To me, there is little I find more enjoyable than getting up early on Saturday mornings, strolling down the block to Panera Bread, finding a perfect spot on the large covered patio, savoring their strawberry-pecan steel-cut oatmeal, sipping a Hazelnut coffee, and then losing myself in the Word.
Recently, on one such morning, I became enthralled in a somewhat unusual passage, Matthew 1, a genealogy of the lineage of Christ, one of those “this person was the father of that person, who was the father of this person” type of things. At first glance, it sounds boring and stale, right?
But, it’s really not blasé, and here’s why: the scarlet thread.
If you were going to pick the lineage of Christ, who would be in the club? Who would you choose to help usher in God’s own Son, the savior of the entire world? Kings maybe? The rich, the famous, the best and brightest mankind had to offer?
And, yet, who do we find in this boring old genealogical list?
Jesus’ heritage, those chosen by God to help pave the way for Christ’s arrival, includes the likes of Rahab, a foreign prostitute. And, not to be outdone, there’s Bathsheba and Uriah, David and Solomon. These folks are your “scarlet letter” type of people, whose public flaws and failures, egregious sins and moral compromise were epic.
So why them?
Rahab, yes, that Rahab. She was the Canaanite prostitute living in Jericho, who hid the two Hebrew spies and was spared by Joshua and the Israelites after the walls fell. Afterwards, she and her family were adopted into the Israelite nation, where she married and had a son, Boaz, weaving the scarlet thread of her life directly into the divine fabric of the Messiah’s lineage.
rahab-1But, why? Maybe because it speaks of God’s tremendous redeeming love, grace, and mercy – that He and His incredible plan for our lives is just one decision away. Rahab believed and acted, choosing the Lord when given the chance; she made one decision for God and it changed her entire future, freeing her from her past. But, it didn’t end there – God blessed the decision, blessed her life, and made her redemption story a part of His master plan to redeem the entire human race.
It’s kind of fitting, don’t you think?
But, the scarlet thread doesn’t end there, right away we see it again in verse 6, “Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.”
Oh, snap! Did they have to include Bathsheba and bring up the despicably evil way David stole her from Uriah?
Do you remember the story? David sees Bathsheba, a married woman, bathing on her roof, yeah. Well, he brings her to the palace – one thing leads to another – and she’s pregnant. As idiotic as David was, he proceeds to compound his sin and stupidity by scheming and manipulating. He brings Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, back from the battlefield just so that he will go home, sleep with his wife, and then believe that the child is his when later born. But, of course, the husband was too loyal and honorable for that to work – he refuses to go home. If his friends on the battlefront can’t come home, he won’t either. David goes to plan B. He tries to get Uriah drunk, thinking that he will lose his inhibition, his principles, and will then run home to his wife. It still doesn’t work. So, David, desperately trying to cover his sin, schemes to have Uriah killed in battle, no one the wiser. It works, Uriah dies fighting for the King who takes his wife to be his own. But, it doesn’t work on God. He intervenes, calls out David through a prophet, and punishes him, all sorts of calamity befalling David and his kingdom.
But, after it all, God blesses a repentant David and his wife Bathsheba with a child, a child who would become a central figure in God’s master plan – building the long promised temple and fulfilling the crucial ancestral links to Christ Himself.
So, again, why?
Maybe because it highlights the fact that no matter how your life began, no matter the potentially horrible circumstances surrounding your birth, whether you feel like you were “supposed” to be born or not, like Solomon, God has a plan for your life! David was not “supposed” to have had Bathsheba as a wife; Solomon was not supposed to be their child. But, God turned and used that horrible situation for good, redeeming it, and bringing out of it something incredible, pointing the way to the coming Christ, who would redeem the entire world.
You see, the Word says that God knows each and every one of us before we were ever born, having already written out all of the days that were created for us. And, it also declares that we are His unique creation, made for good, with a future and a hope – regardless of how we arrive on the planet.
I am so thankful that God included people like this, those we label “scarlet letter” folks, in His plans, in the very lineage of Christ. It tells me that even though there have been times in my life, even as a Christian, where I felt so ashamed and unworthy, like I was wearing a scarlet letter for all to see, that God is still faithful. He mercifully forgives, restores, and redeems, constantly searching for us and calling to us – “Return to me that I may return to you.”
He has woven me back in to His story, using me to accomplish His plans – the extent of which I may never know – just like Rahab or Solomon.
And, He will do it for you, too!
I don’t know where you are in life, what you have gone through, or what you may be going through currently, but this is one thing I believe with all of my heart — you were made for a reason; you have a God-give purpose in this world, no matter the circumstances surrounding you, even if things feel like they have been messed up in life since the very beginning, even from birth.
If things are going crazy and you’re doing your own thing, following your own plan – He’s there, only one decision away. And, if you feel like life’s deck of cards is just stacked against you, maybe even from the very beginning — the family you were raised in, the past hurt you’ve experienced, the personal mistakes along the way – you still have purpose. You were no accident; your life is not defined by your circumstances – there is still hope.
Let the Lord guide you; let Him begin to reveal the plans He has for you – trust Him and stop beating yourself up.
God’s plans are for everyone, not just the ones that seemingly have it all together!
And, all of this I know from a “boring” old genealogical list.