Home Outreach Leaders Four Times God Powerfully Subverted Racism in the Bible

Four Times God Powerfully Subverted Racism in the Bible

While God had chosen Israel to fulfill a specific purpose in his plan of redemption, He used Jonah to rebuke the idea of Israelite supremacy.

God loves the people groups that the majority culture doesn’t care about. God loves the people that the majority culture would rather see dead, gone, or marginalized. And He’s willing to have a giant fish hand deliver reluctant prophets to their city gates in order to show them (and us) how much He loves them.

2. God Subverted Racism When He Included Gentile Women as Important Figures in Jesus’ Lineage.

When the Messiah came, it was important to the Jewish people that He could prove His kingly lineage. So it’s no surprise that both Matthew and Luke spill a considerable amount of ink on Jesus’ genealogical records.

In biblical genealogical records, the author doesn’t necessarily mention every name. That’s because the point of the genealogy isn’t administrative but theological. And as Matthew writes to a deeply Jewish audience, you would expect for him to highlight only the names of those who had the highest Jewish pedigree.

But that’s not what he does. Among his list of names, he includes four non-Jewish people. And not only were they not Jewish, they were women.

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were all women who came from outside the nation of Israel, and who had been oppressed or marginalized in some way.

  • Judah tried to abandon his daughter-in-law Tamar after her husband died, which would essentially condemn her to a life of destitution.
  • Rahab was formerly a prostitute, which was likely the result of some form of oppression.
  • Ruth was a poor Moabite who would glean crops just to survive.
  • Bathsheba, whom Matthew only refers to as “Uriah’s wife,” was taken as one of King David’s wives after David murdered her husband.

Long before modern debates about intersectionality, God saw fit to take marginalized and oppressed women who were born outside of his chosen nation and make them part of the tapestry of Jesus’ messianic lineage. This speaks so loudly to God’s specific desire to dismantle unjust systems of power as part and parcel of ushering in His heavenly kingdom.

3. Jesus Subverted Racism When He Made a Samaritan the Hero of a Parable.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is another well-worn Bible story. But we don’t often pause to realize that for Jesus’ Jewish audience, “good Samaritan” was a contradiction in terms. The fact that Jesus made a Samaritan the hero of His parable in contrast to the cowardice of respected Jewish religious leaders helps us understand why the Pharisees wanted so badly to kill Him.

As the story goes, a man was traveling from one city to another when he was attacked by a band of robbers. They beat him within an inch of his life and took everything, including the shirt on his back.

As he lay on the ground incapacitated, both a Jewish priest and a Levite passed him by. They were likely both on their way to the temple in Jerusalem to perform official duties, and they would be rendered unclean if they came into contact with this man and he ended up being dead or had died in their presence. If that happened, they wouldn’t be able to perform their temple duties. So they thought it best to avoid the situation.

But then along came a Samaritan. Samaritans were only partly Jewish. Their lineage was mixed with those of the surrounding nations. They had also mixed their religious practices with those people groups through the generations. To the Jewish mind, Samaritans were half-blood heretics. But because the Samaritan wasn’t preoccupied with cleanliness laws, he stopped to help this man, saving his life.