When we think of the town of Bethlehem, we think of the birth of Jesus, Christmas carols, shepherds, Mary and Joseph. There is another story in the Bible that also features Bethlehem. It is the story of Ruth.
A famine comes to the land and Elimelech with his wife Naomi and their two sons leave Bethlehem and go to the land of Moab. Elimelech dies leaving Naomi a widow in a foreign land. Her two sons marry Moabite women and God wants us to know their names: Orpah and Ruth. The sons also die and Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem and tells her daughters in law to return to their families. Ruth tells Naomi that she will not go back to her family but will go with Naomi back to Bethlehem and Naomi’s God will become her God.
Now for the rest of the story….fast forward to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph and in his family tree is “Ruth the mother of Obed. Elimelech taking his family and leaving Bethlehem was no accident. His son marrying Ruth was no accident. Ruth returning with Naomi was no accident. All of these series of seemingly unconnected events were part of God’s bigger plan that would happen in Bethlehem years later with the Savior of the world being born in a stable in Bethlehem.