Lent day 15 Who is Obed?
Luke 3: 32 “the son of Obed”
The name means ‘Servant of Yahweh’.
In one of its toughest times in the history of Israel lived a family, Elimelech and his wife Naomi and their 2 sons. There was lawlessness and there was famine, they lived in Bethlehem which ironically means House of Bread. Elimelech’s name means ‘My God is King’. But God was not king in his life. He made a decision without consulting His God and King. That decision took him to Moab, there he made a further bad decision when he allowed his sons to marry Moabite woman. This was an abandoning of God and His land for the land and people of the enemy.
They had planned only to live for a while in Moab, but they remained ten years. At the end of those ten years, all that remained were three lonely widows. Everything else was gone.
Naomi had lost two things:
Her husband and two sons had died before their time. They had years to live, certainly for the sons, but they were no more. It was just a dream that never came true.
Of most importance was the carrying on of the family name. How more devastating for Naomi is that not only has she lost three loved ones, there is no heir by which the names will be continued and the inheritance guaranteed.
She has lost her future. Naomi would have to come to the realisation that everything has gone because she moved away from God.
And yet what she hadn’t realised was the most gracious and beautiful love story in the Old Testament was about to happen!
A reminder that the reason why Luke’s genealogy is different to Matthew’s is probably not because of the thought one was Joseph’s and the other Mary’s but because of this example, the levirate marriages. When Obed was born (to Ruth), the women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!” (Ruth 4:14).
Naomi left Moab grieving for her husband and two sons. She arrived in Bethlehem a broken widow and with great bitterness. But now the women of Bethlehem share in her joy. Obed is now the levirate son for Mahlon, he is heir of Elimelech. Through Obed, Elimelech’s family name has not been wiped out. Ruth and Naomi were both given a bright future. However, something far greater was on the horizon. Obed would become the grandfather of King David. He was not just a blessing to Ruth and Naomi, not just to Bethlehem, not only to Israel, but to the whole world through God’s hand on David’s life.
Now that we have the background to his birth let us see his name. Obed’s story has what Apostle Paul famously said running all through it: “And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
It is God’s primary goal for your life to reproduce the image of His Son in you. But what does that look like? Jesus gives the answer:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
It is very appropriate that Obed’s name means ‘Servant’. Out of the worst of times can come the most powerful and God inspired times. If God has done anything in your life it is so that you may serve and in serving you become like Jesus. With the towel and basin in your hand you wash feet and you give yourself away to even the most unlovable of people. And in doing so, they don’t see you, they see Christ.