Senior Pastor Covenant Church
Revisiting The Christmas Story
His account leaves out the shepherds. Nose-thumping Jews were not impressed by shepherds, i.e., not likely to believe their stories about angels singing.
Matthew wants to get the facts to record that Jesus’ direct ancestor is Adam.
He traces history for 42 generations back to Abraham. Other records take the history from Abraham to Adam. This record is essential for prophecy to be fulfilled that of the seed of Adam would come redemption.
If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that Matthew chapter
one includes one of the most boring passages in the Bible. Genealogy is not my fascination. In truth, I have spoken my feelings about this passage being boring, i.e., begat, begat, begat.
Yet, this season demanded another reading. Suddenly I was gripped with the nuances of this listing of “begats”. Sitting up in bed… nighttime reading… quietening my day… preparing to rest… I came wide awake. Yes, I reached for a pen and began to underline in the Bible I was reading. Not “MY” Bible. I do not use that language.
The Bible is God’s word to me.
Verses one and two are all about men. Verse three slides “whose mother was Tamar.”
Back to Genesis 38. Judah had three sons. He finds a wife for the eldest. His son is wicked, and God kills him. Judah tells his second son to take the widow and produce offspring in the heritage of his elder deceased brother. The new groom has fun with the bride but refuses to have children, and God kills him. Judah tells the widow to wait until his youngest son is old enough to be married. He lies. The widow knows Judah is lying, so she takes off her mourning clothes and dresses like a prostitute… but hides her face. Judah thinks it is a roadside stop at a red-light house, i.e., “What is done in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The prostitute insists that Judah give her some pledge until a larger payment arrives. He leaves her with his seal, cord, and staff, i.e., his social security number and personal pin number to his American Express Card.
The prostitute is Judah’s daughter-in-law. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to one of Jesus’ grandpas.
Scripture list more men and then comes to verse 5 “Salmon…of Rahab.” The Israelites are getting ready to invade Canaan after 40 years of wandering. Across Jordan is the formidable city of Jericho with walls so thick and high it is said to be impregnable. Israel must pass Jericho to proceed. Spies are sent to check out the military situation. They end up in the house of a prostitute who sells her body for the pleasure of men to support her family. She hides the spies from the King of Jericho.
Rahab negotiates by saying she knows that the God of Israel is greater than the god of Jericho. She knows Jericho will be conquered. She will spare the lives of the spies if they will spare her life and the lives of her family. See her big heart to care for others? The spies tell her to put a scarlet cord out the window to mark her residence and have all her family in her apartment when the time comes. Scarlet symbolizes blood… salvation. Jericho falls. Rehab and her entire family live.
Allow me, please. I am a romantic. One of those spies might have been named Salmon. As they negotiated, he looked up into beautiful brown eyes and saw her heart. It was a human moment. She suddenly found love, true love, love like she had never experienced. She leaned over and they kissed. He said: “Baby, I am coming back for you.”
Rahab was the mother of Boaz, one of Jesus’ grandpas.
Boaz grew up spoiled by his mother Rahab. His family had become wealthy. He was a rich farmer. He loved God. He loved his employees. His employees loved him, which is a remarkable observation noted in the Bible.
In a hard time in Israel, a man took his family to live in Moab. He was married to Naomi, who must have been quite a looker when younger. While in Moab they had two sons who married. The man and his sons died. Naomi tells her two daughters-in-law she is going back to Israel, and they are free to stay in Moab.
Moab was a tribe resulting from Lot’s daughters getting him drunk, sleeping with him and having babies. One became Ammonites, the other Moabites. Moabite women were so sensual that God gave a specific warning about men of Israel being ensnared by them.
One of Naomi’s daughters-in-law decides she likes the parties of Moab and chooses to go back. The other says she will trade her life and gods of Moab for Naomi’s God and live in Canaan.
They walk home. Poor. Beaten. Hopeless. Folks look out their doors at the two women and are stunned at their desperate situation. Naomi is too old to look for food. Her daughter-in-law Ruth goes out as a poor women and picks up leftover grain after harvest in Boaz’s fields. There was a dignity in the way Ruth carried herself. Her black hair falling softly over her shoulders. Her dress, while modest, had been artfully charmed by hand-sewn flowers. Ruth looked neither right nor left at men who were taking second and third looks at her.
Boaz’s heart was stolen. He made sure she took plenty of food home. From the handfuls, Boaz had instructed to leave in the fields on purpose. He sent the word out that if any man harmed Ruth that that man would answer to Boaz.
Ah…romance. Sweet romance. The rich bachelor arranged for a wedding.
Moabitess Ruth gave Boaz a son, Obed, who was the grandpa of King David, who was a grandpa of Jesus.
Verse 6. King David has many wonderful qualities, but he has a weakness. Maybe he had not cured his lust of times when he was fleeing from Saul and women followed his army, as they have followed stars or leaders for millenniums. He knew better. He was married. He knew his palace was higher than other homes. He knew that out on the palace walls he could see things others could not see. He knew he was supposed to have gone to war.
Down below one of his top 100 soldiers lived with a woman exceedingly beautiful. She was not innocent. She took a bath on her patio maybe by candlelight or with a bright moon shining. She could have hung a curtain. She did not.
She had seen King David from her patio. Just by chance, he would come out while she was having a bath. Maybe that was all. But when David looked, lust ruled out logic. He had Bathsheba come up for a visit. What happens when a married man and married woman who are not married to each other meet in a bedroom. It is a bad plan.
Bathsheba became pregnant. David calls her husband from the war front hoping he will sleep with his wife and think the child is his. The husband is a soldier so loyal that he refuses to go home and stands guard to protect David. David is trapped. He has Bathsheba’s husband put in front of battle and killed.
David takes Bathsheba as his wife and she gives birth. The baby dies. Bathsheba and David have another child and name him Solomon. What began as ugly lust results in a grandpa of Jesus.
Go ahead keep reading the “begats”, and you will come to Verse 16.
“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”
Yes, we read it with gentleness and beauty. We read it so nice that children sit, listen and are charmed.
Really? Mary was maybe age 13 when betrothed to Joseph. The pledge to be married was so binding only death or divorce could prevent Joseph coming for Mary when she would be maybe 14 or 15 years old. Until Joseph would take her to his house Mary was to remain with her parents and continue to be a virgin.
Mary became pregnant. Crisis! Her parents slipped her out of town to visit a kind cousin who would be compassionate and help protect Mary. While stoning a woman was not typically done in those times, shaming a woman who would violate her pledge to be married was done. If Joseph publicly denounced her, Mary would become trash. No respectable man would have her for a wife. How could a man trust her if she would betray her pledge? If a 15-year-old girl was so lustful to have secret relations with a man/men, she could be no good.
An angel tells “just” Joseph who fears God that the pregnancy is of God. Big leap. Joseph believes. He does not denounce her or have sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus is born.
But do you think that stopped all the whispering? No, the gossips were keeping the news traveling. “He must be possessed,” they would whisper, “to take a girl that would get pregnant before marriage.” Not hard to count nine months. The word was that Joseph had not been to her house during the time when Mary became pregnant. He could not be the father.
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary are dropped in with the names of 42 men. Five women. Five jaded women in the eyes of sinful man. Five who could have been stoned by the law. Five that in other times and places no respectable man would have given thought to choose as a wife.
Matthew chapter one… the Christmas story is echoed in verse 21 “for he will save his people from their sins.”
Five women with questionable paths helped make the Christmas story. Thirty-seven women not mentioned.
May you have a wonderful Christmas.
P.S. Remember that He came looking for you (verse 21).
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