Did you know that Jesus family tree actually includes a Gentile prostitute? Find out more in this episode of Five Minutes of Truth.
Family is a funny thing. These are the people we care about the most, but who can also drive us completely insane at times. But one of the most interesting aspects about family is how those who existed well into our past might have an impact on us today. For example, when I was a kid it was quite common to hear a person brag about the fact that one of their ancestors had come to America on the Mayflower.
You have others who will likewise not hesitate to mention from the moment you meet them that they have a famous relative somewhere in their genealogy. I’ve always found that a bit interesting because there should be no reason why having a famous relative from years back would reflect on my own character. It might be an interesting tidbit, but not really something to glom on to for my sake. However, people love talking about their famous relational connections…until they reach their infamous relational connections.
Just as people often co-opt the glory of a famous predecessor, likewise they often try their best to distance themselves from an ancestor that has a less than honorable story. In fact, there are a few members of Hitler’s extended family who still live in the United States. Not only do they not mention this familial connection, the males actually made a pact together to never have children so that the line would end with them. Such is the way we feel about having “unsavory” family members in our past. But Jesus didn’t feel that way.
states: “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse”. Seems like an innocuous listing of names in Jesus’ family tree and one that, if we are not careful, will cause us to miss something of the utmost importance. One of the names mentioned in that passage is Rahab. And who was Rahab? A Gentile prostitute whom God saved and used to accomplish His will and save His people.
There aren’t too many of us who would cherish, much less advertise that we had a prominent prostitute in our family tree. In fact, it is probably the last thing we would want to share with people. Yet for the last 2,000 years (and counting) every single time Jesus’ lineage is read and discussed, Rahab’s name is read and her story is discussed. And what is that story? Well, listen carefully. Because it is our story too.
Rahab’s story is told in the Old Testament book of Joshua. After the Exodus and after the Hebrews had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, God was finally going to allow His people to enter the Promised Land so called because God had promised that area to His people in a covenant He made with Abraham. There was just one problem. People already lived there.
Before they crossed over the Jordan into Canaan, Joshua, who had succeeded Moses as leader, sent two spies into the first town they would come to…Jericho. A sound military leader, Joshua wanted to know what, if any, the weak points of their defenses were. Not long after the spies made it into the city, the King of Jericho was made aware of their presence. So he dispatched his soldiers to locate and capture or kill the intruders.
Wanting to find a place where it would seem normal for two men to wander into, the spies sought shelter in the home of a “harlot” named Rahab. Though the king’s men eventually made their way to Rahab’s, she did not turn them over to the soldiers but instead hid them on her roof, though she knew they were enemies of her people. Probably wondering why she would help them, Rahab explains her decision.
She tells the spies that she had heard about how God had defeated the Egyptians at the Red Sea. She also listed two other peoples the Hebrews had fought and destroyed during their time in wilderness. More importantly, she had come to this conclusion: “For the Lord, your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath…I have shown you kindness, that you will also show kindness to my father’s house”.
She then made arrangements as to how her family would be spared in the ensuing battle and she let them go. You know the story. Jericho was defeated. Rahab and her family were spared. She became the first recorded Gentile convert. She married a Hebrew. Gave birth to Boaz (David’s great-grandfather). Her blood flowed in the veins of the Messiah. Her name is forever linked to Jesus. She was a harlot…and she is us.
Here is grace on display that is almost too overwhelming to imagine. Like Rahab, we too were citizens of a pagan culture as far away from God as we could be. Like Rahab, we prostituted our thoughts, wills, actions and views by accommodating them to sin and the world. Like Rahab, we needed saving in the very worst way. Like Rahab, if we have come to Christ, we recognize that God, is in fact, God. Like Rahab, if we have come to Christ, we will be spared from a just punishment. Like Rahab, if we have come to Christ, we are now and forever more a part of the family of Christ. How cool is that?
On behalf of all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.