Deep darkness is unnerving. Maybe you’ve experienced it while camping. The night is moonless, the trees thick overhead. Your campsite is at the far end of the road, and you’ve left your flashlight in the tent. The fire has died. You can see nothing. No silhouettes, no shadows, no specks of light in the distance. Nothing. [Read more…]
You can hear the resolve in Esther’s voice: “If I die, I die.” She’s not resigning herself to her fate; she’s facing it head on.
She has just learned from her cousin Mordecai that Haman is more than scheming to kill the Jewish people. Haman has convinced the king to issue a decree that authorizes the governors to kill all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day. [Read more…]
Can you imagine such a showdown between God and some other god today?
Say the other god is happiness—well meaning, certainly, but not a path to salvation. Who would win in a competition between the Triune God and happiness? [Read more…]
The temple is more than a temple. You’ve probably figured that out by this point in Advent. All of these Old Testament stories point beyond themselves. Like little mirrors, they catch the light of Christ’s birth, his life and death, his resurrection and ascension. Their reflective beams even give us a glimpse of what’s to come—his ultimate return to set all things right. [Read more…]
King and shepherd: the two seem like polar opposites. Kings sit on thrones. They wear expensive clothes and talk to important people. They are calculating and political and oversee whole nations. Shepherds, on the other hand, stand on the hillsides. They wear clothes that can get dirty, and they talk mostly to sheep. They are cautious and patient and oversee a single flock. [Read more…]
It’s hard not to love the story of an underdog. Like so many people in Jesus’s family history, David is an unlikely pick. He’s not the firstborn. In fact, he’s the baby of the family, the last of Jesse’s eight sons. In his life thus far, he hasn’t been much of a hero. When Samuel anoints him, David hasn’t defeated Goliath. He hasn’t created complex battle strategies. He’s an unknown farm boy. [Read more…]
The family line of Jesus is full of unlikely people. Again and again, they’re more sinner than saint. They regularly forget, disobey, or betray God. They’re not honorable or composed or polished, and they’re neither trusting nor trustworthy.
Rahab is one of these unlikely people. And she’s more unlikely than most to be named in Jesus’s genealogy (Matthew 1:5) because she is an outsider on three counts, she’s:
- a woman
- a Canaanite, and
- a prostitute.
In a genealogy that stretches from Abraham to Jesus, she’s one of just five women named. In a patrilineal genealogy—a record of fathers and sons—she makes the cut. Just as shocking, she makes the cut despite being a Gentile, a non-Israelite, someone decidedly outside the family tree. And, of course, she’s a prostitute.
And yet God finds her worthy of a place in his family. He invites her to play a role in the story of Israel claiming the land God has promised. And he grafts her into the family early enough that she gets to be one of Jesus’s great- great- great-grandmothers.
What an encouragement to us! Not only does God want us in his family, he wants to use us. When we join the family, he’ll put us to work, helping move this story along to its beautiful conclusion. Rahab got to play a part in Jesus’s coming as a baby, but we get to join in as Jesus comes in glory.
Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-21
God, your grace is astonishing!
You could care less about my pedigree, and you’re even willing to overlook my sin as you graft me into your family and your story.
Would you help me to be faithful like Rahab as I do the work you’ve called me to do?
On the one hand, the Ten Commandments seem fairly easy to keep. No idols—check. Don’t murder—check. Don’t steal—got it. We might get the impression that it’s within our power to do right, to keep the commandments, even to earn God’s love. [Read more…]