Vs. 17, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.” Question: Why would Matthew open up with a genealogy? Genealogies were very important in the biblical world and the Jews kept extensive records of their family history. It was important for Matthew to trace Jesus’ genealogy to Abraham (vs. 2) and David (vs. 6). Bear in mind, this is not an exhaustive genealogy and Matthew did omit some names. The Gospels of Matthew & Luke both record genealogies and it is believed Matthew focuses on Jesus’ line through Joseph while Luke focuses Jesus’ line through Mary. The genealogy would prove to the meticulous Jews that Jesus was indeed the true heir of the kingly throne and Messiah! In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 18-25), Matthew gives us insight into the drama surrounding the birth of Jesus. Certainly, many of us read this account without too much thought because we know it so well. However, Joseph found out Mary was with child and was ready to break off the betrothal! And then he gets visit by an unnamed Angel (probably Gabriel) in which he is told Mary is conceived via a miracle through the Holy Spirit! It is here that Joseph is instructed to give the name Jesus to the baby. Jesus was a popular name at that time and it was the Greek form of the name Joshua which means “The LORD Saves.” Isaiah is quoted (Isaiah 7:14) and we see the one of the proofs that Jesus is the fulfillment of Immanuel (God with us).
Regarding application…God With Us. Vs. 23, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” God’s promises are true. Recently, we were reminded in the Old Testament in Leviticus 26:12, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” Though the temple of Jerusalem (symbol of God’s presence) would be destroyed in 70 AD, Jesus is the reminder to the Jews that God is always among them. Certainly, this reminder is not reserved for just the Jews, but to all of us! What a wonderful privilege to know in faith that we are never alone! I encourage you to take time to chew on this. God is not someone who restricted by space or time. He is with you always. There are moments in our lives where we feel alone and even desperate for love or answers to life. God is not just a phone call of QT away, He is always present and faithful.
Vs. 1, “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.” Juxtaposed in the story of Joseph, we take a break and get a glimpse of Israel’s son, Judah. Question: Why? Let’s do a quick review. The first three oldest sons of Israel had all done things that take them out of the kingly line. Reuben had slept with his father’s wife (Genesis 35:22) – his step mom, and Simeon and Levi took revenge on Shechem for Dinah’s rape (Genesis 34). The next son in line was Judah. Bear in mind, the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. Other notables were Boaz & Ruth and King David who were descendants of Judah. Judah’s marriage to a Canaanite woman was an unwise one indeed (vs. 2). It would set off a chain of sad events. Judah had three sons, but the first son Er was so wicked we are told God put him to death (vs. 7). The cultural practices of the time were to have the next brother fulfill the duty of helping the widow bear a child in his brother’s name (Levirate marriage – this was become part of the Mosaic law). But Onan, the second oldest brother was selfish and wicked and did not fulfill his duty (vs. 8-10). Judah had one more son who had not yet grown up. Tamar, who had been originally married to Er, was patiently waiting for one of Judah’s son to help her conceive. Two were now dead and only Shelah was left, but he was too young (vs. 11). Through a chain of deception, Tamar would deceive Judah by disguising herself as a prostitute and having a night shared with Judah her father-in-law. We see the condition and double-standard of the day as Judah who was no saint demanded she be put to death. But it was his lack of integrity that he did not follow up on allowing Shelah to marry her (vs. 14). Tamar would get pregnant from that night with Judah and bear him twins. Eventually, Tamar a Canaanite woman would be a part of the kingly Messianic lineage. In fact, Tamar would be mentioned in the genealogy of Gospel of Matthew (1:3).
Regarding application…Grace of God. This can be a confusing chapter and there seems to be no real hero. However, the true emphasis isn’t Judah or Tamar, but it is God. God is at work dispensing His will and thankfully His grace. If our existence depended on our own righteousness, we would all be in hell. Thankfully, God is gracious. How interesting that we see such a contrast between Israel’s two sons: Judah and Joseph. Question: Which son are you more like? Let’s not take advantage of the grace of God. This reminds me of the thought process that Paul had at address to the Roman Christians regarding the increase of sin and God’s increase of grace (Romans 5:20). There was this wrong thinking that since God’s grace increases because of sin, than we have the right to continue to sin (Romans 6:1). Brothers & sister, may this not be the case for us.
Vs. 4, “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.” In the spirit of the Marines…Hoo rah~~~ There’s trouble for the enemy when God starts talking smack! Basically, God is telling the enemy…You’re going down, don’t mess with my people! I love it! Though Israel is a small nation, even in our present day…they are known for the military strength. It’s sort of like David vs. Goliath! There’s some pretty graphic scenes, but God is not in the business of sugar coating things. We then see a transition into God’s faithfulness to His people, despite their turning away from Him. Something that Ezekiel and those who lived in that time would be able to understand because of their captivity in Babylon.
Regarding application…When God Speaks. Vs. 8, “It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.” Don’t make any mistake brothers & sisters…such things will happen! Recently, an NBA player, Ron Artest who recently changed his official name to “Metta World Peace”, guaranteed that if the NBA season came to fruition for the 2011/2012 season, the Lakers would win the championship. Opposing teams love posting such fodder on their walls to help motivate them. And in ways…that what the enemy does too. God has put His guarantee of victory and the enemy is doing whatever he can to foil our faith in God. But when God speaks…it would be wise to listen with faith! Praise God that all of this will sooner than we realize!