Let me start today’s article with a couple of questions that might seem like they are completely different. Do you ever feel like you are an outsider and unloved because of that? Someone who doesn’t belong to something? Or even worse: you feel like someone who doesn’t belong anywhere? That feeling could be because of where you were born or how you were raised or that could be because of how you feel about yourself and the things you have done. The second question seems VERY different, but I need to ask it. Do you feel that you don’t understand God from one Testament to another, or that He changes a bit? People I’ve talked to say that the God of the Old Testament is one of wrath, fury and vengeance, while the one in the New Testament, portrayed through Jesus, is one of grace, love and compassion.
Now you can go ahead and say, “Chris, those two questions honestly DON’T have anything in common.” I will respond with “Wait just a moment, and let me introduce you to a few people and I’ll show you why they do.”
So enough talking, and more introducing:
To get to my point I would like to go to a part of the Bible that most people gloss over and completely ignore most of the time, but it gives you some answers to those questions above. Go to Matthew Chapter 1! Yes, we are going to a list of names, but there is something very important that we can find even here that addresses those two questions!
When you start to look at this list you see 46 names. But within these names are a few unique things that need to be pointed out. First off, if you think your family is crazy or messed up, don’t worry! The same can be said of Jesus’ family. You have great men of faith like Noah, Abraham and David, then you have some truly terrible people like Rehoboam, Ahaz and Manasseh. There are also a couple of people that felt like outsiders! Let’s go in order:
Tamar: She married the son of Judah who happened to not be a real nice guy, so God had him die. Because she had no children, Jewish tradition states that the brother of the deceased had to produce a child with her for her to have heirs. However, the brother refused to and later dies. So we move on to brother number three. Wait! No we don’t, he isn’t “of age”. So Judah tells her to go back to her family and that they will figure something out from there, in the meantime planning to keep his third son far away from her. Now tell me this wouldn’t make you feel like an outsider. Long story short, Judah’s wife dies. He heads towards Tamar’s family’s town, and upon hearing this, Tamar dresses like a prostitute to deceive Judah into impregnating her and Judah can’t control himself. So now she wasn’t wanted and then gets pregnant based on a lie and deception. Not a great start for our characters.
Next up is Rahab: Where to even start? She was not only an “outsider” because she was a Canaanite, but she had an undesirable past as well. She was a prostitute. Not playing one like Tamar, but WAS one. So that is two strikes against her. Let’s just go on before finding strike 3!
Well, we didn’t have to go far. Rahab’s son was Boaz. Well we don’t have to go far to see another “outsider” get introduced. Boaz eventually marries a lady by the name of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite. Their beginning and history is not something that you would share at a family dinner for sure! So she was DEFINITELY an “outsider.”
We only have to go a couple of generations to find our next person and this has to be rough because not only is she mentioned as the mother of someone, but she is also mentioned as the wife of another man. Ouch! Yes we are talking about Bathsheba. A lady who committed adultery with a king no less. Then if that wasn’t enough, she did nothing to persuade that same king from killing her husband. Sure it doesn’t say this in scripture, but what man really makes a decision without consulting a woman it would affect first? Either way, God punishes them both with the loss of their child which was conceived by that sin.
That leads us to the end of the geneology. We have a young girl who gets pregnant outside of marriage. Which is a HUGE no-no in this time. Not only that, the father wasn’t even the guy she was supposed to marry. Of course if you know anything about the Bible you know we are talking about Mary herself. Just imagine a teenager trying to explain to her family and friends that God himself granted her to be pregnant and living in a society that would GREATLY disapprove. You think she felt like an “outsider?” I do.
This doesn’t even talk about two other women who weren’t mentioned by name, but we know them based on their stories. Two sisters who married the same guy. Both of which had trouble getting pregnant at different times. One of which was loved more than the other. Both of which used maidservants to try to gain the affection of their husband. My goodness this is messy! But Leah and Rachel fit this mold as well. Oh, did I mention they were “foreigners” as well? Yes, they are of Syrian descent.
Now, why do I bring up all of these women with the two questions from earlier. Well to make a point of course! So let’s look at those questions again. Do you feel like an outsider and unloved? Did God change between Testaments? Well I’m here to tell you that the answer to both of those questions lies within these women’s stories! All of these women were outsiders in some way or another. Every single one of them had little place in the society they lived, simply because they were women. Add the fact that they were from different nationalities, or countries and the fact some of them did not so great things. They should have all been punished and ignored by “the God of the Old Testament.” But yet instead they were given great rewards. They were allowed to not only be loved by men, they were loved by God and became a part of His family! These women who could have easily been “cast off” and meant nothing were wives, mothers and grandmothers of people that played huge roles in our faith and the lineage of Jesus Himself! This “God of the Old Testament” proved His grace, love and compassion in allowing these “outsiders” to not only have faith in Him, but again be a literal part of His family. So while you may see yourself as someone who isn’t like others or doesn’t deserve love because of what you have done, remember that the God we have “in the New Testament” is the exact same God these ladies had in the Old Testament and He wants you to be a part of His family too!
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