December 4 - Genealogy

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 4 - Genealogy - Matthew 1:1-17

We began looking at this genealogy yesterday, but today we will look a little deeper. Matthew actually had several points he wanted to make as he listed Jesus' heritage. First, he established that Jesus was the Messiah by proving that He was the rightful heir to David's throne and secondly, he established that Jesus fulfilled God's promise that all nations would be blessed through Abraham.

Matthew 1:17 tells us that there are 3 sets of 14 generations. Because I love numbers and the way God uses them in scripture, I'm entranced that we see the number 3 here and that we see three sets of 14 - a number which is divisible by 7 (3x14 = 42). These two numbers (3 & 7) are found all through scripture and God makes them available to us in the genealogy of His Son.

In Exodus 19:11, Moses consecrates the Israelites and tells them to be prepared on the ‘third day’ for the Lord to come down. He came down and then gave the Commandments to them.

We know that Christ was raised from the grave after 3 days. And we find the beginning of the Trinity in Matthew 28:19 when Jesus gives the command to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The number 42 (3 x 14) can also be delineated at 6 x 7. Six signifies incompleteness and symbolizes humanity. Seven, on the other hand, is God's divine number - the number of perfection. I could go on and on describing the times that this number is used in scripture, but I won't do that here. Needless to say, it's pretty cool seeing that this Genealogy of the Messiah also uses numbers that signify both humanity and divinity.

(I also just read that the three letters of David's name - in their numerical terms - add up to 14. More cool stuff)

These three divisions tell of the major divisions of Jewish history. From Abraham to David it was a theocracy. God made the laws and dealt out the punishment. From David to the Exile it was a monarchy. This was the time of the Kings of Israel. From the Exile to the time of Jesus was what is called a hierarchy. The Israelites elected rulers from within their culture to rule varying areas. However, this rule always come underneath a different national rule (i.e. Herod ruled under Caesar).

Another wonderful thing about Matthew's genealogy is that there are 4 women named in the list. Traditional Hebrew genealogies never acknowledge women. And to top it off, these women are outside the norm for what would be termed a pillar of the faith. Matthew 1:3 - Tamar - tricked her father-in-law, Judah (one of Jacob / Israel's sons) into sleeping with her. She was accused of being a prostitute, but had proof of their assignation (Genesis 38:13-30).

Matthew 1:5a - Rahab. A Gentile prostitute who hid Joshua's two spies and was saved from the crushing of Jericho (Joshua 2:1-24)

Matthew 1:5 - Ruth was not even Jewish. She came into the lineage by marrying Boaz after leaving her home following her husband's death and staying with her mother-in-law, Orpah (Ruth 1:4).

Matthew 1:6 - Bathsheba, who became David's wife after he murdered her husband because he had made her pregnant. (2 Samuel 11:1-5).

The inclusion of these women in this genealogy shows God's grace and his sovereignty in choosing through whom He will work.

Matthew uses the term "Christ" three times in this Genealogy so as to firmly establish Jesus' identification as the Messiah. This title is his way of establishing the royal reign of Jesus Christ.

I found this genealogy extremely boring as a young adult. However, Matthew's readers would have read it with great interest as they traced their history through the Patriarchs, David, memories of the Exile and on to the Savior of the World.