Our Hope and Peace

Our Hope and Peace

Our Hope and Peace.

Matthew 2

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
For from you shall come a ruler
Who will shepherd my people Israel.’’

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.’ After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him. And he rose and took the child and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’

Then Herod when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious and sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be comforted,
Because they are no more.’

But when Herod died behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Rise, take child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that He would be called a Nazarene.”

So, now as we get into the next few chapters, the pace will start to pick up a bit. However, we may cover a bit more text in some parts than we did when we were studying Matthew 1. After the birth of Jesus, we get into a stretch of longer narrative. I encourage you to read Matthew 2-4 in one sitting some time. Try to get a feel for the story Matthew is weaving together. It will help you see the bigger picture of each individual part better.

Matthew 2 contains more that is familiar to a lot of Christians and those who have been in church for a while. It’s hard to study not because the content is difficult to understand, but because it’s so familiar. To be honest, it’s hard to find something to write about that most people don’t already know.

But I think that’s ok. I talked about how important it is to not take anything in Scripture for granted. Just because you may have heard this story before over and over, doesn’t mean it’s not important. It may be the same old truth you’ve heard your whole life. But it’s good truth. Sometimes we need to remember the same old truth. And sometimes God shows us a deeper part of the same old truth. We may think we know all there is to know about a passage or a particular truth and then God goes and blows our minds. He shows us an angle of a story that we never saw before. And that’s the beauty of Scripture.

A Summary

I want to start by summarizing what I read. And as I summarize, I want to keep what I’ve already read in mind. I want to always be thinking about how this part of Matthew connects to the genealogy and the story of Jesus’ birth. 

After Jesus was born, a group of wise men came to Herod, who was king. They told Herod they were looking for the “King of the Jews.” Herod sent the wise men to visit this King of the Jews after finding out he was born in Bethlehem. Herod said he wanted to visit as well. The wise men found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a house in Bethlehem. They gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Instead of returning to Herod, however, the wise men found another way home after God warned them in a dream.

Herod realized the wise men tricked him and had every baby boy under the age of two killed. But, God warned Joseph through a dream and the family escaped to Egypt. After Herod died, God told Joseph to go back to Israel. However, Herod’s son was reigning in Judea and Joseph was afraid of him. God then told Joseph to take his family to live in Nazareth. 

What Is Matthew Saying About Jesus?

Throughout the whole Gospel, Matthew is trying to show his fellow Jews who Jesus is. He wants the other Jews to know Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the King of the Jews. And as always, when we are reading through the Gospel, we need to keep that in mind.

What is Matthew doing in this story to show us that Jesus is the Christ? And even further, what can we learn about what it means for Jesus to be the Christ? These are the types of questions we always want to be asking.

Jesus’ Parallel to Moses

One interesting thing about the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew is the parallelism between the story of Jesus and the story of Israel. The beginning of the nation of Israel becomes a shadow of the early life of Jesus. For example, when Herod kills all the infants in Bethlehem, we see a glimmer of Pharaoh’s actions at the beginning of Exodus. Both rulers were afraid of something. Pharaoh was afraid of the Israelites overpowering him. Herod was afraid of being dethroned by the future king of the Jews. And because of their fear, both men murdered innocent children. And like in the story of Exodus, God protected the one who would save His people.

Matthew is hinting here about who Jesus is. He is showing the Jews of his day, not only that Jesus is the Christ. He’s showing them what that means. He’s showing his fellow Jews what God has been doing since the Exodus and the beginning of the nation of Israel. And it’s bigger than any of them would have thought.

Old Testament Prophecies

Matthew also includes three references to the Old Testament. He points out three times the story of Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. The first comes from Micah 5, the second is from Hosea11, and the third from Jeremiah 31. I’ll deal with the first and the last one, and I encourage you to look at the second one on your own to practice.

He Will Be Their Peace.

The priests and scribes tell Herod that the Christ was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. And Matthew tells us how Jesus’ place of birth was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy:

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
For from you shall come a ruler
Who will shepherd my people Israel.”

It’s helpful when you are reading the Gospels is looking up Old Testament references. Looking at them in their original context can help us see them in a different light. We want to try to read the Gospels through the eyes of the original audience, in this case, first-century Jews. Looking up Old Testament references helps us see what they saw when they read Matthew’s Gospel. And when you look up the references, take some time to read more than the couple of verses Matthew quoted. Read the chapter before and after. Try to get a feel for the story those verses are in.

So, let’s look up the verses Matthew quotes here. This prophecy comes from Micah 5. Micha, like many of the other prophets, starts out with a description of coming judgment from God for the sins of the people. But, then there is a turning point and we see God promise to have mercy on His children. Micah 5 starts out like this:

“Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
Siege is laid against us:
With a rod they strike the judge of Israel
On the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
One who is to be ruler in Israel,
Whose coming forth is from of old,
From ancient days.
Therefore He shall give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has given birth:

Then the rest of His brothers shall return
To the people of Israel.
And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now, He shall be great
To the ends of the earth.
And He shall be their peace.

Matthew tells us that the Jews referenced Micah 5 to show that the Messiah was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. And here, Matthew shows his fellow Jews and us that Jesus’ birth fulfills what Micah prophesied. According to Matthew, Jesus is the ruler “whose coming is from of old.” And he would shepherd God’s people and be their peace.  

Rachel Weeping for Her Children

Matthew also includes a reference from the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Let’s take a look at Matthew’s reference to Jeremiah at the end of this story.

Matthew points us back to Jeremiah 31:5. Jeremiah can be a hard book to read. It primarily contains prophecy about Judah’s exile. God’s people had rejected Him, turning to worship idols and in turn oppressing the poor. Jeremiah started out by listing the charges against God’s people. He told them why the exile is coming.

Then, the book begins to turn a little. It turns from conviction to hope. From the pain of sin to the promise of salvation. Even though the exile would last a long time, God would restore His people. He would show them mercy. They would have joy again. The verses Matthew quotes come in the middle of this promise.

Here is Matthew’s reference the way it was written in Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children
Because they are no more.”

Then, Jeremiah goes onto say (this is the part that isn’t in Matthew, but I think it helps us get a powerful perspective on Jesus):

“Thus says the Lord,
Keep your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears,
For there is a reward for your work,
Declares the Lord
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future,
Declares the Lord,
And your children shall come back to their own country.”

The Promise in the Middle of Judgment

Of course, there is a lot we can learn about Jesus by reading these Old Testament passages. And I would love to see what stood out to you as you studied them. I want to share a little of what stands out to me. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot about the prophecies from the Old Testament that Matthew references. It’s something that I think captures the beauty of the gospel and the reality of why Jesus came.

Both of these Old Testament references are found in the middle of books where God is pronouncing judgment on His people. As we learned a few posts ago, God’s people had sinned against Him. They turned from Him and began to worship other gods. Their idolatry corrupted their hearts and they oppressed the poor in their communities. 

Their sin broke God’s heart.

“What wrong did your fathers find in me
That they went far from me,
And went after worthlessness and became worthless?

Jeremiah 2:5-6

He gave them chances to repent. He gave them a chance to turn back to Him.

“Return, faithless Israel,
Declares the LORD.
I will not look on you in anger,
For I am merciful,
Declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 3:12

But, they choose their sin. They don’t turn back. And so, God pronounces judgment.

Reading through Jeremiah and even Micah is hard to do. Because the truth is everything God says against Judah and Israel, is true for me too. I deserve the same wrath they received. I have sinned against God. I have turned away from Him. I deserve to die. And I deserve God’s judgment. Every word God speaks against His people in both Jeremiah and Micah He should also be speaking against me. And when I read these books I feel that deep in my heart every single time. 

And as I read these hard words, I feel despair. I feel the weight of that judgment. My heart cries. My eyes go searching through the pages of these books looking for some light of hope.

Every single person reading this post is in the same position as the people of Judah and Israel. We all deserve judgment from God. We have all been exiled from the presence of God. Our sin and rebellion against God have sentenced us to exile and death. 

And that’s where these prophecies in Matthew can be so helpful. Because even in the midst of calling out His people for their sin, even in the midst of His wrath, God is still merciful. In the midst of the pain of the coming exile, which God’s people brought on themselves, God promised salvation for His people. And salvation does come. It comes in the Gospel of Matthew.

And it doesn’t just come for the Jews. 

It comes for the whole world. 

It comes for you.

It comes for Kailynn.

There is hope for me. Even when I don’t deserve it.

Even in the midst of His anger toward our sin, God promises salvation. Even in the midst of our sin and the suffering we often face as a result of it, we can find hope.

Even as we weep in the middle of our exile, God says to you and He says to me:

Keep your voice from weeping
And your eyes from tears,
For there is a reward for your work,
And you shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future.”

And that hope is named Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem.

He is the king. He is the promised Messiah. God’s people were waiting for a king. They were waiting for the Messiah who would be their peace.

But as we will see through the rest of the Gospel of Matthew and the rest of the New Testament, Jesus didn’t come to just be a good king for the Jews

He came to bring hope and peace to sinners like you and me. He came to bring us out of the land of the enemy, out of exile.

God promised hope in the midst of judgment and wrath toward our sin. And Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise. And for everyone who trusts in Him will come back from the land of the enemy and He will be their peace.

​Next Week

Hopefully, this blog post was challenging and inspiring for you. If you have time, I encourage you to take a look at Matthew 2 on your own. Take a look at these prophecies for yourself. Look at the whole story Matthew is trying to tell hear. Pray for God to help you see more of who Jesus is. And I invite you to share what God is teaching you with the rest of us!

Next week we will jump into Matthew 3:1-12. So if you want to read ahead feel free!

The Birth of Jesus Who is Called Christ: Matthew 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus Who is Called Christ: Matthew 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus Who is Called Christ

Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her us from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

‘Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
And they shall call His name Immanuel’

(which means God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called His name Jesus.”

Now as Matthew transitions from the genealogy to Jesus’ early life, it will be helpful to keep what we learned from the genealogy in mind. Remember who Matthew is writing to. Remember why he is writing. And remember the point of his Gospel.

Matthew’s genealogy set the stage for the rest of his Gospel. I find it helpful to view the genealogy as the prologue to a book or the introduction of an essay. It sets the stage and helps us understand the main point Matthew is trying to teach us in the rest of the Gospel. As we saw during our study of the genealogy, Matthew trying to make the point that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the son of David, the son of Abraham. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.

And this is the point Matthew will build on throughout the rest of the Gospel. He not only shows that Jesus is the Messiah, but he also shows us what it means for Him to be the Messiah. We discussed in an earlier post how the Jews in Matthew’s day had a specific idea of what the Messiah would be like. They were expecting a political king. They were expecting a mighty man who would come in and conquer Rome.

Matthew subtly suggests that Jesus came for a very different reason. Jesus is the Messiah, but not the one the Jews were expecting.

Don’t Take Scripture for Granted

There is one thing I do want to cover quickly before we jump into the story of the birth of Jesus.

If you grew up in church or if you’ve been a Christian for a while, most of what we are going to study in Matthew’s Gospel will be very familiar. The story of Jesus’ birth is especially familiar, which is what makes studying the Gospel of Matthew easy and challenging at the same time.

It’s easy because most of us know the stories we’re about to read. We’re not looking at anything crazy like Revelation or one of the Old Testament prophets. We’re just looking at the story of Jesus. And it’s a story most of us know. So, I’m hopefully not overwhelming you with completely new passages and stories you’ve never read before.

But because we know these stories so well, Matthew’s Gospel can also be hard to study.

Because many of us will be familiar with what we’re about to read we may find ourselves assuming we already know what a story or passage means. We’ve heard these stories preached on hundreds if not thousands of times. And then we rush through the stories we think we know. When we do that we end up missing out on the depth of these stories.

And so the challenge in studying the Gospel of Matthew is to not take any part of it for granted. That’s something my professors in college talked about a lot. Don’t take anything in Scripture for granted. Just because you’ve read it a thousand times and heard a hundred sermons on it, doesn’t mean you know all there is to know about a passage.

I learned this lesson when I wrote my first paper for one of my classes. We were supposed to write a paper on the story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37. When I first saw the assignment, I laughed a bit. I figured it would be an easy paper to write. But, then I sat down to actually read that story, and what I found out surprised me. I learned that I had never actually read or studied the Good Samaritan story for myself. I had heard it preached on. I had heard people talk about it. I’m pretty sure VeggieTales had an episode on it. But I had never read it for myself. My understanding of that story came only from preachers and other people. And, of course, that doesn’t mean all the other interpretations of that story I had heard were wrong. It simply means I had been relying on other people to understand the Bible for me instead of reading it for myself. And when I took the time to read and study the Good Samaritan story on my own, God added a lot of depth to my understanding of that passage.

Writing that paper taught me about how important it is to not take any part of Scripture for granted. It’s important especially when we’re studying a story we’ve heard over and over. We tend to just blow through familiar stories. We let other people understand the Bible for us.

So, when we are studying Matthew it’s going to be easy to just rush through all of these stories. It’ll be easy to just assume we know them because we’ve heard them over and over. It’s going to be hard to push away those other interpretations (not because they’re wrong of course) for a moment and just let the text speak for itself. I’ve had a hard time with it myself.

As we study I want to challenge you to just look at what the text says first. You can bring in other voices eventually, but to start just look at what it says on your own. Take notes on it.  Write down any questions you have. Think about any words or phrases you think are interesting. I’ll talk a lot in this series on how helpful summarizing a passage can be. As you summarize, pay attention to the structure and flow of a passage. What’s the main topic? How do the rest of the verses or sentences support the point? Doing all of this can help you think more about what you’re actually reading.

Once you’ve taken some time, then you can go ahead and look into what other people have to say and bring in other voices. Know that some passages will take longer than others to study on your own and that’s ok. It is ok to research stuff that stumps you. But just make sure you try a little on your own first.

All of this takes some time and some work. But I can promise you from my own experience so far with Matthew and with other books that I’ve studied, it’s worth it. As I’ve studied Matthew and other parts of the Bible God has surprised me in really cool ways. God has challenged me with every passage to look past all the interpretations I’ve heard before and just look for what He has to say about it. That doesn’t mean that the other interpretations are wrong or bad. But I think He has been challenging me to dig a little deeper.

So I want to challenge you as God is challenging me. Take some time to read and study through even these familiar stories. And pray that God would show you more about Jesus. Pray that God would deepen your relationship with Him. That is what I am praying for myself and for you.

A Summary of the Birth of Jesus

As I’ve already noted, one thing that has helped me dig a bit more into what I’m studying is summarizing. Summarizing a passage, especially a well-known passage, can help us see things we didn’t know were there. It’s an easy way to strip away everything else we’ve heard about a passage and just see what the text says. We start to see how a story or teaching is structured. Summarizing lets us get down to the bare bones of what we’re seeing. In my personal experience, there have been many times where I find words and phrases I didn’t know were there. And summarizing can help us keep the whole story in mind. As we summarize we can look for how what we’re reading fits into the whole Gospel of Matthew. 

I’ll give you guys my summary of Jesus’ birth, but of course, I encourage you to summarize it for yourself. Feel free to even leave your summary in the comments just for fun!

My Summary of the Birth of Jesus:

Matthew doesn’t give us a lot of extra details about Jesus’ birth. His story his short and simple. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Before they married, Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. He was going to divorce her. But an angel went to him, telling him Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit. The angel encouraged Joseph to marry her anyway. Matthew tells us that the birth of Jesus would fulfill a prophecy of a virgin giving birth to a child named Immanuel. Matthew points out that Immanuel means God with us. Joseph takes Mary to be his wife and she gives birth to Jesus.

Asking Questions

After summarizing a specific passage, I find it helpful to ask questions about what I’m reading. Sometimes these questions come up as I summarize. But there are also some that I keep in my back pocket if I can’t think of any for a specific passage.

I encourage you to take some time to ask and answer questions for yourself. Pray for God to show you what He wants you to learn about Jesus through the story of His birth. I will share some of what God has shown me here.

The most important question we can ask about any passage in the Bible is what do we learn about Jesus? This question is especially applicable to the Gospels because they are about Jesus. We’ve already seen that Matthew was trying to teach his audience about Jesus. So as we study the Gospel we need to keep this question in mind:

What is Matthew trying to teach us about Jesus?

What Did Matthew Believe About Jesus?

As I was studying the birth of Jesus, I noticed three things that I think Matthew wants us to know about Jesus. First of all, Matthew believed Jesus was the Christ. We see this right off the bat in verse 18. Second, Matthew believed Jesus was from the Holy Spirit. He describes Jesus as being from the Holy Spirit in verses 18 and 20. Finally, Jesus is God with us (verse 23).

What Does That Mean?

So what does all of that mean? It’s one thing to write those things down. But it’s another to understand what they mean. A lot of the things I listed are things most of us already know about Jesus. And that’s what makes books like Matthew so hard to study. We know the stories and words Matthew uses so well. And as a result, we may blow past some deep truths about who Jesus is.

So now I want to ask, “what does that mean?” What does it mean for Jesus to be the Christ? What does it mean for Jesus to be from the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for Jesus to be God with us?

I want you to take some time to try to answer these questions (and other questions you might have) on your own. I will share what God has shown me, but I really want you to study these things for yourselves. Pray over it. Ask God to help you understand who Jesus is on a deeper level through these questions. Leave your questions and answers in the comments!

Jesus is the Christ

The main point that Matthew wanted to make about Jesus was that Jesus is the Christ. We saw this theme in the genealogy. And we see it here in the birth narrative.

The idea of Jesus being the Christ is a concept we may often take for granted. We are used to referring to Jesus as “Jesus Christ.” So for many of us, the name Jesus Christ may lose its impact. I know there are times where I do forget how significant it is.

If you remember back to one of the first blog posts, I mentioned that Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. This concept of the Christ was important to first-century Jews. The word for Christ in Greek is “Christos.”** It means anointed one or king. The Jews were looking for a specific king, a specific Christ. God had promised His people that one day a king would come from the line of David (as we saw in the genealogy). This king would be a righteous king. He would come in and save God’s people. He would restore the kingdom of God. This was the Christ they were waiting for.

Over and over, Matthew wants his audience to see that Jesus is that king. He is the Christ. He is the fulfillment of the promise God had made to His people. So a lot of the purpose of these first four chapters is to establish the fact that Jesus is the Christ. And in the rest of the Gospel, Matthew shows us what it looks like for Jesus to be king.

From the Holy Spirit

When Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus, he points out the Mary was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. Other than that brief statement, he doesn’t give us a lot of detail about what that means. This is another concept that may be easy for us to take for granted. The idea of a virgin birth is central to the Christian faith.

But have you ever stopped to think about how amazing and crazy it is?

Try to think about it from the point of view of Matthew’s audience. Or look at it through the eyes of Joseph. Sometimes I don’t think we give Joseph enough credit for his faith. Imagine if your fiance comes to you and tells you she’s pregnant. And then you have a dream in which an angel tells you it’s ok because the child is from the Holy Spirit. The angel tells you to take your fiance as your wife and to call the baby’s name Jesus. 

What are you thinking when you wake up from that dream?

Pretend for a moment you don’t know the rest of the story.

How much faith does it take to go along with that? Joseph and Mary were living in an honor/shame culture. Mary becoming pregnant outside of marriage would have brought shame to her and Joseph. And so for him to still take her as his wife took a lot of courage and a ton of faith. He doesn’t even question the angel. He just goes with it. 

From The Holy Spirit

So why is it important that Mary is pregnant from the Holy Spirit?

Again, this is a question I want you to think about for yourself. Maybe it’s something you’ve taken for granted. Maybe it’s something you’ve never thought about before. I know I don’t think about it much. I just kind of assume that it’s what Christians believe.

At the very least, Mary’s pregnancy is a miracle. But I think God was going for something deeper than just a miraculous birth. There are plenty of miraculous pregnancies in Scripture. If you read through the Old Testament you can see a lot of stories where God gave women children when it seemed impossible. But what makes Jesus so special is that He is from the Holy Spirit. He is directly from God. And why is that important?

Well, look at the connection Matthew makes to the Old Testament. He says that Jesus’ birth is a fulfillment of what God spoke through a prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel.”

Then Matthew notes that Immanuel means “God with us.” The virgin birth is more than just a miracle for the sake of a miracle. Jesus had to be conceived by the Hold Spirit because He was God Himself coming to us in the flesh. He had to come by the Holy Spirit so that He could be God with us.

God With Us 

So, that brings us to the final thing I think Matthew is trying to tell us about Jesus. Jesus is the Christ. He is the king the Jews were waiting for. But He is much more than that. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit so that He could be God with us.

When Matthew tells Joseph what to name Jesus he follows it up with a quote from Isaiah:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
And they shall call His name Immanuel.”

He points out the meaning of Immanuel, God with us.

Once again we have another very familiar phrase. Immanuel is one of my favorite words in the Bible. It’s one of my favorite things about Jesus. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around and I often find myself sitting in awe about it. But even still, there are times where I forget how amazing it is for God to be with us.

So, again I want to ask, what does it mean? What does it mean for God to be with us?

To understand the concept of Immanuel a bit better, I want to look closer at Matthew’s reference to Isaiah. Whenever you see a quote or reference to something in the Old Testament, I want you to stop and look up that reference. If you have a study Bible of some sort you should be able to find the right reference there. If you don’t have a study Bible you can try Googling it (that’s what I usually do). When you find the reference in the Old Testament, take some time to read not just the quoted verses, but the whole chapter it’s in. Read the chapter before and the chapter after. Try to understand the context of that specific quotation. Think and pray about why Matthew referenced it. How does it connect to Jesus? How does Jesus fulfill that prophecy? Why do you think Matthew connected that prophecy to Jesus?

And You Shall Call His Name Immanuel

The quote Matthew uses comes from Isaiah 7. In Isaiah 7, Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim were planning to attack Judah. King Ahaz and the people of Judah were afraid. God sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to tell him that God would be with them in this battle if they chose to trust Him. God told Isaiah to ask Ahaz to ask God for a sign. Ahaz refused because he didn’t want to test God. God gave Ahaz a sign anyway. The sign was a son born to Isaiah and his wife.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Immanuel was a promise from God to His people. God promised them He would be with them in the fight against their enemies. If they would trust in Him, He would be with them.

So now, let’s look at how Immanuel and this concept of God being with us connect to Jesus.

Jesus came to save His people from their sins. He is God with us in our fight against sin. By being God with us, Jesus saves us from sin. God does not leave us to fight our sin on our own. He comes and fights with us and for us. Just like how Syria would not defeat Judah if they chose to trust God, so sin will not defeat us when we believe in Jesus.

God with Us. A Radical Idea.

The concept of God being with us is radical to Christianity. Other religions, both in Jesus’ day and in our own, have very different views on who God is.

In other monotheistic religions (i.e Islam), God is so distant from His creation. Yes, He loves His people. Yes, He is in control. But He is too great to interact with His creation. One common objection from Muslims to Christianity is the idea that God became a man. He is too great. Because of His greatness, He cannot come into our world. Coming into our world would mean He is not a great, powerful, and holy God.

However, the picture the Bible paints is very different. One of my professors in college used to put it this way:

“God is so much God that He can be God with what is not God.”

When I first heard that, I’ll be honest I was very confused. But over time I began to understand it. The truth is God is so much greater than anything else we can imagine. He is beyond what we think and know. He is holy. He is powerful. I like to use the language of God being something other than what we are. And many religions have a hard time seeing how God can be intimately involved with His creation without losing His “otherness.” How can God enter into the world He created, as a man no less, and still be this holy, other-than God?

Well, Christianity has the answer. God is so much God, He is so powerful and great, that He can enter into His creation without losing His power and greatness. If nothing is impossible for God, then it is perfectly within His ability to become a man, enter the world He created, and be with us. And He can do that without losing His holiness and “otherness.”

He is so much God that He can be God with us. And He does that through Jesus. And by being that God with us, He saves us from our enemies.

Next Week

I hope you all enjoyed studying the birth of Jesus this week. I want to encourage you guys to leave any thoughts in the comments, either here on the website or on the Facebook post. As I’ve said before,  I don’t want to just study Matthew for you. If you have time, let me know what thoughts you have about what you’re studying and what God is showing you.

Next week, we are going to be reading Matthew 2:1-23. If you want to read ahead, feel free!

Resources Used

** Blue Letter Bible

The Genealogy of Jesus Part 5: Matthew 1:17

The Genealogy of Jesus

Part 2

Matthew 1:2-6a

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.”

We’ve finally come to the conclusion of Matthew’s genealogy.

Matthew ends the genealogy with a statement that is kind of strange. He says between Abraham and David there were 14 generations, from David to the exile there were also 14 generations, and from the exile to Jesus, there were 14 generations. If we’re looking at Matthew’s genealogy as an essay, this is a weird conclusion. As we study this verse one question comes up: why are three groups of 14 generations so important? And then that question leads to another question: What does that have to do with Jesus being the Christ?

Honestly, I’ve spent a lot of time studying this verse, praying about it, and researching it. And when I say a long time, I mean since March. Back when I first sat down to study this verse I was excited. I had already seen how Matthew shaped his genealogy to show us who Jesus is and why He came. I saw the flow of the genealogy in each section I studied. And I was interested to see how Matthew wrapped it all up. 

But this verse has been a bit of a hard one. I know, it’s only one sentence, how hard can that be? I know. I’ve been asking that myself. And I do understand the basics of it. Matthew, at the very least, is simply trying to show how God has arranged all of Israel’s history t culminate in the person of Jesus. I don’t know if there’s much more to it than that. But there’s always the part of me that really wants to dig into it. I want to see what else might be in there. And honestly, that interpretation doesn’t really answer the first question. It doesn’t really answer why Matthew focuses so much on the number 14.

So, I’ve been doing some research, and a lot of praying, over the past few months. I keep coming back to this verse to see if I can make sense of it. In my research, I’ve found some interesting theories and thoughts about Matthew’s conclusion here. And I do want to share those with you in this post. I would love to hear what you think about it too!

Embrace the Struggle

Something I do want to touch on a bit before we move too far forward is that it’s ok if it takes you a long time to understand what you’re reading. This verse has taken a long time. And I’m not even really satisfied with how I’m leaving it here.

But that’s just part of studying the Bible.

You’re going to come to passages that are hard to understand the first time through. And it’s ok to struggle through it and to go see what other people are saying about it. I think sometimes we get this idea, or at least I get this idea, studying the Bible is supposed to always be easy. At least personally, I tend to have the idea that I’m supposed to understand every single word and story that I read. I can just open the Bible to any verse or story and understanding will just flood my brain. 

And the truth is that does happen. I’ve had so many times when I’ve been hurting or wrestling with something and I’ve come across a verse or passage that just speaks right to my situation and my heart. There have been just as many times when I’ve sat down to study a passage and God shows me the depths of it. And that’s the Holy Spirit at work.

However, there are also many passages and stories that take a lot more effort to understand. There are a lot of parts of the Bible that I still read and say to myself “What??” I’ve had to wrestle a long time with some stories to figure out what’s going on. And there have been times, like right now, where I’ve prayed about it, I’ve researched it, I’ve studied it, and I just have to humbly go to God and admit that I still don’t see it. And guess what, the Holy Spirit is at work in that too. 

 I think maybe in our church culture we’re used to perfectly polished sermons and Bible studies. We’re used to preachers and Bible teachers always having something to say about every part of the Bible. We’re used to seeing people who every Bible study perfectly buttoned up and understood.

And maybe that’s part of why we sometimes have a hard time studying the Bible. We start to study and then we get to a difficult verse or passage. We have a hard time understanding it. And then we assume maybe that kind of studying isn’t for me. We quit because it gets hard. “I just have childlike faith and that’s ok.” But, I wonder what would happen if we pushed through the hard passages? Maybe it’s hard because God wants you to grow a bit? Anyone who’s worked out or played a sport knows you have to push through pain and struggle in order to grow and get better. I think sometimes the same is true for studying the Bible.

I just want to encourage you guys with that. If you start following this study and think “Wow she is so smart! Look at how well she understands the Bible” just know I don’t always understand. I’m not always so smart. And if you find yourself struggling to understand different parts of the Bible, you need to know that it’s ok. 

Understanding doesn’t always come when we want it to. God doesn’t work on our timelines. In my head, I knew I needed to have something ready to write about Matthew 1:17. In fact, I needed to have it ready two days ago (in case you didn’t notice that this post is late). God, apparently, has a different timeline. 

And that’s ok.

Why 14?

I do want to go through some of the different interpretations I found while I was studying this verse though. I’ll just hit the main points of each of them. I’d like to hear what you guys think about all of this, so feel free to discuss in the comments either here or on Facebook.

With all of that being said, I do want to take a short amount of time to explain some of what I’ve read as I’ve studied Matthew 1:17. I’ll explain the three most common interpretations for the end of Matthew’s genealogy. I don’t want to get too much into which one is right or not. I’ll just share the details and let you guys think about them. I encourage you to talk about them in the comments or with other people.

An Organizational Tool

The first interpretation is one I’ve already touched on in this post. And it’s the most simple. Matthew simply used the 14, 14, 14 structure as an organizational tool. As we will see in the rest of the Gospel, Matthew likes to keep things organized. His Gospel is very well structured and thought out. So, it would make sense of the genealogy to be just as organized. I think at the very least, Matthew was just wanting to show his readers how God organized all of Israel’s history to point to Jesus.

I like the simplicity of this option. It doesn’t assume too much. One thing that can happen sometimes when we’re studying the Bible is we assume too much about what an author may or may not have intended to do. I know I personally get caught up in looking for deeper meanings that I miss the simple ones.

However, in this interpretation, we don’t really answer the question about the number 14. Obviously, Matthew thought the number 14 was important. He wants his readers to pay attention to the number of generations in each section.

The Seventh Seven

If you’ve been in church for a while you may know that the numbers six and seven are important in the Bible. In Genesis, God works for six days creating the world. Then, He rests on the seventh day. This becomes the pattern for Israel. God commands His people to rest on the seventh day of the week. The seventh day becomes holy. In Leviticus 25, we read about the Sabbath year:

The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather its fruits, but in the seventh year, there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.”

This pattern of work and rest was important in the Old Testament. And as we will see in the rest of Matthew and the other Gospels, the Sabbath was just as important to people during Jesus’ day. The Pharisees were constantly challenging Jesus for performing miracles and “working” on the Sabbath.

So, what does this have to do with Matthew’s genealogy? Well, within each section there are 14 generations, or two groups of seven, because 7+7=14. And there are three sections or three periods of time. That means there six groups of seven. Jeffery Kranz, from OverviewBible.org, explains it like this:

The people reading his gospel would’ve been after that last generation, which would put them in the following generational bracket: the “seventh seven.” So, just like in the Genesis story of six days of creation culminating in a time of rest, we have six periods of time culminating in the time of the Messiah—a king who was supposed to bring Israel and the nations peace, justice, and rest.”

So, Jesus falls in the last generation. All of these other periods of time people spent working. And the coming of Jesus ushers in a period of spiritual rest.

David’s Name

The final, and probably most common, interpretation has to do with David’s name. Matthew puts a lot of emphasis on king David. He tells us at the beginning that Jesus is the son of David. We’ve already discussed in other posts why that’s significant. God had promised His people through the prophets that one day He would send them a righteous king through the line of David. This king would set His people free and usher in the kingdom of God. The son of David was what everyone was waiting for.

We get one final nod to David in Matthew’s conclusion. In ancient Hebrew letters had a number associated with it. And so names and words also had numbers associated with them. You would get the number for a name by adding the numbers associated with each letter. For example, the letters for David’s name in Hebrew are 4, 6, and 4. And when you add these numbers together, you get 14. Interesting right? So Matthew may have had David’s name in mind when he wrote the last sentence in his genealogy.

Or it’s more of what I call an inspired coincidence. I don’t know if we can say for sure that Matthew intended to make the connection between the number 14 and David’s name. But it is possible God inspired him to see the 14, 14, 14 pattern and reveals the connection to David’s name to us. Either way, it’s cool to see all of the different connections between Matthew’s Gospel and the Old Testament.

Keep On Studying

I hope on some level this blog post was encouraging to you as you start to study the Bible. It’s not always easy. Answers don’t always come when we want them to. Sometimes we just have to be ok with simple interpretations. Sometimes we have to be ok with not fully understanding a passage the way we’d like.

But that’s ok. As long as we keep on studying.

I do hope the interpretations I presented for you gave you something to think about. I really would like to see what everyone else thinks about this verse and the genealogy as a whole, so feel free to discuss in the comments!

The Genealogy of Jesus Part 4- Matthew 1:12-16

The Genealogy of Jesus

Part 4

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.”

This final list of names in Matthew’s genealogy is a bit more difficult to study than the others. After the first few names, nobody really knows much about the people listed here. Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, and of course Joseph are the only names listed in other parts of the Bible. So, unlike the other paragraphs, it is a bit harder to study each of these names individually. But we can take a look at a couple of these names so we can get a better picture of who Jesus is. 

Jechoniah: Wrath and Judgment

First, I want to look at a name that also appears in the previous list, Jechoniah. I think taking a look at his story here will set up the context for the other name we are going to look at. Jechoniah and the deportation to Babylon represent an important part of Israel’s history. We can learn more about both in 2 Kings 24, 2 Chronicles 36, and the prophetic books like Isaiah and Jeremiah.

The Story of the Exile

If you’re not familiar with this part of Israel’s history, I will take a moment to briefly explain what happened. In the Old Testament, we see God’s people continuously turn away from Him. Starting in the time of the judges (and even earlier than that) we see Israel constantly worshipping idols instead of God. Their idolatry becomes even worse after David dies. 

David’s son Solomon had many foreign wives who encouraged idol worship. Because of Solomon’s idolatry, God eventually caused the kingdom of Israel to split into two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south (1 Kings 11). All of the kings of Israel in the north were evil kings. They all worshipped other gods. Even though there were a few kings in Judah who stayed faithful to God, many still fell into idolatry. And unfortunately, as the kings worshipped other gods, they encouraged the people to do the same. As they grew farther and farther away from God they also began to neglect caring for the poor and the oppressed. You will see this accusation in Isaiah and Jeremiah a lot. There was a pretty clear connection between the people’s relationship with God and how they treat other people. 

And God was very patient with His people. He sent prophets to warn them. He waited for them to turn to Him. One thing you will read a lot in 2 Kings is that because of the covenant God made with David, even many of the evil kings were given grace. Despite that grace, God’s people continued to turn. The tipping point came with Manasseh, king of Judah. Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, who was a very righteous king. Hezekiah tore down the temples and altars the people had built for other gods. He brings about many religious reforms. Manasseh however was the exact opposite of his father. He rebuilt the altars Hezekiah tore down. He even built altars in the temple in Jerusalem. And as it says in 2 Kings 21 that Manasseh led the people to “do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.” God’s people had become even worse than the nations around them. 

And so, God pronounced judgment on His people. That judgment came in the form of the invasion of Babylon. The people of Judah were carried off to Babylon because of the depth of their sins. 

Compassion, Wrath, and Judgment

Jechoniah was king when the exile happened. So, he represents a significant turning point for Matthew’s readers. The deportation to Babylon was a time of judgment from God. It was a very dark time. I love the way 2 Chronicles 36:15-15 describes their situation:

The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against His people until there was no remedy.”

God showed compassion to His people, but they still ignored Him. And so, judgment had to come. God doesn’t want to bring judgment and wrath on us. He wants us to turn back to Him. He gives us more chances than we deserve. So, when judgment and wrath do come, it’s not because God is just power-hungry and angry. It’s because He’s trying to get our attention.

The judgment and the wrath would have been what Matthew’s readers would have remembered as they read through his genealogy. But, just as they are reminded of God’s judgment toward them, Matthew begins his final list of names, pointing them toward God’s mercy. 

Zerubbabel: Mercy and Redemption

And so now, we turn to look at Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel played an important role in leading God’s people out of exile.

You can read more about Zerubbabel and how the people of Judah were able to return to Jerusalem in Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. I definitely encourage you to read through those books if you have time (Haggai and Zechariah are quite short and really cool), but I will give you a brief summary of who Zerubbabel was here.

After Babylon was conquered, the king let the people of Judah go back and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (Ezra). Zerubbabel, with the help of Joshua the high priest, led the people back to Jerusalem. According to Haggai and Zechariah, God specifically called Zerubbabel to lead His people in the rebuilding of the temple. God promised Zerubbabel and Joshua that this new temple would be more glorious than the first. He also promised to bless His people and show them mercy. 

Wrath & Mercy. Judgment & Salvation.

Jechoniah represented a dark period in Jewish history. His reign marked the beginning of the exile in Babylon and God’s wrath toward His people. As Matthew begins the last list of names in his genealogy he starts with a reminder of God’s judgment toward sin. 

But, Matthew does not leave the story there. Just like God does not leave His people in exile, Matthew points us toward mercy and salvation with the mention of Zerubbabel. If Jechoniah represents God’s wrath and judgment, Zerubbabel points us toward God’s mercy and salvation. God does not withhold grace for long. He does forgive His people for their sins and brings them back to the land He had promised them. 

I think it’s important to keep this in mind as we look at this last list of names. I think by contrasting Jechoniah’s story with Zerubbabel, we can see a beautiful picture of the gospel. 

Because the reality, all of us deserve the same wrath and judgment God has toward His people when they sinned against Him. I encourage you guys to take some time to read through the prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah. They’re hard books to read. It’s hard to see how much God hates sin. It’s hard to see how much sin hurts God. And sometimes I think we can sort of disconnect from the Old Testament, or even just the Bible in general. It’s easy to talk about how bad God’s people were to turn from Him. They should’ve just listened to the prophets and they would’ve been fine. It’s easy to read through the prophets and point out all of their mistakes. 

Maybe sometimes we forget that we deserve the same wrath and judgment for our own sins. We are not that much different than the people of Israel and Judah. The language we read in Isaiah and Jeremiah can be directed toward each one of us as well. I deserve God’s wrath. I deserve God’s judgment. I deserve to live exiled from God. So do you. 

And like we talked about in last week’s posts, even the most righteous king of Judah was unable to save God’s people. Even Josiah’s religious reforms (from last week’s post) couldn’t turn away the wrath of God. It just wasn’t enough. We’re in the same boat. None of our righteousness can ever turn away the wrath of God. 

But God shows us mercy. Just as He had compassion on His people way back then, He still has compassion on us now. Zerubbabel is a picture of God’s grace toward His people. Through Zerubabbel God brought His people back to Him. And through Jesus, who is called Christ, God brings us back to Him as well. In this last paragraph, we see a glimpse of what it means for Jesus to be the Christ. He is not just an ordinary king. He is the way for God to have mercy on His people. Jesus is the way God saves His people from His own wrath. Jesus is the one who will bring us out of exile from God.

 

The Genealogy of Jesus Part 3: Matthew 1:6b-11

The Genealogy of Jesus

Part 3

Matthew 1:6b-11

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon was 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.”

 This second paragraph is easy to skip. I’ll be honest, I used to skip over it for a long time. But over time I started to read through the Old Testament a bit more. I spent a summer just reading straight through from Judges to the end of 2 Kings (something I would encourage everyone to do at some point). As I read I began to become more familiar with the stories in the Old Testament, including the stories of the kings mentioned in this section of Matthew. Since then, whenever I read through the Gospel of Matthew and have to read the genealogy, these names sort of stand up out of the page a bit more. The genealogy makes a bit more sense.  That’s why I was excited to study genealogy with you guys.

When I sat down to study genealogy I had a plan for how I was going to study it. I thought I had a good understanding of the names in this second paragraph. But, as I began to study each name, I found some surprises. God completely changed my perspective on the genealogy once I actually sat down to study it. Even though I was already familiar with the genealogy, God still had new things to teach me. 

I want to share all of that just to encourage you guys if you’re studying on your own. The reality is, I’m learning too.  So, if you read through these blog posts and think, wow she’s so smart to know all of these things, just know a lot of this is new to me too.

This part of the genealogy is deep. There is quite a lot that we can learn by studying this paragraph. However, I won’t be able to cover everything in these posts. If you have a question or see anything in your own study time that you would like to know more about, or would even like to share, feel free to let me know in the comments on either the blog post. You can also message me or any of the elders if you have questions.

As we study, as always, I encourage you to go look up these names in the Old Testament for yourself. Take some time to write a summary of who they were and pray for God to help you understand what their story tells us about Jesus. I will leave a list at the end of this blog post of each name and where you can find them in the Old Testament. So you can reference that if you need to.

As we get into it, try to think about how this part plays into Matthew’s genealogy as a whole. Remember, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. He is trying to use this genealogy to show them who Jesus is. He is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Everything that happened in the Old Testament ultimately points to Jesus.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this part of the genealogy.

The Wife of Uriah

Right at the beginning of the second list of names, Matthew mentions another woman. Except this time he doesn’t even mention her name. He just calls her “the wife of Uriah.” Now if you know a little bit about the life of King David, you’ll know who Matthew is talking about. He is making a reference to Bathsheba. The story of David and Bathsheba is one of the biggest scandals in the Old Testament.

We find the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. I’ll give you the short version of the story, but encourage you to read the whole thing on your own.

David sees Bathsheba bathing on top of her roof. He asks his servants to bring her to him. He then sleeps with her and later finds out that she is pregnant. David tries to hide his sin by having Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed in battle. Nathan the prophet confronts David about his sin in 2 Samuel 12. David is convicted and repents. The baby that Bathsheba gives birth to ends up dying. But God forgives David and Bathsheba becomes pregnant again with Solomon.

And this is the story Matthew seems to highlight. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Matthew leaves out Bathsheba’s name. Bathsheba represents the biggest downfall of king David. Even though David loved God more than any other king before or after him, he still sinned. He was still imperfect.

The Kings of Judah

In this second paragraph, Matthew focuses on the kings of Judah.  The main reason Matthew does this is, he’s trying to show that Jesus is the son of David. All of David’s sons ended up ruling over Judah. And God had promised David that a king would come through his line. Matthew wants to show that Jesus is the king of Judah that God had promised His people. So, in this list, Matthew is reinforcing the point he makes in the very first sentence. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the son of David.

But we can go a lot deeper here. I want us to dig a bit into this part of Matthew’s genealogy. We can learn a lot about Jesus by looking at the stories of these kings.

One thing these kings have in common is they are all broken. Matthew starts off with the sin of David, as we’ve already seen. David was a man who loved God with his whole heart. And yet, he is still sinful. As great as David was, he was not good enough to save the Israelites.

From Solomon onward, we see king after king who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” If you read through 1 and 2 Kings you’ll see this phrase used over and over again. Solomon, as wise as he was, had many foreign wives who led him into idolatry.  After Solomon, many of the kings of Judah followed in his footsteps. They worshipped idols and led the rest of the people into idol worship as well. We see several of these kings listed here.

While there were several kings who worshipped idols, there were a few who did love God. They “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” The Old Testament says they followed in the footsteps of David. And many of these kings, like Hezekiah and Josiah, brought about major religious reforms. Josiah was even the first king to enforce the observance of the Passover. 2 Kings tells us that “no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel or during all of the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.”

But as you read through 1 and 2 Kings, you will also see that despite the righteousness of these kings, it still wasn’t enough to save God’s people. David’s love for God wasn’t enough. The reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah were not enough. The celebration of the Passover was not enough. The people still fell into idolatry. They still turned away from God. Josiah was the last righteous king in Judah. “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” (2 Kings 23:25). No king was as righteous as Josiah. And yet, his righteousness was not enough to turn God’s wrath away from the people.

God’s people needed something more than a regular human king. They needed a king who could take away the wrath of God. And this was exactly the king God promised to send. And here in Matthew’s genealogy, we begin to see that Jesus is that king. 

Only Jesus Can Do It.

When we read the second paragraph in Matthew’s genealogy, on the surface we simply see him proving Jesus’ right to the throne of Judah. If Jesus came through the line of Judah, then He is the Christ. He is the one God promised.

But I think we get even more than that. When we take some time to read the stories of these kings, all we see is brokenness. We see failures. And we see that the righteousness of human kings is not enough to turn God’s people from sin. God’s people need more than a human king. They need a fully righteous king. They need a king that can actually change their hearts. Religious reforms won’t do it. Just celebrating another Passover won’t do it.

Only Jesus can do it.

Jesus is the sinless king, David failed to be. Jesus is the righteous king that the other kings of Judah couldn’t be, no matter how much they wanted to be. Jesus is the only king who can turn away the wrath of God.

The Kings of Judah

If you guys want to take some time and read about these kings on your own, here is a list of each of them and where you can find them in the Old Testament. You can also read through 1 and 2 Kings to get the full story effect with these kings. Reading straight through these books has been very beneficial for my own relationship with God. 

  • David 1-2 Samuel
  • Solomon 1 Kings 1-11
  • Rehoboam 1 Kings 12 & 14
  • Abijah 1 Kings 15:1-9
  • Asa, or Asaph, 1 Kings 15:10-24
  • Jehoshaphat 1 Kings 22:41-50
  • Joram 2 Kings 8:16-24
  • Uzziah 2 Kings 15:1-7 (Here he’s called Azariah, but in the account in 2 Chronicles 26 he’s called Uzziah)
  • Jotham 2 Kings 15:32-38
  • Ahaz 2 Kings 16:1-20
  • Hezekiah 18:1-21
  • Manasseh 2 Kings 21:1-18
  • Amnon 2 Kings 21:19-26
  • Josiah 2 Kings 22:1-23:30
  • Jechoniah 2 Kings 23:36-25:30 (called Jehoiachin here)

As always I encourage you guys to engage with the text on your own if you have the time. Ask questions. Pray as you study. And share what God is showing you in the comments, here or on Facebook.