Title: Prepared Throughout History
Text: Matthew 1.1-17
Introduction: Let’s gain some context here of the overall Christmas Sermon Series.
I’m breaking it down like this:
- Promised from the Beginning – His Story in Ancient History. Gen 3.1-24
- Prepared Throughout History – His Story in the Old Testament. Matthew 1.1-17
- Proclaimed Unexpectedly – His Story Announced. Matthew 1.18-25
- Arrived at the Right Time – His Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12
We began with the Fall. God promised a messiah in Gen 3.15. The promises of the seed of Eve and the Enemy were fulfilled in both the individual and the collective. Do you remember the story of the skull crushing battle won by David, as he faced Goliath? I gave some examples of that prophecy fulfilled throughout the O.T. and of course, the prophecy fulfilled in the individual, the man, Jesus.
Today, I’d like to work our way through history to show more of God’s plan and how he was always at work fulfilling his plan.
Usually when I begin a passage of Scripture I like to gain a perspective of the context. The passage before and the passage after usually help me in this regard. Well, Before we have the O.T. – Malachi. What is the last bit of information Malachi gives before the Lord goes silent for 400 plus years. Rd 4.5-6; This is prophecy about John the Baptist, the one who would prepare the way of the Lord! Luke 1 clarifies this for us: 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
So the preface is about the Messiah and the “Elijah” who would come and announce his coming. Look at the passage that follows the Genealogy; You have a subtitle which begins the passage; what does it say? rd v 18: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.
So in case you miss it somehow, Matthew clarifies in v 1 & 17 of his topic: Jesus, the Messiah.
What I find so interesting is that Matthew decided to introduce his letter this way – with a genealogy. Genealogy! How boring, right? How many of you, now, be honest, how many of you, when you come to the genealogy in the Bible – here or elsewhere, you skim it? Just be honest and show us by raising your hand. Let’s pray for these pagans!
We’ve read the text this morning already and so let’s dig into the text. I think the text illustrates for us three main teaching points.
- God uses real people to accomplish his plan.
- God uses sinful people to accomplish his plan.
- His Plan is all about keeping his promises.
As I make my way through each teaching point, I’d like to do something I don’t usually do. I came up with the idea this morning while reviewing my message: I want to elaborate on the stories. Now, I’ve got to be careful, so, I’m going to keep a close eye on the time, so as to not stray too far. However, with your permission, and even more so, the Lord’s blessing, I’d like to tell some stories from the Bible as they come to me. I know, I know this is scary, but humor me – give me a little leeway. It is after all the holidays.
So, with that in mind, let’s begin with the 1st point…
- God uses real people to accomplish his plan. (2-6a)
He breaks through the time barrier, which doesn’t hold him captive as it does us, and accomplishes his purposes and goals. What is most interesting to me about his work is that he chooses to use real people in real places with real problems to bring about his desired outcome. These names represent real people. They are not mythological. Nor, or they simply legends. These people lived and breathed and walked the face of this earth just like you and me. They got up each morning and dealt with many of the same problems you do.
I have loved our WEBS through Genesis. It took a couple of years, but each step along the way we were involved in the lives of real people:
- Abraham (who BTW, wasn’t the 1st born in his family), Abraham was told in Gen. 12, 15 where the Scriptures record that Abraham believed God and God credited his belief as righteousness. Nowhere is it more apparent than in Gen 22 – the famous chapter where Abraham offers his son on an altar of wood – raising the knife up in the air, God intercedes and provides a lamb.
- Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac (who wasn’t the 1st born either),
- Jacob & Esau, Jacob, who wasn’t the 1st born fathered Judah and his brothers, as for Judah, we see him here in v 2b-3; He had wicked children, the oldest of whom the Lord killed: Er. All of this takes place while in the meantime, Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers, Joseph and Potiphar, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife; Joseph & Pharaoh; Joseph responded to life in an arrogant way – at least in the first 17 years of his life. God dealt with him as he needed and humbled him there after.
Naomi and Ruth were real women with real problems. Especially for this time in history! Ruth, a Moabite woman was brought to the Holy Land through severe famine and loss of life. It would have been hard being a Gentile – Yet, she would overcome great obstacles to become the Great Grandmother to David, the shepherd boy who would face Goliath of Gath to become a hero of the nation. He also would one day become King of Israel. But that was a long and painful path. His Father-in-law hated him and on occasion tried to kill him!
App.: God uses real people in real situations of life to accomplish his purposes. We’ve seen that throughout history.
- God uses sinful people to accomplish His Plan. (6b-11)
Yes, he used Joseph and Moses and Abraham. But even these men were sinners. Just look at some of the other examples God uses; We mentioned Judah earlier who fathered wicked sons – so wicked that God took their lives: Gen 38.7: 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. V 10 says the same of the next son – wicked – so God put him to death, too. Er’s wife was Tamar, but none of the sons would be responsible for her. God had a plan for just such situations: Kinsman Redeemer. We see this multiple times in Ruth. For Tamar, there was a stigma attached to a woman without children, so she took matters into her own hands. She disguised herself as a prostitute and sold herself to her father-in-law, who got her pregnant! Which, was her plan!
Look at our text, picking up in 6b; rd 6b; now how rude is that! I’m guessing most of you know the story of David and Bathsheba. Lust, Adultery, murder, cover-up – sounds like a tv show! It’s not just interesting to me that God uses a sinner like David. But, listen carefully, he uses this couple and through them the Messiah would come. In the stories of David, my favorite wife is Abigail. She’s just an awesome woman. She’s wise, she’s strong, she’s a leader, she takes action. Why not her? Why didn’t God use her to pass on the royal lineage? He doesn’t. Instead, he takes Bathsheba and gives her a son who will become king. And, he takes another son of hers and passes on the priestly line of the Messiah. Nathan is his name, and you can find his lineage in the priestly line, the lineage of Mary, in Luke 3.
Solomon would turn from the Lord in his later years, wrecking not only his faith, but the kingdom. This man would be considered the wisest man ever and yet, look at his son; Rd v 7a; Rehoboam – who split the kingdom because of his foolishness! He might be as much to blame for all of the idol worship that occurs in the Northern Kingdom as Jeroboam is! Read the names in 8ff;
- Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and
- Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and
- Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and
- Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and
- Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and
- Uzziah the father of Jotham, and
- Jotham the father of Ahaz, and
- Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and
- Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and of Manasseh it was said there was no king more wicked than him. He sacrificed his own child to a false god as a burnt offering. He set up idols in the Temple of God. There was a time of repentance, but his evil was so gross and so offensive to God, that it was determined here that God would send his people into exile. Rd on
- Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, Josiah was a great king, but God said, uh-uh – the punishment that’s coming is coming and your good behavior won’t stop it now! Rd v 11
- 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
App.: I’m amazed that God chooses to use sinful people for his purposes. Here, we see that God has a plan, he’s working his plan and he’s using sinful people in the process. I’m think that you might just be thinking: wow! That means there is hope for me. You bet there is. I’m guessing that where you are today is nowhere near the depths of sin outlined by some of these people. I’m guessing your sin, in comparison hasn’t led to the downfall of many. But even if it has, there is hope for you. God can use you – and will use you if you will surrender your life to him.
Transition: God uses real people to accomplish his plan. God uses sinful people to accomplish his plan. And three…
- His Plan is all about keeping his promises. (12-16)
Exp.: Sometimes, it’s hard to see his promises – But God is faithful to fulfill all that he has said. Rd v 12-13; Just reading this at 1st – a cursory glance doesn’t really catch your attention. But, if you know the history of these Kings, something doesn’t add up. 1st of all, so offended was God at Jeconiah that he promised to cut off his lineage. Look at Jeremiah 22.24-30:
24 “As I live, declares the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.”
28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot,
a vessel no one cares for?
Why are he and his children hurled and cast
into a land that they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
30 Thus says the Lord:
“Write this man down as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days,
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David
and ruling again in Judah.”
Write this man down as childless… remember that, because we have his genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles 3.16-20. Go ahead and go there:
16 The descendants of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son; 17 and the sons of Jeconiah, the captive: Shealtiel his son, 18 Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah; 19 and the sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shimei; and the sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith was their sister; 20 and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed, five.
Now, this Genealogy is so important for the royal lineage. The lineage listed here in Matthew 1.12-13 is Jeconiah, Shealtiel, Zerubabbel. But according to the official records, Shealtiel had no sons. Meaning that the Prophecy came true: Jeconiah’s son, Pedaiah was childless and the royal lineage stopped right there. But, Pedaiah’s son is listed as Zerubbabel – Zerubbabel was Shealtiel’s son – meaning that Shealtiel became Pedaiah’s Kinsman Redeemer and fathered a child for him. The Jews understood this rule for lineage. They would have no problem with it. Thus, the royal line would continue in spite of Pedaiah’s inability to produce an heir. My guess is that Pedaiah died and Shealtiel’s responsibility was to be the Kinsman Redeemer.
These are his descendants, but didn’t Jeremiah prophesy that Jeconiah his lineage would end? It does.
A no brainer for the most part: v 2-6a are found in 1 Chr 2:1-15; v 6b-11 are found in 1 Chr 3:10-14; v 12-16 are 1 Chr 3:15-19; Every name is covered up to v 13; from Abiud through to Christ is unconfirmed, but really no problem. It was very common for families to keep their genealogy!
Abraham to David the Lineage is the same.
David David (3:5)
Jechoniah 3:16; Jer 22:23-30 Neri
Caveat: This scares me; at times I feel like this is way beyond my mind. I’m grateful for the men who’ve figured all of this out so that I can read, study and apply it. I feel like Job who said after he was confronted by God:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Application: Here is why this is so important: God keeps his promises. He fulfilled his word against Jeconiah and he kept his word for David. The Jews would then have no problem accepting Christ as Messiah even though Joseph didn’t offer his seed for Mary to conceive the Baby Jesus. God, himself, would serve as the Kinsman Redeemer, and Jesus would have both the Priestly Lineage and the Royal Lineage in himself. Christ as both priest and king – Messiah.
Transition: Throughout history God has been moving and working to achieve his plan.
Observations & Implications:
- The continuance of family lines listed for priestly heritage and royal lineage are due to God’s intervention. My guess is that applies to your family line, too. Chances are you’ve got some ugly stuff in your family tree? Thank God for where you are today – that you’re not where you were. And Thank God that you’re not where you’re going to be!
- The members of these families who enjoy firstborn status, weren’t always firstborn! And you, if you are Christ’s, you enjoy the status of the firstborn child. You’ve been given position in the family of God.
- These families anticipated a royal lineage, through this family would come a unique King who would restore the broken relationship of Genesis 3. We now enjoy this restored relationship as Christians.
- God worked miracles for these families. He gave children to barren women. He gave descendants through women whose husbands died by giving them a kinsman redeemer.
- God provided in all this the accomplishment of his plan. He acted in a way that we could understand, so that we might come to know Him.