God spoke through the last prophet, Malachi, then 400 years of silence.
I love how the God-ordained, God-breathed, and God-organized books of the New Testament opens with the human genealogy of Jesus.
Not unlike today, the Jewish people were proud of their culture and heritage, eager to point out those in the family line they are proud of; those who make them feel like someone. The genealogy of Jesus is no different. Before getting into the messy family tree, Matthew name-drops David and Abraham. They were big deals! Abraham, the origin of the initial promise & father of Israel; and David, the greatest king of Israel.
But what I love is that this genealogy also includes some not so lovely stories. Relatives –women, no less -- that at one time in their lives might have been major skeletons to hide in the family closet; those we might like to forget, but never forgotten by God.
First up, Tamar (Matthew 1:3). Her life seemed so promising, marrying the eldest son of Judah. But he was a wicked man who was killed by God. As per the custom, another son should have become the redeemer and provided a son for Tamar, but that never happened. She waited alone and abandoned; forgotten and unloved. She takes matters into her own hands, disguising herself as a prostitute and tricking Judah (her father-in-law) into sleeping with her to have a child. ()
The next scandalous relative mentioned by name is Rahab (Matthew 1:5). A prostitute in the land of Jericho. (Joshua 2:1)
Next up, Ruth (Matthew 1:5). A Moabite (and the narrator of Ruth makes sure we know it, referring to her as such six times). The Moabite people and Jews were far from friends. Their origin was from the incestuous relationship of Lot and his daughter (Genesis 19:30-37). Ruth, the Moabite, was a widow in a foreign land.
Finally, not even mentioned by name, Bathsheba is referred to as the “wife of Uriah” (Matthew 1:6). She is the one who, while married to Uriah, was summoned by King David to sleep with him. When she became pregnant, David tried to arrange things so it would appear to be Uriah’s child, but when that didn’t work, he had Uriah killed in battle. (2 Samuel 11)
Before the Redeemer is introduced to the world by Matthew, His family is remembered – the good, bad, and ugly. Not only did Jesus come down from perfection, put on human flesh, and enter sin-filled humanity….He did so in the midst of a messy family tree. Because the truth is, without Jesus we are all messy. We all have blemishes in our past and in our present. But God – through the human birth of His Son into this family -- can redeem ALL things in beautiful and glorious ways according to His perfect plans.
God is so merciful to show us time and time again, in multiple lives woven in His perfect story, that all people matter to Him; that all people are worthy of redemption; that even the most unlikely family backgrounds, circumstances, and personal sins can be redeemed, with something beautiful resulting.
Nothing is impossible for God.
What a beautiful story to kick off the new year.
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