“This is the geneaology of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham …” Matthew 1:1
Are your eyes glazing over yet? If not, keep reading. As my eyes skim through the familiar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to the less familiar Judah, Perez, Zerah, I hit Tamar.
Tamar, `twice widowed by Judah’s sons, viewed as cursed, she disguises herself as a prostitute and receives her father-in-law as her client. As a result, she conceives and gives birth two twin boys, Perez and Zerah claiming her spot in the lineage of Jesus.
And then there is Rahab, truly a prostitute, who betrays her own people in order to buy deliverance for herself and for her family. As Jericho crumbles and burns around her, Joshua and Caleb rescue Rahab and her family. Rahab built a new life with the Hebrews, and with one Hebrew particularly, Salmon. Salmon and Rahab have a baby boy, Boaz.
Enter Ruth. Ruth, a Moabite. Ruth, as lovely as her story is, as faithful as she was to her mother-in-law, as bold as she was in asking Boaz to marry her, has a nasty family history. The Moabites arose from an incestuous relationship between Abraham’s uncle, Lot, and his oldest daughter. Boaz and Ruth marry. Their great-great grandson is none other than King David.
David, claiming the beautiful Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife through adultery and murder, fathers Solomon kicking off the fourteen generations from David to the exile to Babylon.
And, of course there is Mary, an unwed teenage girl claiming that the Holy Spirit is the father of her child. Confusion, rejection, and a potential stoning figure into her story. Chosen by God, Mary is the mother of Jesus.
Five women, whose lives were touched with scandal, death, immorality, and risky behavior, chosen by God to have the pain of their own lives transformed into threads that would be woven into the beautiful tapestry of Jesus’ family history, his royal lineage, a lineage of grace. I love it!
This Advent season, in the midst of the shopping, the decorating, the baking, let your heart be stirred by the narratives of these five women. Francine Rivers has done a beautiful job of bringing the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, and Mary to life in her Lineage of Grace series.
Francine wrote these novellas individually, but published them as one volume in 2009. You can find them individually, or in this compilation. My plan is to read about one novella each week of Advent. Although, they are so compelling, I will have to exercise great restraint to not read them all in one week. I’m reserving my copy from the library. Care to join me and have your heart stirred by the beautiful stories in this Lineage of Grace?