Monday, December 15, 2014

12 Days of Anticipation: Day 4 The Matriarchs

Day 4- The Matriarchs

The New Testament book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Normally the genealogy only follows the father's line, stating only the men in the family. However in Jesus' genealogy there are four women listed (other than Mary), and I think that is significant. God could have chosen any family line to place the Savior of the world in, and we would expect only the greatest people to be in his lineage. Let's take a look at Jesus family heritage.

The first woman mentioned in Matthew 1:3 is Tamar. You can read Tamar's story in Genesis 38, but I'll give you a quick overview. Tamar was an a Gentile- an outsider living with the Israelites. She was married to Er, a man so evil that God himself put him to death. As was the custom, she was given in marriage to Er's brother to have a child and continue her family line, but Onan didn't want to give a child on his brother's behalf and sinned. The Lord struck him dead as well. The third brother was to young to marry her and fulfill the brother's duties so the father, Judah, sent Tamar back to her family to wait. Judah had no intention of losing another son to whom he considered a cursed woman. With a turn of events, Tamar pretends to be a prostitute to sleep with Judah and finally becomes pregnant with a son. When Judah wants to have her killed for prostitution, she gives him proof that he is the father to save her life. This is a woman who lost two husbands, was cast aside and treated as a disease, had lost all hope of carrying on her family line, and even had her life threatened. And yet, this is the woman that God chose to include in the line of Jesus.

Our next woman is Rahab in verse 5, whose story is in Joshua 2. Rahab didn't have to pretend to be a prostitute, because that was her actual profession. She lived in the wall of Jericho, a city God intended to bring down as the Israelites advanced to the Promised Land. When Joshua sent spies into the land, she hid them on her roof and kept them safe, making them promise to save her and her family when the city fell. She had incredible faith in a God that she had only heard about from others and gave up everything she had to follow Him with the Israelites in the desert. In spite of where she began, where she ended up was what placed her in Jesus' family line.

The third woman is Ruth, another outsider who married into an Israelites family. Her story in the book of Ruth (yes, she gets her own book!), tells of the death of her husband and her father in law. When her mother in law encourages her to go back to her own people to remarry and have a family, she refuses to abandon her mother in law. She gave up her opportunity to have a family line in order to care for a bitter old woman and follow a God whom she had only just begun to learn about. Out of this tragedy comes a new beginning when she meets Boaz, the next in line in her family willing to marry her. She has children with him and becomes the grandmother of King David. What she would have missed if she had been looking out for her own interests!

The final woman is Bathsheba, whose story is in 2 Samuel 11. Her husband Uriah was fighting in the war when King David noticed her. He slept with her and she became pregnant. To cover his tracks, David arranged to have Uriah killed in battle and married Bathsheba. When the child was born, it was sick and God allowed it to die as a punishment for David's sin. Bathsheba eventually gives birth to another son, Solomon. Even though Bathsheba is not David's first wife, and her son is not near the top of the list for the throne, Solomon becomes king. Bathsheba trusts God through all of this.

Every single one of these women had lives that could have been defined by grief and tragedy. Loss and despair could have been their anthem, but instead they kept their eyes on the Lord, trusting in Him and His plan. This hope, even in the most hopeless of situations and faith in the one true God gave them the honor of being in the genealogy of Christ. God does not discriminate in who He uses- rich, poor, Jew, Gentile, male, female- He uses those who are ready and willing to be used!

Are you embarrassed by some of the past history of your family?
Have you let things that have happened to you or family members you love lose hope?
Do you doubt that God can use the flaws and pain of your story to do something great for His kingdom?
In what ways are you clinging to bitterness or claiming the victim card rather than trusting God and experiencing the life that He has planned for you?

God uses us as we are, just as He used the women in these stories who had seemingly no hope for a future. Now they are immortalized in history because they allowed God to use them in spite of their flaws. Their faith in spite of personal imperfection and great loss makes the rest of the story that much more redemptive...

Click on the pictures below to read the other days!