ODJ: Outsiders

December 5, 2017 

READ: Matthew 1:1-17 

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed . . . . For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies (Heb. 11:31).

All too soon, we’ll be hearing New Year’s resolutions. Check out this clever social media post from several years ago: “Increase my relationship status from ‘forever alone’ to ‘slightly desperate’. ”

Funny. Yet a tinge of despair lurks beneath that wry tweet, and we can all relate. At one time or another, we’ve all known the discomfort of being the lonely one. The outsider.

The New Testament begins, “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Ho-hum, right? But don’t miss what follows. In verses 5 and 6 we read, “Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).”

Rahab and Ruth—two foreign women amid a list of Jewish men. Their stories could fill novels. When two Israelite spies hid out at Rahab’s place, she was more than slightly desperate. Prostitution is a desolate existence (Joshua 2:1). But Rahab recognised God at work in the people of Israel. Because of her actions, God preserved Rahab and her family when Jericho was destroyed (Joshua 6:22-25). The author of Hebrews honours “Rahab the prostitute,” who came out of the idol-worshipping Canaanites (11:31).

Ruth, too, epitomises the outsider. She was from Moab, a pagan nation whose existence might embarrass us. Her people descended from an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter. Yet Ruth made this classic statement of faith: “Your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). She went on to become King David’s great-grandmother.

As we read the Bible, let’s not skip the genealogies. There we meet the God of the outsider. The God who does amazing things with the stories of all who turn to Him.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: Colossians 2:1-15

Read 1 Cor. 1:27-28 and consider how God has used people despised by the world to work out His perfect plans. 
As you read the Bible, ask yourself: what’s happening in this story? How does it fit with the rest of Scripture? What do I learn about God?