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Unexpected People

Hal Habecker

Dec 16

“The Joy of the Unexpected – How God Works Through Unexpected People” Matthew 1.3,5,6,16 20th Day of Advent December 16, 2022

One of the things I love about the Christmas story is the way God brings different kinds of people together. I think God loves to work that way as He works in ways beyond our usual expectations. While we love the normal, He works in ways that are often unexpected and unpredictable.

Consider the 4 women Matthew mentions in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.3,5,6: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.

We meet Tamar (Matthew 1.3) in Genesis 38 when she became the first daughter-in-law of Judah. Her husband, Er, Judah’s first son, was evil, and God took him. Neither of Judah’s next two sons would take Tamar as a wife to raise up offspring for their brother, so God took them as well. Tamar now finds herself childless and helpless, and she returns to live in her father’s house. After Judah’s wife dies, Judah goes to shear the sheep. When Tamar hears of his coming journey, she dresses as a temple prostitute and seduces Judah to have sex with her, and she becomes pregnant and gives birth to Perez who is in the linage of king David. Who would have ever thought this is the way God would work?

Next we meet Rahab (Matthew 1.5). Rahab, a harlot who lived in Jericho, was the woman who hid the two spies of Israel because she believed God (Joshua 2), and because of her faith, God delivers her. Rahab becomes the mother of Boaz and she becomes the great grandmother of king David in whose linage the Christ Child is born. Who would have ever thought this is the way God would work?

We meet Ruth (Matthew 1.5), another foreigner, from Moab. Ruth, after years of loss and hardship, marries Boaz, Rahab’s son, and she becomes the mother of Obed who is king David’s grandfather. Who would have ever thought this is the way God would work?

Finally, Matthew notes Bathsheba (Matthew 1.6), the one who had been the wife of Uriah whom David killed because of the affair he had had with her while her husband was at war on behalf of David. Bathsheba then becomes the mother of Solomon. Who would have ever thought this is way God would work?

While I am not sure why Matthew includes these 4 women, one of the reasons might be to remind us that God always works out His will through unexpected ways in unexpected people. He delights to works in ways we might never understand and through people we might never anticipate. He cares about brokenness. His Son came to be broken for us. His work is always a work of grace.

I think of that in my own life. As a farm kid growing up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, who would have ever thought I’d be living in Dallas for 48 years with the beautiful wife God gave me (46 years), the children and grandchildren we now have, and the ministries in which God has entrusted to us to serve in our 46 years together? Our lives are filled with the beauty of unexpected people we would have never anticipated. (My parents never would have dreamt of this when I was born in 1949.) Perhaps we’ll meet some new unexpected people in some unexpected turns of life this Christmas season. Don’t be surprised. Why God has chosen me to be a part of His plan is part of the joyful mystery of how He works. I am grateful, and I’m sure you are grateful, too, for the ways He has worked in your life.

Finally, of course, I must mention a fifth woman, Mary, the mother of our Savior (Matthew 1.16; Luke 1.26-38). She was probably just a teenager. How many of us would expect that God would do the great work of giving the world a Savior through a young teenage woman. Quite astonishing, I think.

And as I think about the Christmas story, aren’t all the events unexpected events? Think of the characters – Zacharias, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the magi. Each one is a story of incredible surprise and joy. But isn’t that the way God works?!

I love the beauty of how God works. I am as surprised as anyone that He chose me in His incredible grace.

It would be good this Advent season to reflect over the unexpected ways God has worked in your life this year through unexpected people and unexpected events throughout 2022.

Expect the unexpected in the days ahead just before Christmas! And what might we anticipate in 2023?!

Happy 20th Day of Advent.

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