When God uses the ordinary to accomplish the substantial.

When God Uses the Ordinary to Accomplish the Substantial

Matthew 1:1-17

 

            Reading the genealogies is like watching a documentary on the lifestyle of snails.  It must be important, but somehow it seems irrelevant to us.  However, when we look closely through the names of individuals that became part of the Messianic line, what captures our attention is not the names of the people who played an essential role in the Old Testament (e.g., Abraham, David, Solomon), but the number individuals whom we know nothing about.  They are individuals such as Azor, Achim, and Matthan.  People we don't know anything about other than the fact that God, in his sovereign outworking of history, placed them in the lineage of Christ.  They lived their life without renown and accomplishment.  They were ordinary people who lived ordinary lives.  While they may have recognized that they were part of the line of David, little did they realize that they would be part of the most important genealogical lineage in all of the history of humanity.  It was through them that the most significant person in history would come. 

            Yet, looking deeper, we find an even more befuddling revelation.  In the lineage, there are five women mentioned by name.  Mary is no surprise.  As the mother of Jesus, we would expect her to be mentioned.  But the other four are surprising.  Their names are not associated with powerful women whose accomplishments warranted their inclusion. Instead, their mention is shocking because each of them seems to be unworthy of being mentioned.  They are the ones that a family would not want to be a part of their lineage.  Three of the four are not even Jews.  Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, and Ruth was a Moabite.  All were from a people that were the enemies of Israel and marked by their debased idolatry.  Three of them had backgrounds marked by immorality.  Tamar played the part of a prostitute to seduce Judah.  Rahab was a known prostitute in Jericho.  Bathsheba was unfaithful to her husband and committed adultery with David.  Of the four, only Ruth had exemplary character, but because she was a Moabite, she was one of the forbidden people the Jews were not to marry   (Deuteronomy 23:3 and Dt. 7:1-6).  While they were mentioned in the annals of Israel’s history, they were not the type of people one would generally want to be associated with.

            However, their inclusion points to several essential truths.  It points to the surpassing grace of God.  By highlighting them in the genealogy, God reminds us that his grace extends beyond the people of Israel.  Christ came as the savior of all people.  Furthermore, it serves to highlight God's purpose.  God not only forgives the sins of the people, but he also uses sinful people to accomplish his purpose.  Our past does not matter; if we surrender ourselves to God, he can restore us and use us to achieve his redemptive purpose.

            The names mentioned in the genealogy remind us that God accomplishes his purpose, not through the great, the powerful, or the “super-saint.”  He performs his purpose through the forgotten, the insignificant, and the sinful.  Even when we sin (as in the case of David and Bathsheba), God can still take our lives and our past and weave it into the tapestry of his redemptive purpose.  Do you feel forgotten by the world?  Do you struggle with the awareness of the guilt of your sin?  Do you think you are unworthy of God’s use?  Do you think you are too untalented to accomplish anything for God?  You are just the type of person God loves to use in his redemptive plan.  If you surrender to God and seek him, you are the person God loves to use to accomplish his eternal purpose.  

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