~ 4 Women Tell a Story ~
One of the truly interesting aspects of the genealogy of Christ presented to us in Matthew 1 is the inclusion of four women—three named and one referred to without name. Since we believe every word of the Bible in the original languages to be not only inspired but beneficial for our learning, this fact can be puzzling.
First of all, in Jesus’ time women didn’t typically receive mention in the blood lines. At marriage the husband’s line continued and the wife’s line ended. Yet Matthew includes four women. Why?
Second, these four women were Gentile women, one Moabite, one Hittite, and two Canaanites. God had said in the Law that His people were not to intermarry with the Gentile tribes. We read for example that Abraham was instructed by God, when seeking a bride for his son Isaac, to send back to his own people to find a suitable bride. Later a similar thing was done by Isaac for his son Jacob. It was God’s arrangement that monotheism should be the prevailing belief of those who were in the line that was leading down to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in His genealogy are the names of four Gentile women! What can we learn from this? Why are these four women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ?
We need to look at the lives of each of these women. The first is Tamar (Matthew 1:3, Genesis 38). If one were given the assignment of describing her life in one word, a very good response would be “sin.” Out of the sin of Judah and Tamar were conceived twins.
The second woman is Rahab (Matthew 1:5, Joshua 2). Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, but what she is most remembered for is her “faith.” The Bible says, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31).
The third woman is Ruth (Matthew 1:5, Ruth). She was a Moabite, a delightful person, and is never seen in Scripture as a sinner. She was a woman of beauty and of character, but the Mosaic Law shut her out. The Law has always condemned even the best people that ever lived. As we reflect on what the Scripture says about Ruth, a word that often comes to mind is “grace.”
The fourth woman is unnamed in Matthew’s account—but we know it was Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6, 2 Samuel 11). Bathsheba was a Hittite. As we recall David, the king, lusted after her and sinned against her and God. The Spirit of God seems to have omitted her name since the sin was primarily David’s. As a result of their interaction, David lost his joy—but not his salvation (Psalm 51:12). Looking at what we know about Bathsheba’s life, the word that comes to mind is “security.”
In looking at these four women, we see the plan of salvation woven throughout the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The first important step in salvation is to recognize that you are a sinner and must come to Christ as a sinner (Tamar). Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
The next action is to reach out in faith (Ruth) for the salvation that was obtained at the Cross. Third, with those two steps taken, God reaches down with great grace (Ruth) and delivers you from the penalty of your sin and its grip over you. The fourth reality in the plan of salvation is the security (Bathsheba) that you have in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
SUMMARY: Creation is the foundation of the Old Testament; everything else is built upon it. The four Gospels begin the New Testament; everything else is built upon them. The genealogy of Matthew 1 is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) of the New Testament and is the necessary basis for the four Gospels.