Can God use a woman with a past? Can God use a woman who walks the straight and narrow? Can God use a woman born on the wrong side of the tracks? The better question is, “Who can’t God use?”
The answer is, “God can use anyone on the planet to get His will done. If we are not a vessel of God’s Spirit and a doer of His will, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
I often hear people say they don’t read their Bible because it’s too hard to understand or they get lost in all those names in the genealogies. I admit I often skip some of the genealogies in Genesis, but the list in Matthew brings me to tears. There are five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Tamar (who prostituted herself to Judah), Rahab (who was just your run of the mill prostitute), Ruth (a Moabite, whose people who were rejected by God), Bathsheba (an adulteress) and Mary (who was highly favored by God and a virgin).
“The Bible is an incredible book that does not cover up how sinful and dysfunctional the people were.”
The Bible is an incredible book that does not cover up how sinful and dysfunctional the people were. It’s one of the many reasons I believe it. The Son of God had to pass through a woman’s body. However, up to the time He was actually formed in Mary’s womb, many other women were part of His coming to this planet.
“It’s not how we start that matters, it’s how we end.”
We would all think the women in the line of Jesus would have to be totally pure, from the right upbringing and family lines to be a part of shaping the Son of God. However, they were not. They were very flawed women who ended up living by faith. It’s not how we start that matters, it’s how we end. I not only want to live on fire for God, I want to die on fire for God. I love what is said about each person listed in the Great Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11).
All these people were still living by faith when they died.
Each of the men mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus had to have a woman to produce a son, but God only named five of those women. One of the most famous is Rahab. She was a well-known prostitute in Jericho who ended up being one of only two women mentioned by name in Hebrews 11. She is listed right up there with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, just to name a few.
“No matter who we are and what we have done, one thing will change the entire trajectory of our lives… faith.”
What happened to make her great? One word… faith. No matter who we are and what we have done, one thing will change the entire trajectory of our lives… faith. What did Rahab put her faith in? Was it her own ability to change? Never. It was in the God who she not only feared, but trusted.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
She was terrified because judgment was coming, but she ran to God and placed all her faith in Him. She said, “Your God is God in heaven above and earth below.”
What great faith! How do we know she had faith? She hid the men from Israel that were there to spy out Jericho to destroy it. She risked her life by lying to her own people to help God’s people. In other words, she threw herself completely on the side of God and His people…sink or swim, live or die, she was on God’s side.
“God didn’t care at all what she had been. It made absolutely no difference. She jumped in with God and He said, “You’re mine!””
When we exhibit that kind of faith, the God of heaven’s armies fights for us. God didn’t care at all what she had been. It made absolutely no difference. She jumped in with God and He said, “You’re mine!” She honored God by believing He was the God of both heaven and earth. He honored her by listing her as one of the greatest examples of faith in the history of the world. This makes me cry. God did not hide the fact she was a prostitute. He also didn’t hide the fact that she was His beloved daughter.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
“None of us have to cower in shame because of our past. It’s part of our story.”
None of us have to cower in shame because of our past. It’s part of our story. When we read about Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, Ruth and Mary, we should celebrate all of them. Some started by faith, but all died by faith. For every single person, it doesn’t matter how we start, it only matters how we end.
I don’t know about you, but as we get ready to celebrate Easter, I am determined to live a life worthy of the death my Jesus died. His suffering and death will not be wasted in my life. What pitiful excuses we often give for hiding our stories with the false humility of not wanting to embarrass our families or have people think badly of us.
“Jesus hung naked on the cross, despising the shame. That was my shame He bore.”
Jesus hung naked on the cross, despising the shame. That was my shame He bore. God forbid I try to hang onto my dignity. I hope someday Jesus can say of me as clearly as He did of Rahab the prostitute, “In the same way, was not even Terri the whore considered righteous for what she did when she didn’t hide her past, but poured out her life for the glory of God and for all the people He loved so much… until she died.”