My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the begats

I'm watching a documentary on the twin towers on the History Channel. I love history and I love New York. New York history is about as exciting as it gets for me... the only thing better is Broadway history...

Well, and Biblical history. I've always tried to do more than just read the words in the Bible... I've tried to understand the context of it all. Today Pastor Jim preached from the "begats" in Matthew. For those who aren't a product of a southern baptist three times a week church going family and therefore not quite as familiar with the contents of the Bible... the "begats" are parts of the Bible where geneology is given. The New Testament book of Matthew starts with the begats of Jesus through Joseph's lineage.

*sidebar* if you want to study Jesus' lineage through Mary, you'll want to look at Luke 3. These two family trees are fairly similar from Adam through David... but the last twenty five generations before Jesus are a bit different. Also, the account in Matthew starts at Abraham and works forward... the record in Luke starts with Jesus' generation and works backwards all the way to Adam.

The context is important for several reasons... reading through the geneology may seem inconsequential... I mean... on the surface it seems like you're not getting much spiritual guidance from a verse like Matthew 1:5 "Salmon the father of Boaz whose mother was Rahab. Boaz the father of Obed whose mother was Ruth." Not deep theological stuff... unless you understand the context of Old Testament history... and know that Rahab was a prostitute who helped hide Israelite spies in Jericho. Or that Ruth was a Moabite widow who by the Grace of God met Boaz - her "kinsman redeemer" who fell in love with her and gave her a child - Obed - who was the grandfather of David, who wrote many of the Psalms and figures prominently in Old Testament history. And David was a man after God's own heart who also had several wives and killed a man so that he could take his wife - Bathsheba - and through her came Solomon, author of Proverbs.

The Moabites, if you don't know - were a tribe that began from an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter - the original "In-bred Jeds" and they were scorned by the rest of the Israelites. Therefore it took a lot of love for Boaz to overcome those racial prejudices to marry Ruth. Read the book of Ruth... it's one of the sweetest love stories in the Bible. If you don't own a Bible you can just go to

That's just one little verse of the geneology of Jesus. There are 42 generations listed in Matthew from Abraham through Jesus.... most with their own stories and character studies and flaws and...

And when you look at all these - dare I say - broken people, who God not only used in a powerful way in their own lifetimes but through whom God incarnate, Jesus Christ, was born. Jesus was born into a family where there was a long history of Jerry Springer-esque stories... and I say that in all reverence. I think this is the message of the "begats". Jesus was one of us.

For me... as one of the broken people of this generation... I find great spiritual guidance in the knowledge of Jesus' background. It means that my boys have a chance at greatness, despite the drama in their geneology. If God can use Rahab... who is always referred to in the Bible as "Rahab the prostitute"... she was forgiven but she was always defined by her background. Maybe to give perspective to how far she had come...? Surely God can use someone like me. If Ruth can find love - despite racial prejudices and loneliness and homelessness - maybe I can too?

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. The first week was hope. The second week was peace. The third week of Advent symbolizes joy. Hope. Peace. Joy. Three things I definitely seek! I wish them all three for all of you.


Big Mark 243 said...

This was truly an ensightful, and for me also enlightening entry regard you. I am so glad that you were able to reach this conclusion about yourself. I have always been bothered by 'faithful' who can't understand that they are not beyond being reclaim.

Also, it was notable that you mention how people who were 'broken' also was used by God to do great work and play great roles. Good for you ... we would have such lively discussions!!

Beth said...

A lot of people forget that New York City is one of the oldest in the country. My pal RaQuel is a native New Yorker and an amateur historian when it comes to her city. She has found little-known forts in Central Park, and knows lots of cool things about the Village and other areas. I'll look for the website she sent me about Forgotten New York and send it to you. Neat stuff!

Hugs, Beth

Barbara said...

First of all I too love NYC. I have dreamed of visiting or living there since I was a teen if not before.
The rest of your entry was beautiful. I thought about Jesus genealogy earlier in the year and in was comforting to me that God chose the people he did to be in his earthly family. Made me feel that yes there was hope and acceptance for me too.
Our pastor spoke on the meaning of JOY Jesus Others Yourself = JOY cool huh?

Tina of Moon Shine said...

this was a beautiful, and informative, entry. let's see, Peace is the one I am lacking, but it will come.
take care

Myra said...

I like you you translate the word and make it real, how it pertains to you right now. That is the power of God's word, no matter what the date on the calendar, or the circumstances in your life, you can always find the answer. His word is timeless.

Wendy in Oz said...

Really cool entry!


Wendy in Oz

Anonymous said...

So there's a joke about Jews and being tired of hearing about Christmas in which a Christian asks a Jewish person, "what gives? Christmas is such a joyous time of the year!"

... and the Jewish guy answers, "Do you know what it's like to walk around for a month constantly hearing about the one Jewish Guy who actually met his mother's expectations?"