Our story of Ruth has come to an end, but Matthew 1:1-16 contains the genealogy of Jesus where we see our beloved Ruth again…
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, 8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, 15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Whew…that is a lot of names. But each name represents a real family preserved in the lineage of Jesus. And while Jesus was perfect, His family line certainly was not. We just studied the story of Ruth, who was part of the family line of Jesus. She was a hated Moabite, a childless widow and foreigner with nothing. But God used her as part of the story of Jesus – God in the flesh – coming to earth to save us.
Let’s look at the times that a woman was mentioned in the family line (which was extremely unusual). There are four instances: Tamar (verse 3), Rahab (verse 5), Ruth (verse 5), Uriah’s wife (verse 6).
So who is Tamar? Her story is recorded in Genesis chapter 38 and it isn’t pretty. Tamar was married to Judah’s (the son of Jacob and Leah, the wife he was tricked into marrying) oldest son, Er, who the story tells us was wicked. When Er died, the Jewish custom would have been for one of Judah’s brothers to redeem her by caring for her, marrying her and having a child with her to preserve Er’s family name. The second oldest son was also wicked and died. Judah doesn’t keep his promises to Tamar to provide for her, so she takes matters into her own hand. She disguises herself as a prostitute and Judah takes the bait. She gets pregnant and has a child, Perez, who is in the family line of Jesus. Tamar is both the daughter-in-law of Judah and the mother of his child, Perez.
Don’t be afraid to say it or think it…this is a terrible story. None of this behavior is directed or approved of by God. It is evil in His eyes. But despite unholy people, God’s forward-looking plan continues.
Through imperfect, sinful people, God can bring about redemption. As generations come and go, we see the preservation of good amid great evil and sin. It is never too late to step into God’s plan…the way He intended, not in our own sinful ways.
From pain, abandonment, and sin, God still makes a beautiful pathway to our salvation.
Let this provide encouragement that we don’t have to be perfect to be part of God’s plan. Jesus was the only perfect person and His perfect sacrifice, along with our acceptance of it, is the only thing we need to be right with God.
Do you believe that God can use you in His holy plans despite your flaws, struggles, and mistakes by you personally or in your family background?