“But now, this is what the Lord says— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” – Isaiah 47:1
My name is Esther.
To a complete stranger reading this, my name is…just a name. To people who have met me in person, my name has a face to it, they may not know all the things I’ve gone through in life but they know I’m a person who lives and breathes just like them. To my friends, my name represents a person with stories to share and a life filled with various trials and numerous blessings.
There are chapters in the Bible with just lists of names (genealogies) and those are the chapters I usually skip over because it’s…just a list of names. How would reading a list of names help me grow in my walk with God? At some point, I heard a few messages about the significance of these list of names and decided to look through them. An observation I made, while reading (more like skimming really fast) this list, was that only men are listed in the genealogies in the Old Testament and it wasn’t until the first book of the New Testament, in Matthew 1, where five women are mentioned. The genealogy in Matthew 1 isn’t just any family tree. It’s the genealogy of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
The five women mentioned in this family tree are:
4. Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife)
That may have just seemed like a list of names to you, so here are their names again – with a little background about their lives:
1. Tamar – a woman who pretended to be a prostitute in order to have a son by her father-in-law because her husband had died
2. Rahab – a prostitute, from another country, who heard about a great God who destroyed Egypt and decided to help the enemy.
3. Ruth – a poor woman, from another country, whose first husband died and decided to lie in another man’s room in order to get food and get married.
4. Bathsheba – a woman who slept (and got pregnant) with king David, while her husband was fighting a war.
5. Mary – a virgin chosen to have the Son of God; impregnated by the Holy Spirit, before she was married, while she was engaged to a man named Joseph.
All these women had one thing common: they were not perfect. These were not the women who had it all together, who followed every commandment and never once sinned. Their lives were not perfect, according to our standards BUT God allowed these women to be in the genealogy of His very own Son. There were other mothers in this list but only these five were mentioned. The author decided to mention these five women and that was not a mistake or something the author unintentionally did. The Bible is inspired by God (II Timothy 3:16) so when the author brings up these women, it’s because God believed they were significant enough to be there.
Our names may seem insignificant to those around us, we aren’t perfect, we haven’t done anything to significantly change history, but to God, our names mean everything to Him. All of us woven together make up the story of His great love. Our names hold such significance when we consider how much He paid to have us with Him for eternity. He called us by name. We have a purpose in this life and that is to live for Him. Living for Him isn’t easy. There will be times we are going to fall and make mistakes, like Bathsheba. There will be times we’re rejected by others and do things that seem unorthodox in order for God’s will to be done, like Tamar. There will be times we are called to do the right thing even if that means putting our reputation on the line, like Mary. We may have to do something that requires much humility, like Ruth. We may have to risk our lives in order to walk with God, like Rahab. Each of us separately may wonder what is God doing with the circumstances that are happening in our lives, but all together, we are capable of making the list that shows God’s perfect plan. Separately we are just a list of names, living imperfect lives, striving but falling short of God’s righteousness. God’s Son has allowed our names to be added to the most amazing list of all: The Book of Life. That is the “something better” God planned in Hebrews 11:40. We get to spend an eternity with our Savior, even though we deserved death. All together, our names are proof of God’s love and truth.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” – Hebrews 11: 39-40