A Christmas devotional from Day by Day in the Gospel of Matthew by Chuck Gianotti.
Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.
The ancestors of Jesus numbered many less-than-admirable characters. Matthew (the author) himself had a background of blatant dishonesty and self-indulgence. Formerly a turncoat, Matthew used his service of Roman tax collecting to extort his countrymen. His inclusion of those like Tamar and now Rahab reflects his great appreciation for the mercy and grace of God.
Rahab was a well-known prostitute of Jericho who showed faith in God by rescuing the two spies who had been sent by Joshua to scout the land, especially Jericho, prior to invading it (Joshua chapters 2 & 6). Directly related to Rahab was Boaz, a godly man, and his wife, Ruth (see the book of Ruth for details). While Boaz was clearly a devout Israelite in his background and upbringing, Ruth was a Moabitess, and, as such, had been raised as an idol worshiper. Yet, like Rahab, she recognized the God of Israel as the one true God and is included as one of four women specially mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy.
Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson David is well known, both for being the greatest of all the Israelite kings and for his extramarital affair with the wife of Uriah (some translations supply her name, Bathsheba)! She is the third woman mentioned. That this relationship is even included bodes significance not only for Jesus’ rightful claim to the Davidic throne, but also to God’s grace evident in Jesus’ heritage. No sin is too great to completely block God’s blessing.
David’s son Solomon, considered the wisest man ever, ended his life in foolishness, falling into idolatry. His book of Ecclesiastes has warned people, ever since he wrote it, of the vanity of a life lived apart from God.
Following Solomon was his unwise son Rehoboam, under whose incompetent leadership Israel divided into two nations. The northern kingdom, known as Israel (or Ephraim), fell headlong into idolatry. The dynasty of King David continued in the southern kingdom, called Judah, though with checkered devotion to God. Conflict between the two nations reigned from that point on.
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