I don’t suppose the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel ranks highly in your Advent reading list. It doesn’t sound a particularly promising way to prepare for Christmas. Closer inspection, however, will reveal some interesting features, not least the women who are mentioned.
First, we have Tamar who was Judah’s daughter-in-law. She posed as a prostitute, and consequently bore Judah twin sons, one of whom, Perez, takes his place in the genealogy. She was possibly a Canaanite. Next we read of Rahab, also probably a Canaanite. Now it is not certain whether she was the Rahab who sheltered the spies in Jericho, but if she was then we have a prostitute (or innkeeper?), albeit a deeply God-fearing one, in Jesus’ lineage.
In the next line Ruth is mentioned, and she was a Moabitess, in other words she too was a foreigner to Israel.
The fourth woman in the list (other than Mary herself, of course) is Bathsheba who was the wife of Uriah the Hittite. So maybe she too was a Hittite. What is certain, though, is that she committed adultery with David, later becoming his wife and the mother of Solomon.
It is worth reflecting on why special mention is made of these women (not all the mothers are mentioned!). Would the list not read just as well without these names? I am so glad they are mentioned. The fact that most if not all of them were non-Israelites foreshadows the significance of the visit to the infant Jesus of the Magi – that the gospel is for all nations. The fact that most of them have blemished characters, yet received grace from the hand of God and stand in the line of Jesus, indicates that no-one is beyond his redemption. The fact that they are mentioned assures us that, by his grace, God can use the most unlikely and unworthy. I am so glad of that, because that includes you and me.
May the Baby of Bethlehem and the Christ of Calvary be your comfort and joy this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
PS Before I go, here are a few things that I hope you will find of interest:
- The date of next year’s Bible Focus is Saturday, September 29th 2018. The organizing team is carefully considering the venue as we were very close to capacity this year. Also, we are working on the theme, which is likely to be along the lines of God’s holiness and holiness in God’s people. If you have any thoughts to share with us on this, please feel free to contact us on email@example.com
- Keep an eye on our website www.waldenbiblefocus.com for updates as they arise. Here you can listen again to Jonathan’s ministry to us in September.
- Other websites you may like to visit are www.keswickministries.org where you can listen to or download a whole range of Keswick teaching. (Incidentally, as a result of attending Saffron Walden Bible Focus one couple have booked to go to Keswick next July!). There is a range of teaching available also on www.claytontv and for books why not go to www.10ofthose.com, the good people who supplied our bookstall.