Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Devotional - No 1

Have you ever read the genealogy of Christ? I mean really read the genealogy of Christ? If you’re a Bible reader, are you like some readers, who breeze over those 100 hundred verses anytime there is a “genealogy passage” of scripture? Especially in the Old Testament. Those verses do tend to go on and on and on and most of those names you can’t even pronounce! Pastors don’t plan sermons around those genealogy passages, anyway. But Christ’s genealogy that begins in Matthew chapter 1 is much shorter than most of those in the Old Testament and what better way to begin the story of Christ’s birth, than to take a few verses to write about his family tree? Sure, there are still unusual names like “Ram” and “Zadok,” but the first time I read those passages, I was surprised at what I found. They weren’t all men. There were women names, too. Names like “Tamar,” “Rahab,” “Ruth,” “Bathseeba,”and, of course, “Mary.” Now you know as well as I do, that it takes two-to-tango, so it would almost seem logical that a woman’s name would be mentioned within a genealogy, but why only five? Why only five women’s names and the rest men? Well, I did a little research with the help of Christian author, Francine Rivers and here’s what I found out.

The first thing I discovered was that these women weren’t perfect. They each had a fascinating story to go along with their name. The story of Tamar begins in Genesis 38. The men in Tamar’s life had failed her and she was in to taking matters in her own hands by somehow “righting the wrong” they had caused. She had a worthy goal and that was to continue the line of Judah but she did not trust God to fulfill His promises and decided to move ahead with her own plans.

Rahab will forevermore go down in history as “Rahab the Harlot.” In our language today, that means prostitute. But I would also like to picture her as an intelligent business woman (maybe just in the wrong line of business). She arranged the deliverance of her entire family and showed such great faith and courage (Joshua 2). I also find it interesting that she fell in love with one of the spies and eventually had her own family.

The Book of Ruth is truly a love story. It’s all about romance. When I was a little girl at church and I wasn’t interested in what the preacher had to say, I would always read the book of Ruth and think about what it must be like to be a foreigner in a strange land, have your husband die, and then be swept off your feet by a man with such a weird name as “Boaz,” whose mother was Rahab. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Now, for Bathseeba. For some reason, I have the hardest time accepting her name in the genealogy of Christ. Her story begins in 2 Samuel chapter 11. Now, I’ve already mentioned that it takes two-to-tango, but the King of Israel? Who did this woman think she was? Obviously, she was beautiful because the Bible said so, and of course, David is at as much fault as she is. But you just don’t take a bath in front of the King of Israel’s front window! Did she do it on purpose? Was she enticing him? She must have been a close neighbor if David could watch her bathing!

What’s there to say about Mary, the mother of Christ? What would you do if an angel visited you at about thirteen years old and told you that you were going to have a baby? I just wish I knew what exactly it was that Mary had done to “find favor with God.” There were Bible characters that “walked with God;” Noah “found grace in…God,” but no woman in the Bible ever did those things, much less found “favor.” One Bible translation say that Mary was “highly esteemed.” I’m sorry. That’s just not good enough. I want to know why!

The most important thing I learned from these stories was that God can use anybody to fulfill His purposes. I’m so glad that he doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of others (especially mine). I am so thankful that he can take an ugly situation and turn it into something so beautiful. He can take a beautiful person, use her deepest, darkest failures, and mean it for something far better than she could ever imagine. And what better “something” than to be included in the genealogy of Christ? I can think of no greater honor.

If you get a chance, read these women’s stories and let me know what you think. Chances are, you didn’t even know some of them had existed until you read the genealogy of Christ!

No comments:

Post a Comment