Obed’s Inheritance

By Simeon Solomon – Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Public Domain

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.  (Ruth 4:10-16)

The previous night, at the threshing floor, Ruth and Boaz conspired together to enact a daring plan to save and restore the family of Elimelech.  Ruth petitioned Boaz to marry her while simultaneously calling on him as kinsman-redeemer to her deceased father-in-law, Elimilech.  Ruth simultaneously appealed to, and expanded, two separate Israelite laws.

It was the role of a kinsman-redeemer to make sure land that had been sold was redeemed so it would remain in the family.  However, the family of Elimilech had ended.  Elimilech had died and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion also died, leaving three childless widows.  No heirs remained for the family of Elimilech.  There was no family for whom the land should be redeemed.  It was an incredibly sad situation, but nothing could be done about it.

The levirate law was a separate law intended to ensure the continuance of a man’s family.  If a married man died leaving no heirs, the deceased’s brother was to marry the widow for the purpose of conceiving an heir to carry on the name of the deceased and inherit his property.  However, the levirate law only applied to brothers, not to more distant relatives.  So the levirate law did not apply to Boaz in this situation.

Moreover, Ruth was barren.  She had previously been married to Mahlon, son of Elimilech and Naomi.  However, Mahlon died, leaving Ruth childless.  There was no reason to believe Ruth could conceive and bear a child, since she had remained barren during the ten years of marriage to Mahlon.

Yet, that night at the threshing floor, Ruth proposed a daring plan to Boaz.  Appealing to Boaz as kinsman-redeemer, she proposed that he marry her for the purpose of bearing and raising an heir to the family of Elimilech.  The next morning, Boaz followed through with Ruth’s plan.  He redeemed the property of Elimilech to be inherited by a son they hoped would be born to Ruth by her marriage to Boaz.  Before the witnesses at the Bethlehem city gates, Boaz declared:

“You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.”

Ruth and Boaz took a leap of faith by investing themselves in a risky plan with little hope of success.  They set out to save and restore the family of Elimilech… through a not-yet-conceived son to be born of a barren widow.  Everything hinged on the birth of a son to inherit Elimilech’s property and carry on his family name…a hoped for future heir who could redeem the family from the brink of annihilation.

Then God directly intervened.

And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

God honored their faith.  God honored their sacrificial loving-kindness to Elimilech’s family and to his widow, Naomi.  God enabled Ruth to conceive and bear a son.

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Obed, the child born to Naomi by her barren widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, conceived by Elimilech’s kinsman, Boaz, saved the family from annihilation!  He was “redeemer” and “restorer of life” to Naomi and to the family of her deceased husband.

And this family line…the lineage of this miracle child, Obed, became the lineage of King David!

Does the story of Obed have a ring of familiarity?  It should.

For it was through this same family lineage…the family of Obed… the family of King David… that Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, was born into this world.

Much like his ancestor Obed, Jesus was the hoped-for future heir… future redeemer… future restorer of life.

In the Garden of Eden, God promised a “seed of woman” who would redeem mankind.  Later, God promised Abraham all nations would be blessed through his seed; through his seed God would provide a sacrifice of redemption; and through his seed a new covenant with God would be enacted.

Jesus… Messiah… promised heir… promised redeemer… promised restorer of life… was born of a Virgin.  Much like his ancestor Obed, his conception was through God’s direct intervention in impossible circumstances.

Like Obed, the inheritance of Jesus was not through his biological father, but through his adopted father, Joseph.  Through Joseph, Jesus is heir to the throne of David, heir to Abraham’s inheritance, and heir to Adam’s covenant with God as ruler over all the earth.

The book of Ruth begins with death… the death of Elimilech and his sons… the death of the family of Elimilech.  The book continues as a story of whole-hearted covenant faithfulness… of going above and beyond covenant obligations to bless a covenant partner… of believing God can and will do the miraculous to redeem and restore life.  The book ends with the birth of a miracle baby with an assured inheritance to restore life to a dead family.

The book of Ruth is the gospel message in a nutshell.

The Bible begins with life and creation, but quickly moves to loss and death… death of the family of Adam… cut off from their godly inheritance through a treacherous covenant with sin and death.  The Old Testament continues as a story of God’s whole-hearted covenant faithfulness… of going above and beyond covenant obligations to bless His covenant partners… of promises of a coming Messiah who will redeem, deliver, and restore life to Adam’s heirs.  The New Testament opens with a recitation of the lineage of Jesus Christ… with the birth of a miracle baby with an assured inheritance over all the earth to restore life to all who believe in Him.

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ!

[For a more in-depth study of the book of Ruth, I recommend reading The Gospel of Ruth, by Carolyn Custis James]

Emmanuel – Seed of Eve

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

What an astonishing sign!

A child called Emmanuel (meaning God with us) was to be born…born of a virgin.  How can that be?  Why was the virgin birth so important?

God explained the plan way back in the Garden of Eden:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)

This first Messianic prophecy was spoken by God, to the serpent, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. God promised a coming Redeemer even before He banished them from the garden.

…her seed…

In scripture, the seed is pictured as coming from the man, while the woman’s womb is pictured as a fertile environment for the seed to develop into a child. Yet here God speaks of the woman’s seed. From the very beginning, God had already planned for Messiah to be conceived without an earthly father…to be born of a virgin. Jesus is the seed of the woman.

And I will put enmitybetween your seed and her seed…

The seed of the woman is Jesus Christ. Who is the seed of the serpent?

Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father. … You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies…” (John 8:39-45 – emphasis mine)

The seed of the serpent are those who do the deeds of Satan…those who are at enmity with God…those who walk in sin. The seed of the serpent are all the descendants of Adam who reject Jesus as Christ (1 John 5:1&19).

Adam was created in covenant with God (Genesis 1:27 & 2:7, Hosea 6:7). When Adam sinned, he entered into covenant with the kingdom of darkness. This is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…being in covenant with both good and evil.

Remember those fictional stories about people making deals with the devil then despairing because Satan gained legal right to their souls? This was the issue facing mankind after Adam’s fall…the devil had legal claim over Adam’s soul.

In the Old Testament, covenant is a father-to-son inheritance. The sons inherited not only the father’s property, but also his covenant relationships, including his debts.

So, not only was Adam in covenant with evil…so were all his descendants. What a hopeless seeming situation! How can we escape an evil legacy inherited from birth? Every human child is born into Adam’s covenant with evil.

Every child…except Jesus!

Jesus was born of a virgin! Jesus is the seed of the woman, conceived with no earthly father from whom to inherit Adam’s covenant. Conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born in covenant with God but not in covenant with evil.

As the only descendant of Adam born with no covenant ties to the kingdom of darkness, only Jesus was qualified to act as our Kinsman-Redeemer. Only Jesus could redeem us from the kingdom of darkness.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
I will make justice the measuring line
And righteousness the level;
Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies
And the waters will overflow the secret place.
Your covenant with death will be canceled,
And your pact with Sheol will not stand… (Isaiah 28:16-18)

Only Jesus was qualified to be our Kinsman-Redeemer, and His virgin birth was an essential part of God’s plan of redemption.

Not only did God become a man, but He also became our Savior and Redeemer…the only person qualified to redeem us from Adam’s covenant with sin and death.

Hallelujah!  Glory to God in the highest!  Thru Emmanuel, we are redeemed!

Three Days

“The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (Matthew 9:31)

This week, Christians around the world are celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible has much to say about these events.  Four eyewitness accounts are given of these events in the gospels, and the New Testament epistles provide further elaboration.  These events are the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Yet, we’re told surprisingly little about what happened in Sheol (or Hades…the place of the dead) during the three days Jesus was in the grave.

The four gospel accounts are based on eyewitness testimony by the apostles and others. Since all the eyewitnesses were living, we have no direct account of what transpired in Sheol.

We are told Jesus preached to the spirits in prison, that He now holds the keys of death and of Hades, and that many of the dead were raised.  Yet we know very little of what actually transpired in Sheol during those three days Jesus was in the grave.

Since I often write on the topic of redemption, it is not surprising I am sometimes asked what I think happened during those three days of silence from the tomb. It is a topic I have somewhat avoided, because the Bible simply does not provide an authoritative answer.  Although I certainly have my own speculations, they’re exactly that…speculations.

But maybe it’s worth speculating…

Although the Bible is largely silent on what transpired during the Great Exodus from Sheol, it provides rich details of what transpired during the Great Exodus from Egypt. Since the Great Exodus from Egypt is clearly a prophetic precursor of Christ’s work in Sheol, let’s see what we can learn from it.

God’s covenant people were enslaved in Egypt, held in bondage by covenant to an abusive ruler. While enslaved in Egypt, they occupied a separate region called Goshen, where they experienced God’s protection even while enslaved.

In much the same way, God’s covenant people were enslaved in Sheol, held in bondage by covenant to Satan. While enslaved in Sheol, they occupied a separate region called Abraham’s Bosom (or Paradise), where they experienced God’s protection even while enslaved.

God told Moses:

Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (Exodus 6:5-6)

What transpired afterward is the well-known Exodus story we are all familiar with…the story that is commemorated in the Jewish Passover feast…and which has inspired numerous movie depictions.

What transpired was that God showed up in Egypt…accompanied by ten plagues…each more devastating than the last. Each plague specifically targeted one of the false gods of Egypt, exposing them as frauds.  God countered the false gods, not with empty arguments, but with power and judgment.  The truth of God’s identity rolled over the lies of the false gods like a tidal wave of destruction.

The final plague, the death of the firstborn, targeted Pharaoh himself…the Egyptian sungod…cutting off the inheritance of the Egyptians much as Pharaoh had attempted to cut off the covenant inheritance of the Israelites by murdering their infant sons.

God redeemed Israel from their covenant with Pharaoh…bringing about their just divorce from Egypt and dissolving all legal ties and all covenant obligations to Pharaoh.

Most redemptions require a payment on behalf of the person being redeemed from slavery.  However, in Israel’s redemption from Egypt, the only payment made to Egypt was the ten plagues…while Israel was paid Egyptian silver and gold.  These were the payments deemed by God as just redemption from Egypt.

In the end, Pharaoh was so desperate for God to leave Egypt that he ordered the Israelites to leave, thereby dissolving their covenant.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” (Exodus 6:1)

I speculate that Christ’s redemption of His people from Sheol was similar to the redemption from Egypt.

Sheol is described as a place of darkness, despair, and torment. Into that dark kingdom of death strode the Lord of Light and Life.  The lies of Satan were steam-rolled by the power of the living Christ.  The pillars of deception and despair were vaporized by the truth and hope of Christ.  Satan’s stronghold began to crumble and those enslaved found new hope.

And I speculate that Satan was so desperate for Christ to leave that he begged Jesus to take all His chosen ones out with him, thereby dissolving his covenant claim.

“…for under compulsion he will let them go…”

Here is what Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah’s dual work of judgment and redemption:

Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”

Therefore thus says the Lord God,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level. Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place.

“Your covenant with death will be canceled, and your pact with Sheol will not stand.  When the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you become its trampling place.

“As often as it passes through, it will seize you. For morning after morning it will pass through, anytime during the day or night, and it will be sheer terror to understand what it means. (Isaiah 28:15-19)

Glory! What a Savior!  Our Redeemer lives!

He joins us in our place of bondage.  He protects us as He judges our oppressor.  He redeems and delivers us into liberty in Him.  He resurrects us to new life.

 

Your thoughts?

 

The Guilty Stain

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The Guilty Stain of the God-slayers A poem by Joseph J. Pote It began in the Garden of Eden, With fruit from the forbidden tree. Adam chose to disobey God, Believing sin would set him free. No longer desiring to … Continue reading

Born of a Virgin ~ Part 2

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This gallery contains 1 photo.

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we looked at two reasons Jesus was born of a virgin: 1) to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ; and 2) to illustrate how Jesus would deliver His people from Sheol, the place … Continue reading