The grace in the genealogy!
by Carol Yasin
In my last article, we were looking into the genealogy of Jesus Christ and how it makes an amazing story for us. I mentioned in my previous article that I wanted to share about the grace in the genealogy the very next week, but I was not able to post it due to the power failure and network problem caused by the cyclone at Chennai in India. I thank God for bringing back our city to form and also I wish everyone, ‘a Merry Christmas’ on behalf of my family.
We saw in the previous article that Matthew wrote this genealogy to claim Jesus’ right to Israel’s kingship. But, every name in the list gives us a lesson about God’s grace. God showed His grace through three ways in this genealogy.
1. His grace seen through the two men!
David and Abraham were the first to be listed in this genealogy and we can clearly see the amazing grace through the lines of this two people in the Old Testament.
- Abraham lied twice that Sarah was his sister out of fear for his own life lacking his trust in God but God chose him to be the ‘Father of the faithful’, through whom Messiah would come.
- Jacob was a trickster, who became the father of 12 tribes of Israel. God’s grace extended through these 12 sons, though sometime they remained unfaithful and disobedient to God.
- David commits adultery and he tried to cover it up by murdering Uriah. This even affected his sons and daughters and his son Solomon was given more wisdom than anyone in this world. He was peaceful and wise, but then became foolish, sowing seeds in his home and his realm that would corrupt the kingdom of Israel by marrying hundreds of wives, mostly from foreign countries with their foreign gods, who turned his heart from God. His son would see the kingdom divided. But God’s promise to David would eventually be fulfilled, and His grace will prevail.
When we look into the life of the descendants of Abraham and David, we can find them to be unfaithful, immoral, idolatrous and disobedient. But God was revealing His grace in the midst of this. God’s grace accomplished what a man could ever accomplish, that is, to offer grace to a fallen race, to those who were His enemies instead of His friends. Abraham became a friend of God, and David a man after God’s own heart. What an amazing grace!
2. His grace seen through three eras!
We can split the genealogy into three eras:
- The era of the patriarchs from Abraham to David
- The era of the Monarchy from David to Israel’s exile to Babylon when the people of Israel insisted that they need a king like other nations. We can see that most of the kings did evil in the sight of the Lord leading the people astray than to bring peace and prosperity.
- Last is the era from the Israel’s exile to Babylon to the time of Christ. It was a time of captivity in Babylon, of frustration, and just marking time, and then 400 years of silence from God. Most of the men Matthew mentions in this era, from Shealtiel to Jacob the father of Joseph, are unknown to us, because it was a time of great darkness to them.
But God’s grace was still at work on behalf of His people through all these eras. While Israel was stagnating, rising and falling, going from glory to disgrace, from heroism to indifference, and finally to the point of rejecting and crucifying the Messiah God had sent, God in His infinite grace still sent Christ through them. That doesn’t mean we can take sin lightly and think that God’s grace is going to keep us anyway. What it means is that God by His grace will reach out and call each generation to receive His grace.
3. His grace seen through five women!
It is highly unusual to have women mentioned in the genealogy. All except Mary mentioned here are considered as outcasts from the Lord.
- First one is Tamar, the Canaanite daughter in law of Judah. God took the life of her husband and when she was married to the next son of Judah, God took his life too, due to his wickedness. So, Judah promised that the next son in line would be her husband after he grew up. When he failed to keep his promise, Tamar disguised herself as prostitute and deceived Judah to sleep with her and gave birth to twins. Despite prostitution and deception, God’s grace fell on all of us through Jesus.
- Second one mentioned in the genealogy is Rahab, a professional prostitute from Jericho. She helped the two Israeli spies to escape. She did this out of fear of the Living God. Because of this, her family was saved from the destruction of Jericho. God’s grace not only spared her life, but also she became the wife of Salmon and mother of Boaz, David’s great grandfather. Her life was totally change by His amazing grace.
- Next in line is Ruth, a Moabite. Israelites were warned by God not to marry a Moabite or Ammonite. When Naomi’s family from Israel landed in Moab due to famine, her two sons ended up marrying Moabite women. When her two sons dies, one of her daughter in law stayed at Moab, whereas Ruth followed her mother in law to the nation of Israel and to follow the true God. Though Ruth was a Moabite, God’s grace not only bought her into the land of Israel, but also she married Boaz and got her name written in the royal line of Jesus.
- The fourth woman is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah who became the wife of David later. David committed adultery with her and to cover up he made her husband Uriah to be killed in the battlefront. The son produced from that adulterous relationship died in infancy, but the next son they had been was Solomon, the one through whom Messiah would come. Christ came through Bathsheba.
When we look close the genealogy of Jesus Christ, we can see that His royal line was filled with worst of sinners. They are not there because of their sins, but because of God’s mercy in forgiving them of their awful sins and bringing them into the family of God.
God’s grace comes to us even before we’re saved, in order that for us to be saved, and it comes to after we’ve been saved. Our life is all about grace. So next time you read the Christmas story, don’t overlook this genealogy of grace. It’s a story of grace for sinners, a story of restoring broken lives because of sin; a story of mending shattered hopes; the story of saving people from their sins, the story of reaching out to sinners instead of shunning them.