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Archive for December, 2011

Matthew 1

So I’ve had this blog for a long time now, but never used it. Going to start using it, but not going to make a big deal out out of it. I have a lot of thoughts and things that want to come out, but sometimes I think I share just to read my own words or get some kind of validation from other people. But at the same time, I don’t want to keep things I learn to myself, so here we are. 

This year I decided I am going to focus my Bible study on the first four books of the New Testament. I want to better understand who the Lord Jesus Christ is. Not just what He said, what He did (in terms of miracles, rebuking the Pharisees, etc), or where He went, but who He is. I want to better know Him personally, not just use Him as some kind of role model to mimic, although I do also want to imitate Him. But to truly imitate Him, I think a person has to know Him, not just what He did. So in reading and studying the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I believe we can see a picture of who the Lord is, and actually get to know Him personally.

Matthew opens with these words:

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”

So for a person picking up the Bible or the New Testament for the first time, we can see the subject matter of the book is addressed in the first line: Jesus the Christ. The Greek word for Christ is the equivalent for the Hebrew word for Messiah. And it is interesting that He is introduced as “..the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”. Why not the Son of God? That’s who He is, right? Yes, He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of David, by both birth and by legal descent. And Matthew, in calling Jesus the Messiah, has to make the case for that, as he is a Jew writing to the Jewish people. So he states his claim, telling us Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, and is qualified to be the Messiah because He is a descendant of David. Then he follows this claim by supporting evidence.

The first half of Matthew 1 is a genealogy. This record is incredibly important to the Jewish people, as it proves the legal right of Jesus to the throne of David; the Messiah was promised in the Old Testament to be a descendant of King David. There are a lot of intricacies involving this issue of the heritage of the Lord Jesus, both biological and legal, and I definitely recommend checking out a good commentary or Bible teaching by a good Bible teacher who explains it clearly. The Believer’s Bible Commentary does a nice job, as does John MacArthur in his sermons on Matthew 1. A one-sentence summary is that Matthew’s record details the legal right of the Lord Jesus to the throne of David, and Luke’s record details His blood right to the throne of David.

So before I read the record of His birth, I want to know the application of this for me, a Gentile. I get that Jesus is the Savior, and He died for my sins. That is Gospel 101. But why is it so important that I be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah? Couldn’t God have become a man through anyone and accomplished the same goal? Did it have to be through the line of not just a Jew, but through the specific line of King David? Why not a Gentile? Why not through an Asian, European, or African heritage? Why not a Native American? Why do I care who the Savior is, as long as He can get the job done? 

If you look through the Books of the Prophets in the Old Testament, there is a recurring theme. Everyone always gets so fixated on the violence and harsh judgement by God spoken of in each of the books. And without a doubt, many of the material in the Old Testament, particularly the Prophets, is R-rated stuff. I don’t think that fact should be celebrated, but it shouldn’t be denied or ignored either. But that’s a topic for another discussion.

The theme I want to point out is that of God’s mercy and deliverance, carried out through the Messiah. In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God promises to establish David’s kingdom forever. Jeremiah 23:5 says a King would arise from the line of David, and He will execute justice and righteousness in the earth. So this Messiah, a descendant of David, will reign over the entire earth. In Isaiah 11, we see the effects of this reign on the earth. 

Isaiah 11:4-10

Isa 11:4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
Isa 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.
Isa 11:10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.

That last part of verse 10, “The Gentiles shall seek Him”. Ok, so this does concern the Gentiles, and not just the nation of Israel or the Jewish people. There are so many effects of the reign of the Messiah that it literally would take books and books to properly discuss them all. But I think the most important result of the arrival of the Messiah in my life is in Isaiah 53

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

And so without going into the books of Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, or other New Testament books that discuss the Atonement, we can look at the Old Testament and see exactly why the arrival of the Messiah is important to all people, Jew and non-Jew alike. Because it is in Him we have payment for and forgiveness of sin.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of why He had to come from Jewish heritage and not some other line. And the answer I have settled on is because it pleased the Lord to bring the Messiah through the Jewish people. 

In Genesis 21:12, God told Abraham, “…in Isaac your seed shall be called”. The book of Romans tells us this will result in salvation for both Jew and Gentile alike, because it is not just a physical heritage, but a spiritual one as well. The promise of a savior applies to all those who believe God (not just believe in God) to salvation (Romans 1:16). I don’t think God ever gives a reason, other than His plan was to bring the Messiah through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and through the line of David. So even if we don’t have a specific reason for it, we know it was God’s plan of salvation for not just the Jewish people, but also for the rest of us as well.

May we all place our faith in Jesus the Messiah.

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