BY RON SCHOOLCRAFT
The court is now in session. The indictments returned on four Old Testament Gentile women may describe in some detail the height of their folly. But this is necessary to illustrate the depth of the grace of God. This ill-fated foursome, as we shall see, has a date with destiny. They ultimately will appear in the record, woven together in a tapestry far more beautiful than they could ever have imagined.
The jury is now seated. Let the trial begin.
Genesis 38 begins with Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, marrying a Canaanite woman. Later, he picked Tamar as a wife for his firstborn son, Er. But the Lord slew Er and also Judah’s second son, Onan. Judah
then promised Tamar his third son, Shelah, to be her husband when he was old enough to marry. But Judah failed to keep his promise, so Tamar decided to take matters into her own hands.
Veiling her face as a temptress, she sat by the wayside and beguiled Judah. A few months later, Judah heard that Tamar had played the fool and was with child. He angrily condemned her to death. But she
quickly produced his signet, bracelets, and staff, items that he had given her as a pledge of payment. Judah confessed and the sad chapter concludes with the birth of Judah and Tamar’s twin sons, Pharez and
Zarah. Judah and Tamar never married. It seemed certain that nothing of redeeming value could ever accrue to the outcast, Tamar, and her twins, Pharez and Zarah.
By what quirk of fate were Joshua’s two spies directed to find lodging in Jericho at a house of ill fame? (Joshua 2:1). Perhaps “divine providence” is a better term, for Rahab hid the two spies in stalks of flax on her roof and dispatched the king’s men on a wild and futile chase. Rahab then bargained for her life, realizing that Jericho was doomed since God was with Israel.
After securing her true token, the scarlet thread, which embodied hope for her and her household, she let the spies down over the city wall with a rope. This hope notwithstanding, Rahab would never escape
the label of ill fame that was used at almost every mention of her name in the Scriptures We leave her fearfully awaiting the impending destruction of Jericho.
The reputation of Ruth was not as soiled as the other women under indictment, but she also hailed from a pagan background, being a Moabitess. The Moabites were the perpetual enemies of Israel. They were
descendants of Lot and had become so wicked that they had been banned from “the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation” (Deuteronomy 23:3). The Moabites hired Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22). When that failed, the daughters of Moab entered the camp and seduced the Israelite men. The result: a plague that destroyed twenty four thousand men (Numbers 25:19). To be called a “Moabitess” was an expression of contempt.
The future looked bleak for this daughter of Moab. Naomi, her mother-in-law whom she “crave unto,” gave this testimony: “The hand of the LORD is gone out against me . . . Call me not Naomi, call me Mara:
for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me…. The LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me” (Ruth 1:13, 20-21). And Ruth continued to be dogged by the Moabitess label at
almost every mention of her name in Bethlehem.
David was clearly to blame for the sinful affair with Bathsheba. But she was not completely guiltless since she likewise suffered in sorrow the penalty of the death of their first child (II Samuel 12:24). She was a Gentile by marriage to Uriah the Hittite and was probably influenced by the immoral Hittite culture.
The Hittites were descendants of Ham through Canaan’s second son, Heth. Their moral depravity is illustrated by the fact that when Esau married two Hittite women, they “were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35). Rebekah suffered severe distress: “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth . . . what good shall my life do me?” (Genesis 27:46). Ezekiel explained the immorality of the kingdom of Judah thus: “Your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite” (Ezekiel 16:45).
It is interesting to note that, even after David married Bathsheba, the Bible still often referred to her as the wife of Uriah: “And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David” (II Samuel 12:15). The future did not look very bright for “Uriah’s wife.” She grieved the loss of her child and steeled herself to suffer with David the further fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from shine house” (II Samuel 12:10).
A heavy silence blankets the courtroom. The ill-fated four stand, guiltridden, with heads bowed. The verdict is ready. “We, the jury, find the defendants g–” But wait! Now, for . . .
The Rest of the Story
What is happening here? The judge is stepping down from the bench! He approaches the hapless four. In a gesture of reconciliation he extends his hands, palms upward. But something is horribly wrong! There on his palms is something red in deep gouges–it is blood!
“I have paid the penalty for your sin,” the Judge announces. “Hide yourselves in My love. Go in peace. Sin no more.” The scene is beginning to fade. But the forgiven four are not going; they are staying. It looks like they are weeping, falling prostrate at His feet. Everything is so hazy that no one can see.
The mist is clearing. Where are we now? This room is filled with the sweet perfume of divine anointing. A young man is bent over a scroll, writing intently with fervency in his countenance. We will just peer over his shoulder.
“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; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias” (Matthew 1:1-6).
Oh, the grace of God! Yes, all four Gentile women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, are included and mentioned together in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ! It is almost beyond belief to consider that
God would breathe on Matthew to name these four women–and only these four–in the lineage of Christ! Such godly women as Sarah and Rebekah are not even mentioned in this genealogical list.
These four women already had one strike against them by being Gentiles. The second strike was their pagan background in idol worship. Strike three (for three of them) was their sinful behavior, which was
worthy of death under the law. And Ruth, being a Moabitess, was banned from the congregation of the Lord. But they did not strike out, because they turned to the God of Israel for redemption. By including them in the genealogy of Christ, He made them special examples of His absolutely awesome and amazing grace. God forbid that any would interpret these marvelous examples of God’s grace as a license to sin.
“Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:15). “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but
a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
A Gentile Church
Perhaps these four Gentile women were forerunners, in a sense foreshadowing grace for a Gentile church to come. It is evident that we Gentiles, past and present, have never had anything to commend ourselves to God. “Remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh . . . that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:1-12).
But now–the rest of the story for a Gentile church! “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ . . . now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:13-19). Oh, the grace of God!
May we never forget the marvelous grace of God that included four Gentile ancestresses of Christ in His royal genealogy. In like manner, this same wonderful grace will include a Gentile church in the book of
the genealogy of Christ’s descendants–the Lamb’s Book of Life. They made it by His grace, and so can we.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY PENTECOSTAL HERALD, JULY 1999, PAGES 17-18. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPSES ONLY.