Day 5: Christmas Prostitute

We've seen some unexpected things this week: A With-Us God who doesn't mind starting the same way we did. Birth canal and all.

A God who loves the stinky outcasts who watch over their flocks as He does at night. The ones very much like you and me. 

A God who came to counsel with strength, affection and peace.

And here we are on our last day with a list in our hand that is quite unexpected, to say the least. This list is the lineage of Christ that is handed to us right before we are told about his birth.

And - wait, who?! There's a prostitute in my Christmas story?! Gah! Now what?!

First of all, it's true. And there's also a murderer in there too. Merry freakin' Christmas. We still feeling jolly? 

Matthew gives us the lineage of the Baby-King and it's got some colorful characters. Thank God. Because the squeaky clean ones would box me out of the kingdom if that was the standard. Let's take a look:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king....

....So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
— Matthew 1

Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab. Rahab is our lady. She was often referred to as Rahab-the-Harlot. How's that for a nickname? No thanks. You can just call me Ray. (*Van Gough's "Brothel" was carefully chosen for today's visual aide.) 

Rahab ran a brothel and was most likely a prostitute herself. Business is business. But how did this business end up in the line of Christ? 

Way back in the day, some Israelite spies were in trouble and needed a place to hide and be safe from the King of Jericho. He found out they were in town and was hunting them down. She hid them on the thatched roof of her brothel and told the Jericho authorities that they had come and gone. She risked her very life to keep them safe. She had also heard about their God and was in awe of Him.

Afterwards, the spies came back with the whole Israel army to take over the city and Rahab and her family were spared and saved from the battle.

And after they saved her, for hiding and saving them, she joined the Israelites and actually ended up marrying one of the spies. There must have been a connection that night. Like you have when someone shoves you in their roof as you fear for your very life. That usually spells romance.

Anyway, yes, Rahab ran a brothel. And you know what else? She was incredibly brave. She risked her life. She believed in God. She showed kindness. Hospitality. Faithfulness. Grit and Virtue. She was a mixed bag of a woman that God then blesses to be a great, great, great (many) grandmother to the Savior of the entire world.

God loves those with colorful pasts. Adores them. Comes for them. Redeems them. Uses them for His kingdom.

Thank God. There are days I have it very much together. And days I cannot keep anything, let alone my halo, straight. There are days I yell at my kids, days I get pissed at the world, days that I am not proud of to be sure. And there's more that has been done to me and more I have done that I'd love to just bury in the ruins of Jericho. I am a mixed bag, a messy mom. 

If God came for Rahab, then He came for you and me.

And THAT is absolutely merry and bright news! That is a thrill of hope that the weary world rejoices in. That will silence me in the night. That will arrest me like the angels arrested the shepherds. That will cause me to sing Mary's song of praise and wonder and joy because of her Baby-King. 

Christmas is amazing and over-the-top and unexpected. May yours be the merriest this season, in the most unexpected places. 

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
— Rahab speaking to Israelite men, Joshua 2
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
— Mary, Jesus' mother in Luke 1