|Photo courtesy of LUMO Project, Free Bible Images|
I am one of those rare people who enjoy reading the genealogies in the Bible. I’m always looking for something new, something important. Why did God include them in the Bible? They have to be good for us! All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (1 Timothy 3:16a). So, reading Matthew 1, I noticed again the women in the genealogy of Jesus. I looked twice. That first one’s husband isn’t even famous! Why is she named?
These are the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus:
1. Rahab (spelled Rachab, here)—And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab (Matthew 1:5a). The very first woman is Rahab, who used to be a harlot! We find her story in Joshua 2 and 6:22-25. The whole city of Jericho was annihilated, except for Rahab and her father’s household—those who were with her in her home when the walls tumbled down. God rewarded her faith with salvation, later giving her a good husband and progeny. Booz (Boaz) is one of her children, and he becomes the great grandfather of King David. Rahab appears in the New Testament in God’s “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11:31, By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. I believe she was included in Jesus’ genealogy because she was a woman who became a strong woman of faith. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. . . . Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (James 2:17, 25) In Rahab’s life, we watch God’s grace in action—how He perfectly redeems prostitutes and all sinners, and how He uses the most unlikely people in His sovereign plan for the world. Rahab’s transformation is an encouragement for everyone!
2. Ruth—The next woman is Rahab’s daughter-in-law, Ruth: and Booz begat Obed of Ruth (Matthew 1:5b). The biblical book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi, Ruth, and (Name) who lived in Moab. All three women lost their husbands, and Naomi decided to go back to her family in Bethlehem. Ruth decides to go with her mother-in-law, and (Name) chooses to stay at home in Moab. Ruth puts herself under the leadership of her mother-in-law and obeys her. She also works hard in the fields to bring home food for them to eat. We know that Ruth had believed in God when she says, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God (Ruth 1:16). God was watching over both women. He provided for them, and Boaz, the second kinsman in line to be able to redeem Ruth, just “happened” to be the owner of the field where Ruth gleaned. She asked him to buy her father-in-law’s land, and he asked the first in line, who declined. Boaz bought back—redeemed—Elimelech’s property and the right to marry Ruth and raise up children for the family name. Boaz and Ruth had the privilege of being the parents of Obed, King David’s grandfather. Ruth’s story is one of faith, obedience and Christ-like redemption. No wonder God put her in the direct ancestral line to His Son!
3. Bathsheba—David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (Matthew 1:6b). When I think of Bathsheba, all I can think about was how wronged she was. King David saw her bathing on the roof of her house. (Was this a bad decision on her part? I don’t know. We aren’t told any more about it.) David lusts after her, “invites” (commands) her to visit him, and they have intimacy that leaves her pregnant. In order to cover his sin, David makes sure her husband Uriah is sent to the front lines, in the heat of battle and dies. Now, to cover adultery, David is guilty of murder. Now, Bathsheba is carrying the King’s baby and mourning her fine husband Uriah at the same time. (Does she know or suspect that David was responsible for Uriah’s death?) That baby dies—part of God’s judgment on David’s sin. Bathsheba has lost her beautiful baby boy. Such grief! David adds Bathsheba to his wives, and later, Bathsheba has Solomon. Later, he will be king—the wisest man that ever lived. We really don’t know a lot about Bathsheba besides that she went to bat for Solomon before King David. Her story is full of sadness, yet she must have had some consolation in Solomon.
4. Mary, Jesus’ mother—Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was bon Jesus, who is called Christ (Matthew 1:16). The Bible says Mary was a virgin, espoused to . . . Joseph, highly favoured, and that the Lord is with her. Gabriel said, blessed art thou among women (quotes from Luke 1:27-28). God was very specific when He chose Mary to bear His Son. I don’t think any human being could have fully understood the miracle of the Incarnation. But, Mary sees proof after proof that God is doing something so awesome through her Son. She feels unworthy, yet she is willing. The Holy Spirit conceives Jesus in her body, and even before Jesus is born, God gives her consolation and confirmation through her elder cousin Elisabeth. And she (Elisabeth) spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation (Luke 1:42-50). How did Mary know all of these things? Through Divine revelation. She rejoiced in her Savior, her Son—the God-Man, Jesus.
Let’s look back over our list. In the lineage of Jesus we see:
- A transformed harlot
- An obedient, redeemed widow
- A wronged wife
- A pure, godly virgin
All placed their faith in the Lord and were blessed. But, there’s more here. God purposely put all kinds of people in the lineage of His Son. Rahab and Ruth were gentiles, yet God put them in Jewish families and ultimately into Jesus’ ancestry.
Every woman can identify with these four women. Perhaps you chose a sinful lifestyle, like Rahab. Maybe you came to saving faith after being taught something completely contrary to the Bible, like Ruth. It’s possible that you identify with Bathsheba, who lost a husband and a child and was abused. Or, you might have had a godly youth and trusted the Lord from a young age, like Mary.
God used all of these women in His plan to bring us Jesus. May we be challenged by their faith!