This is her season! Of all the seasons of the year, this is the one where we remember the girl from Nazareth and her sacrifice. She is extra special to me because I share her name.
A couple of years ago I was challenged to dig into the real meaning of my name because names are more important than we realize.
For example, I have an acquaintance whose parents named her Sarah because it means "God's Princess." Sarah grew up to adopt children from Russia, South America and Africa. One day as she and her girls were reading from Genesis, they came to the passage in which God changed Sarai's name to Sarah, promising that she would become the mother of many nations. As she read the words, her oldest squealed, "Mommy, that's you!" Her parents didn't know what her future would hold when they named her, but God did.
During the same challenge, a dear friend of mine researched her name and found that combined together, the three parts of her name mean strong, fair warrior--and she is!
Imagine, then, my delight when my research revealed that Mary means "Sea of Bitterness."
Sea of Bitterness.
How's that for a name?
The Mother of Jesus was named "Sea of Bitterness." Really?
This is the woman who, when told she was "chosen" to bear God's Son (no pressure there!) amidst scandal and great risk, she responded with a song of praise, declaring "blessed am I above all women."
If that isn't sweet, I don't know what is!
I think I get it.
Perhaps the key is that although Mary's circumstances were bitter, she did not drown in a Sea of Bitterness because she chose praise instead.
Exodus 15 contains a biblical account of a REAL sea of bitterness, "Marah."
After the great Red Sea miracle, Moses led the Israelites into the desert of Shur. For three days they went without water. It was a pretty thirsty mob that arrived at the oasis of Marah, only to find the water too bitter to drink.
Moses faced a very cranky throng.
Wisely, he cried out to God for help. The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood, which Moses threw into the water and (I love this part) the water became sweet. My Bible says it was "good to drink."
Like Mary of Nazareth, I may encounter extremely bitter circumstances in my life. I can grumble and complain like the Israelites and have only bitterness to drink, or, like Moses I can cry out to God.
I believe that Mary provides a beautiful picture of the "wood" God shows me to toss into the bitter water of circumstance.
"I am the Lord's Servant....May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1:28) Praise.
My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is His name. (Luke 1:46-49) If I trust that He is always good, If I praise Him for His attributes and His gifts, Then the water of my circumstances will become sweet good to drink life giving. THAT is what's in my name. I love it.
During Advent we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. One would think that the obvious place to turn in the Bible during Advent preparation would be places like Luke, Matthew, or Isaiah. However, I am discovering this year that God began writing the Christmas story long before even Isaiah. Even more, in His story He demonstrates that He can take even what is ugly and broken and bring about beauty and restoration.....
Genesis 19: 31-32, 36-37
One day the older daughter said to her sister, “There are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we can’t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children. Come, let’s get him drunk with wine, and then we will have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.”.... As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father.
How is that for a heartwarming Christmas story? Can I just say YUCK?!
As stomach-turning as their sexual sin was, the deeper sin was their unbelief. They did not trust God to provide for them, so they acted in fear and took matters into their own hands.
(Sounds just a bit too familiar to me when you look at it that way!)
When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.
By taking matters into their own hands, Lot's daughters achieved their short-term goal of having sons, but sin has consequences. The Moabite and the Ammonite people that resulted from this sin were generational enemies of Israel.
Not a good thing, to be on bad terms with God's chosen people.
The message is clear: Sin costs.
Look at how the Master Weaver shows us that even the most despicable sins can be redeemed.
...Naomi [an Israelite] returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman.
A Moabitess, descendant of the sin of Lot's daughters, is redeemed by her mother-in-law's relative, a man named Boaz. Together they were the parents of Obed, who was the father of Jesse.
And a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge of the fear of the LORD.
Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, came from Boaz and Ruth.
But wait—it gets better. Ruth's side is only half of the story:
So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
You see, there was this prostitute in Jericho...
Lowliest of the lowly in that time, a woman....and a “harlot” at that, she recognized the Truth when she saw it. She recognized SOVEREIGNTY and feared the Lord more than her people. Because of her faith in Him, He not only spared her, He blessed her.
She lived among the Israelites and even may have married one--
Matthew 1: 5-6
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
if this is indeed our Rahab, she married a man named Salmon. And God blessed her with a son
…..who married Ruth
An Israelite and a Moabite.
What a creative, redemptive LORD we have!
In Ruth, God restored what was ruptured by Lot's daughters. He bound together people divided by centuries of enmity.
In Boaz, He redeemed not just the family of Naomi, but the past of Rahab.
For out of Boaz
out of Ruth
came the Ultimate Restoration. Immanuel. God with us.
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David....
...16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.