A Child Is Born in Bethlehem
Author: F. Duane Lindsey
Week of September 28, 2014
Ruth 4:13; Matthew 2:1-7
Two months ago we were thinking of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Under normal circumstances Jesus would have been born in Nazareth in Galilee, far to the north of Bethlehem in Judea. But in the providence of God, Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census that required Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem because that was the hometown of their ancestor David. Of course, Matthew recorded Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem as the fulfillment of prophecy (Matt. 2:5-6; cf. Micah 5:2).
Neither Jesus nor his ancestor David would have been born in Bethlehem if their ancestor Obed (David’s grandfather) had not been born in Bethlehem to Ruth and Boaz. And that is just what happened, for “Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (Ruth 4:13).
We do not know why Ruth and Mahlon, who were married about ten years before Mahlon died (1:4-5), did not have any children. Nor do we know the age of Ruth; the Bethlehemites obviously regarded her as child-bearing age, and the “elders” of the town viewed her as a “young woman” (4:12). In any case, she must have had some uncertainty about her ability to bear a child. But God was accomplishing His purpose (“the Lord enabled her to conceive,” 4:13), and Ruth gave birth to a boy she named Obed.
The providence of God, active in the births of two special babies in Bethlehem, is also active in our lives today. The God who “holds the little tiny baby in His hands” is in charge of where we (or our children) were born. And where we will die. Or perhaps where (and when) our child has died. God is in control of all life’s activities from birth to death.
Also in the spiritual realm: He is the agent of our new birth into His family, and the director of those things He allows in our lives to mold us and make us more like His Son. Let us rejoice and praise Him for His sovereign care and direction in all He does.