[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
When you look at other people’s families and you look at your own family you might want to compare and maybe look down at yourself. You might conclude that you and your family are not good enough for God to ever want to use you. When you look at the lives of other Christians you might think that they are so good; they sound so spiritual that surely compared to them God will never want to be associated with such a person as you. You who come from poverty, from drunkards, from a family that have mocked God, a family that had practised witchcraft, from a “cursed” family whose family members die young from accidents, fatal diseases. Misfortune seems to visit your family more than your neighbours. I have news for you we are all accepted in the beloved family of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This Women’s Month I wanted to profile the women who were part of Jesus’ family line. Five women in the first chapter of Matthew are mentioned in a long list of men. One can’t help but wonder why them. Why were they mentioned because there were obviously other women in the genealogy but Matthew singles out their names! Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba and Mary are the only women who are on the list. You may think it is because they came from a royal noble background. You might conclude and say they are mentioned because they were respectable members of society.
The stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba could not be forgotten. Among a long list of men in Jesus’ heritage and family tree Matthew list these four women. What was it about them that deserved a mention? Were they respectable women of Jewish heritage who all Jews looked up to and were proud to have birthed their Messiah? Who were these women in Jesus’ family line that became an integral part of God’s plan to birth His Son and ultimately save mankind?
Tamar devised the unthinkable plan of sleeping with her father-in-law to continue the line of her husband as per their custom. When her husband’s brother practised a form of birth control that prevented her from falling pregnant she took matters into her hands and disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law. She bore twins Perez and Zerah from that unconventional conception. Perez is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Rahab the prostitute was the great grandmother of King David. People who lived in Jericho and indeed Israelites who knew of her occupation would have never guessed that she would be so honoured by God to be included in the genealogy of His Son. Today there are still judgemental Christians who will never accept prostitutes into their churches. We can be the most judgmental people on the planet forgetting that our Lord came to seek and to save the lost. He came to heal the broken hearted and to give sight to the blind. The people of Jericho were “blind” but Rahab had the foresight to recognise that the God of Israel would conquer her land and her people. She chose to be loyal to God’s people and prophesied her future and that of her family. She told the spies that she knew that God would deliver Jericho into their hands and when that happened she wanted her family to be saved. Women, you can be the answer today to save your family. Rahab played a part in saving God’s soldiers and therefore helped Israel conquer Jericho. You are an integral part of God’s plan.
God used Rahab despite her past and her present. The God of grace and of a second chance literally gave Rahab and her family a lifeline and saved their lives. When you hang on to this Jesus it does not matter your circumstances. God can turn your situation and that of your family around. Be part of His team and see the amazing things that God will do for you. He is able to redeem a prostitute and turn her life around. This Jesus is able to extend grace to a foreign woman; a woman who had no business being counted among God’s people. God’s grace and hand includes all of us. Are you, like Rahab, willing to help God’s people and help the cause of Jesus Christ but you have a past and present that you are not proud of? Do you look at your life and say that you will never be accepted in the beloved. Surely God has no use and will never accept a person like you. Other people have made remarks and continue to treat you like an outcast because of your background. Know beloved that God accepts you into His family. He is able to turn your life around and make your life’s story a testimony that millions upon millions will read about just like Rahab!
Murder, betrayal and death
Bathsheba married David who was responsible for the death of her first husband, Uriah. Imagine starting a marriage under those circumstances. She lost her first child with David because of God’s wrath and punishment for the sin of David in killing Uriah. From a past filled with murder, betrayal and death this woman became one of the most powerful women in Israel’s history. From a concealed death of her husband to a public proclamation as Queen mother, Bathsheba’s ascension to power was filled with betrayal and murder but in all of that she was one of God’s select women. She is part of God’s plan into the genealogy and family line that eventually birthed our Lord. Our God of mercy saw her fit to be part of his earthly family. What is it that you do not want people to know? Woman what is it that you are ashamed to tell even your own family? Have you had an abortion that no one knows about? You are plagued with guilt day after day because of the sins of your past. Have you experienced tremendous pain because of the actions of your family? Because of what David did to Uriah Bathsheba lost her son. From unbearable pain and sorrow God is able to give you joy He is able to turn your mourning into joy.
God gave Bathsheba another son and told them to name him Jedidiah which means beloved of the Lord. The Lord was saying that this is your morning. After darkness comes morning. He turns mourning into dancing. Our God in His own way lifts our sorrows and extends grace and peace to areas of our life and family which seem unforgivable and unredeemable.
Ruth the Moabite found herself having to choose a path less travelled. After she became a young widow she chose to go with her mother in law Naomi and leave what she had known all her life. She eventually married Boaz who was King David’s great grandfather
You are a young widow who has lost loved ones. You have forsaken what you hold dear to follow this God and you have no guarantee that your new path will not prove to be “the worst decision that you have ever made” (as others are telling you). People might mock you asking: “How can you leave your culture and traditions and accept a way of life that is foreign to you?”. You might be reading this having been converted from another religion to follow Jesus Christ and you were scorned by your family. You gave up all that is dear to you. Be assured of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 19:29 — “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
We see all through the Bible God using women to deliver His people and to carry out His plan for mankind. From Esther to Deborah, from Hanna to Mary, from Ruth and Rahab to the woman with the issue of blood, whether poor or rich, whether a foreigner or one of His own people, God has always embraced women and included them in His plan of redemption.
Mary the girl chosen to house Him in her womb and become his mother was a young unmarried girl. She was betrothed but not married and this was a shameful condition for a young girl to find herself in those days. When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant Joseph knew that he was obviously not the father as they had never been intimate. He planned to end their relationship and not move forward with wedding plans as he thought that Mary had been unfaithful to him.
No matter what is your happening in your family, know that God’s eye is not far; that He does not see your situation. His grace is sufficient for you and your family.
There is room for everyone in the family of God no matter your past and whatever you have done.
God can change your story. Jesus came from a family full of incest, adultery, murder and prostitution — a family with such a colourful past birthed our Lord, King and Saviour. God is a God of the second chance. He wants to turn your ashes into something beautiful. Trust your family into His hands and change the destiny of coming generations.
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