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MATTHEW 1, THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS!

THOSE FOUR SURPRISING LADIES!

THIS IS AMAZING!

IN FACT, AMAZING GRACE ONE MIGHT CALL IT!

 

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1:

Both Matthew and Luke give us Jesus' genealogy. Matthew carries Jesus' heritage all the way back to Abraham!

Matthew also does something very strange, very out of the ordinary. He lists four women in His time-line. Four women from Abraham to our Lord's Mother, Mary.

Women, in a genealogy?

In Bible days?

Highly unlikely!

But, still, Matthew does!

Breaking all rules, too, rules of his day.

Here are those four ladies.

Tamar, but spelled differently. "And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram." Matthew 1:3, where I underlined her name.

Ruth is listed next, of the women I mean. "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse." Matthew 1:5

Then Bathsheba comes next, listed covertly too. "And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias." That lady who was first Uriah's then David's wife is none other than Bathsheba, Matthew 1:6

Lastly comes Mary, the Virgin. "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."  Matthew 1:16

The Lord willing, for the next four days we shall study these women, one at a time of course.

Surprisingly they all have several things in common.

And several differences, too!

But each of them played some role in Jesus coming to earth, in the Lord's birth at Bethlehem.

And, believe me, each will show some aspect of God's amazing Grace!

Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba and Mary!

I can hardly wait to get started!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, TAMAR:

We are three verses into the New Testament and we meet her!

She is surprisingly placed in the "line" of Jesus' genealogy, according to Matthew's careful calculations. That's Matthew the former tax-collector, by the way. A man skilled in preserving lists and numbers!

Who is she?

"And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram." Matthew 1:3

Her name is Tamar, if you use the Old Testament spelling, "Thamar" in the New Testament.

She's a girl who married one of Judah's boys. This is Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, Judah from whose offspring Jesus came! Yes, Mary the Virgin belonged to the "tribe" of Judah.

But the son whom Tamar married was very wicked. And God killed him! The boy's mane was Er. "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him." Genesis 38:7

Well,  in those days, according to the Law God had given Moses, if a man died and the union had produced no children, that man's brother was to assume his role as husband to the widowed lady!

And the eligible brother would see to it that a child was born, to continue the family name. Preferably, a boy child!

This is exactly what happened in Tamar's case, recently widowed Tamar. "And Judah said unto Onan, another son, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother." Genesis 38:8

But Onan died too! Actually he did a very rebellious and disobedient thing, and God killed him also!

Wow!

Two dead husbands for Tamar!

Not to worry, Judah has one more son!

So, our story continues: "Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown." Genesis 38:11

But Judah was lying to her!

He had no intention of giving his youngest and last son to her! She was too "dangerous" in Judah's mind! Maybe something like a "bad luck" charm! Genesis 38:11 adds: "For he said, lest peradventure Shelah die also."

But Tamar did not know about Judah's insincerity! "And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house." Still Genesis 38:11.

But after a while it became apparent! For Tamar anyway, no husband and no child, at least not from the family of Judah! She had been deceived!

But get this!

If Judah has no male offspring, no boy to claim his name, that ends the "line" of descent through which the Messiah will come! No child for Judah here, no Grandbaby, then no Jesus! At least not the way God had originally planned it!

But Tamar is smarter than Judah!

She devises a plan!

She "tricks" Judah into having sex with her, the older man Judah! If you have the time, read this account! It's amazing! It's well worth the time. "And Judah went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath. And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep. And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; for he knew not that she was his daughter in law. And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him." Genesis 38:12-18

Judah is out of town!

At some kind of sheep-shearers convention!

Tamar goes there and poses as, of all things, a "harlot!"

Judah propositions her!

And she, extremely intelligent and still wanting a baby, negotiates a deal with her unsuspecting father-in-law!

She gets a down-payment for the services she is about to render, his ring and bracelet and staff, all customized possessions. No one else has items just like these!

After their tryst, their encounter, the story goes like this.

Judah goes back home and hears that Tamar is "pregnant!"

He is very indignant!

See, he has no idea that his little "girlfriend" up at the convention site was Tamar! These ladies sure had a way of disguising themselves, didn't they? Remember Jacob marrying Leah, sleeping with her that first night, all the while thinking she was Rachel?

Mercy!

Tamar, expecting a baby?

The Bible tells it better than I can. "And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt."

Wow, Genesis 38:24.

Judah plans to kill the little "slut!" According to the Law of Moses he just earlier refused to obey!

But here comes a little "surprise!"

Get ready, Judah!

Talk about a "moment of truth!"

"When she was brought forth to be killed, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. And Judah acknowledged them." Genesis 38:25-26

At least Judah admitted it! Really, he had no choice. Tamar was holding the "proof" in her hands!

She's no dummy, is she?

She has "tricked" Judah into obeying God's Law!

She has ensured the necessary offspring, a boy it will be, for the "line" of Jesus to continue!

Wow!

In fact, she had twins!

One was named Pharez.

He's the one!

Matthew 1:1-3 says so. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren. And Judah begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram ...." This long list then continues, all the way to Jesus! Born of Mary, the Virgin!

Tamar, of questionable behavior, in the "godly line" of Jesus!

What do you think about that?

And the Holy Spirit, when He had Matthew write Jesus' genealogical history, insisted that Tamar's name be used!

That's something not normally done in ancient history, listing a Mother's name in the charts. It's just the Dad, almost always!

God want us to know about this bold lady, who wanted to have a baby, from Judah's lineage!

Like it or not, there she is!

I think this whole account can only be summed up in one word!

Grace!

God's Grace!

God's marvelous Grace!

Or maybe it's Faith!

Tamar's Faith, by the way, certainly not Judah's!

Or maybe the word is Providence!

God's Will!

Fulfilled by a woman, acting like a harlot!

All I can say is "Wow!"

Then sit back in silence and admire the inexplicable, meaning unexplainable, Wisdom of God!

Tamar, she's "in!"

When all the world was crying, "You are out!"

Dubious methods?

Maybe.

Right goal?

Certainly!

And, the end of the story, many generations later: "And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

Thank you, Lord!

If you too have a questionable background, and the Lord loved you and forgave you and is using you, praise Him today!

Thank Him!

Love Him!

Worship Him!

What a God we serve!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, RUTH:

Two verses later it happens again!

This time it's not Tamar, but Ruth.

Right in the middle of the genealogical table of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

"And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse ...." Matthew 1:5

The name Ruth, directly linked as it is with "Booz," or "Boaz" in the Old Testament, assures us of her identity.

This is Ruth the Moabitess!

"And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter." Ruth 2:2, with her nationality underlined.

The people of Moab were descendants of Lot through his own daughter! The very name Moab means "from my own father!" Lot's daughter had the nerve to name her child that, "from my own father!"

Born of incest!

Conceived during a drunken orgy!

What a background!

In fact, God cursed that crowd, the Moabites! "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee." Deuteronomy 23:3-4

Moabites hated Jews!

And God has historically promised that anyone who "curses" Abraham's stock will themselves be "cursed" by the Almighty! That's the essence of Genesis 12:1-3.

Plus, not only being a Moabitess, Ruth is also a widow lady!

One husband is gone, dead, under God's Hand of punishment it seems. God was so careful "choosing" Mary the Virgin, one would have expected all the ladies in this godly "line" right back to Sarah herself, or Eve for that matter, would have been relatively untouched. Unmarried at least! But that is apparently not the case!

Ruth does not come to the marriage bed, that first night with Boaz, a virgin! Not at all. Thoughts and memories and maybe even regrets concerning another man would have at least occasionally flashed into her head, no matter how hard she tried to suppress them.

Then add to these things one more factor.

Ruth's behavior one night, during a harvest festival, was at very best "questionable." Read it with me, the account of her little "plan."

The whole scheme was Ruth's mother-in-law's idea! Her name was Naomi. "Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do." Ruth 3:1-5, I hope you took time to read these verses, especially the capitalized part.

Notice that Boaz has been eating and drinking! Customarily these nights at threshing time are filled with a party spirit, plenty to eat and drink. Notice too that Ruth is to wait until Boaz is asleep. She is, no matter how we explain it away, sneaking into a man's bed. Late at night! A man who might not have been completely alert!

And did you get this? Ruth was to bathe herself and put on her best perfume! Also she was to dress in her nicest garment, appropriate for the occasion no doubt. I'm telling you a normal Moabitess would have thought nothing about this little plan of "get the man you want!" Go for it, Ruth!

Nor would a mother-in-law who had previously moved from Bethlehem to Moab have had any hesitancy about recommending such a plan either!

Wow!

But, did Ruth follow through on this little ruse?

Let's see.

"And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth." This is from Ruth 3:6-9, word for word.

Notice that by then Boaz's heart was "merry!" Do you know what that means? Whatever he had drunk was having its effect!

And Ruth came "softly?" In the King James Bible "lat" is translated as "secretly" one time and as "with enchantment" three times!

This is a little bit "sneaky," if we pay any attention to the words being used. If we take it literally, I mean.

Then, maybe topping it all, Ruth virtually proposes to Boaz! "And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman." Ruth 3:9, a euphemism for "take me under your wings!" Marry me, sweetie!

Wow again!

Of course, all works out well.

They get married, live happily ever after, and a baby is born. His name is Obed. And he eventually becomes the father of Jesse, the father of David, King of Israel!

Amazing!

What's more, God is not ashamed of these events!

He plainly told us every bit of this information!

Why?

To show that one's background, one's heritage, even being a despised Moabitess!

To show that one's past, no matter how much sadness or sin or grief may have befallen a life!

To show that no behavior, no lifestyle, regardless of how questionable it might have been!

To show that none of these things disqualify a person from being included in God's Plan!

None of these things void the possibility of God's Grace working in a human life!

Ruth, who had three strikes against her to begin with, still was used of God!

Still made it into the "godly line" that produced Jesus!

Still will be waiting for us in Heaven!

Ruth the Moabitess!

Ruth the previously married!

Ruth the flirtatious bed partner!

And Ruth the Grandmother of King David!

And the great, great, great, plus some more greats, Grandmother of our Lord Jesus Christ!

And I think that's WHY Matthew, directly following the Holy Spirit's lead, wrote the fifth verse of his first chapter like he did. "And Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse ...." Matthew 1:5

Ruth, a startling example of God's amazing Grace!

A descendent of Lot, of all people, by incest, now a foreparent of the Lord Jesus Christ!

I have heard that all a diamond is, simply speaking, is a chunk of coal that's been under tremendous pressure for thousands of years!

Coal once, and worthless ... but a diamond now, and priceless!

That's an example of God's handiwork!

But that's not as dramatic as what He did with Ruth!

Nowhere near!

I stand amazed this morning!

In the Presence of the Lord Jesus, God the Father, and the blessed Holy Spirit! The Great Three in One as the old timers used to say!

Grace!

That's all it is, God's overwhelming Grace!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, BATHSHEBA:

At first her name is not actually given. But her identity is so clearly established that no doubt remains. She is Bathsheba, once the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

And she is one of the ladies through whom God sent Jesus His Son into the world. She is situated in what's often called "the godly line" that produced Jesus Christ, in His humanity of course. Nobody "produced" Jesus as God! He is eternal, in His Deity.

"And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begat Roboam." Matthew 1:6-7

Notice the clause "of her that had been the wife of Urias." That's Bathsheba, all right. And she became Solomon's Mother! Matthew just said so!

What a "riddle" of a lady!

Everyone, I suspect, recalls the story. Briefly, here it is again: "And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; and then she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child." 2nd Samuel 11:2-5

Bathsheba, naked we presume, in a relatively visible place, bathing! "From the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon." That's pretty plain, isn't it?

Showering!

Or taking a bath!

Express it any way you choose, it's not a good idea!

David, from his rooftop, a common place of meditation and rest in those days of long ago, "noticed" this obviously gorgeous lady!

What man wouldn't?

Although such a fact does not excuse King David from his sin!

Not at all.

But, know what?

Try as I might, I cannot find God making a very big issue of Bathsheba's exhibitionism here, if that's what it was!

David is the one charged with guilt!

Primarily so.

David took the initiative, too. "And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"

He is the "lead" sinner in this liaison!

Now her name is given! Including her heritage and marital status. She clearly has a husband!

A fact that does not bother David, not much anyway.

I realize that in those days Kings got whatever they wanted, even down to wives for the royal harem. But David is supposed to be different! He is a child of God!

Then we are told: "And David sent messengers, and took her." Wow, strong language! "Took" translates "laqach," meaning "to seize, to fetch, to grasp, to lay hold of!"

Did the girl even have a choice?

To some degree, she certainly did!

As we learn more of her character, later in Scripture, there's no doubt she is fully capable of saying "No!"

But she did not, not this time anyway!  "And she came in unto him, and he lay with her." They had a sexual tryst.

This is not rape.

It is adultery though.

Between two consenting adults, as they say. That verb "lay" is translated 48 times in the Old Testament "to sleep," if you get what I mean.

Still, David carries the vast majority of the blame here. If I am reading the subsequent Biblical material correctly.

All I am trying to establish this morning is this, Bathsheba, like Ruth and Tamar before her, enters this genealogy with a "tainted" background!

One might even say, "with a moral blemish!"

But she is nonetheless a wife of one of the forefathers of the Lord Jesus Christ! She is now David's wife, David the King.

And I have not even mentioned the murder of her husband! Again, David being the culprit.

But Bathsheba was sneaky! "And King David lay with her, and she returned unto her house." No one ever need to know! Just a "quiet" affair! Maybe she will bathe again like that, a few evenings from now. After all, the King is the King!

But for one thing!

An unusual thing, too! I'd say a thing over which God has control!

"And she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child." 2nd Samuel 11:5, a pregnancy has occurred!

You can just say, "That time of the month." Or you can wonder, "Why did not God stop this?" Or exclaim, "What luck!"

But still, these two people are "together" now, like it or not! David and Bathsehba!

And God at least "allowed" it to happen!

And if your God is more powerful than that, He "planned" to use one more questionable person, a lady with a "loose" moral history, to be part of Jesus' human heritage!

Why?

I can only assume, to show the power of His Grace!

Of His forgiveness!

Of His Mercy!

Of His Love!

Of the Power of His Blood!

Bathsheba, the Mother of King Solomon!

Amazing!

And, for sure, God could have "hidden" these less than ideal facts, had He chosen to do so!

But, no!

Here we have a living illustration of Paul's great verse: "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Romans 5:20, thank God!

What a genealogy Matthew presents us!

Different from Luke's in many ways, too.

But still, beautiful, and accurate I believe.

With occasional "trophies" of God's amazing Grace dotting the generations as they come and go!

All women!

Tamar!

Ruth!

And now Bathsheba!

What a list!

All ex-sinners, saved by Grace!

To which fact every reader here today should be responding, "Praise God! He forgave me too!"

"My sin is gone, just like that of these women!"

God's Grace!

No wonder in Heaven we shall say it again and again! Like is recorded in Zechariah 4:6-7. "Shouting Grace, Grace unto Him!"

Yes!

The astounding Grace of God!

"Hallelujah!"

Or if you prefer the Greek, "Alleluia!"

Both ways it means "Praise the Lord!"

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell 

 

 

LESSON 5, RAHAB:

Now, I thought, it's time to study the last lady on the list.

The very woman whom God used to bring Jesus into the world.

Mary, the Virgin.

But, just a minute, the Holy Spirit seemed to say!

There is someone else!

Who?

Nestled back in Matthew 1:5 there was one more name. "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed ..." And so forth, with many other names to follow.

Now do know this, her name as listed here is arguably identified as that of "Rahab," Old Testament Rahab!

But, what a minute!

Preacher Bagwell, that woman was a harlot!

Granted, Tamar acted like one. But "at heart" she was not.

And Ruth's whole nation, Moab, was full of harlots! But again, she was not one of them. Although she acted in a somewhat less that blameless manner a time or two!

And Bathsheba? Well, she technically was not a harlot, just an adulteress!

But, as questionable as those three ladies were, still, none was an outright harlot!

No harlot in Jesus' background!

None in His lineage!

No forefather or foremother of Christ's will be immoral! Especially not one of them, not a harlot!

No!

Yet Matthew 1:5 says otherwise!

If this "Rachab" is indeed the Rahab of the Book of Joshua!

And, according to the vast majority of Bible experts, at least the preachers and teachers and theologians and commentators I consulted ... this is Rahab the Harlot!

And we now know her husband's name, too!

It's "Salmon." The name means "clothing" or "garment." What an ironic name for the man a harlot would marry! A woman who made her living, earned her income, paid her bills, "unclothed!" I sometimes think God has a sense of humor!

And, at least in my sanctified imagination, I suspect Salmon was one of those two "spies" Rahab hid in her house, up on the rooftop, back in Joshua 2:1-4. Wow!

If he was, I also think this was a case of "love at first sight!" I am not the only Preacher who has suggested such a scenario, either.

Anyway, however, Salmon falls in love with Rahab, marries her in spite of her past occupation, and they have a little boy, named Boaz! "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed ..." Our Text again for today, Matthew 1:5

And yes, that's the "Boaz" of the Book of Ruth!

But Preacher, does the "time line" work? Is this possible? Yes, it is! Especially if Matthew has balanced his genealogy account to fit into a certain mathematical pattern. Three sections of "fourteen" names each!

Check Matthew 1:17 now. "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations."

See, Matthew the tax collector, formerly so, still loves numbers!

Yet, one argument remains! When people try to refute this being "Rahab the harlot!" They say that the word used for "harlot" in the Old Testament can mean other things. These folks are just trying to "rescue" Rahab from a bad reputation, and I suspect are trying to "protect" Jesus, too.

But that noun, "zanah" to be exact, always means "harlot," in the King James Bible anyway. Best I can tell. And I checked pretty carefully. The word actually connotes someone who is "highly fed, highly paid," and thus "undisciplined, playful, flirtatious, frolicsome, unchaste," and then outright "immoral."

But, furthermore, in the New Testament, the two times Rahab is listed, she is still called a "harlot," but this time with an unquestionable word for sure, "porne!" That noun, without doubt, is a "woman who sells herself," a common prostitute, indeed a "harlot!" Certainly! James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31 are the references to which I allude.

There we have it.

Indeed!

A woman of ill repute, with all the baggage that occupation carries, right smack in the middle of the "godly line" of ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Wow!

How can that be?

It can't, apart from the Grace of God!

Rahab the harlot got saved, if I can use a New Testament term and apply it to an Old Testament situation!

She experienced the Mercy and Love and Forgiveness of an Almighty God!

A God who cleansed her!

Then changed her!

Then used her in  an awesome manner!

I'd say!

As one of Jesus' direct ancestors!

We all should right now be "stunned!"

Overwhelmed!

Astounded!

Maybe even "ecstatic!"

As the old song used to say, "I stand amazed!"

In the Presence of Jesus!

The One Who saves lost souls!

Including harlots!

Alleluia!

By the way, that's the Same God Who saved me, too!

And you!

Worship Him today!

Tell Him how much you love Him!

Tell Him what He's worth to you, right now!

He enjoys things like that!

Kisses and Hugs to Him today!

All day long! 

                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, MARY THE VIRGIN:

Now, at last, we are ready to study the fifth and final lady in Matthew's genealogical list, all five of whom are associated with Jesus one way or another.

"And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Matthew 1:15-16

See her?

Who ever saw a genealogy constructed like that?

A man named Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, "begat" a little boy named "Joseph." In course of time this Joseph grew to adulthood and "married" a girl named "Mary." This Mary in turn gave birth to a little Boy, One named Jesus!

And Luke wisely adds, "Jesus Who is called Christ,"

Amen!

Mary, the "Virgin," we often call her.

Here's how it happened, still according to Matthew. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 1:18, Mary not having yet been "touched" by Joseph!

This is a miraculous conception! Such a thing had never happened before, nor has it since!

Mary, a Virgin, yet now "with child!"

Now, do not misunderstand me, please. Mary is nothing but pure and holy and godly, just like the Gospels say. 

But look what happens next, already bringing that virtuous Girl under a cloud of doubt! "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily." Matthew 1:19, Joseph was going to "divorce" Mary, obviously thinking she had been morally loose!

She, pure as the freshly fallen snow, was already under suspicion!

Yet God intervenes! "But while Joseph thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-21

The questions, for Joseph anyway, have been answered! Mary is a Virgin, and now the soon-to-be Mother of the Lord Jesus. Jesus, our Saviour!

There she is, Mary, in a list of many generations, a list that also included Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba!

But wait a minute, as different as Mary is from these other women, she too remained under a man-made period of "probation!"

The enemies of Jesus always held His Birth to be "questionable!"

They suspected foul play!

For example, this heated exchange between Jesus and certain "Jews" who hated Him! "Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." John 8:39-42, where these men accuse Jesus of "being born of fornication!"

Jesus just defended His Heritage! "For I proceeded forth and came from God; He sent me." John 8:42 again, in part.

Mary, even after Jesus grew to manhood, years after His Virgin Birth, still accused of "fornication!"

"We are not born of fornication," the Pharisees reasoned. Insinuating that Jesus was born of fornication!

Mary suffered all her life with these kinds of innuendos and sleigh, devious, cutting remarks! Remember, Simeon years ago had warned her. "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:34-35, maybe a sword of bitter, accusing words!

Mary, not unlike Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsehba, though falsely accused, under suspicion of moral laxity!

But Mary has yet another problem, too!

She has been falsely accused in a second sense!

A vast religious system has developed, worldwide, too, that does not belittle Mary, like certain of the Jews did.

No!

They vastly over-rate her!

They keep her under a cloud of doubt, of false doctrine, by worshipping her!

They believe she was conceived, she was, Mary was, absolutely without sin! They call this the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception!

They also advance the theory that Mary never sinned a single time in all her life!

And that she remained a Virgin her whole life, too! Even though Scripture plainly says that after Jesus' Birth, Joseph and Mary were married and had other children, naturally. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?" Mark 6:3

These people, well meaning as they may be, also think Mary, after her death, was bodily taken to Heaven, in a way ascended there, much like Jesus!

And that she is helper in our salvation, a kind of co-redeemer! That she can persuade Jesus to do things!

That she can be the recipient of our prayers, being as close to Jesus as she is! Sitting by His Right Hand, they say. 

There's not a shred of Bible evidence to prove any of these wild assumptions, either! These folks must use the Apocrypha or Church history or pure tradition to validate their claims!

See what they have unwittingly done?

They have kept Mary under suspicion!

Under a cloud of doubt!

Not for being too sinful!

But for being too holy!

Please get this. Mary, just like every other human being, was a sinner who needed to be saved by the Grace of God!

She even called Jesus her "Saviour!"

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Luke 2:46-47

Tamar, under doubt.

Rahab, under doubt.

Ruth, under doubt.

Bathsheba, under doubt.

Now even Mary, under doubt!

No doubt about her true virginity, in God's Eyes, anyway. But not in man's eyes. They accused her of being a "fornicator!"

Just like Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba!

While others lifted Mary too highly, ignoring altogether the fact that she too had to be saved!

Just like many Bible students today refuse to believe anything negative about Tamar or Rahab or Ruth or Bathsehba!

Well, Brother Bagwell, if you are right in your emphasis today ... no one in that godly line is trustworthy!

No one is without taint!

No one is sinless!

And that's the point!

Only One Person is!

And it's not one of these ladies, dear as they are!

It is Jesus!

He's the Goal of it all!

He's the Focus!

He's the Redeemer!

He's the ultimate Sin Bearer!

He's our Lord!

It is His Blood that saves!

Saves whom?

Tamar!

Rahab!

Ruth!

Bathsheba!

And Mary!

May I continue?

And you!

And me!

Praise the Lord!

This whole genealogical list, every name on it, is all about Grace!

The amazing Grace of God!

Just one more word ...

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah for the darling Son of God!

Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, THOSE LADIES NOT MENTIONED:

Their presence is implied. After all, their husbands could not have produced those illustrious sons all alone!

But they are not named, most of them!

Most of the ladies in Jesus' lineage, prior to His Birth.

For example, just using Matthew's first two verses: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren ..." Matthew 1:1-2

Now, look!

Abraham's son is Isaac, borne him by Sarah. This We all know. But Sarah is not mentioned by name. She is omitted from the list. That's the way all those ancient genealogies were written.

And Isaac is the parent of Jacob, but not without the help of Rebekah, his wife! But she is here a "silent" partner!

And Jacob had twelve sons! Goodness, I already wish I had not called our attention to this subject! But Jacob, in order to "beget" these twelve boys, the forefathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, had to have some female help!

And he did!

Indeed!

Two wives!

With further assistance from their handmaidens! That's "feminine" in gender, I might add.

Omitted are Leah and Rachel, the wives, and Zilpah and Bilhad, their helpers. Four ladies, here all ignored!

More of Matthew's "history" now: "And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; and Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; and Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon." Matthew 1:7-11

Not a woman in this whole paragraph, not by name!

Matthew does, however, violate the norm four times, maybe five.

He mentions four women, specifically and undoubtedly!

All with questionable backgrounds!

Tamar, Matthew 1:3.

Rahab, Matthew 1:5.

Ruth, Matthew 1:5 also.

Bathsheba, at first "the wife of Uriah." That's Bathsheba with whom David had that hot and lurid affair! "Adultery" it's called elsewhere in Scripture. Matthew 1:6

And then of course Mary the Virgin! Who was pure and clean and "untouched" by any man, but nevertheless spent her whole life under a cloud of mistrust and suspicion, from the Pharisees anyway. And others like them. Matthew 1:16

Wow!

More ladies skipped than included!

By far!

But each lady noticed is certainly a pristine trophy of the Love and Mercy of Almighty God!

Sinners, saved by Grace!

All five!

This sort of makes the old hymn "Just as I am" more meaningful to me!

God took those ladies, just like they were, weaknesses and all, and used them magnificently for His Glory!

Without them, how would Christ Jesus have come to earth?

Tell me, please.

Each woman in Matthew's list, implied or expressed, is very important. Their contribution to Jesus' future Birth is unquestionable!

Essential, even!

They are like a "chain," any one of whose "links" is critical to the job at hand!

But still, four, yea five, are highlighted by the Holy Spirit!

And these ladies, along with all the others, we should celebrate and appreciate and honor!

Except for Mary, they are the great, great, great, great, I don't know how many more "greats" to add, Grandmothers of Jesus!

Jesus Who came to love sinners!

And die for them all!

Saving some of them in advance, just so He could get here the First Time!

The Virgin Birth!

It sure took a lot of planning!

Glory to God!

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

THE END!

 

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