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Why are these genealogies and names given at the very beginning of Matthew's gospel?

I wanted to bring something before you along the Christmas theme, and this is, I believe, the leading of the Lord that I bring before you what I've called 'Treasures in the Family Tree Of Christ'. We begin our reading at verse 1 of Matthew chapter 1. Now there's a lot of strange names in this first chapter of Matthew, so bear with me because I believe that out of the depths of all this difficulty we'll dig out some treasures this morning.

Verse 1: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas", or that could be translated 'Judah', "and his brethren; And Judah begat Phares and Zara of Thamar", drop the 'h' there, 'Tamar', "and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab", or that could be better translated 'Rahab', drop the 'c' and it looks more familiar, 'Rahab', "and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasseh", better translated, "begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS".

I want you also to turn with me, we're not reading from this at the moment, but Luke chapter 3 - and I want you to put your Bible bookmark or your little ribbon in your Bible in Luke chapter 3, and keep your Bible open at Matthew chapter 1 as we look at these treasures in the family tree of Christ.

The tendency as we read through the word of God, whether it be the Old Testament or the New Testament, is to skip out the difficult passages. It would have been very easy for me in the public reading of the word of God this morning to skip out all those difficult names and not make the mistakes, perhaps, that I did in reading them - because it seems tedious, and there seems to be little profit in reading such genealogies. The tendency usually is, when you're doing your daily Bible reading - I hope you do do that - is to skip over such verses of Scripture, but what we must always remind ourselves, and hopefully we'll see the proof of this today, as 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 tells us: all Scripture, all scripture, is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. It's profitable for many things, Paul says to Timothy that it's profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - but we must conclude that no matter how difficult the passage or the reading might be, or on a little glance on the surface no matter how little spiritual truth we may think there to be in a passage, all scripture which is inspired by God is profitable.

These verses of Scripture from verse 1 to 17 of chapter 1 of Matthew trace the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Christ right back to David the King, and they connect our Lord Jesus with all of the messianic prophecies that are given in the Old Testament Scriptures

So we have to ask the question: why are these genealogies and names given at the very beginning of Matthew's gospel? In fact they're given in Matthew as a sort of preface, as an introduction, almost like a book in itself at the beginning of this gospel of Matthew. Many of you will know that people at times, even in our own generation, take up the hobby of tracing ancestors because they're curious about where they've come from. One genealogist by the name of Mr Stewart said: 'It's a matter of personalising history'. When we look back at our genealogies, our family trees, we begin to personalise history and we can set ourselves into our family tree maybe hundreds or thousands of years back as to where we came from.

Now if you're wondering the importance of a family tree such as this at the beginning of Matthew's gospel, all you need to do is read letter that was called 'Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho'. Justin Martyr was an early Christian, and he wrote a letter to a Jew trying to convince him of the legitimacy of the claim of the Lord Jesus Christ to the title of Messiah or Christ - that Jew was called 'Trypho'. A great deal of this letter was expounding Matthew's gospel chapter 1 to prove that the Lord Jesus Christ was in the line of David, and He was who He said He was: Messiah. That tells us alone the importance that such a genealogy was to the early Christians right there at the beginning of Christianity, because as Justin Martyr proved to Trypho the Jew, these verses of Scripture from verse 1 to 17 of chapter 1 of Matthew trace the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Christ right back to David the King, and they connect our Lord Jesus with all of the messianic prophecies that are given in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Now if you're not sure about the importance of such verses, I want you to turn with me very quickly to chapter 22, chapter 22 of Matthew and verse 41. The Lord Jesus posed this question to the Jews: 'While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?'. So the Lord was asking them to say who is Christ to be the son of in lineage, in genealogy. And of course they reply: 'They say unto him, The son of David'. Now, therefore, when we trace the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ back to David what is it other than proof that the Lord Jesus is and was who He said He was? You can imagine as Justin Martyr, this early Christian, wrote this letter to this Jew who was unbelieving, the importance of the lineage of our Lord that was tracing His ancestry right back to King David and was proving that He was qualified to be the Messiah, and that all the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures could be legitimately linked with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let's delve a little deeper into the significance of this lineage in chapter 1. If you remember that Matthew's gospel is primarily the gospel to the Jew, the gospel of the King of the Jews to the kingdom, you will see how important it is that in chapter 1 and verse 1 the Lord Jesus' lineage is taken from Abraham. Matthew starts with Abraham. When you go to Mark's gospel there is no genealogy of the Lord Jesus because Mark is more concerned with the servanthood of our Lord Jesus, and as he goes quickly through his gospel you see that little word over and over again: 'immediately, immediately, immediately' - he hasn't really the time to put a genealogy in, it doesn't serve his purpose in his gospel. But as we turn to Luke's gospel which has traditionally been understood as the gospel of the man Christ Jesus, homing in on the humanity of the Lord Jesus, and you look at chapter 3 of Luke's gospel and verse 38 you see that he begins his genealogy not with Abraham, but because he's speaking of Jesus the man he starts his genealogy with Adam, the first man.

Of course, Luke's gospel is primarily written to Gentiles, so Luke goes beyond even Abraham, the first Jew that was ever called, he goes right back to the father of all humanity - Adam himself. Of course, as you go into John's gospel there's no genealogies per se, but because John is dealing primarily with the divine Christ from all eternity, the Word that was with God and was God, John gives Christ His beginning before the worlds began, and His lineage - as far as John is concerned - is from all eternity past. So we see the different emphasis in these gospels. As Matthew writes this genealogy, he's writing to Jews and he starts the genealogy at Abraham. Incidentally, if you look at chapter 3 of Luke's gospel you see that it's in a different order - he seems to go backwards to the way that Matthew does in chapter 1 of his gospel. The reason why that is is that the genealogy of a man that you find in Luke chapter 3 always goes from the son to the father, so it starts with Jesus and he works back to the fathers. But in Matthew's gospel we have the lineage and the genealogy of a King, and whenever the genealogy of a King was given it was always from the fathers down to that king, whoever the son was. That's why we start with Abraham, so if you get that into your mind first of all: that Matthew is speaking to the Jew, and he is speaking about the King of the Jews that came down from Abraham.

The reason why Matthew brings us the genealogy of a King is that he is trying to prove the legal right of the Lord Jesus Christ to be Messiah, to be the heir to David's throne, and he does this through Joseph

If you keep that in your mind, right away we have a treasure of genealogy - that's the first treasure I want to bring out of this passage: the treasure of genealogy. You see, the reason why Matthew brings us the genealogy of a King is that he is trying to prove the legal right of the Lord Jesus Christ to be Messiah, to be the heir to David's throne, and he does this through Joseph. We have in Matthew chapter 1 the genealogy of Jesus Christ to David through the person of Joseph, His father, His earthly father that is of course. When you go to Luke's genealogy it's the genealogy of Mary tracing back to David - people often ask: 'What's the difference between the genealogy in chapter 1 of Matthew and Luke chapter 3?'. The difference is that chapter 1 of Matthew is Joseph's genealogy to David, and chapter 3 of Luke is Mary's genealogy to David.

Now I know if you look at verse 31 of chapter 3 of Luke you will see that it talks about Heli, or it could be translated 'Eli', as the father of Joseph - but that really is the father-in-law of Joseph. Eli was a relative of Mary, an in-law, a father-in-law of Joseph. So you have here in Matthew Joseph's lineage right back to David, and you have in Luke Mary's lineage right back to David. Now what's that saying? That both Mary and Joseph were in the line to the throne of David - both of them! The two writers are proving, in Matthew the Lord Jesus' legal right to the throne of David through Joseph His father, and Luke is proving the natural right by flesh of Jesus being related to David so that He could be Messiah.

Now you may be a little confused, but let me try and iron it all out for you. Isaiah chapter 7 and verse 14 is quoted in this passage, and you'll hear it read probably tonight: 'Behold the virgin shall be with child'. It wasn't only necessary that the Lord Jesus be born of a virgin, but He had to be born of a virgin of David's line. He had to be physically related to King David - but here's where the problem comes in: a woman could never ever be an heir to the throne. It didn't matter that in Luke's gospel we have Mary related to David all the way back, she could never be an heir to the throne - so not only should the Messiah have to be born of a virgin, and born of a virgin that was related by flesh and blood to David the King, but that virgin that was in the Davidic line had to also be married to a man who was equally related to David in the Davidic line.

This is truly a treasure of genealogy, and it has thrilled my heart this week as I have studied it, because Matthew proves that our Lord Jesus - through Joseph as His legal father in the eyes of the nation - was legally the heir to the throne of David and could be qualified as Messiah. He was born of Mary, so he was naturally of the line of David and was naturally able to be the Messiah. Do you see the perfection of the great plan of God? Even though Mary couldn't be qualified to be an heir to the throne, God married to Mary, Joseph, so that He could be legally Messiah. My friends, this is wonderful because the prophets demanded that there should be a virgin birth, and we right away would say: 'Well, then He could never be related naturally to the line of David, He could never be related legally'. The law demanded that there was a fleshly lineage to the Davidic throne, and this is something that man could never have conceived in his human mind - to bring forth Messiah from the virgin's womb, but that that virgin should be related to David naturally and she should marry a man, Joseph, related to David legally and royally.

What a treasure of genealogy we have here, does it thrill your heart to see it in the word of God?

There you have it, and let me say categorically today: it is absolutely fundamental and essential that He was born of the virgin, no matter what the BBC will say tonight - and I'm not urging you to watch it. It is essential for who He was and who He is! But does it not warm your heart that all this is brought together in the supernatural providence of God, and I'll tell you better than this: God has left no room for any other man to claim to be Messiah, no room. Apart from the fact that it's proved here in this genealogy, when the Jews rejected the Lord Jesus what happened? In AD70 the Romans were allowed to come and absolutely destroy the whole city, destroy the temple, destroy the nation and disperse them - and with that their genealogical records were all destroyed as well! If a man in Judaism was to stand up today and say: 'I am Messiah, I go right back to the line of David', it could never be proved - but it's proved here!

No wonder the Lord said: 'Many shall rise and call themselves Christ, but it will all be unfounded'. What a treasure of genealogy we have here, does it thrill your heart to see it in the word of God? Perfection! Man would say: 'It's an impossibility', but God brings all these impossibilities together and sets His Son in the midst of it. Now the careful eye will look down this passage and see that there are three omissions of names that should be there. The name Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah are in the Old Testament, but they're not found here. Don't get confused or disconcerted about it, because just because this says 'begat' does not mean it was a direct relationship of father and son, they can skip a couple of generations in these type of genealogies that you have in the Scriptures. But why are these three men left out? I could go into many reasons why they are left out, but I'll give you the reason which I think is primary in Matthew's mind that he left them out: they were three descendants of the daughter of the wicked King Ahab, whose name was Athaliah. Without going into undue detail, let me just tell you this: Athaliah desired to annihilate the kingly seed of the house of Judah. In other words, because Christ would come from the tribe of Judah, Athaliah decided that she would wipe them all out. We could call it anti-messianity, just like anti-Christianity, and anti-Christ today, they were trying to destroy the line of Messiah - just as Cain tried to do, the devil did through Cain when he slew Abel; just as we come into the Nativity story and Herod tries to slay all those man children to try to stop the bringing to fruition of the fulfilment of prophetic scripture in the Lord Jesus.

God doesn't have them here, isn't that amazing? Because, as Galatians 4:4 says: 'When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law'. As we heard this morning around the table, the darkness couldn't prevent it no matter how much it tried. Oh, isn't it wonderful? But I have three more treasures to bring to you in the time that's left. The second is a treasure of numerology. Genealogy is the study of generations, numerology is the study of numbers. If you look at verse 17 there are three fourteens mentioned. All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen; from David until the carrying away of Babylon are fourteen; from the carrying away of Babylon to Christ are fourteen. Now I think that one of the reasons why Matthew breaks it into three fourteens is for memorisation, because these early Christians had to memorise this to debate with Jews about the lineage of our Lord Jesus. I think that that's one of the reasons why he does this.

If you can't get fourteen, the reason is that David ends the first list and starts the second list, and Jechonias ends the second list and starts the third - but that's by the way. If you add these three fourteens together the number that you get is the number 42. You have to be very careful in the study of numbers in scripture that you don't go overboard, but let me just say this: 42 in the scripture represents the experience of sufferings. Now I know that the number 40 represents trial - the Israelites were 40 years in the wilderness, the trial that they had; the Lord Jesus was fasting 40 days and 40 nights and then His temptation came. But those trials don't always have to have necessary deep sufferings, it could just be a trial - but 42 speaks specifically of great sufferings. As you go into the book of Revelation it talks about 42 months, which is the three and a half years of the second half of the tribulation period - Jacob's trouble. No other period of suffering has ever been seen on the earth - and the idea is not just that it's a period of suffering, but that the 43rd period - after 42, after the suffering - the 43rd period is the period of rest.

Let me give you another treasure, a treasure of typology. Genealogy is the study of generations, numerology the study of numbers, typology is the study of types - and a type in the Bible is just a figure, a symbol of something that is future, pointing towards something that is distant

Now, my friends, as you get this in this genealogy you have 42 generations from Abraham right down to Christ, but the 43rd is rest! Isn't it wonderful? Rest in Christ! We could go on: two times seven is fourteen, you have three fourteens here - and I hope I'm not pushing this but I don't believe I am, most of the conservative evangelical scholars see this in these numbers. Seven is the perfect number in Judaism, perfection, completeness. There is no disorder with the Spirit of God, God is not the author of confusion, and as you look at the Bible you see much of Israel's history is broken into sevens. There were 70 years of captivity in Babylon, there are 70 prophetic weeks in Daniel, the last week of that 70 prophetic weeks is broken into seven years. Here you have in these fourteens, two times seven three times over. If seven is perfection, two times seven three times over - what must that mean? Absolute and complete fulfilment in Christ!

My friend, Christ has fulfilled it all - and if that's not enough for you: David, the name David is mentioned, the all-important name - and I didn't say that now! - but to Judaism the all-important kingly name is mentioned five times in this genealogy. You may not know this, but in personal names letters in Hebrew represent numbers. The letter 'd' represents 4 - they never take vowels by the way, so drop the 'a' - the letter 'v' represents 6, drop the 'i', the letter 'd' represents 4 again - you add it all up, what number you get? Fourteen! Fourteen, and I wonder is that the reason why Matthew puts this right throughout his genealogy, that all of this points to the fulfilment of Christ as in the line of David as Messiah, and isn't it amazing that not just the names fulfil scripture, but the very numbers in it fulfil it!

Let me give you another treasure, a treasure of typology. Genealogy is the study of generations, numerology the study of numbers, typology is the study of types - and a type in the Bible is just a figure, a symbol of something that is future, pointing towards something that is distant. If you look at verse 1 it says: 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ'. If you turn with me to Genesis chapter 5 and verse 1, you read here: 'This is the book of the generations of Adam'. Now if you read down this generation of Adam it has the word 'begat', but it often has 'and he died...and he died...and he died'. This is a generation of death that came upon all men via sin, through Adam our forefather; but as you turn to Matthew this is a new generation, the generation of Jesus Christ. That word 'generation', which is the literal word 'genesis', is only found twice in the whole Bible - once in the Old Testament, Genesis 5 and 1; and once in the New Testament, Matthew 1 and 1. What Adam had wrought on humanity by his original sin, now the last Adam is coming in through the Nativity of Christ, born in Bethlehem, to undo and reverse everything in contrast to the first Adam.

What typology there is in this! I haven't got time to dwell on that because there's something further I want you to see. 'The generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, and the son of Abraham'. Now you think of David and think of Abraham for a moment, and you will remember from your knowledge of the Old Testament that both of them were promised sons - isn't that right? Both of them were promised sons. Abraham was promised a son in Isaac, and Abraham's son in Isaac was a promise of what? A racial line of Jewish people that would number greater than the sand of the shore and the stars of the sky. Abraham speaks of the racial line of the Jew, that there was this nation that would spring up and be a blessing to all nations. But go further into the typology of Isaac for a moment, remember Abraham took Isaac in Genesis 22 and offered him upon the altar to God - the father was offering the son. He had faith, we read in Hebrews 11, to believe that God could raise that child up from the dead again if he was caused to slay it. So there's not only death and offering and sacrifice, but there's resurrection.

Isaac married a woman called Rebekah, and Rebekah was not a Hebrew. Rebekah in these days was a Gentile, Isaac's name means 'laughter' - and I believe the significance of that was forever to be a witness to Abraham of the utter impossibility of this birth to a barren womb like Sarah's. As far as Abraham was concerned the name 'Isaac' meant this, listen: the merging of human and the divine. The Scriptures say that Sarah received power to conceive seed when she was past age. Can you see the typology in all of this?

Let me go on: what about David's son? Well this is the royal line, King David. His son was promised and came, and his name was Solomon, and his name means 'peaceful'. Solomon's greatest endowment was wisdom, and his specific life's work was building the temple. His reign was characteristic of peace and prosperity on the nation. Do you see the typology? Do you see the significance? But let me stop you here and warn you for a moment, because what was in Abraham's heart and David's heart failed! Have you got it? The promise of their sons didn't come to fruition in the son, because you see in the Old Testament the weakness of Isaac's character, the appalling failure of his sons right throughout the whole ages of Judaism - and he failed to really grasp the promises that God had given to his father Abraham. Look at Solomon, and in spite of all his wisdom and gifts from God his life is an unutterable and appalling failure! The temple that he built to glorify God became a centre which was a form of godliness without the power because of his sin, and his sin ultimately caused the fall of the Davidic dynasty.

Let me remind you of His words: 'Before Abraham was I am', 'A greater than Solomon is here'

My friend, if you see in this genealogy the treasure of typology pointing towards another who would perfectly fulfil all the promises that were given to Abraham's sons and David's sons - and who is He? Let me remind you of His words: 'Before Abraham was I am', 'A greater than Solomon is here'. He realised and fulfilled all the purposes that were failed in Isaac, Solomon, and all after him. In His sacrifice, in His glorious resurrection, marrying a Gentile bride, building a spiritual temple and sending forth His Holy Spirit into it to give it the power that was necessary. What I want you to see today is that all the aspirations and incompetence of men has been overcome, and even Abraham the founder of the religion, and David the king of the religion, look to Christ, and have to look to Christ for the full fulfilment of all of God's purposes and promises. Abraham, the father of faith, fades out of sight when he sees his faith vindicated in Jesus Christ. The government of David, which perpetually failed, waits for Christ administration on the earth. The captivity was wrought in the time of Babylon, through which the people of God sighed and sobbed in agony, waits for emancipation - and it is all fulfilled in Christ!

You have through these time periods the judges, the kings, the priests, theocracy, monarchy, hierarchy, and what Matthew is simply saying is that all these things have been pointing toward the Lord Jesus, and now they are all fulfilled in Him - and then he starts his gospel to tell you all about it! No wonder the hymnwriter said:

'Hail to the Lord's anointed,
Great David's greater Son.
Hail in the time appointed
His reign on earth begun.

He comes to break oppression,
To set the captives free,
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity'.

Here's the last treasure - a treasure of genealogy, a treasure of numerology, a treasure of typology - and here's the last, but not least, and I want to give you it: the treasure of soteriology. Soteriology is the study of salvation. If you realise that in the ancient near east, in Palestine in Jesus' day, a woman was not a person, she was a thing. She was seen as a possession of her father or her husband, and they could do with her as they pleased. Certainly a woman was never ever to be included within Jewish pedigree, and you would never find a woman in the genealogies of a Jew. In fact, one of the morning prayers of a Jewish man was: 'Lord, I thank You that You haven't made me a Gentile, You haven't made me a slave, and You haven't made me a woman'. Well, if there was to be a woman in the genealogy of Christ, you would have thought perhaps that it would have been a noble and devoted woman that you would find in the Old Testament - maybe Sarah or Rebekah, or Deborah, or as Hebrews 11 says: 'women that received their dead raised to life again, and others who were tortured not accepting deliverance'. In the genealogy of the one who would be the seed of the woman that would bruise the serpent's head and would be Messiah, you would think you would find some great woman of esteem - but can I tell you today, look carefully: there are four women, and three of them at least are not marked by holiness, but they are marked by shame - and the fourth belongs to a race that was cursed by the law of God.

Faith brought Ruth into the Lord's people along with her children, and the third generation after her - her great grandson - is King David himself! What the law had cursed, grace set aside and brought her in. Oh, this is tremendous!

In the closing moments let me give you those four women. Look at verse 3: 'Judah begat Phares and Zara of Tamar' - there's the woman, Tamar. If you go into the Old Testament Scriptures, Genesis 38 - don't turn to it now - you will read a story there. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, and she was married to a man who died. He displeased the Lord, so the Lord slew him. In those days if your husband died your brother-in-law had to marry you and raise up seed to your husband. So her brother-in-law came to her, Obed, but he did not raise up seed for her. The Lord was displeased, and the Lord struck him down, and then Judah promised: 'See when that little boy, the other brother that's left, when he goes up I'll give you to him as your wife' - but when he grew up Judah didn't do it, and she was displeased. The Bible says she went out, knew where Judah was travelling one day, disguised herself as a prostitute, slept with him and bore up seed to her father-in-law - incest, adultery, fornication, seduction, you name it, it's in the book. She is in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus. You say: 'What could possibly qualify her to be in the genealogy of the Lord?' - do you want to hear it? The only thing that qualifies her to be there is her shame, her shame.

Let me give you the second one, verse 5: 'Rahab' - Joshua chapter 2. You read about the spies who went to spy in Jericho when they went into the home of this harlot at Rahab, and they were given a place to stay and she hid them from the people in Jericho and from the king. Because of that they had grace upon her, and they said that they wouldn't slay her house and her family if she put a red ribbon or red rope in the window of her home - but the Bible tells us that it was by faith that the harlot Rahab perished not like them who believed not, when she received the spies with peace. She was a harlot, full of abominations, so why is she in the genealogy of Christ? Here's why: faith! That's all, faith.

Look at the third one, verse 5b: 'Ruth' - now there's no stain of character on Ruth, but her problem is she is a Moabitess, and the law of Moses was against the Moabites and cursed them. In fact Deuteronomy 23 verse 3 says: 'An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord, even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever'. But faith brought Ruth into the Lord's people along with her children, and the third generation after her - her great grandson - is King David himself! What the law had cursed, grace set aside and brought her in. Oh, this is tremendous!

The fourth in verse 6, it just says 'her of Uriah' - and of course you know the wife of Uriah the Hittite was Bathsheba, that David committed adultery with. I believe that David is in view here and not Bathsheba, it doesn't even mention her name - and I believe what's being talked about here is the sin of a believing man. Here you have the believing King David whose lineage we have before us, but even he can fall into the depths of sin and shame, yet he's here! His backsliding that he committed, it didn't disqualify him from grace! I'll tell you, if Matthew has anything to tell us from his genealogy it's this: the treasures of salvation. I believe that he deliberately picked out the dregs of humanity to show that it is faith that lays hold of salvation, deliverance from the law is through faith, and even in the case of a believer that falls, the assurance of salvation is through faith. Grace shines through it all, nothing but grace we can see in this genealogy - four women who are sinners, four women who are Gentiles - and we could almost sing with Hannah today: 'He lifteth up the needy from a dunghill to make them sit with princes and inherit the throne of glory'. Matthew's purpose in this genealogy is not to cover-up the outrageous sin of some of the ancestors of Jesus, but to emphasise them; that on the human side of Jesus' ancestry was part of the world.

If you can't come and adore Him after that, I don't know what's wrong with you

Later as we read, verse 18 on, he emphasises that He was apart from sin and He came to redeem us. But let me ask you in the closing two minutes of our meeting: this Christmas time, does this bring any commentary or deepen your understanding of a verse like this concerning the incarnation of Christ: 'He came in the likeness of sinful flesh'. John 1, what about this one? 'He came unto His own'. You have it in the His lineage, but let me say this - and I am on holy ground, and I be careful, but I tell you this - on the authority of this passage I can say it: He was not only the friend of publicans and sinners, but He was related to them. He was related to them! Apart from sin, in His lineage He associates with the sinner - what an illustration and symbol of the gospel that the division between Jew and Gentile is broken down, male and female, clean and unclean - for He is not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Is it any wonder then, in verse 21, God gives Him the name JESUS - Jehovah is salvation.

Now listen: if you can't come and adore Him after that, I don't know what's wrong with you.

Lord Jesus, we fall at Thy feet this day and worship Thee for who Thou art - from eternity past the Eternal Son of God, the Word of God who has neither beginning or end; but yet in time the one who is the rightful heir of the throne of David, the one who came in the likeness of our sinful flesh to redeem those that are under the law. Oh Lord we thank Thee, thank Thee for dying for us, thank Thee for rising again, we thank Thee for everything that Thou art and all that Thou hast fulfilled. We pray that this Christmas time that Thy Spirit will give us a deeper appreciation of the treasures of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Amen.

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
January 2003

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly, Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Treasures In The Family Tree Of Christ" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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