Recently, while taking a stroll through my Twitter notifications I came across a great tweet by Pastor and Evangelist, Greg Laurie. He said, “The Christmas story really starts with a tree-not a Christmas tree, but a family tree.”
Be honest, how many times have you read the genealogy of Christ as part of your Christmas celebration? Probably not very often, but you should. It is very powerful. Every name has a story and a reason for being included. In fact, when you study the genealogy of the Messiah, you observe the mighty providence of our faithful God.
What does “Providence” mean? The providence of God means that – “God controls the circumstances so that His Will PREVAILS and His purposes are FULFILLED.”
Nearly 2500 years before the first Christmas, God promised his servant Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, that through his lineage the Messiah (The Anointed One) would come. When you open your Bible to the beginning of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew begins with tracing the genealogy from Christ back to Abraham.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Matthew only records 41 names in the genealogy, but Luke, in his Gospel, list 74 names. Why is that? Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience and he wasn’t giving a detailed list, but a summary list showing the genealogical trend through names that the audience would have recognized.
Though he did not list every name, the names he did list are vital to seeing the providential hand of God at work that first Christmas. Consider this question. If you were the devil, wouldn’t you use the fallen nature of humans against them in an effort to lead them to defile the genealogy so the promise of the Messiah could not come about? Absolutely! That is exactly what the devil attempted to do.
Take a look at some of the examples of how Satan tried to foul up the genealogy of Christ and yet God’s providence came through victoriously every time.
- Fear and Abraham’s bad choice.In the very chapter God promises to Abraham, he and Sarah go down to Egypt. We read that Sarah was a beautiful woman, and Abraham feared that if Pharaoh was attracted to her, he would have Abraham killed so he could marry her himself. So what did Abraham do? He told Sarah to lie and say she was his sister. Satan used Abraham’s fear against him and Abraham sinned by lying. However, God’s providence came onto the scene. Verse 17 says, “But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.” The next scene is Pharaoh confronting Abraham about his lie and sending them away.
- The evil plot of a queen.
In 2 Kings 11, we read of the death of Ahaziah, King of Judah. Once he was dead, his own mother, Athaliah, gave the order to kill all her grandchildren so that she could reign instead. Satan used Athaliah’s greed and hunger for power to do the unthinkable. However, once again we see the providence of God come upon the scene. Ahaziah’s sister hid his one year old son, Joash, in the Temple for six years. Guess Athaliah didn’t go to church often. When Joash was seven years old, he was brought out and began to reign as King of Judah.
- A cursed King.
I’ll give you one more. In Matthew’s genealogy of the Messiah, it follows the path from Abraham to King David and from there it follows the path through Solomon. Here the story gets even more interesting. Through the lineage of Solomon will come Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah). He was so evil that God declared that his seed would never sit on the throne of David. Look at the last name in the genealogy that flows to the first Christmas and you come to Joseph, the husband of Mary. At first glance this presents a problem. Joseph’s line goes through Jehoiachin, who is cursed and cannot have anyone sit on the throne of David. I’m sure Satan thought he had finally defiled the lineage. Yet, don’t forget that Jesus was born of a virgin. Jesus received his legal affirmation through the lineage of Joseph, but not the bloodline.
Go over to Luke’s genealogy and you will notice that it goes from Adam to Abraham to King David, and there it branches through a different son of David, Nathan. When the genealogy is complete, it ends with Heli whom many scholars believe to be the father of Mary. Through Mary, Jesus received the bloodline of David. Luke 1: 31-33 declares, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Psalm 105: 8-9 sums up the providence of God.
He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.
Never Forget this…God Keeps His Promises.
Take a few minutes and read the genealogy of Jesus and reflect on how our faithful God always keeps His promises.
Matthew 1: 1-16, (NIV)- This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, 8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, 15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.