Skeletons In The Closet
Today we will be reflecting back on the series Focus on the family that we had here at ICC Imara during the month of June 2018;
- Perhaps the sermon series brought to mind people, experiences and events in your family or family line that were not very pleasant, painful or a source of shame.
- Perhaps because of what you did, you are that person who is the source of that shame, you did something that made you an outcast to your family.
The sermon series basically revealed some skeletons in your closet.
Skeletons in the closet, is an idiom that means a secret source of shame, potentially ruinous if exposed, which a person or family makes efforts to conceal.
A story is told of a man who paid $500 to discover family line and after what he found out, he paid $2,500 – 5 times! – to conceal it. Contrast that with another man, who had no qualms making his family line known to the whole world, even though this family line had individuals who told lies, committed incest, adultery, murder and some were harlots. And we find this genealogy for everyone to read in the book of Matthew 1: 1-17
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 that; All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; But when we come to portions of scripture like this, we doubt that verse. We wonder why God would use such precious space in the holy book to list a bunch of names.
A quick reading does not do justice to this passage of scripture and if you pause long enough to consider the context and the history behind these names you will amazed at the rich truths that you find.
- Let’s begin by realizing that the gospel of Matthew is specifically written for the Jewish audience and it’s specifically aimed at presenting Jesus as the Messiah, the promised king.
- To the Jewish mind, genealogies were very important and in this particular instant in presenting Jesus as the promised Messiah, it was critical that Matthew points his Jewish audience to the fact that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and David – and that in Jesus we have the fulfillment of the promises made to both. Remember the promise given to both Abraham & David?
- We see a connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament – in that all of the Old Testament stories point to this one man Jesus.
- This genealogy assures us that Jesus was not just a mystical figure but that his human roots can be traced – and what really stands out in his roots are the characters and their experiences. Talk about having skeletons in the closet!
First off, it’s worth noting that this genealogy includes women, something that the Jews never did. In fact, the Pharisee’s daily prayer thanked God that they were neither a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. The gender notwithstanding, what is notable is the background of these women, people whom not only the Jews, but you and I, would consider as outcasts – individuals that we wouldn’t be proud to call great-great- grandmother.
- The first outcast was Tamar, the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. It’s recorded in Genesis 38 how she resorted to deception, prostitution, and incest when she couldn’t get a child any other way. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sexual relations with her. From that illicit union were born twin sons, Perez and Zerah, and thus Tamar and her son Perez joined Judah in the Messianic line.
- The second outcast was also a woman and a Gentile, but she made prostitution her livelihood. Rahab was no picture of virtue, but she put her faith in the God of Israel and demonstrated it by protecting the two men Joshua sent to spy out her city. God spared her life and the lives of her family when Jericho was besieged and destroyed (Joshua 2:1-21; 6:22-25), and, brought her into the Messianic line. She became the wife of Salmon and the mother of the godly Boaz—David’s great-grandfather.
- Ruth, the wife of Boaz, was the third outcast. Though she was a Moabitess and former pagan, having no right to marry an Israelite, God brought Ruth into the family of Israel, and through Boaz, into the royal line. She became the grandmother of Israel’s great King David.
- The fourth outcast was Bathsheba. She entered the Messianic line through adultery with David. The son of their sinful union died in infancy, but the next son born to them was Solomon (2 Samuel 11:1-27; 12:14, 24), successor to David’s throne and continuer of the Messianic line.
What about the men mentioned? Abraham lied about Sarah to save his skin, had a child out of wedlock (Ishmael); Jacob – practiced a life of habitual deceit and scheming, stole his brothers’ birthright; Consider David – he took another man’s wife and tried to conceal his sin by arranging to have the husband killed; There were evil kings – Ahaziah & Manasseh – who sacrificed their sons, practiced idol worship, shed innocent blood and led the entire nation of Judah to sin. Yet, when it was the fullness of time for God’s son to be revealed, these are the people, experiences & events that God used as forebears of Jesus. Talk of having skeletons in your closet! These are major scandals! Makes you wonder why God didn’t choose to mention names like Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra etc. and present a well-polished family of Jesus!
When you consider all this, it’s plain to see that Matthew is not just listing names, but he is also pointing us to a God who is faithful to fulfil His promise – not because of the righteousness of the people involved but in spite of their sinfulness.
Jesus is also presented as the friend of sinners who came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13).
This family line of Jesus continues with you and I who have chosen to follow Him for as we are told in Ephesians 1: 5 (NLT) – God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
We are adopted into the family line. And if you are to think about it, He chose you not because of your righteousness but in spite of your sinfulness. He took you with all the skeletons in your closet. Biblical scholar Raymond Brown’s writes:
The God who wrote the beginnings with crooked lines also writes the sequence with crooked lines, and some of those lines are our own lives and witness. A God who did not hesitate to use the scheming as well as the noble, the impure as well as the pure, men to whom the world harkened and women upon whom the world frowned — this God continues to work through the same varied mixture.
- God uses real people – not ideal, perfect people – you don’t have to clean up your act for him to accept and use you. But this is not an excuse to remain and indulge in sin. Sin has consequences and there will be a final judgement.
- God uses all the experiences & events in your life – the good, the bad and the ugly for His glory.
- We shouldn’t judge others, looking at them through the lenses of past mistakes & family background.
What you see as skeletons in the closet, God sees as raw material to weave a wonderful story of His grace, mercy and love towards you. Everyone around the world witnessed the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan. From the moment the wedding was announced, there was a flood of web searches on the family line of Meghan. All manner of stories circulated and all manner of questions were asked as to the whereabouts of Meghan’s dad during the wedding. But with all the speculations & gossip – nothing changed the fact that Meghan found someone who loves her – and not just someone – a prince. She is now part of royalty.
And so are you if you accept the love of the Prince of peace – He loves you no matter the skeletons you have in your closet – and you have the privilege of being royalty!
God bless you,
Pst. Tony Amisi (Family Pastor)