Four Outcasts In Jesus’ Genealogy
The Tale of 4 Outcast Women
Jesus ancestry might surprise you. His genealogy includes some names you might be shocked to find in the royal line of the King of Kings. There are some rather interesting skeletons in His closet.
There are 4 women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. It is rather unusual to have women listed in a Hebrew genealogy and these women that were mentioned contrast so dramatically with the absolute purity of and righteousness of God’s Anointed One. All of them were outcasts yet they made it into Jesus’ family tree.
Now I want to be honest with you that I am not real big on who begat who. I normally skip over that part in Matthew that tells Jesus’ genealogy. It is not the most stimulating reading for me. There are some interesting folks in this mix. If you take a close look at each person on the list you would find that each person would give you something to either live by or to avoid. The genealogy is a chronicle of God’s grace. There are 4 women that were considered to be outcasts back then and at least 3 that we wouldn’t have in our contact lists or on speed dial. Listen as Karen reads the first 6 verses of Matthew 1.
Matthew 1:1-6 (NIV)
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ 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,
- Let’s start with Joseph the husband of the Virgin Mary for just a moment. Because the linage of Jesus was on both Mary and Joseph side. They both were from the house of Abraham and David.
- Here is the catch the Scripture is clear that Joseph was not the father of Jesus – God was. Because Jesus had no human father He couldn’t be a natural descendent of David through the father’s side but He was through His mother’s side.
- The Legal right to rule always came through the father’s side and this was true even in Jesus’ case because He was Joseph’s eldest son. So that is why we have 2 genealogies in the Gospel the other being in Luke 3:23-37.
- Luke shows that through Mary that Jesus was literally a blood descendant of David.
- Matthew proves that through His adopted father, Joseph, Jesus was legally in the royal line. In every way possible Jesus had the right to rule.
- So what is the big deal? The big deal is that being out of the lineage of David fulfills prophesies that speak about the Messiah would be out of the house of David.
- Now let us take a look at 4 “ladies” (outcast women) in the genealogy of Jesus:
- Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar – what a piece work Tamar was. What kind of woman was Tamar? – her story if you want to read it is in Genesis 38.
- Let me give you her story in an abbreviated way – the Readers Digest version:
- Judah marries a Canaanite woman – first mistake – she was not a woman of God.
- They have 3 sons the oldest being Er. Judah arranges for Er to marry Tamar.
- The Scripture say that Er was wicked in the sight of the Lord. It doesn’t give us a reason why but I can imagine that it had to do with Judah’s marriage. He doesn’t live long enough to have a child with Tamar.
- As tradition and the custom of that day the widow becomes the wife of the next oldest son. You can guessed it Onan, Er’s brother doesn’t live long and doesn’t provide any kids either. Tamar is getting desperate; Judah has only one more son.
- Frustrated Tamar devises a plan – she wasn’t willing to wait on the Lord.
- She dresses up as a prostitute – puts a veil across her face and waited for Judah. She knew who she wanted.
- Not realizing that it was Tamar – his own sons’ widow he goes to bed with her – the scripture calls that fornication (KJV) or sexual immorality (NIV). Bottom line he pays a prostitute at least that is what he thinks he is doing. She bears him twins, Perez and Zerah. Perez carries on the lineage as he was the firstborn.
- Rather shocking tale. You think you have some skeletons in your closet – Jesus has a woman like Tamar in His ancestry. Don’t look for any redeeming qualities – she has none. In fact she mentioned twice in Genesis 38 and in Matthew 1.
- She is really just a footnote in the history of the Jewish nation but she stands as a classic illustration of the utter sinfulness of humanity.
- If God would continue the Messianic line through Tamar’s offspring – the product of deception, prostitution, and sexual immorality He must surely be the God of grace.
- Rahab is the next woman mentioned in Jesus’ lineage. She is referred to in Scripture as Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 6:17, 25; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). She was a Canaanite a mortal enemy of God’s people.
- When we first encounter Rahab she was an idolatrous outcast of her own people – they would have nothing to do with her accept when men came around to pay for her services.
- And her memorable act was telling a lie. After wondering 40 years in the wilderness Joshua sends spies into the city of Jericho. They happened upon Rahab who hid them in her home and lied to protect the spies. For that they agreed to spare her. All she had to do was tie a scarlet thread from her window so that the Israelites would not destroy her home.
- The Israelites spared her and her family. She then abandoned her Canaanite gods and believed in Jehovah. She became a convert to the true God and becomes part of the Messianic line. She was the great, great grandmother of David.
- Rahab was the mother of Boaz who married the Moabite Ruth – she was a Gentile like Tamar and Rahab. But unlike the 2 former women she was not a prostitute.
- We will get to the Gentile Moabite side in a moment. Ruth was the best of these outcasts in that she remained loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi who was a Jew and her sons married Moabites. After Ruth’s husband died she refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi.
- Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV) 16 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."
- Pretty amazing for any daughter-in-law but she wasn’t even a Jew. These two women ended up back in her home town of Bethlehem.
- Here is the Moabite side of the story. The entire Moabite race was a product of incest (Gen. 19:30-38). Lot was living in a cave with his 2 daughters after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God and Lot’s wife had not listen to God and turned back to see the destruction and turned into a pillar of salt.
- The daughters were fearful that there would be no one to marry them and carry on their families. So the eldest of the 2 daughters conjured up a scheme to get Lot, their father drunk and have sex with him.
- The scripture says that Lot had no idea of what was happening but his daughters on 2 successive nights they took turns getting their father drunk and having incestuous sex.
- Genesis 19:36-38 (NIV) 36 So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.
- Ruth was from the tribe of people who were the product of incest. The Jews thought Moabites were disgusting – their very existence was nauseating to the Jewish people. There were laws concerning these people: Deuteronomy 23:3 (NIV) 3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.
- Yet Ruth became the wife of Boaz – like Rahab she converted to the truth and found grace in the eyes of God. Her great grandson was David.
- The final outcast is not even given a name in Matthew – she is referred to as Uriah’s wife, we know her as Bathsheba. You will find the beginning of her story in 2 Samuel 11.
- She was taking a bath on the rooftop that was right below the window of King David. As she was bathing David passed by a window and saw her. David said “wow she is gorgeous and I want her.” Whatever the king wanted the King got and the next thing you know she is pregnant.
- When David discovered that Bathsheba was pregnant he tried to cover it up. First he brought her husband, Uriah home for some r and r and some good old times with his wife. He didn’t go home but stayed with some other army guys waiting for his leave to be over. So David’s plans for the cover-up didn’t work.
- So David had Uriah sent to the front lines and made sure that he wouldn’t come back. Here it is Bathsheba and David would make a great case for Law and Order. Here are the sins that happened:
- Enticement – Bathsheba enticed David by bathing right below his window
- Enticement – led to David lusting for what he knew he shouldn’t have
- Lusting led to an adulterous affair which led to a pregnancy
- The adultery led to a cover-up and when that didn’t work for David he plotted and carried Uriah’s death.
- Then David took Uriah’s widow as his wife. Bathsheba lost their first child. But before they conceived another child David was confronted with his sin and he repented and was known as man after the heart of God.
- Then Bathsheba and David had a son named Solomon and he became the next link in Jesus’ lineage. Bathsheba though guilty of an act of sinful adultery also became part of the line that would culminate in the birth of Jesus.
What a genealogy Matthew gives us. It is almost as if he is nominating people for the Hall of Shame. Two prostitutes, one cursed Moabite who came from an incestuous daughters, and one adulteress make up the family tree. There only 4 women mentioned in the entire genealogy and they are all outcasts. And believe me that there are some pretty unfavorable men in the genealogy as well. Jesus’ royal genealogy was filled with sinners. But that is just the point. Matthew writing expressly for a Jewish audience was confronting the self-righteous arrogance of the Jewish people that they were saved by the Law. The Messianic line is populated by Gentiles, sexually immoral men and women, liars, cursed kings and other sinners. But those folks help us realize that we are in of grace.
There are 3 truths that we need to see here:
- Christ the Messiah was not just for the Jews – He came for the whole world. The Gentiles in His genealogy speak message of love and grace to the entire world including the Gentiles.
- Jesus made it clear that He didn’t come for the righteous – He came for the unrighteous – the sinners like us. Matthew 9:13 (NIV) 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
- And we need to see the grace that the genealogy of Jesus presents. God’s love and acceptance to a forgiving King, to a Moabite and to a prostitute.
Don’t overlook the message of grace that Jesus’ genealogy presents. God is doing what we sinners can’t – He loves us, forgives us, He mends broken lives, and desires for us to have a relationship with Him. The best part of this story is that the same grace that Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba experienced can be our experience as well.
Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus' priesthood is permanent. He's there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.