December 17, 2017

Sunrise in Bethlehem

Tribe Recap of December 17, 2017 | Luke 1, Malachi 4, Book of Ruth

The heroes of the faith are often people we would not expect, the details of God’s story easy to miss.  How did Bethlehem become the City of David?  How did this sleepy little village become the birthplace of Christ?  And did you know, before Jesus was born his uncle gave him a fantastic nickname? God’s word is a rich and wonderful tapestry of poetic redemption.

Once upon a time in Bethlehem, a young couple wrestling with the effects of a famine decided to move to a foreign country in search of a better life.  They packed up their two sons and made the journey to Moab.  After living there for a while the man of the house died leaving his two sons to provide for the family.  Each of the sons found a wife but over time the men too succumbed to the harsh realities of their environment and passed away.  So the wives and widowed mother talked about what they would do.  “Let’s all go home,” the mother-in-law said to her daughters-in-law.  One daughter-in-law said warm goodbyes and left returning to her parents, but the other refused to leave her mother-in-law’s side so she joined her mother-in-law in returning home to Bethlehem.  They arrived there in utter despair.

In desperation the daughter-in-law looked for scraps of food in the fields for both of them.  One day, the landowner of one of the fields noticed the young lady and asked about her.  He encouraged her to gather in his fields and took care of her as best he could.  When the mother-in-law realized her daughter-in-law was being taken care of, a glimmer of hope returned.  Perhaps this man would save them from their misfortune.

And as the story goes, this man, Boaz, through a work of God’s providence saved this young lady named Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi from a hopeless situation.  He become their ‘kinsman redeemer’ a close relative with the means and rights to bring total restoration to the wreckage of their lives.

This is God.  Behind the scenes, he works on our behalf even when, like Naomi, we have declared our situation hopeless.  The Unstoppable God comes through even when we have lost faith, have stopped praying, and no longer believe it’s possible.  Still, the Lord remains faithful and has the means and rights to redeem it all and operates breakthrough for our lives while we are yet unaware of it.

Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem because it was the land of their ancestors...Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, the ‘kinsman redeemer’.  Bethlehem was the perfect place for Jesus to be born; he is the ‘kinsman redeemer’ of us all who came with the ultimate life-giving breakthrough though we did nothing in our own faith or belief to make it happen.   Jesus is an Unstoppable Breakthrough God who can overcome anything.

Maybe for this reason, in Luke 1:78 (NAS), Jesus is given the nickname Sunrise by his uncle Zacharias under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  “Sunrise from on high shall visit us...”

Jesus, this Sunrise, has shown upon all of us with a light that can never be put out.  He broke through our darkness and death to “guide our feet into the way of peace.”  He is the one Zacharias prophesied about out of Malachi 4:2: “But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” 

Christmas is the announcement of this truth: we have been released from the captivity of suffering and death and are free to celebrate the joy that Sunrise has come to deliver us, provide for us, take us in, make us alive, and bring us all home.

A prostitute from Jericho named Rahab had a son named Boaz, who married Ruth and had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse who is the father of King David, whose family line descended to Marry, Joseph, and Jesus!  Now you know the rest of the story!

Ken JensenJustin Kofoed