Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the more difficult books I’ve read in the Bible was 1st Chronicles and the seemingly endless list of names at the beginning of that book. A long genealogy list (nine chapters worth) can be difficult to sit through. When I read a similar list in the beginning of Matthew that outlines the geneaology of Jesus, I didn’t think much of the fact that there were several women listed. But I’ve recently learned why they were so important.
I’ve been reading another book by John MacArthur called The Miracle of Christmas. In one of the early chapters, MacArthur focuses on these women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Here are a few things they were known for – Tamar slept with her father-in-law after she became a widow (Genesis 38:18), Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1-24), Ruth was the product of a people – the Moabites – that originated by incest (Genesis 19:30-38), and Bathsheba was an adulteress (2 Samuel 11:1-27).
Although I had already read and knew about each of them, their names didn’t really register with me when I read the opening chapter of Matthew. What a cast of characters, huh ? The ESV translation doesn’t even refer to Bathsheba by name, just “the wife of Uriah”. It still left me thinking, why did God choose to have these four women especially listed in the geneaology of His Son ? MacArthur gives an indication why (p.35):
How devastating this geneaology is when we see it for what God intended it to be ! It strikes a blow in the face of legalism, self-righteousness, and human religion. It underscores the truth that Jesus identified with sinners. It puts a holy spotlight on God’s grace.
Yesterday I was watching a sermon by Dr. James Merritt which he called “Broken Pieces”. And he focused on the exact same thing. Similar to MacArthur, Dr. Merritt explained what we should remember most about these women listed in this very important line of ancestry….
God can take us where we are, God can change who we are, and God can use who we are. No person is beyond God’s supernatural grace.
That’s pretty encouraging for all of us !