“And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “ We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.””
Ruth 4:11-12 NKJV
I finished reading through Ruth this morning, with much emotion and tears of joy. I was reminded of God’s propensity to use unlikely people for His work. God is sovereign, and His ways are not our ways. He has chosen to use those that society has the tendency to cast aside, in order to fulfill His holy purpose.
I think of the geneology of Jesus in Matthew, and I see His heart clearly depicted and the connections that are there.
“Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.”
Matthew 1:3, 5-6 NKJV
God took some of the darkest moments in the bible to illustrate His grace. I think of Judah who, having lost two sons and then denies Tamar the opportunity to conceive by a third son. She dressed as a sex worker, and Judah, enticed by his own lustful appetites goes into her. She is shrewd and asked for personal items of value as surety from him. When Tamar is later found to be pregnant, she is threatened with stoning as a harlot. She presents the items to Judah and he realizes that her righteousness is greater than his, as his hypocrisy is on display.
Tamar is in the geneology of Jesus having dressed as a harlot. She was not the first. Earlier, we read of Rahab, who sheltered the two spies in Jericho. She acted by faith, and followed a God she did not know, but did certainly fear.
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
Hebrews 11:31 NKJV
Salmon the spy saw her for her faith, and not what she had done for a living. He married her. What a wonderful picture of Christ and His bride. We were harlots in the world, until Jesus claimed us. Salmon met her where she was, a human, a creation of God, His child beloved and adored. God so loved her that He listed in the geneology of His Son.
Rahab gave birth to Boaz, who received Ruth as His wife. It doesn’t stop there. David fell into the sin of adultery and then murder as took Uriah’s wife. That unholy union begot Soloman, the great, wise king.
God uses people from every walk of life to fulfill His purpose. Those of us who have been in the faith for a long time have the tendency to dwell on surface details, or look at family trees. We inbreed within our holy huddles, and forget about those on the outside who need the Lord. We like the “good” families, but we look down on those who come from difficulty. In doing so, we miss out on fresh blooded people that God can use.
For years I was blessed to be part of the ministry at the Fort Des Moines Correctional facility. I had the opportunity to minister to many prisoners and volunteers. When I think of those men I worked alongside, many of them were unlikely. Probably the most unlikely is the man I see in the mirror.
I would definitely be one deemed unlikely to be used by God. I also think of my friends Tom and Joel, two men who made mistakes in life resulting in incarceration. Both encountered Jesus and were saved. Both are great servants of the Lord.
We are servants of the Most High God, made worthy by Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
Brothers and sisters, let us consider those we see each day, who appear to be unlikely from the perspective of God.
He has the final word in whose we are, and who He will use. There will be many names in the Lamb’s book of Life that may be surprising. I think of David Berkowitz, who terrorized New York City for months as the Son of Sam killer. He was saved from His sins in his encounter with the Lord. He can now called a son of God.
You may be one whose life has not reflected the glory of God. You may be a sinner, caught in all manner of bad behavior. You might be one caught up in a sin/confess cycle, drained of desire to be intimate with God.
Know this: Jesus died for your sins, and you too can be forgiven. Simply pray and ask Him to forgive you, then place your faith in Him. If you know, repent and ask the Lord to quicken your dead parts, that you be a servant once again.
As you trust Him, Jesus will bring about change through the power of the Holy Spirit, and you will move from unlikely to likely, from lost to saved, and you will be added to that great cloud of witnesses.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
As witness of God’s power and glory and as ambassadors, let us seek to be holy as we go and proclaim the Gospel. There are many out there who can be useful to the Kingdom, though they might appear to be unlikely in the eyes of flesh, but shine brightly through spiritual eyes.
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