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Faith and Failure

Matthew 1:2-6a
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. (NIVUK)

Matthew describes the human ancestry of Jesus Christ in three parts: from Abraham to David, from David to the Exile and from the Exile to the birth of Jesus. Matthew stresses that Jesus is at the apex of the line of faith, those people who trusted God to fulfil His promises. Abraham clearly demonstrated that as he moved from Ur (in what is now Iraq) to the Promised Land. But along the way Abraham also failed; he was disobedient, deceitful and disbelieving as well.

Abraham was not the model of perfection. He was the model of repentance, obedience and faith, after realising his sin and failure - for which Jesus Christ would be the ultimate atoning sacrifice. The same was true of each of his successors including King David. The list also includes two women who are not Jews. Rahab the harlot and Ruth the Moabitess did not have any right to belong to God’s family but they were hungry for God and honoured Him above themselves. They were not only accepted among God’s people but also had the privilege of being direct ancestors of the Lord Jesus.

If God only selected perfect people, He would have nobody in His family, for all have sinned. Every saint is also a sinner, but one who has been saved by grace. Only Jesus never sinned, but He became known as the friend of sinners. This list of names should encourage us that God can and does use sinners who fail Him. He weaves them into the story of His people; using what He can use and refining what is unusable. We too should be encouraged that He wants to use each of us in His story, to play our part so that His Kingdom is grown and His glory is shown. You may feel your sin disqualifies you from being used by the Lord: the same was true about the Biblical heroes of the faith. The important thing is that, like them, we should repent and turn from our sin, allowing the Lord to change us so that He is glorified.

Gracious God. Thank You for including weak human beings as a part of Your kingdom and Your way of reaching the world with Your truth and love. Thank You that the Lord Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for all our sins. Forgive me when I get discouraged because of my sin, and am tempted to give up walking with You or working for You. Please help me to follow the example of the ancestors of Jesus who repented of their sin and went back to obeying Your Word; knowing that You can and will use me, as You used them. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams