Monday, December 10, 2012
Five Crucial Truths from a Passage You (Probably) Skim Every Time
"....Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim..." and on it goes; over forty generations of hard-to-pronounce Hebrew names.
Nevertheless, even in this long list of names there are at least five crucial truths that are worth our meditation during this Advent season, as we turn our hearts towards Christ's coming.
1) This child is the seed of Abraham. Notice how Matthew had framed this list into three main sections. Matthew himself points that out in verse 17. Each section has a main point, I would conjecture. In the first section, Matthew hints that Jesus will be the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (See Genesis 12, 15, and 22). God promised that in Abraham's seed, He would bless the nations of the world. By tracing Jesus' lineage to Abraham, Matthew is going to show us that the Great Commission will be fulfilled in person of Jesus Christ.
2) This infant is the heir to David's throne. In a like manner, God covenanted with David and promised to put an heir of David's throne eternally (cf. Psalm 89:34-37). Matthew, among the four gospels, is especially interested in fulfilled prophecy. 61 times Matthew cites a direct fulfillment of OT prophecy. 42 times Matthew speaks of the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven. Ten 'Parables of the Kingdom' are given. The first evangelist's point is clear: Christ is the coming King who will rule the world with justice and righteousness.
3) Christ is the hope in a dark and broken world. In the third set of 14 generations, Matthew mentions the deportation to Babylon; the low point of Israel's national history. The Northern Kingdom was dominated by Assyria in 722 BC and the Southern Kingdom was exiled by Babylon in 586 BC. And yet it was during these despondent times that some of the most hopeful prophecy was given. (Jeremiah's 'Righteous Branch' in 33:14-16 for instance). Matthew wants you to know that Christ is the only hope in this dark world.
4) Christ came to redeem the broken. In this long list of names there are gentiles (Ruth the Moabitess), adulterers (David and "the wife of Uriah"), heretics (Manasseh), deceivers (Jacob), and the exploited (Tamar). By recounting Israel's history, and not skipping over the more sinister characters and moments, Matthew has reminded us that none of us are worthy of His grace.
5) Finally, Christ has come to make a new family. In fact, He will connect this new family to the long unbroken line of faith enduring all generations. It will be more than a biological line, however, it will be a line of Redemption through faith in His blood. Despite our failures, despite our frailties, Christ Jesus--the baby in the manger in the succeeding passage in 1:18-25--will make a new re-created family, He will adopt them by grace, place His name upon them, and continue the unbroken, ancient line of grace.
Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.