Open Invitation Even for the Imperfect
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
Obed, Son of Boaz and Ruth
MOABITE PARENTAGE As the son of Boaz and, therefore, grandson of Rahab, Obed could be considered in part as a blessing for Rahab. However, we are drawn to his immediate mother Ruth for additional evidence of the blessing that was fulfilled in Obed. First, we note that Ruth was a descendant of Moab [Ruth 1:4], a son that Lot had with his first daughter when he lived in a cave alone with his two daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Desperate to preserve their family line, the daughters drugged their father with alcohol so he slept with them unaware of his actions [Genesis 19:30–38]. Each daughter became pregnant through the encounter and had a son. The senior daughter’s son was named Moab, the father of the Moabites, and the junior daughter’s son was the father of the Ammonites. The Moabites and Ammonites were forbidden to have any interaction with the Israelites: “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation” [Deuteronomy 23:3]. Therefore, Ruth’s son Obed would have been on this basis considered unsuitable for the genealogy of Jesus.
COMPASSION TOWARD MOTHER-IN-LAW However, we need to consider Ruth’s interaction with her mother-in-law Naomi to better understand her son’s selection for the lineage. Naomi’s husband, Elimelek, had relocated to Moab with her and two sons to escape from a severe famine in Bethlehem, Judah. Elimelek died soon after they arrived in Moab. The two sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. After about ten years, the two sons died, leaving Naomi and her daughters-in-law. While suffering from the bitterness of losing her husband and two sons, Naomi learned that the quality of life in Judah was in recovery. She prepared to return home and while in the process tried to persuade her daughters-in-law to leave her and seek a new life for themselves. Orpah was persuaded and left. However, in a remarkable compassion toward her mother-in-law, Ruth not only declined the offer to leave but persuaded Naomi to accept that their destiny now was inseparable. She said: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried…” [Ruth 1:16–17]. She returned to Bethlehem with Naomi. Ruth later married Boaz and they had a son, Obed.
BLESSING FOR RUTH We peek into a future bible study to understand why Ruth’s compassion to her mother-in-law positioned her for a mighty blessing. We call on Christ’s teaching about compassion: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (5th Beatitude [Matthew 5:7]). Recall that God created every person to be his provider assistant (see previous bible study at This_Link), whereby he expects each person to be sensitive to needs placed on his/her path and take it upon himself/herself to do what he/she can to provide for the need. Therefore, in this role, God expects each person to be a channel for his compassion to others. Christ teaches through this Beatitude that a person is blessed for being a channel for God’s compassion. Ruth recognized the needs of her mother-in-law and took it upon herself to do what she could, through the rest of her life, to provide for the needs. This act of compassion positioned her for a grand blessing as consistent with Christ’s teaching later through the Beatitudes.
PARALLEL PROMISES Her blessing was not diminished in any way on account of any punishment she may have inherited for being a Moabite. One might even surmise that the prohibition of interaction with Moabites could explain the death of Elimelek and his two sons within ten years of arriving in Moab. Ruth was also affected by the death because one of the sons was her husband. Further, if the prohibition was the only thing that mattered to God, then Boaz would have gotten into trouble when he married Ruth. We don’t know if he did. However, we know that Boaz already was in line to convey fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Ruth joined him with the blessing she earned for her compassion to Naomi. The blessing was fulfilled in Obed, her son that became a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
Solomon, Son of David and Bathsheba
BLESSING FOR DAVID Solomon, David’s son through his wife Bathsheba, was a blessing to David in two ways. First, David inherited God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to him from several generations through his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon.
DAVID-BATHSHEBA AFFAIR However, before David married Bathsheba (i.e., before the birth of Solomon), he had an illicit affair with her while she was Uriah’s wife. The affair occurred while her husband Uriah was at the war front fighting for Israel under King David. Bathsheba became pregnant from the affair. David tried to cover up by attempting to trick Uriah into sleeping with his wife. When he realized Uriah would not fall for the trick, David ordered that he be over-exposed at the war front so he would be killed by the enemy. The plot was successful as Uriah was killed in the battle [2 Samuel 11:1–17]. David married Bathsheba thereafter and she gave birth to a son from the affair. But God was not deceived.
PUNISHMENT FOR DAVID As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, David’s affair with Bathsheba and killing Uriah in an attempt to hide it were ugly to God. He decreed severe punishment on David that was announced to him by Prophet Nathan: Calamity would be brought upon David from his household, someone close to him will sleep with his wives in broad daylight before Israel, and the son born to him through the affair would die [2 Samuel 12:1–14]. The third punishment came through almost immediately. The child of the affair fell ill and died within a few days after Prophet Nathan’s visit. Also, David later suffered through home-grown adversity due to a rebellion against him led by his son Absalom [2 Samuel 15–19]. During the rebellion, Absalom slept with David’s concubines publicly in a tent setup at the palace for the purpose [2 Samuel 16:20–22]. Therefore, all three punishments that Prophet Nathan announced to David were fulfilled.
PARALLEL PROMISES FOR DAVID After the child died, David went in to comfort his wife, Bathsheba. She got pregnant again and gave birth to a son that we know today as Solomon [2 Samuel 12:24]. Several years later, Solomon succeeded David as king of Israel, very popular and with the reputation of great wealth and wisdom. Also, Solomon became a grandfather along the lineage of Christ. Therefore, David’s interactions with Bathsheba led to severe punishment and fulfillment of blessing. David incurred and suffered severe punishment for the affair with Bathsheba and covering up the affair by setting her husband up to be killed in battle. However, once he became the woman’s legitimate husband, their marriage resulted in the birth of Solomon, through whom God fulfilled blessings that David earned previously: blessing that he earned through his ancestral grandfather Abraham and blessing that he earned through his own service. These blessings did not buy him out of the punishment he incurred because of the affair, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
Lessons Learned from the Genealogy of Jesus
PARALLEL PROMISES Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They do not trade-off against or offset each other. A person that previously earned blessing could incur punishment. Also, a person can earn blessing even with a promise of punishment hanging on him/her. Therefore, earned blessing and incurred punishment can coexist for a person and be fulfilled at their time.
ALWAYS INVITED Every living person has an open invitation to seek God’s blessing irrespective of past deeds. Do not be concerned that any past misdeeds could be an impediment to earning blessing. On the contrary, you can earn blessing by being compassionate toward others or doing something that makes others feel your impact as God’s representative in your interactions with them. You will earn blessing each time you do this, even if you have a promise of punishment from a previous misdeed. A promise of punishment could be forgiven if you truly repent and ask for forgiveness.