Online Magazine: Edition 13
Welcome to the Thirteenth Edition of the Online Magazine of the Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Pastor's Piece - What does it mean to Forgive?
- A Special Day (Bible Study Series)
- God's Love Language (part 6)
by Norman Tew
After I retired I became interested in Family History (otherwise known as genealogy). It can be very addictive for it is like a detective story. In my personal chart I can now list 107 ancestors, of whom 55 are men and 52 are women.
At one stage I went through the Bible and recorded all the people whose families are listed. It is a very interesting study and throws a lot of background light onto the stories of the Bible. However Biblical approach to genealogy is different from the way we do it today.
For one thing, a Bible writer was not worried if he jumped a few of the links as long as he could establish a link between one of his subjects and one of their ancestors. Another big difference is that very few women make it into the family tables, occasionaly they are mentioned and even more rarely they are named.
Thus I have a chart that shows 114 ancestors of Jesus and only ten of these are women. If you look at the listing in Luke 3:23-28 75 men are listed and not one woman, not even Mary the mother of Jesus (though Luke knew all about her). The gospel of Matthew starts with a listing of the ancestors of Jesus. However it only starts with Abraham and has a tidy set of three groups of ancestors with 14 in each group (see Matthew1:1-17). However though Matthew only lists 45 names, four of them are women. Well, one of the women is only referred to by the name of her first husband.
The interesting thing is who these women were. Apart from Mary, the others would all have been considered outcasts. Let us look briefly at them.
Tamar - a Canaanite, probably from a heathen family. Judah (one of the 12 sons of Jacob, and progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel) selected her for his son's wife. His son died, so Judah followed the custom of the day and instructed his second son to go with her to raise up heirs to his brother. The second son was not prepared to co-operate fully and the record says God was responsible for his death. Judah then made promises that he probably had no intention to keep. Tamar pretended to be a temple prostitute and seduced Judah. Judah later admitted that she was more righteous than he had been.
Rahab - she was a prostitute by trade, and a resident of Jericho at the time that God had declared that the inhabitants were so wicked that they and all their belongings should be destroyed. She managed to save her skin, and that of her relatives by befriending some Israeli spies.
Ruth - she was a Moabite. So what! That was a nation who had been cursed by God for their actions regarding his people when they came through the desert after fleeing from Egypt. However as a widow she emigrated to Israel with her widowed mother-in-law and the God of Israel became her God.
Bathsheba - she is the one who is listed as Uriah's wife. She seduced King David, who when she became pregnant arranged the murder of her husband so that she could become his wife (one of more than eight). She also appears to have become his favourite wife, and her son Solomon became king after David.
Now why does the Bible list all these unsavoury characters as ancestors of the Son of God? Why did God choose such a bad genome for the human body of Jesus? I can think of two answers, and there are probably others just as valid.
1. God wanted to make sure we could not say that Jesus as a man had advantages that we do not have. He stood without sin in the midst of temptations worse than any we could face.
2. God wants to make it clear that no one can say "I am too bad to be forgiven". God "saves to the uttermost". God is willing to take in anyone who comes to him. (John 3:16 NRSV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
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