Tuesday, May 28, 2024

God Goes Early

It's tempting to read right past all of the genealogies in the Bible. Adam begat Seth, Jesse begat David, Mary begat Jesus...and in between, dozens of names we don't recognize and...what does it even matter?

Sometimes, we see a name or two that we do recognize, and it changes - at least temporarily - the way that we think about things. For example, when we see Boaz in the genealogy of Jesus, we remember the story of Ruth and how this man was a kinsman-redeemer, and that is important. It changes how we think of things. Or we see Rahab's name, and we remember the prostitute who was faithful to a people she didn't even know because they were the Lord's people, even though she didn't really know Him, either. And that changes the way that we think about things. 

We see sinners and saints and the redeemed and the regenerate in these genealogies, and that's important, but we see something else, too. 

We see God working from the very beginning toward the fulfillment of His promises. 

One of the places that I see this very profoundly is in the genealogy of David in 1 Chronicles, through the story of Judah and Tamar. 

You might remember the story - Judah has three sons. The first son is unfaithful and wicked, so he is killed, and the second son, the same. Judah fears losing all three of his sons, so he doesn't give the younger brother to Tamar, leaving her widowed and alone. After a bit, she knows that Judah is in town, so she dresses herself as a prostitute and sleeps with him. (Apparently, Judah is the type of guy who is okay with sleeping with a prostitute in a strange town, but that's maybe another story for another day.) She then gives birth to twins - Perez and Zerah. 

When you read this story in its context, way back in Genesis, you think...okay, Judah deserved that. He was supposed to take care of this woman and continue his line through her, on account of her marriage vows with his oldest son, and he didn't; so he deserves to be duped into thinking she's a prostitute and now having twins to take care of through her. And it seems validating for the woman and a pretty decent outcome all around. 

But there's more than that. Because the truth is that God needed for Judah to have a son in order to fulfill the promise He was making to mankind. We call our Lord the Lion of Judah for a reason. Israel's kingship descended from Judah for a reason. But in order for that kingship to begin, Judah has to have...descendants. Which he's not going to have because he won't give his youngest son to marriage, so the only way that we get to Jesus is through a fake prostitute who is really a woman scorned and the very legitimate, though-seems-illegitimate, birth of twin boys to a man who didn't know who he was sleeping with. 

And in 1 Chronicles, we discover that one of those twins, Perez, is the direct ancestor of David, son of Jesse, the king after God's own heart and embodiment of the promise and hope of Israel. 

God was working on that all the way back in Genesis, when Judah almost dropped the ball and ruined everything. No way God was going to let that happen.

God is there early, working on the promises before we even know He's making them. Doing good before the sun rises. Blessing us before we even know it. 

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