3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer [HIP HIP HOORAY!], “Naomi, who has come back from Moab [BOO HISS!], is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.
4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people [I SEE!]. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”
“I will redeem it,” he said.
5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite [BOO HISS!], the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer [HIP HIP HOORAY!] said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.””
(you did well acting; you can rest now)
Back in those days, when people made agreements before witnesses at the gate of the city – where all legal transactions and business took place, there was an item which sealed the agreement. I need some help here! [Walk over and get the organist’s shoe]. The shoe was a symbol that the agreement had been made between two parties. Everyone saw it. The transaction was settled. Boaz, also a kinsman redeemer, had bought back all the property Elimelech lost when he and his family had gone down to Moab. Included in that was the marrying of Ruth.
Ruth! Here was someone who had absolutely no rights. No hope. She was a member of the enemies of the people of God. But now? She was given hope! By faith she had trusted the true God of Israel over the false gods of Moab. And by marriage her faith and trust were sealed in the oneness she would share with Boaz.
Read Ruth 4:11. The people of Bethlehem rejoiced in this marriage – and they trusted that the Messiah would come through the fruit of this marriage. This was the hope of every family in Israel. Little could they realize what would happen!
CONCLUSION Boaz marries Ruth and she has a baby.
The women of the town name him “Obed”. They proclaim their desire of what the baby will be: her kinsman-redeemer, famous throughout Israel, a renewer of youth, and a sustainer of life.
Let’s look at his genealogy: you read Ruth 4:17
(I’ll read Matthew 1:5-6; 15-16)
I was reading Matthew – for Obed is a great great (great great great….) grandfather of the baby Jesus. Which means Ruth is a great great great (great great great….) grandmother of the baby Jesus.
Ruth from Moab (BOO HISS) was given eternal grace, so that her heritage could give birth to the One Who would save His people from their sins!
If God would love Ruth that much – one who was an enemy of the people of God – think how much more He loves us, we who were without God and without hope. He loved us so much that He indeed did send His Son to the manger that He would have a body with which He could die on Calvary’s tree for our sins. He is the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer, for He wants to redeem us! Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior, your Kinsman-Redeemer? Aren’t you glad that trust in Him brings, well, HOPE!
Close in prayer