And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:17)

With the easy availability of online databases and DNA kits, people are now exploring their ancestral lines more thoroughly than ever. Genealogical interest has soared within the past few years; many Americans are even choosing to spend their vacation time retracing the steps of their familial background. According to some studies, genealogical research is now almost as popular as gardening (the most preferred hobby in the world).

Genealogical researchers are often hopeful to discover family connections to admired heroes, famous people, or uplifting stories of human triumph. Some may be disappointed to learn that their ancestors primarily led bland, ordinary lives. Others might become frustrated if a trail runs cold, relegating their family’s stories forever to obscurity. If a particular ancestral line traces back to a notorious villain or willful participation in shameful group behavior, the researcher may even struggle with questions of personal identity.

Jesus’ own genealogical history includes peasants, kings, nomads, farmers, warriors, prophets, and heroes. But Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ancestral record also includes four specific women that most Jews in the first century would have preferred to omit: Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth (1:1–16). Tamar was a deceiver. Rahab was a prostitute. Bathsheba was an adulteress. Ruth was a pagan. But these women had something in common: God chose to use each of them, and through them, to bless the world with his son.

Discover your identity and life’s purpose in Jesus Christ.

Laura Hurd is an ordained minister, pastor’s wife, and mother of four. She has a deep love for rural America and is passionate about its potential for spiritual growth.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.