No Matter Who You Were Before
For anyone who has read the first chapter of the book of Matthew in the Bible, you might be perplexed by a very long list of names. In the King James Version, you even get to read words like begat over and over. The list is similar to many genealogies listed in the Old Testament, which trace the generations of history and purpose for the Jewish people.
If you play the game “Which one of these is not like the other?” with the names in this particular genealogy, you’ll discover that within these 17 verses of endless names are five that stand out from the rest. ln verses 3,5,6 and 16, are the names of 5 women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. This is remarkable because …WOMEN WERE NOT USUALLY INCLUDED lN JEWISH GENEAOLOGIES!!
These women were also unique in that all except Mary were foreigners who had married into this Jewish lineage, and each had a healthy dose of scandalous history attached to their names. Tamar tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was an outsider who worshipped ancestral gods. Bathsheba had an affair with King David and got pregnant, then the king had her husband killed in battle. And Mary, was the young, unwed, teenage mother of Jesus.
But it is not their histories that earned them a spot in an all male geneaology. It was believing God could do something with the little they had to offer. Tamar’s actions cannot be condoned, but her motives to not remain a childless widow in a world where much of women’s worth and rights were found in bearing children, can be understood as noble and strong. Rahab sheltered a group of spies from Israel at the risk of her own life, and then eventually married one of those spies. Ruth was also a widow who courageously worked the fields in Bethlehem at the risk of being harassed for being a foreigner. The land owner, Boaz, witnessed her resilience and determination to carve out a life as a widow and stranger in her dead husband’s homeland. Bathsheba moved beyond her infidelity and raised Solomon, her and David’s son, to know and follow after God, and who became known as the wisest of kings. And sweet, young Mary was strong and wise in the face of whispers about her pregnancy before marriage. Scripture does not say she was perfect, but she trusted God with her whole heart even when it cost her a good reputation.
In these women’s stories, God reminds us that He can do amazing, powerful things through us no matter where we come from, what we’ve done or what we’ve lived for – even make us a grandparent of the Savior, 34 generations removed, or better yet – the mother of that baby who would change history.
And he reminds us that he is not looking for the wisest, the most religious, the most beautiful, the most admired or the most successful person. He is looking for the woman who will say “yes” when he calls her name. He is looking for the man who will give up his old life and take hold of the new. No matter what your history is, no matter what a hypocrite you’ve been, no matter what people will say about who you were–all that matters to God today is who you can be if you’ll give him the chance to show you the possibilities!