The Prostitute in Jesus’ Family Tree
"Salmon generated Boaz out of Rahab" Matthew 1:5
A prostitute, a citizen of a condemned city and a condemned race. Tamar pretended to be a whore. Rahab actually was one. Before we even get her name, we are told that Joshua's spies went to the place that all undercover operatives seek out—the house of a prostitute (Joshua. 2:1).
The way Rahab is introduced in the narrative we would expect her to be a bad character. But like the Tamar story, the Lord loves to put a twist in his story.
Rahab protects the Jewish spies, guides their escape, and makes them promise they will spare her family. She testifies that she has heard about the Exodus miracle and the defeat of the Amorite kings on the east side of Jordan. She makes it clear to the spies that she has decided to cast her lot with the Lord of Heaven and Earth (Joshua 2:11), and the Lord accepts her. He not only protects her and her family when the walls of Jericho come tumbling down, but he makes her a proud mother in Israel, one of the mothers who kept alive the promised line that led from Judah to David and ultimately to Jesus.
How should I respond when the divine Author of Scripture gives a fallen woman of the night the role of a good character in his redemptive narrative?
Gail slammed the door on her mother in her early teens, ran wild on the streets of Dallas, and ended up selling her body so that she could keep getting the highs she craved. Her drug habit introduced a bug into her body—a germ that attacked her aortic valve. A surgeon at Parkland was able to put in a new valve, but warned her, "Gail, I can fix you this time. But if you get another infection, I'm not going to be able to fix you again." I met Gail soon after she was released.
A friend brought her down to Midlothian while I was working on my dissertation on the Book of Hosea. Gail was broken. Her own sister had to take her baby away from her because of her immorality and drugs. She cried as she showed me pictures of a beautiful little girl. She was desperate to get her act together so she could get her daughter back, "Dave, do I have a chance? Is it hopeless?"
My Hebrew Bible was open to Hosea, and I was able to tell her the story of God's loyal love for HIs own wife even after she played the role of a prostitute or worse since she didn't even ask for money to indulge her lust. The Lord used Hosea to give Gail His love and she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her and give her a new life. In just a few weeks, when the infection returned, Gail went Home.
Matthew's Christmas story reveals that God will not only accept a Tamar who pretends to be a prostitute, but Rahab, who was one. He accepted Gail and made her his daughter. We need to open ourselves up to this story that God tells in his Word. We must allow Him to open our hearts to all the different kinds of folks he wants to include in his Son's royal family.
LORD, thank you that Gail is with you in heaven today because she accepted the forgiveness offered by Jesus. Help more “Gails” this Christmas Season to meet your Son and be transformed by his gift.
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