A number of years ago, I met an amazingly beautiful woman named Miss Lillian. I worked at a physical therapy clinic at the time and Miss Lillian would come in occasionally to exercise and walk on the treadmill.
Meeting her for the first time, I could see by her outer appearance that she had suffered through something very great. Looking into her eyes, I could see behind her pain… and beyond…to something so very special and really remarkable about her.
What I saw was her great love and passion for the Lord…You see Miss Lillian was burned very badly in a car fire. She was hit from behind by a hit and run car and her car ignited with her 2 young boys in the back seat. Her boys did not make it. Not only did she suffer 90% of her body being burned and many other internal injuries, the fact that she is even alive today is truly a miracle by the hand of God.
As our friendship grew in this time, Miss Lillian and I had many encouraging conversations with one another…more like her encouraging me… and one instance I remember her sharing with me her thoughts while she laid in the hospital bed after this horrible tragedy.
She said she couldn’t help but wonder why the Lord didn’t just take her with her children. I mean why would the Lord allow her to live and suffer physically like this…not to mention the heartbreaking pain of losing her children!
Why? Because God had an extraordinary purpose for Miss Lillian…a purpose beyond Miss Lillian…
To be a light to the lost…an encouragement to the discouraged… a prayer warrior to the hurting…always standing in the gap and crying out to the Lord on their behalf.
Yes…Miss Lillian is truly a remarkable woman. Yes…God had and still has an extraordinary purpose… a purpose that goes beyond her pain…a purpose that goes beyond her suffering…a purpose that goes beyond her questions and doubts…a purpose that goes beyond her appearance…a purpose that goes beyond herself.
Oh, how truly awesome is our God! He never ceases to amaze me!
A God who takes ordinary people with all their flaws, failures, and pain…like Miss Lillian…and fulfills His extraordinary purposes through them.
A God who takes ordinary people with all their flaws, failures, and pain…like you and like me…and fulfills His extraordinary purposes through them.
A God who took 4 ordinary women in the Bible with all their flaws, failures, and pain and fulfilled one extraordinary purpose through them…the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Ordinary is defined in the dictionary as “of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional; plain or undistinguished; somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.
In Matthew 1, we can see the genealogy of Jesus, which for many of us, is a chapter we might just skip…because really it’s just a long list of names! But if we skip it or move too quickly though it, we may just miss something that I believe is so important and truly extraordinary…that there are 4 women besides Jesus’ mother Mary mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy! You might say…so what? Why is this significant?
Well, this is so significant because first of all, it is very unusual for women’s names to be found in Jewish genealogy. The Jewish blood line always dealt with the father, son, the grandson, etc. No records were kept concerning the mother. And furthermore, these four women were not even Jewish! …They were Gentiles!
To top it off…these women mentioned were not highly esteemed women…they were ordinary women who each experienced something that marred them in some way…they were ordinary women who had flaws, failures, and pain…yet the Lord chose them to be in the genealogy of His Son.
These four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus are…
Rahab (with Salmon)
Ruth (with Boaz)
Bathsheba (with David)
The ancestry of Jesus Christ which includes these four women…all Gentiles…makes it clear that God must have some definite purpose in the inclusion of their names. An examination of these four women will make that purpose apparent.
Please read the accounts of these 4 women in the Bible for greater detail as I summarize them here.
The story of Tamar is found in Genesis 38. Tamar married Er…one of the first born sons of Judah and his Canaanite wife Shua. Tamar’s husband Er was very wicked so God put him to death before they had any children.
Following ancient Middle Eastern custom, Er’s brother Onan was supposed to marry the now widowed Tamar and give her a son as an heir for his dead brother. But Onan refused and God put him to death too for his wickedness. Pretty crazy…I know!
This can get a bit confusing…but stay with me here! As time passed, Tamar saw that Judah’s third son was not going to marry her so what did Tamar do? She pretended to be a prostitute and had sex with Judah…her father-in-law! Yes, this would be considered incest!
Tamar becomes pregnant with twin boys, Perez and Zerah, and amazingly Perez is in the ancestral line of the Savior of our world, Jesus.
Tamar sinned and yet through her sin and moral downfall, God chose to mention her in connection with the lineage of Jesus Christ!
The story of Rahab is found in Joshua 2. When the Israelites were about to conquer the land of Cannaan, they sent spies into Jericho, who stayed at “the house of a prostitute named Rahab.” (Joshua 2:1) We see here that Rahab was a prostitute!
The king of Jericho wanted to kill the spies, but Rahab helped them escape. When Jericho was destroyed, Rahab and her family were spared.
What is interesting here is that the Old Testament doesn’t tell us what happened to Rahab, but Matthew tells us that she was an ancestor of King David. God again chose to mention her in connection with the lineage of Jesus Christ!
The story of Ruth is found in the Old Testament book Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess. To give you a little background…The Moabite religion worshiped a god called Chemosh and their religion was actually quite awful…worship rites sometimes included child sacrifice! Can you even imagine!
And furthermore, as a Moabitess, Ruth was under a curse. Deuteronomy 23:3 tells us that because of a certain sin the Moabites had committed no Moabite or any descendants “may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the 10th generation.”
Really? Then we see that in fewer than 10 generations, God anointed one of those descendants as Israel’s king…King David! Isn’t it interesting that the very woman that God’s law shut out is found in the ancestry of Jesus Christ? That God again chose to mention her in connection with the lineage of Jesus Christ?!
There is so much more to the story of Ruth that you have got to check out on your own!
Bathsheba, “The Wife of Uriah”
The story of Bathsheba is found in 2 Samuel 11. Interestingly, depending on the version, Matthew does not always mention her name Bathsheba but sometimes only as “the wife of Uriah.”
Bathsheba’s husband Uriah was out fighting battles for David, when David noticed Bathsheba bathing from the palace rooftop. He entertained the temptation and thus committed adultery with her. Not only did Bathsheba become pregnant but then David arranged for Uriah’s death while he was in battle. Although this child died, David’s 2nd child with Bathsheba was Solomon, the next king.
Bathsheba, “the wife of Uriah” is included in the royal line from David to Jesus Christ! God again chose to mention her in connection with the lineage of Jesus Christ!
When we examine these women, we see that they all were quite ordinary and even more importantly, they all experienced something that scarred their lives, yet God in His grace chose to use them not only in the life of Israel but ultimately in the genealogy of Jesus.
Despite their pain, despite their failures, despite their insecurities, despite even their sin, God chose them…ordinary women with all their flaws and imperfections and mistakes…to accomplish one extraordinary purpose…the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! We can truly see the hand of God overseeing their lives and overruling their liabilities.
Do you feel ordinary…or as the definition states…somewhat inferior, mediocre, unexceptional?
Do you feel that you have made too many mistakes…have too many flaws…experienced too many failures…suffered too much pain… for God to use you and fulfill His extraordinary purposes through you?
Think again my sweet friend…God uses very ordinary people to fulfill His extraordinary purposes. And yes, He will use you…just as He used these 4 ordinary women…just as He continues to use Miss Lillian…just as He continues to use me.
1) Do you feel ordinary…or as the definition states…somewhat inferior, mediocre, unexceptional?
2) Do you feel that you have made too many mistakes…have too many flaws…experienced too many failures…suffered too much pain… for God to use you and fulfill His extraordinary purposes through you?
1) God has plan and purpose for you and your life…an extraordinary purpose…a purpose far greater than you…and beyond you. Trust Him today that despite your flaws, failures, and pain, He will use you to fulfill His purposes.
2) Be willing to be used by God and don’t resist His plan for your life. His plans for you are “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV