is perhaps unfortunate that the first book of the New Testament begins with a
genealogy. Most readers don’t want to read that, so they skip it. But this
genealogy gives us some lessons:
introduces us to the family from which Joseph came; Joseph, who was to be
the earthly father who raised Jesus.
shows us how God permitted some of the most spectacular of sinners (and
others) to be in the ancestral tree of Christ – for He inherits his claim
to the throne of David from Joseph.
serves the same general purpose that a family album does – so picture
yourself pointing out the aunts, uncles and cousins.
let’s take a look at the pictures. We’ll skip the famous ones, and tour some
of the lesser known folks.
women, other than Mary, are mentioned here. They are not the most respectable
of women, either. All three would have had a good reason to be excluded if God
were so inclined. The fact that these three are here tells us that Christ’s
human side is very much like our own. Which, of course, fits the Son of Man.
If these three are in the family, surely we are not going to be disqualified
story is a rather simple, sexual one.
She must have been something special – one way or another. Let’s start with an
those days – and later codified in the Law of Moses – a woman’s right to have
sex (you read that correctly) was established by the rule that a widow would be
married to her late husband’s brother. Her first husband died (and it was well
understood he died at God’s command). Her second husband (the first husband’s
brother) refused to have anything to do with her; the kids would be accounted
to the first husband, you see. God did not approve; the second brother died
also. The third brother was a little boy at the time, so her father-in-law,
Judah, told her to wait at her family home until the boy grew up.
Judah wasn’t really fond of losing another son to this black widow. He kept
putting off the wedding until Tamar lost patience with the man. She dressed as
a temple prostitute, and offered herself to Judah, her father-in-law! What’s
more, she got pregnant. Judah didn’t connect her with the daughter-in-law, so
when news of the pregnancy arrived, he condemned her to be burnt to death.
arrived at the execution with Judah’s seal, bracelet and staff – and revealed
who the father of the kids was. An embarrassing moment, indeed. Neither of
the parties in this one could claim much of righteousness. The double
standard is very old, indeed.
are some lessons here:
- Judah tried to play God instead of
following the rules. This is a bad idea, even if you think you are
is very fond of using your own words and actions to condemn you, a trait
seen in Jesus quite well.
meet this woman at the siege of Jericho.
She’s a whore – who hides two Israelite spies. That means she’s a betrayer as
well. But she gives us an example worth looking at:
trusts in God – without having a presentation of the Four Spiritual Laws.
She doesn’t really know to much – but she goes out on faith.
also is relying on the people of God to keep their word, to save her and
their family. It’s a reminder to us that we should keep our word too,
even if the recipient is less than respectable.
Christ says, “Whosever will,” He means it.
story is found in the book of that name in the Old Testament. The first thing
that strikes you is that she is not Jewish, but sticks to her mother-in-law
Naomi even though it takes her from her own gods and puts her at the mercy of
another God. She’s a gentile; an outsider. Christ welcomes them too.
story shows us, by example, the kinsman-redeemer. A close relative was
permitted by law to redeem property which originally belonged to the
relatives. It’s a picture of Christ, the Son of Man, redeeming us. It is the
picture of the bride of Christ, redeemed by her Lord.
with David, the lineage of the King of Kings is traced through the royal
house. We’ll skip David and Solomon, and look at the good, the bad and the
was one of the “good” kings of Israel. He restored the worship of God to Judah, destroying the altars of the pagan Gods. (This would have him in hot water with the
ACLU today, but they weren’t around then.) He was a restorer, as Christ will
be at His return.
did have one problem – he bragged about his possessions to a delegation of
Babylonians (who later sacked the city and removed those possessions). But one
thing shows us his heart: when he began what was apparently a fatal illness,
he cried out to God – who healed him.
He shows us the picture of a man whom God heals – the broken-hearted who come
to him empty, even if that man is a king.
think, with an example of such a good king (his father was Hezekiah), the next
one would have a decent reign as well – and you’d be wrong. Manasseh reigned
as king for 55 years,
and during that time he was evil. He sacrificed his sons in the fire of
Molech; he used the Temple as a place to worship other gods. God sent prophets
to him, to change his ways. It didn’t help.
only thing that did make a difference was this: The Babylonians took him
captive. The shackled him, put a ring through his nose much like you would a
pig, and hauled him off to Babylon that way. When he got there, he repented.
God heard his plea and restored him to his kingship. So it was that this one
king turned around. Many others did not.
example he does set: God welcomes the repentant, no matter how much evil they
was a king who was just about perfect – and took too much pride in his
He was victorious; he invented clever war machines, he had the people keep the
faith – he was just about everything you’d want in a good king. Except for one
thing: pride. He thought he was so righteous and great that he could offer
incense on the altar of God.
had other ideas, which Uzziah should have known. The priests rebuked him
(rather dangerous that) but God convinced him. For this sacrilege, God gave
him a quick case of leprosy; his son would rule in his place from that day on.
a lesson there too: all of us are sinners. If we think we know the rules,
then we ought to follow them.
thing we need to know: in prophetic words, a man could be a stand-in for one
of his descendants. The Son of David would know this. Let’s look at three
individuals in Christ’s lineage, in the aspect of prophecy.
is the same Judah who had sex with Tamar). As Jacob was on his death bed, he
blessed his sons. This is the blessing he gave Judah:
"Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your
father's sons shall bow down to you. "Judah is a lion's whelp; From the
prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a
lion, who dares rouse him up? "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. "He
ties his foal to the vine, And his
donkey's colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes
in the blood of grapes. "His eyes are dull from wine, And his teeth white
(Gen 49:8-12 NASB)
is the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. You can see much else in here that can be related to Christ. The reference to Shiloh, however, has caused much scholarly ink.
could be a reference to the Prince of Peace.
could mean “to whom it belongs” - meaning that the kings of Israel would come out of Judah until the Messiah claimed the kingship.
might be a reference to Shiloh, the city, and events which happened (or
will happen) there.
not clear, but virtually all agree it refers to the Messiah.
is a fascinating prophecy for Josiah:
behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD,
while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. He cried against the
altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar, thus says the
LORD, 'Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and
on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on
you, and human bones shall be burned on you.'" Then he gave a sign the
same day, saying, "This is the sign which the LORD has spoken, 'Behold,
the altar shall be split apart and the ashes which are on it shall be poured
(1Ki 13:1-3 NASB)
takes place about ten generations before Josiah is born – and he does exactly
that. He literally digs up the bones of the priests of Baal and burns them on
this altar. It is a forerunner of Christ, in his zeal.
descendant of David was not a king – the kingship had been abolished – but he
was a principal in the rebuilding of the Temple.
About this man, who was not a king but of the royal lineage, two prophets
the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the
prophet saying, "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of
Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the
remnant of the people saying, 'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its
former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing
in comparison? 'But now take courage, Zerubbabel,' declares the LORD, 'take
courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of
the land take courage,' declares the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,'
declares the LORD of hosts. 'As for the promise which I made you when you came
out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' "For thus
says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the
heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 'I will shake all the
nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill
this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. 'The silver is Mine and the
gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts. 'The latter glory of this house will
be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will
give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts."
(Hag 2:1-9 NASB)
prophecy clearly refers to the return of our Lord. Zerubbabel is the
stand-in. In these days, a prophecy about a man could be seen as being
fulfilled in one of his descendants. The theory (biologically incorrect) was
that the descendant was in the ancestor’s body at the time of the prophecy, and
therefore it would apply to him.
more startling (and argued over) is this passage:
the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is
awakened from his sleep. He said to me, "What do you see?" And I
said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top
of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the
lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right
side of the bowl and the other on its left side." Then I said to the angel
who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?" So the
angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know
what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he said to me,
"This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by
power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. 'What are you, O great
mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become
a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of "Grace,
grace to it!"'" Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his
hands will finish it. Then you will know
that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. "For who has despised the day
of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in
the hand of Zerubbabel--these are the
eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth." Then I said
to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and
on its left?" And I answered the second time and said to him, "What
are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty
the golden oil from themselves?" So
he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said,
"No, my lord." Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones
who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth."
(Zec 4:1-14 NASB)
of prophecy have little difficulty identifying the two trees with the two
witnesses of Revelation chapter 11. Various interpretations have been proposed
for these two witnesses; but you can see that the prophecy is connected to this
one. Zerubbabel’s anointed ones are the same ones seen by John.
there a point to all this in the family album? Indeed, several.
the most unlikely people are found as ancestors of Christ – and if they
are fit for His family, we are too. No matter how “outside” you feel, no
matter what sins you have committed, he still says, “Whosoever will.”
just because you’re from a good family doesn’t mean you can presume upon
God. You still need to come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. And
you still have to watch what you’re doing.
there is a great day coming, a day longed for and welcome by all those who