Sunday, December 18, 2016
Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 352: Today...l am grateful for family ties.
Family is where we start from and end our journey here.They gather around us when we say our earthly good-bye. Family trees tie us together.
Jesus had a family tree, too. It was quite interesting. Some might think it had embarrassing characters on the list. We all have embarrassing relatives, right? If you don't...you might be that relative. Our God sees with different eyes.
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 includes "Rahab the Caananite Prostitute" and a snapshot of redeeming love. Her place in the nativity story is in the "begats" but she is as much a part of the story as King David.
As a child...when I opened the first page of the New Testament...I saw the "boring begats". I didn't speak fluent King James English (still don't) so outside of the names - it had very little meaning.
As I grew...and had more modern English translations available...I wondered at the list. Why take so much space to list these names? I pulled out names I recognized from Bible lessons and readings...and skipped over others names.
As an adult...I am fascinated with the mysteries revealed in Matthew 1:1-17. I think we could turn into a month of gratitude moments as we picked out names... identified character flaws...and saw that God still moved and used them to fulfill his plan. He is masterful at using imperfect people to his glory.
From Abraham to Joseph the husband of Mary. Jesus was... by all cultural understanding...from the house of David as the scriptures of the Old Testament told he would be. Fascinating...but more on that another day. Back to the "begats" !
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...most who know the scriptures know their story. Still, It is important to recognize that theirs is a story of trials, waiting and promises fulfilled. Not quickly - but in God's timing made perfect. God doesn't operate on our clock...but he does work within the boundaries of time and space he set in place.
Let's start with with Rahab.
"Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab" (Matthew 1:5).
Typically referenced as "Rahab the Prostitute". Yes, she is there. Boldly mentioned in the dirty laundry of Jesus genealogy. (She made the "Bad Girls of the Bible" book by Liz Curtis Higgs.) Rahab the Canaanite prostitute of Joshua 2 and Joshua 6 who lied and hid the spies so they could have an accurate picture of what they were up against when they would enter into the promised land. She was an "enemy" by her birth, religion and ethnicity...but in her word and deed...she was their friend. God wove her story into His story and she made Bible history.
James 2:25 mentions her: "And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified"? It goes on to mention her actions that led to belief. Her belief and the importance of actions... not for salvation... but what we say and what we do must match up. Words without action is dead. Actions without faith can't buy forgiveness of sin. Together - they are a powerful force on this hurting little planet.
This lesson comes from a prostitute who... once redeemed... found her sins cast as far as the East is from the West.
Rahab makes another list...Hebrews 11...the list of those recognized as our "Greats of the Faith". Look at verse 11:31:
"By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies."
The reason it was so easy for her to hide the Jewish spies was because no one thought a thing of men going in and out of her house. God was able to use "her story" as part of his "big picture" and in it, Rahab found new faith and a new life. Her sin would not define her forever. It would not condemn her. Love would redeem her!
I would love to know more about Salmon...the man who took her as his own...and together they welcomed a son they would name Boaz. That Boaz would see a widow, Ruth the Moabite, and love her. What a love story that must have been!
Surely, Rahb felt dirty in the beginning and unworthy of God's love. I am confident that although she was celebrated for her part in hiding the spies, I am sure she wasn't openly welcomed at the well in the "girlfriend circles". Cultural values are deeply rooted.
Still, Rahab must have survived the talk and learned to walk with God. Boaz called her "Mother". Salmon taught him much about love and taking a woman "tainted" in society's eyes, but precious in the eyes of the Lord. Did Joseph think of Salmon and Boaz and he trusted God and took Mary as his wife?
Rahab traded the ashes and brokenness of her life and God gave her something beautiful. He gave her a future. He gave her hope. He gave her Salmon and Boaz. God changed her legacy. She was beautifully broken and then redeemed by love. She is a unique and special part of the story in the genealogy of Christ.
Today...I am grateful for the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 that includes "Rahab the Caananite Prostitute" and a snapshot of redeeming love.
Today...l am grateful for family ties.