The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
It’s so easy to skip over.
To most people, it’s just a list of names, but it’s so much more than that. They’re chapters in God’s work of redemption through time in fulfilling his promises to Abraham, David, and all of Israel.
If you understand the genealogy, it’s actually not boring at all.
It’s fitting that Matthew’s genealogy begins with Abraham.
He’s the progenitor of God’s people, the Israelties. He’s the one through whom the Lord makes his covenant promises.
Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac is the son who is promised to Abraham and Sarah. He was supernaturally brought about in this couple who were well advanced in years and had never before been able to have children.
The line goes from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob.
This is the line that we see in Genesis.
The text mentions Judah and his brothers. This seems to be done to give special attention to the brothers of Judah who are the ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel. But Biblically, Judah is the most significant because it is he who carries on the royal blood line which leads to Jesus.
Now in Genesis, we see a lot of attention given to Abraham, and God’s call upon his life. We see stories of Isaac, and him finding a wife. We stories of Jacob and his brother Esau and the rivalry they had between each other.
And there are also stories about Judah, but he’s far overshadowed in Genesis by his brother Joseph.
Why is that?
Why does Joseph get more attention than Judah when it’s Judah who’s in the line that leads to Jesus?
The story of Joseph
In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is the favored son of Jacob and his brothers hate him for this. This leads into an epic story where his brothers plot against the life of Joseph and he’s sold into Egyptain slavery. But though divine intervention, Joseph will work his way up and gain favor in Pharaoh’s eyes. Joseph has a God given ability to interpret dreams and prophecies a terrible famine which will come. He’s put in charge of preparing Egypt for the famine. When it happens, the Israelites are hard hit. They come to Egypt seeking help and Joseph is able to intervene and to save his family, save the Israelites, and save Judah.
Joseph’s story is given so much attention because it saves Judah which continues the family line.
I also highlight that because these people in the line start getting a little less attention in the Old Testament. They’re there, they’re mentioned, but they’re somewhat in the background of bigger events.
We don’t see the line as prominently throughout the Exodus saga. But they’re there.
And God is still working.
God is working in the quiet times
Sometimes the Lord is quietly at work. But he’s no less at work in those times. God is faithful to this line throughout centuries. Working through time and space to bring forth his promised son from this line, the Lord Jesus.
God is working today. At some times in our lives, we might see it more clearly than others. At some times in church history, it might seem more apparent. But God is no less at work.
God is as intimately connected and at work in our world today as he was these many centuries ago.
He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He’s the God of David. And he’s the God of today.
We continue. Verse 3 mentions Judah as the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar.
Now Tamar is noteworthy because she’s a woman. She’s the first of four women mentioned in this genealogy.
The four mothers of Jesus
So let’s talk about these women in the genealogy. The four mothers of Jesus.
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba.
You have Ruth, who might be the most morally spotless and unimpeachable woman in the Old Testament. Her first husband died and then she married a distant relative of his and had a son.
But then you have Tamar who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her and conceived a child by him after her husband died. She disguised herself as a prostitute and sold herself to Judah. A link in the line of Jesus conceived through deception and trickery.
Rahab had been a prostitute.
Bathsheeba had an affair with King David and David later had her husband, Uriah, sent to the front lines and killed in battle so that he could marry her. The first child they conceived died, but Solomon was another son. But the relationship was forged in adultery and murder.
And these are the people in the line that leads to Jesus.
Something else that’s noteworthy. One of the commonalities between the four women is that none of them are Israelites.
Tamar and Rahab are Canaanites.
Ruth is a Moabite.
Bathsheeba is a Hittite.
And so part of what these four women are doing from the opening of this gospel is showing us that Jesus is for the whole world.
Borrowing an idea from Tim Keller.
This line gives us kings and prostitutes. Men and women. Jews and gentiles. Saints and sinners.
But God works through all of them to bring Jesus into the world.
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