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These valiant women in the lineage of Jesus Christ employed the same persuasive methods as the Savior to accomplish their goals and fulfill their roles as rescuers and saviors. They faced the same kinds of trials and struggles that believers in every generation have encountered, and they did so with courage, faith, and noble sacrifice.
Noah’s wife is mentioned only four times in the scriptures, and never by name; twice we are told that she entered the ark and twice we are told that she exited it. And yet in those simple acts we can recognize her character and her faith. When the Lord said to do something, she did it. She was a second Eve, trusted by God to become “the mother of all living.”
Sarah led the way in suggesting that Abraham take Hagar as his wife, even though the relationship would bring her personal sorrow. She knew that Abraham was foreordained to be the father of many nations. She believed that his posterity would be as numerous “as the stars of heaven.” Naturally, she believed that this prophetic blessing extended to her as his wife. For sixty years, she waited to have a child. But when she saw that her childbearing years were ended, Sarah urged her husband to take her bondwoman and have children through her. Sarah willingly sacrificed her own peace and comfort to fulfill her husband’s destiny. She earned the name of “princess” because she possessed the nobility of a queen.
Rebekah knew the power of personal prayer. When she entreated the Lord for guidance, she received a revelation that Jacob, the second-born of her twin boys, would be the birthright son. Guided by that personal revelation, Rebekah acted quickly and boldly to make sure Isaac blessed the correct son when it became apparent that Isaac was planning to give the birthright blessing to Esau. Dressing Jacob in Esau’s clothing, she guided Jacob to receive the blessing that had been foreordained for him by God.
Leah disguised herself to accomplish her goal of marriage and motherhood. Obeying her father, she dressed Rachel’s veils and stood in Rachel’s place to become Jacob’s first wife. Sadly, Jacob did not love Leah the way he loved Rachel. But as Leah turned to the Lord and nurtured her relationship with Him, her relationship with her husband gradually strengthened, and harmony with her sister was restored. Leah led the way to a loving relationship with them both. Her son Judah would be the ancestor of David, and thus of Jesus Christ.
Tamar discovered a way to help Judah, the future leader, keep his pledge and his word of honor when he deviated temporarily from the right path. Disguising herself as a harlot, Tamar sacrificed her temporal reputation and comfort to secure the eternal blessings of motherhood. She accepted the scorn of public opinion and the possibility of execution at the hands of her father-in-law in order to bring a child into the world. Through her, Judah would be guided back to the right path so that the great Kingdom of Judah would be born. She, too, became a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Rehab literally led the way to safety for Israelite strangers whom the Spirit told her she could trust. She is a powerful example of how a person’s life can change. Regardless of how she may have spent her early years, when Rahab heard the word of God, she embraced it wholeheartedly. She then risked her life to protect the elders of her newfound faith and earned her place as one of only four women listed by name in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ. She, too, was a matriarch to the Messiah.
Ruth is the ideal example of loyalty and love. Given the choice to stay in Moab with her family and friends or move to Bethlehem, where she would be a stranger, with her grieving and disheartened mother-in-law, she chose to remain loyal to Naomi. In Bethlehem, under Naomi’s direction and advice, Ruth boldly persuaded the shy older gentleman Boaz to marry her. It is a story worthy of a fairy tale ending, and they indeed lived happily every after. Their great-grandson would be David, the greatest king of Israel. Ruth’s marriage would also restore Lot’s family, once lost through the worldly influence of Sodom, to the lineage of Jesus Christ, as Ruth was a descendant of Lot through his grandson, Moab.
Bathsheba was washing herself within the boundaries of her own home when King David sent for her. She would experience the grief of widowhood, the shame of illegitimate motherhood, and the anguish of losing a baby as the result of submitting to adultery with King David. But she would also become a noble queen and trusted counselor to her husband. Her son Solomon would become the crown prince of Israel, through whom the Savior would be born. Moreover, through the gift of the Atonement, Bathsheba could be forgiven of her adultery. The stain of her sin could be wiped clean by the blood of her own Lamb.
We have much to learn from the examples of these women, including overcoming adversity, establishing strong families, developing personal relationships with God, and accepting the redeeming gift of the Atonement.
This excerpt was taken from Matriarchs of the Messiah by Jo Ann Skousen.