Have you ever wondered why in the world God gave so much detail to the genealogies in scripture. I mean really, how many of you enjoy reading through places like numbers and Leviticus where it’s chapter after chapter of “so and so begat so and so and had sons and daughters, etc etc?”
While it’s true that it’s not very enjoyable to read genealogical records, when it’s your own “family tree,” it’s much more interesting. in 2020 when we were in the US waiting out covid, I was introduced to a website that tracks your family lineage. As I began to dig around and follow my families genealogy, according to what I found, I have French royalty in my family back in the 13th century!
For Jews, the lineage was much more important to them than it is for us today. The major aspects of their society had to do with lineage (the priesthood and the throne). For Jesus, this would have been much more significant! If He was going to claim to be Israel’s future king, then he sure better have the lineage to go along with that claim!
The Passage: Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23d-38
As I think about my own “genealogy,” and the fact that at one point, 700 years ago, a relative of mine was royal, how many others can also make that claim? How many other people’s family trees could lead back to that. Really, any number of people. They would just have to be a descendent of anyone in that line. And if you have worked with charting family trees at all, it doesn’t take long for the legs to spread out significantly. The same is true for Jesus and the descendants of David. Except we aren’t talking 700 years, were’t talking more like 1500 years.
Yet, in all of the arguments and criticism the religious leaders had against Jesus, his genealogy was not one of them. His linage to David was never questioned! I think that’s remarkable. Because blood lines and genealogies were so important to Israel, and so well documented, this was not ever put in question…. and by the way, I think that’s a big reason why those passages are there for us to read.
Here’s a few things notable things Fruchenbaum mentions about the genealogies that stuck out to me:
- Matthew mentions 4 women. These four women were Gentiles. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, and Ruth was a Moabitess. Bathsheba was probably a Hittite.
- The second noteworthy fact about these women is that three of them were involved in specific sexual sins: Bathsheba was guilty of adultery, Tamar was guilty of incest, and Rahab was guilty of prostitution. Ruth was not herself guilty of sexual sin, but she was a Moabitess. The Moabites originated from the commission of a sexual sin, as they were the product of an incestuous relationship Lot had with one of his daughters. The point Matthew hinted at here was that Yeshua came for the purpose of saving sinners.
- Matthew also presents a problem in his genealogy. He points out that Joseph, while he was indeed part of the line of David, he was a descendant of David’s son Solomon, which included being a descendant of Jechoniah. In the days of Jeremiah, God pronounced a curse upon King Jechoniah because of the kind of man he was. The culmination of the curse was that no descendant of Jechoniah would ever have the right to sit upon the throne of David (Jer. 22:30). Until Jeremiah, the only requirement for kingship in Judah had been membership in the house of David. With Jeremiah, that requirement was limited further: one still had to be a member of the house of David, but apart from Jechoniah. Matthew began his Gospel with the genealogy. He presented the “Jechoniah problem,” but then immediately solved it with the account of the virgin conception and birth. Yeshua was not the real son of Joseph; there was no biological connection, so there was no “Jechoniah problem.”
So, what’s the purpose of these genealogies?
- A big reason is to prove, without a doubt, that God keeps his word.
- Over and over God had promised the people of Israel that a descendent of David would be the Messiah, and that he would ultimate sit on the throne of David! All the way back to Genesis 3:15 God had made a promise to send the deliverer, and that deliverer would be through the “seed of the woman.”
- Isaiah 7:14 adds to that promise by declaring that one of the signs of the Messiah would be that he would be born of a virgin. In these genealogies, it is very clear that Jesus was not born of Joseph AND Mary, but of Mary only.
- The genealogy even addressed the small issue of the curse on Jechoniah. Matthew makes it clear that although Joseph was part of the cursed line, Jesus came through Mary.
- God’s message never changes, and He always keeps His Word!
- I think the second purpose is to show that God is not embarrassed to be associated with sinners. Scattered throughout the stories of the lives of those through whom Jesus descended are broken people and sinners of every kind. Jesus came for the purpose of saving sinners.
- Like Abraham, reasoning/thinking /making decisions based on what God has said, not according to how he felt or what he wanted. (Willing to sacrifice Isaac, reasoning on the promise, without wavering that God would keep his promise no matter what)
- Like Isaac and Jacob, holding on to God’s promises, never letting go of them, and passing them on to their children.
- Like Joseph, living for the greater reward of God’s promises to come, and not settling for the temporary pleasures and possessions of this world, even though they were the grandest in all of Egypt.
How confident am I in God’s Word. Over the past couple months we have been looking at the stories of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. We defined faith as “believing what God has said in the past, and the promises He has fulfilled, and living today, believing he will do the same.”
Living by faith is living based on what God has said, even when we don’t see the evidence of it today. God always keeps His promises. His promises never change! Through all those years, through all those generations, God was at work to fulfill His promise. In the midst, He is not embarrassed to be associated with foreigners and sinners. He came to save all of us. Jesus truly is the savior of the world!
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
- Jesus came to save sinners. I agree with Paul when he said, “I am the chief of sinners.”
- God’s word and His promises never change. He always keeps his word
- To live by faith, God’s word comes first, then circumstances need to viewed from the perspective of what God has said.