I’m reading Matthew 1 today. It’s the genealogy of Jesus, which means it’s telling who his family line comes from. For the most part, we tend to skip through these lists as fast as we can to get on to the good stuff. Today, I caught a detail I hadn’t caught before. Check this part out:
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Alright, so here’s what caught me. Salmon is a Jew. He marries a girl named Rahab. Rahab was a hooker from Jericho, who was not a Jew. She was the one who hid the spies, helped them escape, and was saved from death because of it when the Jews took over Jericho. If you need the story, go read Joshua 2, or you can watch the VeggieTales movie “Josh and the Big Wall”. So, Rahab, this woman who should never be used by God to accomplish anything, decides to trust Him just the same, and ends up saving herself, her family, and helping the nation of Israel. Somehow, a Jewish guy marries her. That is amazing, but he does. She ends up having a family. In that family, they have a boy, named Boaz.
Boaz plays a huge role in a book of the Bible called “Ruth”. It’s the story of another girl, not a Jew, who marries a Jewish boy. He dies. All the men in the house die for different reasons. But she stays with her mother in law, and cares for her. The mother in law, by the way, changes her own name to Mara, which means “bitter”. So, Ruth staying with her is a HUGE act of compassion. In the book, Ruth is eventually saved by a wealthy man named Boaz. He’s Rahab’s son. His mom was a hooker, redeemed and changed by God’s grace. This has to play into why he would be willing to reach out and help Ruth. It’s what his dad did. It’s what he does.
Ruth and Boaz have a family together, and one of their boys in named Jesse. Jesse grows up, gets married, and has boys. Lots of them. The youngest one is a guy named David. Yep, that David. David and Goliath, King David, David and Bathsheba. Yep, the one after God’s own heart. David’s grandma is Ruth, and great grandma is Rahab. It’s amazing how God chose to use these two women to change the world!
These two women were outside of the boundaries of who God should use. They were not Jews, they were women who had little value in that day, one was a hooker, the other a “black widow” whose husband, and all the other males in the family, had died. Rahab was untouchable, Ruth was lost. Neither had hope, security, or a protector. Yet, in both stories, God steps in, redeems them, uses them, and saves the world through them.
You see, if you go another 27 generations, you come to a guy named Joseph. Joseph, following in the footsteps of Salmon and Boaz, is faced with a problem. A woman in his life has messed up. She’s pregnant, and it’s not his baby. He should get rid of her, he could kill her, but instead, he marries her. He takes her in, believes in her, and shows her grace while trusting that God is at work. His son goes on to do a few great things. And then his son dies for all of us, and comes back from the grave.
I’m overwhelmed at the power of grace extended. Each of these people were changed by God’s grace, love, hope, and redemption flowing though someone to them. It shaped them, re-figured them, set them on a forever new path.
I’m also struck by the power of family. We must never doubt the influence we can have. You have to believe that Joseph knew well the stories of Salmon and Rahab, and Boaz and Ruth. They never knew Joseph was coming, but the decisions they made generations before helped Joseph obey, and he raised the One who would save the world. The power of family, the power of parents, the power of grace is amazing!
Don’t doubt for a minute that God can, and is, using you. You may never see it, or you may. But either way, He is using you to shape and change history forever, all for His glory. Be faithful today, and trust Him. If Rahab, Ruth, Salmon, Boaz, Mary, and Joseph could trust Him, so can we.