We noted this morning that Bethlehem literally means “house of bread.” In the story of Ruth, Naomi goes from a married woman with two sons to a childless widow. Like the land with no bread, Naomi has become a woman with no life. She has become barren like the land she inhabits. Naomi returns to Bethlehem because she hears that Yahweh has visited his people by giving them bread (1:6). Of course this is not the last time something significant happens in Bethlehem. Many centuries later, God would also visit his people. In Luke 1, Zacharias’ tongue is finally loosed and he is able to speak, he is filled with the Holy Spirit and sings, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” In the story of Ruth, God sends bread to Bethlehem, and later a son is born to Ruth to give life to the family of Elimelech. In the story of Luke, God again visits his people Israel in the midst of their barrenness, and he gives them a son, the Son, and this Son is also the bread of life, the true manna which comes down from heaven. And the glory of the New Covenant is that God promises to visit us every week. Every Lord’s Day when we gather for worship, we gather in the midst of various forms of death and famine and barrenness. Whether it is literal famine, economic crisis, death and sickness of loved ones, or whether it is the barrenness of sin and evil that plagues us and our families, it is in the midst of that that God declares that he has visited you, and he gives you himself in the form of bread. Your faithful Father visits you with a Son; He visits you and gives you life in the midst of your death, in the midst of your famine, he feeds you. And if he is feeding you, then you must believe that he intends to raise you up, to give you life, to bless and renew you . So come and believe. Come and rejoice. The God who cared for Naomi cares for you. The God who gave bread to hungry, gives bread to you.
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