WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? -2

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

whose in your family treeThis morning I’m preaching the second message in our miniseries titled “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” This is still part of our ongoing series on the life of Christ from all four gospels. In this subseries we are looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. Having a genealogy was not uncommon when it came to the biography of a famous person but what is odd are the names of 4 women of questionable character.

Matthew 1:1-6 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2   Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Overall Background: Matthew being a tax collector knew how to keep records. He was used to writing names of people and families. It was not an accident that he wrote four names of women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Not illustrious women like Sarah, Rebecca, or Rachel but Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba – women who had an embarrassing past. Why did he do that? If you were here last week, you may remember that he had that because he wanted his readers to know that God did not choose just the best of the best to bring His Son into this world but also the undesirables. He wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the Savior of the decent people as well as the outcast. He wanted his readers to know the grace of God even in lineage of Jesus.

Application: This morning, how do you see yourself? Do you think that God is only seeking the brightest and the best or does He also work with those who are weak and prone to failures? Do you think that God plays favorites or do you believe that He loves everyone? Do you think that Jesus died only for the good boys and girls or do you know that if you were the only one in the world, He would have still given His life for you?

This morning we will see through the life of Rahab that God doesn’t play favorites but He does show His favor on those who are willing to humble themselves before Him.

I. RAHAB THE PROSTITUTE

The first time we meet Rahab is in Joshua 2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

Background: Rahab was a citizen of Jericho. Before we try to understand Rahab, we need to understand Jericho a little bit. It was a prominent city for several reasons:

  • First, it was a border city on the west side of the Jordan River. The people of Israel led by Joshua had made it to the east side of the Jordan River. It was situated between east and west and north and south. If you win here, the word would travel to the east and the west and north and south that you are going to win.

Jericho

Jericho1

Jericho2

Jericho Tower

  • Second, it was an oasis – not because of the Jordan River but because of a perennial spring that was there for thousands of years. All to the east was an arid desert but Jericho was the picture of lush fertile vegetation. It was known as “the city of palm trees.” It was also symbolic of the transition of God’s people from being desert wanderers to being inhabitants in a land flowing with milk and honey.
  • Third, it was a well-guarded city. Archaeologists have debated over Jericho for a long time but one thing that is clear is that it had Gene Fackler - Jericho wallsmassive defenses. All around the city was a mud embankment. This was stabilized by a 15 feet high stone wall. On top of that was a mud brick wall about 6 feet thick and about 18 feet high. Then, a second wall further in on the top of the embankment. It had double protection. Later on in chapter 6 we read how God commanded Joshua that the only way to bring down the wall was for them to march around the city with the ark of the covenant for 6 days and on the 7th day they had to march around it 7 times. Only then will the walls come down. By the way, Rahab lived on the wall of this city. Joshua 2:15 says, “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.”

Not only was Rahab a citizen of such a prominent city but she was also a prominent woman. When the word got out that some foreigners had come to Rahab’s brothel, the king could have just ransacked her house but he didn’t. Instead, Joshua 2:3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” She’s more like Madam Rahab than some no name prostitute from the street corner.

Why did I go into all this? Rahab – a citizen of a prominent city, a prominent woman, someone whom even the king feared – must have been quite a woman. I can picture her as someone who was proud, brash, and arrogant. She had made it through the school of hard knocks. Her favorite line was probably – “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” She didn’t owe anybody anything. She had the dirty little secret on every prominent man in the city.

There are 2 kinds of people when it comes to sin – those who are ashamed of it and those who are proud of it.

Application: Has your past brought pride in your life? Sometimes when people mess up, they become proud of their messes. “I do that. So what?” “Are you better than me?” “Nobody was there to help me and ain’t nobody gonna teach me how I can or can’t live my life.” James 4:6 “…God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” You cannot receive God’s grace until you humble yourself.

II. RAHAB THE PROSELYTE

The soldiers came looking for the two spies but Rahab had hidden them on the rooftop under stalks of flax. But listen to what happens after the soldiers left – 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,

Now listen very carefully – what we are about to read is the Old Testament sinner’s prayer.

9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.

Rahab from The Bible Series#1. She admits that that her gods and the gods of her people cannot give her courage against the God of Israel. In other words, she admits that she is a sinner.

10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

#2. She acknowledges that there’s only one true God and He is the God of the people of Israel. In other words, she admits that salvation is of the Jews.

11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

#3. She confesses her faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In other words, she asks the God of Israel to be her Savior.

Again, this is the Old Testament sinner’s prayer.

Application: Have you ever prayed to be saved? Romans 10:9-10 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Maybe someone here truly believes that they are saved. Do you know when you got saved? If not, choose today as your day.

III. RAHAB THE PEACE MAKER

Rahab could have said – “Good now that we’ve got that settled! Can I just come with you guys? Or, just remember me when you come against our city. I’ll shore appreciate it!”

But listen to her – 12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

I’m just using a little bit of sanctified imagination – more than likely her father, mother, brothers, and sisters did not care much for her. After all, she was a prostitute. She was an embarrassment. She probably was not welcome to family reunions and birthdays and any celebrations. She was an outcast. As far as her family was concerned, she was as good as dead. But, that didn’t matter now. She was saved. She was a different person. Something happens when people truly get saved. They want to tell others about Jesus, starting with friends and family. By the way, that’s not very easy because they know all your faults and weaknesses. 2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

So the men tell her “Alright, only if you don’t tell anyone.” Then verse 18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.

Just like the night of the Passover in Exodus 12:7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.

Application: You can imagine someone saying, “That is superstitious. I’m not doing that.” Another saying, “I don’t want to mess up the door. Let’s tie some beautiful words or some gold or some jewels or even a spotless lamb to the door. How about we put the blood on the inside and not on the outside? The Blood had to be on the outside.

So also the scarlet cord had to hung on the window for all to see.

You cannot be saved by your reputation, your good deeds, and your courage. Its only by the blood of Jesus Christ.

What did she do? 21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

Application: Who do you know right now who is lost? Have you talked to them about Jesus?

IV. RAHAB THE PRINCESS

As I was wrapping up this sermon I kept feeling that something was missing. So I looked up the names in the genealogy again. 4 …Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Where have I heard the name Nashon? Numbers 2:3 On the east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies; and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be the leader of the children of Judah.” 4 And his army was numbered at seventy-four thousand six hundred.

Nashon was the father of Salmon who married Rahab. Salmon was a prince. Hence Rahab was a princess.

Application: Do you know that through Jesus Christ you and I are sons and daughters of the King of Kings?

Do you need God’s grace in your life? Humble yourself before Him today. Receive Jesus as your Savior. Trust Him with your life. He has great things in store for you.

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whose in your family treeWe’re in our ongoing series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” For the next few weeks I will be preaching a miniseries from Matthew chapter 1, titled, “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” All of us would like to think that we have some royalty or famous personality in our family tree when what we find are just some common people and some crazy ones! Someone said – “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out!” This morning we will see the family tree of Jesus and it had some nuts in it too. The lesson there is that God’s grace can cover you no matter who you have in your past.

Matthew 1:1-6 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2   Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Overall Background: Matthew began his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t unusual in ancient times to begin the biography of a famous character with their genealogy. It was a matter of pride to list all the great individuals in one’s pedigree.

For e.g. Some years back I was reading the account of the life of General Robert E. Lee. His family tree could be traced all the way back to the Norman Conquest when his ancestor entered England in 1066 AD with William the Conqueror. His great-great-great-grandfather Richard Lee came to Jamestown with hardly anything and in time became one of the richest men in the Virginia colony. Later his father Henry Lee fought in the Revolutionary War and became the ninth governor of Virginia. Some of the family included William Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, and Zachary Taylor.

So also, Matthew mentioned the “illustrious” names such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the patriarchs. He mentioned David – the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart. He mentioned Solomon – the king of Israel and the wisest man who ever lived. But, he did something that no genealogy does. He also mentioned some “not so illustrious” names. In fact, he mentioned the names of four women, which was very unusual. Not only that, but Matthew chose to mention women who were not exemplary characters like Sarah or Rebecca or Rachel. Instead, he mentioned Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba – women who had an embarrassing past. Past that we would rather leave buried in history.

Why did Matthew do that? Some of you may have been through this series before. Because he wanted his readers to know that God did not choose just the best of the best to bring His Son into this world but also the undesirables. He wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the Savior of the decent people as well as the outcast. He wanted his readers to know the grace of God in Jesus’ lineage.

Application: This morning, I’m sure there are people here who wish or have wished at some point that they had a different family or that they were born under different circumstances. Or you look at your past and wish it were different. But God in His sovereign grace has given you the life He has. Stop seeing yourself as a mistake. He allowed your family tree to grow as it did. Trust Him.

In this message we will look at the life of the first woman who is mentioned – Tamar. As we walk through her life, let God show you the same grace that she received.

1. INNOCENT BYSTANDER

Background: The first time we meet Tamar is in Genesis 38 where she is just an innocent bystander. Actually, the focus is not on Tamar but on the family of Jacob. If you remember, in Genesis 37, Jacob had sent his son Joseph to check on his older brothers. When he finally found them in Dothan, he wasn’t prepared for what was about to come. His brothers hated him and when he was far off, they conspired to kill him. But the older brother Reuben talked them out of it to just throw him into a pit. He was hoping that he could later get him out and take him back home.

Reuben probably left to check on the sheep or something and just then the brothers saw a company of Ishmaelite traders coming and one of the brothers named Judah (remember that name) said in Genesis 37:26-28 26 …“What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened.

Judah did not have the guts to stand up and say – “This is not right. Let’s not do this to him. He’s our brother. Our father has sent him to us.” Instead, he decided to do play on words. At least we’re not going to kill him.

Application: Be careful about doing play on words. God knows the heart. We cannot fool Him. He knows when we have sin in our hearts.

So in Genesis 37:28 “…Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.”

Now Reuben comes and looks in the pit and its empty. He is distraught. What’s their plan? They take a young goat and kill it and dip Joseph’s tunic in its blood and take it to their father Jacob. He is heart-broken and says – “I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.”

But look in the next chapter Genesis 38:1-2 It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her and went in to her.

Judah is thinking – “Out of sight, out of mind. As long as I don’t have to see my father’s face, I don’t have to think of Joseph”

Application: People do all kinds of things to get away from sin. The only place to deal with sin is to get on your face before God and say – “Here I am. Deal with me as you see fit.” He will bring out the knife and scalpel. It will hurt but the result will be healing. If you run from it, it will only fester.

And fester it did – Genesis 38:3-7 3 So she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him. 6 Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the root. Judah – “You killed somebody’s child. Now, you know what it means to loose your child.”

Application: How can we teach our children to do what’s right when there is deception in our own hearts.

 What is even sadder is that Tamar became the innocent bystander who got hurt in this sin.

2. ACTIVE SINNER

Now Tamar’s first husband is dead and so according to the laws of the Levirate marriage, Judah told his next son Onan to marry Tamar. But Onan refused to father a child by Tamar and Genesis 38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.

As we read this account, we feel for Tamar. One after the other she has sorrow in her life because of someone else’s sin.

How does Judah handle this? Genesis 38:11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

But Judah has no intention of letting Tamar marry his third son.

What a mess! As Walter Scott wrote in his poem Marmion: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”

How does Tamar handle this? Genesis 38:13-15   13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to TimnahTamar to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.

Now it’s payback time.

Application: Tit for tat never works. You can spend all your life planning on paying back someone for what they’ve done to you but revenge will not satisfy.

Now Tamar has gone from an innocent bystander to being an active sinner.

3. GRACE RECIPIENT

Background: Tamar makes a deal with Judah for a young goat from the flock. Of course, he doesn’t have the goat with him so as collateral she asks for his signet ring, cord, and his staff. Later when Judah sent the goat, no harlot was found obviously.

Now listen to Judah’s plan. Still the same old weasel – Genesis 38:23 Then Judah said, “Let her take them for herself, lest we be shamed; for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.” Now 3 months later, it was obvious that Tamar was pregnant.

So listen to Judah’s indignation – Genesis 38:24 “…So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Quite amazing to me how soft we are at our own sins and harsh at the sins of others.

For e.g. People blocking each other in traffic on the closed lane.

But when she confronts Judah with his signet, cord, and staff, it is obvious who the father was. Listen to Judah’s response in Genesis 38:26 “So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.”

Now we could end this incident here with a few reminders on “what goes around comes around” and “what you reap is what you sow” but the incident is still not over.

Tamar was pregnant with twins. She goes into labor and one of them appears to be the first and so the midwife ties a scarlet thread on his hand but listen to what happens next. Genesis 38:29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.

Perez became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. As Matthew 19:30 says “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It’s a message of grace.

Application: You can either blame your past for all the mess you are in or you can let God bring His grace to bear upon you and bless you in spite of what you had to go through. It doesn’t matter what skeletons you have in your past, God is able to use you if you let Him. The place to begin is by receiving Jesus as your Savior.

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