2011 12 04

Lessons From the Family Tree

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

December 4th, 2011  www.FirstPresTucker.org

at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker

Second Sunday of Advent 2011

Matthew 1:1-17 English Standard Version

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

2    Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3    and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,

4    and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5    and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,

6    and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,

7    and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and 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 Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,

11  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12  And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13  and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,

14  and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,

15  and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,

16  and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

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.[1]

Ancestry research is big business these day. There are huge databases where you can find the good, the bad and the interesting branches within your family tree.

The Jews were famous for this kind of research. The Apostle Paul warned in Titus 3:9 to avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Issues of genetics, Jew or Gentile no longer matter. In Christ we are all equal before the Father. No one is better than someone else.

The promises of God for salvation were given to the Jews, but they were meant for everyone. Adam was given certain promises and we all participate in those promises. God gave promises to Noah and we all share ancestry with Noah.

But when God made promises to Abram there developed a class of folks called the “Chosen People”. The Jews were given promises concerning land, a kingdom and blessings.

God said in Genesis 12:2-3 I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

A blessing like that is the kind of discovery you hope to find in your family tree. God made a divine promise that by one family the whole world will find their best blessing.

The Jews didn’t forget that important promise from God to their family. How could they?

And when Jesus was born the Jews were still carefully drawing the blood lines to prove who was in the promises of God and who was not. Are you a Gentile or a Jew? Then you are in or out.

These promises were then repeated and expanded to King David.

God said in 2 Samuel 7:10-13 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them . . . And I will give you rest from all your enemies . . . I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

These are eternal promises about the Kingdom of Messiah. And the Jews waited eagerly for the Messiah to come and fulfill to the fullest extent all the words that God spoke to Abraham and David.

These people listed in verse 2-6 are held in the highest esteem. Some names are familiar and others are less so.

Amminadab in verse 4 was Aaron’s father-in-law who lived during the deliverance from Egypt. He surely knew Moses as a child. Then there’s familiar names like Boaz, Obed, Jesse and King David.

These are names that anyone would be happy to claim as being in their family tree.

But could we see our names in this tree?

Notice the first name of a woman in verse 3 which is very irregular for Jewish ancestry. Who is Tamar?

Genesis 38:6-30 Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah. Judah had the twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel.

Well Judah got a beautiful daughter-in-law for his son Er. Her name was Tamar. But Er was evil and God killed him. Er’s brother, named Onan, by Jewish law had to give his seed to Tamar so she could carry on the family blood line.

He didn’t so God killed him.

As a childless widow she waited for the next son of Judah, who was a minor, to become old enough to do his family duty.

Judah wasn’t willing to risk another son and chose not to obey the mosaic law.

So Tamar disguised herself as a harlot and when Judah went to the big city to have some fun, Tamar did the deed and got pregnant by her father-in-law.

Actually, I am leaving out a bunch of juicy details.

And what is the lesson of Tamar? Isn’t it kind of obvious? Messed up people and messed up families can’t spoil the promises that were made to father Abraham. Those of us with a sullied past can fit into the ancestry family of Jesus.

The holiness and purposes of Jesus are not be diminished by the messed up names we find in His family tree.

Verse 5 is Rahab. (Joshua 2:1-24) Rahab was a harlot who lived in Jericho. But Rahab hid the spies of Joshua because she believed the word of God. And because of her faith the Israelites spared her life when they conquered Jericho. She later became the wife of Salmon, and the mother of Boaz.

Rahab’s faith is commended in Hebrews 11:30-31 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

Are these the sorts of names one would expect to find listed for the Holy Child? And what is God telling us? That the power of sin is no problem for God.

In Jesus there is a greater power that can transform the worst of us and make us fit to be listed in the book of the genealogy of the family of God.

We are all equal before the Lord. Sinners saved by grace. There is no Jew or Gentile. We are all God’s children.

Which is the lesson for the next name on our list in verse 5. Ruth 1:1-4:22

Ruth was a foreigner from the land of Moab. She marries Boaz and became the mother of Obed, the grandfather of David the King.

There is no event in your life that can keep you from the best that God has planned for you. And God is not embarrassed to list your name in His family tree.

God can transform our terrible decisions in this life and God can use them to accomplish His purposes.

Which is the lesson for the next name on our list in verse 6.

2 Samuel 11:1-27 Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was a soldier in the army of King David. She and David had an adulterous affair.

When David discovered Bathsheba was pregnant, he tried to cover it up by summoning Uriah home from war, hoping that Uriah would spend the night with his wife so that the pregnancy could be blamed on the husband. Uriah came home to Jerusalem but slept in the soldier quarters.
So, David sent Uriah back into battle, with orders that Uriah should be placed at the front of the battle and left alone when the fighting became fierce. After Uriah was died, David took Bathsheba as his own wife.

God punished them both, but Bathsheba later became the mother of Solomon.

God can transform our terrible decisions in this life and God can use them to accomplish His holy purposes.

God can also use terrible people to accomplish His purposes.

Rehoboam was a megalomaniac.  His famous line was My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges! 1 Kings 12:14b

Abijah, Amon, Joram, Ahaz, Manasseh, and Jechoniah, were “not loyal to the Lord”

1 Kings 15:3 they did evil in the sight of the Lord. . . served idols. . . and worshiped them.

Men and women, notorious for their evil character, stand in the direct line of Christ’s descent that Jesus might fully represent our fallen race.

Jeconiah’s presence in this genealogy presents an interesting dilemma. God was so angry with his deception, evil and lies that God cursed any of his descendants from the throne of David forever (Jer. 22:30).

Jesus was heir through Joseph to the royal line of King David, and could not have claimed the throne if he had been the son of Joseph because of this curse.

Jesus can claim the throne because he did not bear that curse for he was adopted by Joseph. Jesus has a double royal claim through the ancestry of Mary whose was not cursed by Jeconiah’s sin.

The Lesson? Evil men will not stop God from blessing you or using you for His glory.

Matthew lists 14 generations. 14 is a tool for memorization. Jewish children would memorize the big names and then fill in the gaps as they learned the details.

And this list includes the good, the bad, the interesting and the infamous. The ancestry of Jesus without the grubby and dirty details isn’t worth anything. We need to see the reality. Keep it real. Tell me the truth. Who is Jesus?

Jesus is the Virgin Born Son of God who comes into our broken and sin stained world to make things right.

Jesus carries into this world the promises of God to Abraham and David.

Jesus carries the burden of a family tree that is both blessed and cursed. But Jesus can do something about it.

Normal people can’t change their family tree. Jesus can redeem it. We can’t help our dead relatives, Jesus can glorify them into positions of glory and honor in the heavenly home.

And Jesus can do the same for us. He can take our messed up family as we are, warts and all, and overcome the blemishes by His shed blood.

This is the way that God blesses the whole world through the promised Messiah. And we can receive that blessing today if we look to faith to Jesus and place our faith in Him alone.

May we do that this Advent Season

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

I want to buy him

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