The style I chose is topical, the message will include scripture from several places in God’s word. The common theme being the women included in the lineage of Jesus Christ and how we can be encouraged by how God used them, giving us confidence, we can be used by Him as well, no matter what our past looked like.
My target audience for this message is women of all ages and walks of life. The desire is to show women at any place in life – unsaved, newly saved, struggling in their walk, and even those firmly rooted in their faith – how God loves to glorify Himself through His daughters.
God loves us so much He sent His Son, here to earth, to redeem us, His created, image-bearing children. (“and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14)
Throughout Jesus ministry we see Him gravitating to ordinary, marginalized, sick, unclean, and hurting people, and they to Jesus.
“And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?”
But when He heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy that need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, I Desire Compassion and Not a Sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.”
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Instantly, I thought what do you get when you mix two harlots, an adulterous murderer (David) with adulteress, and a virgin pregnant teenage girl?
A Savior sent by God for such as these.
Think I’m pushing the envelope a bit? Let’s see what else God’s word says and who these fascinating people in Jesus’ rather messy family tree are. Today we are going to set our sites on the five women listed, because in that time listing of women in genealogies was rare. First mention is Tamar, then Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and finally Mary. Time to dive into the Word of God and learn more about these women and be encouraged by their stories, which may sound quite familiar to our own.
We initially hear of Tamar in Genesis 38 smack in the middle of a jaw dropping story about a man named Joseph. I remember my first time going through Genesis and pausing here saying, “wait, what? Why is this in the middle of Josephs story?” Well, because Judah was Joseph’s half-brother, and God saw fit to give voice to Tamar’s story for us to hear centuries later.
Judah goes on a journey away from his brothers and meets a Canaanite woman, sleeps with her and has several children. The first was named Er, the second Onan, and third Shelah. The very next verse says “Now Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, and her name was Tamar.” (Genesis 38:6)
Er was wicked in the eyes of the Lord, so God took his life. Per custom Judah’s second son was sent to become Tamar’s husband and keep the family line going, but Onan was also displeasing to God dying like his brother had. Judah instructed Tamar to go live as a widow in her father’s house until the next son comes of age. A considerable amount of time passes and Judah’s wife dies, and Tamar is made aware he will be coming back to Timnah, so she removes her widows clothing and sits by the roadside knowing Judah had deceived her. Judah arrives, and thinking she is a harlot since her face was veiled, asks to sleep with her. Tamar allows Judah to do so after giving her a pledge, leaving his seal, staff and cord with her. Now bear with me please, I know how bizarre this all sounds. In that day custom and righteousness commanded that Judah give his now grown son Shelah to Tamar but he had no intention of risking a third child. In Tamar’s culture being husband less and childless was a very difficult existence, and well as I’ve often found, the Lord’s will always prevail. Tamar not only becomes pregnant by Judah, but also wins the first golden ticket so to speak, as the first woman mentioned in the lineage of Christ.
Her story didn’t end there, perhaps like me, you can identify with what happens next. God has given her the blessing of pregnancy, the desire of her heart, and wham all chaos broke loose, ever happen to you?
Judah finds out his widowed daughter-in-law is pregnant and demands she be brought out and burned to death. I can picture the following seen, Tamar being thrown before Judah and out come the seal, staff and cord as she says through tear filled eyes, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child”. Imagine the look on Judah’s face, and the sudden calm in Tamar’s heart, as he realizes his own guilt not just for the harlotry, but also not providing her that last son. Judah responds, “She has been more righteous than I” Tamar lives on and births twins and through her son Perez the line continues, on bringing us to our next redeemed woman.
Joshua 2:1-22, 6:22-25
Rahab was clearly a sinner under the law, a harlot plain and simple, the Hebrew term used here is zanah- meaning one who commits adultery. We find this word, zanah also in Leviticus 21:7, Jeremiah 5:7, and Luke 7:37 all meaning the same.
Rahab story remains as an example of a woman, chosen by God, despite her sinful profession, being given an opportunity for redemption if she simply obeys in faith. In following the Lord’s instruction Rahab wasn’t just forgiven, this act of obedience also raised her into a position of honor. One step of faith brought her from harlot, to mother of Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabite who gave birth to Obed, she was also great-great grandmother to David can you see a theme forming yet?
Hebrews 11:31 Rahab is remembered in the famous hall of faith passage all because she had heard of the great God of the Israelites and believed. “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she welcomed the spies in peace.”
Having given it slightly away let’s look at our next woman in Jesus family tree.
Ruth was a Moabite married to a Hebrew man named Mahlon, which is odd in itself, so let’s step back further and see how this came to be.
It was in the town of Bethlehem, were Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion were packing up to leave because there was a severe famine, they journeyed to the land of Moab and settle down. Elimelech dies and Naomi was left with just her two sons, they took Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah and then Mahlon and Chilion also died. Without husband or sons any longer Naomi prepares to return home to Bethlehem telling her two daughters-in-law go home, back to your families I have nothing left for you. Orpah turned and left which actually matches the meaning of her name Orpah means “back of neck” and that’s the last they see of her as she walks away. Ruth on the other hand whose name means “friendly companion” is firmly committed to staying as we see in her famous reply.
“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die I will die and be buried. Thus may the Lord, do to me, and worse, if anything but death separates us.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
I love Ruth’s steadfast dedication here, there was zero wiggle room in her response. What really surprised me most was that Ruth, as a Moabitess, was not even allowed to enter God’s Temple. So, for her to declare that she was embracing YHWH was profound. (No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord. Deut 23:3)
Naomi couldn’t argue such a firm declaration of loyalty so off they went.
Once in Bethlehem, Naomi was down and out telling people call me Mara for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me. Ruth, without complaint carries the weight and offers to go glean after the reapers to sustain them. Of all fields she lands in their kinsman redeemers’ field, but not just that, this field belongs to Boaz, who was Rahab’s son.
Ruth’s act of faith and obedience to the God of Naomi, leads her to Boaz, placing her in the lineage of Jesus.
Boaz and Ruth have Obed, and Obed has Jesse, who fathers King David, which leads us to our next unlikely woman.
2 Samuel 11-12:1-25
1 Kings 1:11-37
Two opinions on Bathsheba dance around to this day. One pictures her as an immodest seductress and adulterer. The other (also my view) is she was a beautiful woman who loved Uriah her husband. David from a roof top sees her bathing and as scripture says in (2 Samuel 11:2-4)
“Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So, David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her, when she came to him he lay with her, and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness she returned to her house.”
When I read this, I see a soldier’s wife, alone, taken by messengers to the King, her lands highest authority. I can’t say what Bathsheba thought but if it were me, saying no to the King doesn’t seem wise. Furthermore, Bathsheba becomes pregnant and David does everything to try and conceal what he’s done, ending in killing Uriah, as we see in 2 Samuel 11:14-15
“Now it came about in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he had written in the letter saying, place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdrawal from him, so that he may be struck down and die”
Needless to say this is not simply swept under the rug, and there is pain, death and sorrow as a result which lead to repentance and a new child named Solomon, adding Bathsheba to the lineage of Jesus.
We arrived to the final unlikely woman listed in Jesus’ family tree.
Luke 1 and 2
Picture with me a young girl, likely 12-14 years old, the angel Gabriel appears before her changing her life forever. Imagine the sense of awe and wonder, perhaps a bit of fear too. What is this angel saying? Me, a girl, a virgin, to birth the Messiah? And the Angels responds to Mary’s thoughts.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son. And you shall name Him Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31)
Again young Mary, baffled and perhaps overwhelmed says yes but “I am a virgin”
“And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Although Mary’s calling held great honor, it would demand great suffering too.
In various ways each of these women reveal the mess and beauty of Jesus’ family tree. They are women from different walks of life, ages, ethnicity and upbringings. Women that knew hardship, suffering and loss, and women that were redeemed by God and welcomed into Jesus family tree regardless of their pasts or differences. Their stories are in the Bible to encourage us and show us the goodness of God.
My sister in Christ I have great news for you, just like God used these amazing women for His glory, he can and longs to use you too. All that’s needed is a willing heart. Child of God there isn’t anything that will stop God’s love for you. Are you ordinary? Great so was Mary, God can use you! Do you have a list a mile long of really bad things you’ve done? So did Rahab, God can use you. Are you all broken inside in pain because life has just been really hard? So was Tamar, God can use you.
God loves His daughters, so where ever you are in your walk right now can I encourage you to just close your eyes and pray. Here I am Lord, a willing vessel, open to your plans for my life.
By: Melissa Verna
cc: October 18, 2018