The Lesson of the Begats

 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NLT)

Are you guilty of skipping the “begats”?

The “begats” to which I refer are found in the first chapter of Matthew—you know, the long list of Jesus’ ancestors. I don’t know about you, but when I read, I like action. History never stuck with me, especially long lists of names I can’t even pronounce, let alone see why they’re important.

I, too, am guilty of passing over the begats. But one time I forced myself to read through them—only because I was following a read-through-the-Bible-in-one-year program and putting a check mark in the “Matthew 1” box without actually reading it was cheating, lying, and being deceitful. I knew it would prey on my conscience, so I plowed through.

And discovered something interesting: Jesus’ ancestors were not a saintly bunch. Up until then, I’d assumed that Jesus, who was sinless and pure, would have had a bloodline that reflected his holiness. Yet “holy” hardly describes some of the characters mentioned. I’d also assumed that his bloodline would be pure as well—all His ancestors would have been Jewish. I was wrong on that account, too.

Jesus’ ancestry includes people who lied, cheated, deceived, stole, and committed adultery and murder. Abraham lied on at least two occasions to save his own skin. Jacob, whose name means “deceitful,” lived up to his name. Judah thought nothing of sleeping with a woman he thought was a prostitute. Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, committed adultery with King David, who had her husband murdered when he discovered she was pregnant with his child.

Rahab was a prostitute from Jericho and not an Israelite. Neither was Ruth, King David’s great-grandmother. She hailed from Moab—Israel’s one-time enemy, a nation birthed in incest, whose bloodline traced back to Lot, who slept with his own daughters. Then there was the shrewd and persevering Tamar, whose twins were begotten in deceit.

Talk about skeletons in your closet! Jesus sure had plenty in His ancestry.

Another interesting note in the genealogy Matthew recorded is that he included women. It was unusual for women to be listed in Jewish genealogies. Matthew, however, lists five: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Only two were Jewish. Three bore moral blots.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at the stories of these five women, the role they played in Jewish history, and what it means for us today.

Everything in God’s Word has a purpose—even the accounts of unsavory characters whom God chose to fill a slot in the ancestry of His own Son.

What’s the message you see in this? That God doesn’t choose only men to fulfill His purposes? That allowing far-from-perfect men—and women—a part in His plan to save sinners is still more evidence of His amazing grace? Nobody’s perfect, but surely there were people with better moral records than these. That God makes good on His promises, even one made 4,000 years before it was fulfilled?

For me, seeing the names of some pretty unsavory characters whose treachery and deceit are chronicled in the archives of man, gave me a sense of relief and freedom.

Relief that I don’t have to be perfect—God can use me warts and all. And freedom from guilt that my past indiscretions will cause me to miss out on God’s purpose for me.

For God, you see, “has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV).

Skeletons in your closet? Don’t fret about them. It isn’t what’s in your closet that God’s concerned about—it’s what’s in your heart.

Thank you, God, for the lesson of the begats. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 1.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

LOOKING FOR SOME RELEVANT, INSPIRING ADVENT READINGS? CHECK OUT GOD, ME, & A CUP OF TEA FOR THE SEASONS. Available in paperback and Kindle editions. Click here to get your copy.

My Anchor Holds

Me standing in front on an anchor at the US Coast Guard Air Station, Traverse City, MI, June 2018

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. –Hebrews 6:19 NIV

As I turn the calendar page to the last month of the year, I mentally review the 11 previous months. Months, for the most part, I wouldn’t want to live over.

They weren’t bad. But you know how I feel about that word. I prefer “good” or “not so good” or “challenging.”

2018 was certainly challenging as I navigated the tumultuous waters of change, both wanted and unwanted, changes I initiated and changes that were foisted upon me.

From losing my kitty Rascal at the beginning of January (I still miss my little buddy) to the joy of attending my son’s wedding in June to DH’s retirement in September to dealing with eye issues to trying to decide what to do about Christmas in an empty nest.

Changes, decisions, uncertainty, joy, sorrow, disappointment, discouragement, hope, and lots of prayer dotted the days of 2018.

Hope is what got me through. And prayer.

Hope was and is the anchor for my soul. Not hope that everything will turn out the way I want, but hope in a sovereign God who has everything under control. Who has a plan and purpose for me. Who knows where I am, even when I feel lost, and knows where I’m going. Who’s all-powerful – He can make anything happen. Who’s all-knowing – He knows me better than I know myself and knows the end from the beginning. A God who loves me, faults and all.

Hope is what steadies this ship in the storms of life and keeps me from drifting away from where I’m supposed to be. Hope is the anchor I drop so it can dig into the bottom rather than hold me down by a heavy weight.

But note: I must drop the anchor. It won’t drop itself. If I leave it on deck, it won’t do me any good when the winds and waves batter me and toss me about, getting me off course and threatening to destroy me.

The anchor drops down deep and digs into the bottom, giving me security in uncertain times.

Prayer, on the other hand, goes up, ascending to the throne of my Father, who’s waiting for me to release my plans and dreams to Him, and trust Him with all my heart and not depend on my limited understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

Once again, it is something I choose to do. I can try to figure it out on my own, but my perspective is limited, my understanding incomplete. I can try to do it all myself, my way, but I know where that’s gotten me before, and it wasn’t pretty.

I cried out to my Heavenly Father, and He was right there.  Indeed, as the old song goes, “He was there all the time, waiting patiently.”

I don’t have a whole lot to do to get ready for Christmas.

The house is already decorated, done in one day, thanks to my son, his new wife, and five grandchildren. The gifts are all bought, thanks to a day spent cyber-shopping. All I have to do is wait for UPS or FedEx to deliver them. Then I’ll wrap them.

The menu for our family Christmas dinner and gift exchange on the 15th and the corresponding grocery list are done. I’m not doing cards this year, except a few to hand out and a brief newsletter for a handful of friends and relatives. I do, however, have a few gifts I’m making.

So the next few weeks I’ll sit in my cozy chair by the fireplace and crochet. While my hands are busy with yarn and a crochet hook, my mind will mull over the past year, and my heart will rejoice because I know, whatever the future will bring, smooth sailing or turbulent seas, my anchor holds!

What are you needing hope for this Christmas season?

Cast your anchor in Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is a time to weigh anchor and sail, and a time to drop anchor and stay put. You, Lord, are that anchor that is always with me, on board my ship or holding me fast in turbulent waters. Thank you. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalms 46 and 139

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.