A Charge to Keep I Have
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:Matthew 1:1-7a, 15-16
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam
Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
I don’t know about you, but I am tempted when reading the Bible through, to skip over the genealogies. I get lost in the names I don’t know how to pronounce, and I wonder why God felt it necessary to include such minute details in His Word. It’s His right, of course, and I’m guessing I’m missing out when I don’t delve into those names with the same awe and respect I try to give my “favorite” verses!
The New Testament begins with the genealogy of Jesus. This one caught my attention because it has a few surprises – four of them in fact! It would have been common to outline the men in a family tree, but most unusual to include women. It’s not surprising Matthew mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus but his mention of four other women is unusual! Let’s look at those!
“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar”
Tamar’s story is in Genesis 38. It’s a complicated story of a widow whose father-in-law, Judah, was remiss in following through with cultural expectation. Tamar took the situation into her own hands, sleeping with her father-in-law to continue the line of Judah. She even made Judah pay for her services!
“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab”
Rahab’s story is in Joshua 2 and 6. The scripture says that Rahab was a prostitute who hid Joshua’s spies in return for safety for her and her family. She insisted that her family would be protected! Rahab is listed in Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith!
“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth”
Ruth’s story is often told as a sweet story of love for her mother-in-law, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God!” Ruth was an outsider, a Moabitess, of pagan heritage. She becomes part of the lineage of Jesus in her marriage to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer!
“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife”
Bathsheba isn’t named but she was Uriah’s wife. Bathsheba’s adulterous relationship with David, their marriage after Uriah’s murder – it’s the stuff of daytime soap operas. Interestingly, Bathsheba made David promise that her son, Solomon, would be the next king – and later saved Solomon’s life when Adonijah was trying to set himself up as the king.
When thinking about Jesus’ lineage, you might be surprised to find incestuous behavior, prostitution, adultery, pagan foreigners. The Messiah redeemed the pain, loss, sin in each of these women – each in their own ways unlikely heroes in the story arc of salvation! In choosing to name these women, God illustrates for us that Jesus came to rescue all people, even those living on the margins of life, even those with the least status in society.
The author of Hebrews reminds us that our spiritual genealogy is significant. In chapter 11, he enumerates many of the faithful and in chapter 12, says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Our spiritual heritage, the long lost relatives in our genealogy, those that were counted among the faithful, they are our great cloud of witnesses!
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10
A charge to keep I have,
a God to glorify,
a never dying soul to save,
and fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill,
O may it all my powers engage
to do my Master’s will!
Arm me with watchful care
as in Thy sight to live,
and now Thy servant, Lord, prepare
a strict account to give!
Help me to watch and pray,Charles Wesley, 1762
and still on Thee rely,
O let me not my trust betray,
but press to realms on high.
As you pray today, thank God for including every tribe and language and people and nation in His plan of salvation! Ask Him to guide you in making a difference in your world for His glory!