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“Five Amazing Women of Faith”

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

  Lessons from Jesus’ Family Tree in Matthew Chapter One!

  By Richard Allen – December 25, 2023

Since this is Christmas Day, I’m guessing that many of you had the opportunity to hear the genealogies of our Savior Jesus Christ read, or even preached in your Churches. The two passages I speak of are Matthew 1:1 - 16, which gives us Jesus’ lineage through his legal earthly father Joseph, and Luke 3:23 - 38 which gives us Jesus’ lineage through the mother of His Humanity, Mary. Both Jesus’ Mother, Mary and His earthly Father, Joseph, were descendants of King David’s royal lineage. As we look at the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, what should amaze us is not just the 42 generations of Men the gospel writer included (Matthew 1:17), but that Matthew chose to include Five Women. I would like to put them forward as “Five Amazing Women of Faith!” This Blog is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a quick review of these Five Amazing

Women of Faith!

Often, I begin with the question: “Why?”  Why are these women included, and what might be the spiritual application for us today?  I think the key may well be in Matthew 1:1, as the writer tells us, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

The introduction to the first 16 verses at the beginning of Matthew tells us that the inspired writer wanted to ground us with an understanding that Jesus Christ is both the promised “seed of Abraham,” and that Jesus was “David’s Son.”  To the Jews of Jesus’ day, both of these truths were critical in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, the “Anointed One” of Israel, whom they were longing for. But there’s something else to point out about both Abraham and David: Both were fallen men with passions who demonstrated their brokenness over a lifetime. No doubt, the Jews had almost a superstitious preoccupation with the Kingly line of ancestors. In many instances, they were “respecters of a person’s lineage and pedigree.”  We see Peter, a faithful Jew, struggling with this same view. In his mind he divided humanity into two camps: Clean and Unclean; that is, those who were acceptable to God and those who were not. This was a common dilemma in the New Testament – one with which the early Church also wrestled: “Are some men and women acceptable to God by their lineage and pedigree?” Or to take it one step further, “are men and women acceptable to God solely because they are living virtuous lives?” Peter himself had to learn that God ‘shows no partiality.’

‘So, Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him ” (Acts 10:34-35).

This message was to become a central message in the New Testament as the infant Church spread throughout the Roman Empire.  Do we have to Keep the Law of Moses?  Does a man need to be circumcised in order to be saved?  Are some nationalities or races under a curse and rejected by God outright? Or does your past history of failure and sin forever bar you from being useful in God’s Kingdom?  A few chapters after Peter’s experience in Acts 10, we see the whole Church come together in a Church Council in Acts 15, to discuss and settle these matters.  It’s in this context that Jesus’ genealogy is given so that men everywhere would realize that Salvation and Usefulness for God ARE NOT BASED ON WHO WE ARE!  Paul makes it even clearer as he addresses the young Church at Corinth:

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (I Corinthians 1:26-29).

Let’s look at these Five Amazing Women of Faith in Matthew’s Genealogy. Knowing who they are and the lives they had led, mistakes and all, will help us understand who Jesus was, and why He came to save us.  The First Woman of Faith is Tamar, the Patriarch Judah’s daughter-in-law. Tamar was a widow, as Judah’s evil son had died and she had been given to his next oldest son to raise up child to the deceased. He disobeyed, so he died as well. Judah had not given Tamar his third and youngest son to marry and have a child to continue the name of the deceased in obedience to Jewish Law (Deuteronomy 25:5; Mark 12:19). Regardless of Judah’s reason for withholding his third son, Tamar took matters into her own hands to force the issue. She dressed up as a prostitute, and when her father-in-law Judah saw her, negotiated her services and gave her a pledge to return with payment. Later, as Judah became aware that Tamar, his son's widow was with child, he considered a possible death sentence for her immorality. Space will not allow me to discuss the double standard in that culture, but in the end, Tamar’s courage and faith were exonerated and Judah was chastened for not fulfilling his responsibility toward his daughter-in-law. Tamar bore Judah twins and became one of Jesus’ ancestors, a Woman of Faith.  Genesis 38:1-26 teaches us that Tamar was not in the wrong. If Judah’s other sons were not able, it was Judah himself who was responsible to raise up seed for his two dead sons.

The Second Woman of Faith in Jesus’ lineage is Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute from Jericho. Most people know of her deeds of faith and courage as they’re recorded in Joshua Chapters 2 and 6. As Israel had reached the end of their 40 years of wandering for not believing God and taking the land as a possession, their leader Joshua, son of Nun, sent men to “spy out Jericho,” the first walled city they were to attack. The citizens of Jericho were all fearful of the Israelites as they already had a reputation that God was fighting their battles!  And fear of the God of Israel had put dread upon all the inhabitants of the City." Rahab, by faith (Hebrews 11:31) and at great risk, had hidden the spies, and sent them out safely to preserve their lives. So, when Israel had conquered Jericho and destroyed the city, Rahab was brought out safe and sound – with all the members of her house. Not only that, Joshua 6:25 says:

“But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25).

This same Rahab not only became a part of the Jewish people, she married and gave birth to King David’s great, great grandfather, Boaz – who in turn married the Third Woman of Faith in Jesus’ lineage, Ruth, the Moabitess. Ruth was a woman of whom no flaws are recorded, except that she was from a Tribe that failed to allow the Jewish people to pass through on their way to the Promised Land, and even paid a diviner / prophet named Balaam to curse the Jews (Deuteronomy 23:3). And yet, God purposed to bring forth the Promised Messiah, His Son Jesus, through the lineage of this virtuous Moabite woman. And Ruth shows great character and faithfulness to her mother-in-law, Naomi in returning with her after the death of her Jewish husband. Her willingness to be a vessel to engage a “kinsman redeemer” named Boaz from the Tribe of Judah, is an act of faith and love which Scripture commends.

The Fourth Woman of Faith, Bathsheba, is not a virtuous widow like Ruth or a shrewd widow like Tamar. Nor is she a prostitute like Rahab or pretending to be a prostitute like Tamar. Matthew doesn’t mention her by name, but calls her: “the wife of Uriah” (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12). Bathsheba is a married woman who commits adultery with the King of Israel, and then is complicit in her husband’s murder. To compound their sin, after impregnating her, David takes her as his wife. Being exposed by Nathan the Prophet, they both receive retribution as the child conceived out of wedlock dies 9 months later.  Yet, Bathsheba is still instrumental in securing the reign of David’s two covenant heirs – Solomon and Jesus.  In an ironic Bible passage, after David and Bathsheba’s sins are exposed “before all Israel,” the Scripture simply states:

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went into her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him” (2 Samuel 12:24).

And it’s this same Bathsheba we later see in Scripture as David lay feeble and dying, unaware that one of his sons, Adonijah, is plotting to seize the kingdom apart from God’s purpose. And once again, it’s Nathan the prophet who comes to Bathsheba to make her aware of the plot to seize David’s throne. So, she reminds David of his promise and keeps the royal lineage of David alive – all the way down to our Fifth Woman of Faith, Mary. It’s easy to honor and extol Mary as a virtuous young woman, probably 14-17 years old. Her wonderful faith in believing the Angel Gabriel, and then the often-repeated verse: “Mary considered all of these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19; 51), shows that she was a Woman of Faith, willing to trust even when things around her didn’t make sense.

No doubt, the accusation of being promiscuous before marriage may have been the human scorn she was forced to always live with. And yet there isn’t a hint of faithlessness – even if she considered and questioned the events in her life. So, what do all five of these women have in common? At this Season of Advent, there are lessons to be learned from these Five Women of Faith:

God doesn’t just accomplish His purpose and plan by working with “perfect people from a pure line of humanity.” Far from it, we actually don’t see God’s choosing people because of something good in them. Rather, sinful people are chosen because of God’s Sovereign will and purpose, nothing else. Even when people fail to live virtuous lives as Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba, God can and does use them for their eternal good and His Glory!  God sent His Son Jesus, to save all kinds of people from every race and creed. As the old gospel song says: “Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight---.”  That is, those upon whom He sets His love. All Five Women of Faith showed Strength of Character. All Five showed Courage under Fire, and still exhibited love for God’s purpose and statutes. Tamar held her father-in-law accountable to honor his dead son and his daughter-in-law. Rahab recognized and acknowledged that God had given Israel the land – including her town of Jericho. Ruth obeyed the Jewish law regarding a kinsman redeemer who would not only redeem her fortunes, but those of her mother-in-law as well. Bathsheba, when alerted to an attempted coup d’etat by David’s son, Adonijah, at great risk to herself, went to her feeble husband to intervene and honor God’s purpose in making Solomon the covenant heir. And Mary, courageous beyond her youth, obeyed the Angel Gabriel and endured first, Joseph’s attempt to divorce her, and secondly, most likely lived with the scorn and ignorance of the culture around her.  The child she bore on Christmas was Jesus, the Son of God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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