Sapphire Sky

April 25, 2018

The History of the King

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , , — Steve Knaus @ 11:16 pm

The New Testament opens with a message for the Jewish people. It is a message that they will not accept, given by one of the most hated people.

The Romans in the first century relied upon a hierarchy of publicani, or tax gatherers, in order to collect taxes for the empire. Local merchants would pay for the privilege to collect from their countrymen. These local tax gatherers would often add on a large percentage of taxes for themselves, thus becoming both very wealthy and very hated by the local people.

The tax gatherers were considered the worst of society. They were often used in the gospels to illustrate bad people, with the synonymous term, “tax gatherers and sinners” (e.g. Matthew 9:11, Mark 2:16).

Matthew (also known as Levi) was such a tax gatherer who left his business to follow Jesus (see the passages here).  Matthew turned from his old life to become one of Jesus’ twelve apostles (see here).

Matthew’s message to the Jewish people is that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the long-awaited king who has come to save His people (see here).

Matthew’s gospel account begins by showing that Jesus deserves the title of king. Jesus is the descendent of David and heir to the throne over all Israel.

The first part of Matthew’s gospel account traces Jesus’ family tree back to Abraham. This family tree dates back for 2,000 years and includes many heroes of Old Testament history, including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and many of the kings of Judah. This list includes some of the greatest men to have ever lived.

This list included some very evil men. Rehoboam was the foolish king who divided his father’s kingdom. Manasseh was so wicked and violent that God promised to remove the kingdom because of him. Jeconiah was cursed to never have a descendent to sit on the throne of Israel (see Jeremiah 22:30).

This list included scandals. Judah fathered Perez because his daughter-in-law disguised herself as a prostitute. David took Bathsheba as wife after adultery and murder. Jehoshaphat married his son Jehoram to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, setting up two generations of family murder and intrigue.

This list included foreigners and women. Rahab was the Canaanite prostitute who rescued the Israelite spies and turned to follow their God. Ruth was the Moabite widow who chose to remain faithful to her destitute mother-in-law.

The list ends with Joseph, who would be the legal guardian of Jesus the Messiah.

What is the point of this history lesson? Is it simply a chance to reflect on history, with perhaps a chance to walk down memory lane?

Of the many lessons that we can gather from this passage, remember the following:

 

God can use broken people!

The family history of Jesus Christ is full of fallible humans. Even among the great figures in history:

  • Abraham lied and tried to build his family through a slave girl
  • Isaac was partial to one son over the other
  • Jacob was a liar and a deceiver
  • David was an adulterer and a murderer
  • Solomon was a polygamist
  • Asa would not trust God
  • Jehoshaphat befriended the evil kings of Israel
  • Uzziah tried to become a priest
  • Hezekiah bargained with God for his life
  • Josiah had three wicked sons

If God was able to use broken people in past, He is just as able to use you and me, despite our failures.

 

God’s plan is not broken by evil people!

The bloodline of Jesus Christ was never broken!

  • Even when Jehoram was murdering his brothers and Athaliah was murdering her grandchildren, God’s plan never failed.

  • Even when Manasseh was searching Jerusalem so that he could murder anyone who was faithful to God, His plan never failed.

  • Even when the Babylonian army was burning the temple and taking the people into exile, God’s plan was never broken.

If God’s plan never failed through the worst of ancient history, He is fully able to keep his plans today, despite anyone who rises to oppose Him.

 

Jesus is king!

Jesus is the king, not only over ancient Israel, but over the world today. He has all authority over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus still has just as much authority today as He did 2,000 years ago. We can know that, through all of our uncertainties, He is still king!

 

Previous post: Who is Jesus?


Matthew 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.


 

Matthew 1:1
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Genesis 5:1 says, “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” This is the account of Adam. The Old Testament begins with the account of Adam and mankind’s descent into sin.

Matthew uses the same phrase to open the New Testament. [1] This is the account of Jesus Christ, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). The last Adam would save mankind from the curse of sin.

Jesus is the Christ — He is the Messiah, the one who would save His people from their sins.

Jesus is the son of David — He is royal heir to the throne. He is the king.

Jesus is the son of Abraham — He came as a human and one of the Jewish people.

 

Matthew 1:2-6a
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

The Gospel of Matthew opens with the family history of Jesus Christ. This is a partial genealogy which traces His ancestry from Abraham down through Joseph.

The first section covers the times from the patriarchs through the times in Egypt, the wandering in the wilderness, and the time of the judges. It concludes with the beginning of the Jewish monarchy, as King David begins his reign.

It is unusual for Jewish ancestry records to include women, yet this section includes three gentile women, all of questionable reputation 3:

  • Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, who disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law (Genesis 38).
  • Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute who protected the Israelite spies when they came to Jericho (Joshua 2). She came to faith in the God of the Israelites (Hebrews 11:31) and married into the Israelite people.
  • Ruth was a Moabite foreigner who return to Israel during the time of the Judges in order to help her destitute mother-in-law. Her story is a picture of God’s grace and redemption (Ruth 1-4).

Among the men listed here:

  • Abraham is the central character in God’s plan of redemption. His life is covered in great detail in Genesis 12-22.
  • Isaac is covered in Genesis 22-27.
  • Jacob is covered in Genesis 25-49.
  • Judah and his brothers are covered in Genesis 29-50.
  • Perez is mentioned in Genesis 38.
  • Nahshon was the leader of the people of Judah when the Israelites were wandering in the desert (Numbers 2:3, 1 Chronicles 2:10).
  • Boaz is the the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth in Ruth 1-4.
  • Jesse is mentioned as David’s father in 1 Samuel 16.
  • David is the central character in Israel’s rise to monarchy. David’s life is chronicled in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles. Much of the Psalms is written by David.

The generations from Perez to David are also duplicated in Ruth 4:18-22. The generations from Jacob (Israel) to David are also duplicated in 1 Chronicles 2:1-15.

“The names of unchaste Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba tell us of mercy that goes out to the most sinful and depraved. The name of Ruth, loyal and devoted, yet a stranger, speaks of grace acting in spite of the ban upon the Moabites (Deut. 23:3-6).” – H.A. Ironside [4]

“While you may look at any sinner’s past life, just make sure you don’t overlook their future life.” – Stephen Davey [2]

 

Matthew 1:6b-11
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

 

The second section covers the times of the Kings of Israel and Judah. It begins with the reign of David and ends when Jerusalem is captured and the final king, Jeconiah, is deported to Babylon.

The fourth woman mentioned in this genealogy is Bathsheba, the wife Uriah the Hittite. David took her as a wife after committing adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). Note that Matthew calls attention to the scandal by referring to her as “the wife of Uriah”.  

Half of the kings mentioned here followed God while the other half were cruel, wicked leaders. The bloodlines of Jesus Christ shows God’s grace in the way he brought his salvation through some of the worst people possible (e.g. 2 Kings 21, 2 Chronicles 33). [6]

Among the men listed here:

  • Solomon was a godly king who was considered to be the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon is chronicled in 2 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 1-11, and 2 Chronicles 1-9. Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes were written by Solomon.
  • Rehoboam, by contrast, is known for his foolishness that split the kingdom of Israel. His life is chronicled in 1 Kings 12-14 and 2 Chronicles 10-12.
  • Abijah was an evil king, yet he understood that he needed to call on The Lord during his times of trouble. His life was chronicled in 1 Kings 15:1-8 and 2 Chronicles 13.
  • Asa (Asaph) was a godly king who led reform in his nation, even to the point of deposing his own grandmother for her idolatry. Asa’s life was chronicled in 1 Kings 15:9-24 and 2 Chronicles 14-16.
  • Jehoshaphat was a godly king who sought to teach the people about The Lord. Jehoshaphat’s tragic failure was his love for Ahab, the wicked king of Israel.  His life is chronicled in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 17-20.
  • Jehoram (Joram) was a wicked king who started his reign by murdering all of of his brothers. His wife was the daughter of Jezebel and he followed her in her wickedness. His life is chronicled in 2 Kings 8:16-24 and 2 Chronicles 21.
  • Uzziah (Azariah) was actually the great-great grandson of Jehoram. Uzziah was a godly and powerful king, but he is unfortunately also known for his attempt to usurp the role of priests near the end of his life. His life is chronicled in 2 Kings 15:1-7 and in 2 Chronicles 26.
  • Jotham was a godly king who was chronicled in 2 Kings 15:32-38 and 2 Chronicles 27.
  • Ahaz was a wicked king who brought back rampant idolatry to the kingdom of Judah. His life is chronicled in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28.
  • Hezekiah was a godly king who sought to reform his people and to unify the remains of the shattered Israelite nation to the north. Hezekiah is known for seeking God during one of his nation’s greatest crises, when the Assyrian army destroyed his country and attempted to take over Jerusalem. God protected Hezekiah and the Assyrian army was destroyed. Hezekiah’s life is chronicled in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 36-39.
  • Manasseh has the unenviable title of being Judah’s most wicked king. 2 Kings 21:10-16 tells of God’s assessment of Manasseh, and that it was because of Manasseh’s wickedness that God finally decided to destroy the nation of Judah. Ironically, Manasseh reformed before his death. His life is chronicled in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33.
  • Amon (Amos) was a wicked king with a very short reign. His life is chronicled in 2 Kings 21:19-26 and 2 Chronicles 33.
  • Josiah was the last godly king of Judah. He was one of the greatest kings in the nation’s final days. 2 Kings 23:25 says, “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” Josiah’s life is chronicled in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.
  • Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was Josiah’s grandson. He was a wicked king who ruled for only three months before he was taken captive to Babylon. His brief reign is chronicled in 2 Kings 24:8-17, 2 Kings 25:27-30, and 2 Chronicles 36:9-10.

Jeremiah 22:30 pronounces a curse on Jeconiah, that none of his descendants would sit on the throne of David. Jesus did not receive this curse because he was not a blood descendant of Joseph. [5]

“Jesus didn’t come to praise his forefathers, He came to die for them.” – Stephen Davey [6]

Matthew 1:12-16
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

The final section covers the time from the captivity in Babylon until the birth of Jesus Christ. We have very little information about the men mentioned in this part of the genealogy, and most of them lived during the time of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Zerubbabel was the leader of the returning exiles in the book of Ezra.

The phrase, “of whom Jesus was born” is feminine singular, indicating that the birth of Jesus was of Mary only and not Joseph. This genealogy shows Jesus’ right to David’s throne as Joseph’s legal heir. [5]

 

Matthew 1:17
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

The genealogy covered in Matthew 1 is not exhaustive. Some well-known names were intentionally omitted (e.g. Ahaziah, Joash, Jehoiakim). Most Bible scholars believe that Matthew used the groups of 14 names as a memory device. [9]

There are three groups of 14 generations but only 41 names. David is included in two groups.

Luke 3:23-38 shows another genealogy of Jesus Christ, going backward to Adam. Bible scholars have suggested several different explanations for difference between the two sets, but most scholars now agree that Luke’s account traces the line of Mary while Matthew’s account traces the line of Joseph. [10] [11]

 


 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Matthew 1, Page 10

[2] Stephen Davey, His Family Tree, Part 2, Matthew 1, 12/10/2017

[3] Why are the four women mentioned in the genealogy? There are three possibilities:

  • All four were either Gentiles or married to a Gentile (Bathsheba). This illustrates that Jesus is the savior of both Jews and Gentiles.
  • All four have a connection to gross sexual sin: Tamar seduced Judah by being a harlot. Rahab was a former harlot. Ruth was a Moabite – the product of incest. Bathsheba was an adulteress.
  • All four reveal something of the strange and unexpected workings of providence in preparation for the Messiah.

From D.A. Carson, Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Zondervan, 2010, Matthew [1]

[4] H.A. Ironside, Ironside Expository Commentaries, Matthew 1

[5] John MacArthur, One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, Thomas Nelson, 2012, Part II, 9. The Royal Lineage of Jesus Christ Through Joseph, page 38

[6] Stephen Davey, His Family Tree, Part 1, Matthew 1, 12/3/2017

[7] D.A. Carson, Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Zondervan, 2010, Matthew 1

[8] There is a challenge in 1 Chronicles 3:19, which presents Zerubbabel as the son of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel. One possibility is a levirate marriage. [7]

[9] Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins, 1978, Essay 9, The Genealogies in Matthew and Luke , pages 318-319

[10] There are three common explanations of the difference in the genealogies between Matthew 1 and Luke 3:

  • One explanation is that Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matthew), who married Eli’s (Luke) widow and had Joseph via levirate marriage. Therefore, Joseph was was Jacob’s physical son and Eli’s legal son. Matthew would give Joseph’s physical lineage, while Luke would give Joseph’s legal lineage. (“levirate marriage”)
  • Another explanation is that Solomon’s line failed in Jeconiah, so the kingly line passed to the descendants of Nathan through Shelatiel. (“collateral lines”)
  • The final explanation is that Luke has listed Mary’s genealogy. Jesus is supposed to be the son of Joseph, but is descendent of Eli, Mary’s father.

Most Bible scholars agree with the final explanation, that Luke’s account lists Mary’s ancestry. This does not depend on conjecture (like the others), and is consistent with scripture.

Source: Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins, 1978, Essay 9, The Genealogies in Matthew and Luke , pages 318-319

[11] Shelatiel and Zerubbabel appear in both lists (in Matthew and Luke). The simplest explanation is that the are two different groups of people. [9]

 

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