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My study of Matthew’s…

September 23, 2007

gospel account this week has focused on chapter 1. I confess that in past years the genealogy has not been a stimulating read. Entertaining to try and read out loud the names phonetically, but not usually any “aha” moments, other than to notice the familiar ones.

It was during my study of Genesis that genealogies and their importance came alive to me as a pastor deftly demonstrated that each name was obviously there for a reason. I was quite chastened to realize that treating the list of names as extra wordage to fill parchment space was an improper view of Scripture. If all of Scripture is effective for teaching, for reproof, for correction and instruction (2 Tim 3:16-17), then all must mean all.

That correction of thought having been worked, I began to more seriously look at the genealogy listings. My own family has that 4th cousin once removed that decided one day to trace our genealogy back to Plymouth Rock. I don’t think she quite made it, but the occupants of various woodsheds and drawing rooms that did make up my genetic pool provided some interesting family reunion speech.

But it’s the lineage of Jesus that has consumed me this week. For every apologist out there who uses the line to show one thing, there’s another who uses the line to contradict it. The “aha” moment for me was seeing God’s overruling and sovereign authority sweep all others away. His covenantal promises to His people are even seen in a list of names, whether you can pronounce them or not.

Matthew 1:1-17 has three cycles of fourteen generations each. Apparently, Matthew was an organized thinker or needed the mnemonic help for memorizing the list. Either way is beneficial for someone who wants to understand why God included this list. I appreciated that each list showed God’s divine intervention to bring about His eternal will through the frailties of man.

Mt 1:2 begins with Abraham and runs to Jesse. Abraham is the father of faith, the Jewish patriarch, the one God chose to be the bearer of His blessing in covenant with God. Gen. 12:2-3 states, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This is the Abrahamic covenant that God instituted with Abraham. Abraham was a heathen, a pagan, that served idols. He was not a seeker of God.

But God intervened to choose and call him to be the father of His chosen people, from whom the Seed, the Messiah would come.

Mt 1:6 opens with King David and runs to the Babylonian exile. David, the greatest of all Israel’s kings, the one God chose to establish through him a throne forever in covenant with God. 2 Sam 7:12-13 states, “When your days are over and your rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever.” This is the Davidic covenant that God instituted with David. David was a lowly shepherd boy, the youngest of his father’s sons, and in his reign an adulterer and murderer. He failed at perfectly seeking God.

But God intervened to choose and call him to be a man after God’s own heart, from whom the Eternal King, Christ would come.

Mt 1:16 ends with Jesus, after beginning with the exile. Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man, Whom God chose before the foundations of the world to be the Lamb slain for the children of God. 1 Pet 1:19-20 states, “but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” This is the New covenant that God instituted through Jesus the Christ, His beloved Son. Jesus born to a humble couple, without ceremony or pomp, raised quietly in a village, growing in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man. He never failed nor forsook the complete seeking of God.

It is God who intervened to choose and call a people unto Himself, to be set apart for His will, to be the reflection of His glory, majesty and power.

For as much as genealogies show the beginnings and tracings of a family line, it is a list of names that will not only matter in the beginning but also in the end.

If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20:15

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2007 11:20 am

    I remember realizing at one time, too, that all Scripture being inspired of God included the genealogies. So as I pondered that, some of the things I got out of their being included, besides tracing the line of Christ, were that God knows all these lines of names as individual people and that God keeps records, detailed records.

    I heard a great sermon once about the women who were mentioned in the genealogies and what they represented.

    I never thought about the three sections of the one in Matthew as representing different covenants — these are great truths.

  2. September 24, 2007 12:14 pm

    What a good post! The more I think about God and His sovereign design, the more amazing it all is to me.

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