March Memories: The Third Genealogy.

[As we continue in our March Memories post reprints, I’ve become impressed with the necessity of emphasizing the unique person of the Lord Jesus.  Islam is resurging, and it views Jesus as just another prophet, important though He may be in their view of things, but nevertheless much inferior to their own prophet.  Certainly not God, nor did He die on the Cross.  And much of professing Christendom denies His deity and His redemption.]

Most people know of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.  Matthew’s genealogy is condensed and intended to connect Jesus with the great covenants of the Old Testament:  the Abrahamic and the Davidic.  Matthew’s is the genealogy of Joseph.  His is the genealogy of Christ’s royalty, though both genealogies trace Jesus back to King David.  Luke’s genealogy is longer, some 75 generations, and goes through a different son of David all the way back to Adam.  This is Mary’s genealogy.

That’s two.  Where’s the third one?  I really hadn’t thought about it quite like this until recently, like this morning.  Perhaps in the strictest sense, it isn’t a genealogy, and yet it is.  It’s contained in two verses, though a few other verses add some explanation.  Here it is – you’ll recognize it immediately”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, John 1:1, 14.

This is the genealogy, if you will, of Christ’s deity.  In a few words, simple words in the Greek original, words so simple that beginning Greek students translate them in their first attempts at translation, – in a few words, John expresses truths that 2000 years of Church history haven’t begun to understand.

“Now, wait a minute!”  Someone who might knock at your door will say, “That’s not what John meant at all.  There’s no “the” in front of God in the Greek, so John was saying that Jesus was ‘a’ God.”  They also teach that the “beginning” John wrote about was when God created the Word, or Jesus.  He was the beginning, and then He created all the rest.  They might take you over to Proverbs, where the writer personifies wisdom and describes its role in creation.  “That,” they will say, “is Jesus.”  They might even tell you that He is really Michael, the archangel, brother of Lucifer.

Is that all John meant in these verses?  That Jesus was the first thing created by God, and He created everything else?  That He isn’t “God” at all, just “a god”?

It’s true that John didn’t write, “the Word was the God.”   There’s no article – no “the” – in front of God.  In the Greek language, there is no indefinite article – “a”, “an” – either.  As Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, and someone probably pointed it out centuries before he did, John couldn’t have written, “The Word was the God,” because then he would have been saying that the Word and the Father were the same, and the Oneness folks, who deny the Trinity, would be right.  If John says one thing, it’s that the Word and the Father are distinct from each other.  They aren’t just different “manifestations” of the One God.

There’s another difficulty with the idea that Jesus is only “a” god.  What kind of “god” is He?  How many “gods” are there, or is He the only one?

They answer that by saying that Jesus was an angel, and in the OT, angels are called sons of God, Job 1:6.  He is, therefore, rightly called son of God.  It’s true that angels are called “sons of God.”  Does this, then, put them and Jesus in the same class?

The writer to the Hebrews anticipated this idea.  In 1:5 (NKJV), he wrote, …to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’  The expected answer is, “There are no angels to whom that was said.”  Not as a Jehovah’s Witness once told me, “Jesus is that angel,” and then quoted this verse to me.  He completely missed the point of the verse.  That is not what the writer was saying.  The Father was not speaking to ANY angel in that verse!

In fact, after discussing what the Father did not say to the Son, Hebrews goes on in v. 8 with what He did say, But to the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”  The New World Translation (NWT), the JW Bible, has it, “God is your throne forever and ever.”

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t even make sense.  Not to be irreverent or anything, but do they believe that Jesus is sitting on God’s lap?  The Greek text reads, “The throne of You, the God, into the ages of the ages.”  Note the presence of the article with God in this verse:  “the God”.  The contrast between Jesus and angels couldn’t be clearer.  In fact, in v. 6, Hebrews says, Let all the angels of God worship Him.  Even older versions of the NWT say that – I have a copy.  Granted, in newer editions, it’s changed to “Let all the angels of God do obeisance to Him,” but even then, it translates the Gk. word as “worship” when it doesn’t refer to Jesus.

How can two beings both be “God,” in view of all the Scriptures which tell us there is only “one God”?  There are a lot of illustrations of the Trinity, which is what this is really all about.  A cube is the best one I know.

A cube has length, width and height, all at the same time, but it’s not three cubes.  It’s just one cube.  The length isn’t the width or the height, the width isn’t the length or the height, and the height isn’t the length or the width.  And the cube doesn’t “manifest” itself as height one day, width another day, and length yet another day, as some try to teach that the One God manifests Himself differently at different times.

The cube has three measurements, but they all coexist in the one cube at the same time.  Like His creation, God is, if you will, three-dimensional:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father isn’t the Son or the Spirit.  The Spirit isn’t the Father or the Son.  The Son isn’t the Father or the Spirit.  Three different Persons, for lack of a better word, all different, but all coexisting together as the One God.

The Word was God.

One final thought on this.  Some folks say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  Funny, but the people who heard Him say in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” understood that was exactly what He was claiming.  That’s why they tried to kill Him.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…, John 1:14.

This is the reason for the other two genealogies.  The story of Jesus doesn’t start, “Once upon a time….”  It’s rooted in and grounded firmly on the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament.  I know there are those who deny that He ever existed, but after all the attempts over 2000 years to get rid of Him, and He’s still here – must be something “real” about Him.

Notice John’s comparison.  The Word was God – the Word became flesh.  Nowhere does John or the Bible say that the Word “became,” that is, that it came into existence, or that it became God.  In other words, there has never been a time, if we can refer to eternity like that, when the Word did not exist, or that it was not God. There was a time, however, when the Word became flesh.  Matthew and Luke gives us a glimpse of that time.

The Word became flesh.

Four words.

The Word became flesh.  Four words.  Describing an event which has no parallel in human history.  Psalm 113:5, 6, says, Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?

The Lord God “humbles” Himself even to look at this speck of dirt off to one side of His creation.  What must it have been like for the Lord Jesus to live on it?  We think we know so much, with our “Doctors of Theology,” our books, our “mega-churches,” etc. [and I’m not opposed to education or books or church], but I don’t think we understand even as much about our Lord’s “humiliation,” to use the theological term, as a newborn understands about its mother’s agony in bringing it to birth.  How can we?

It’s not for nothing that Paul refers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he continues, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor….  The Lord didn’t come to this world to be feted in Rome, or to live in a place like the White House or Buckingham Palace, although those places would be mere shacks compared to what He was used to.  He came to live a relatively minor, troublesome, province of Rome.  Except for one incident, He was unknown for nearly thirty years, and in the last three, “fame” was fleeing, and hostility and opposition were lasting and increasing.  Even though He rose from the dead, as far as the world is concerned, He might as well still be dead.  Indeed, much of the world thinks that He still is.  Even if people class Him with the religious leaders of this world, they are more likely to live by their teachings than His.

So, you see, the third genealogy gives us a more complete idea of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was.

And is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,…  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….
_______________

(Originally published March 12, 2013.)  edited.

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The Voices of Christmas: “Hail, Mary….”

These words are…?

1.  The beginning of words used millions of times a day.

2.  A long, desperation pass to the end zone in the last seconds of a football game, a pass thrown with the hope of snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.

3.  An approximation of the beginning of an angelic greeting to a young Jewish maiden who would otherwise be totally unknown.

4.  All of the above.

All four are true, although only one is Scriptural.  I have no idea where #2 came from, although if it works, it’s very exciting.  I’m sure there’s an explanation if I wanted to look it up.  However, the Virgin Birth was not a “desperation” move by God to try to salvage something out of the mess Adam made of the human race.  It was the continuation of a carefully thought-out plan for the redemption of mankind, the defeat of Satan, the vindication of the Divine purpose and the revelation of the glory and grace of God.  All this rested on the shoulders of a young Jewish girl who had no idea of it at all.  This does not mean it was dependent on her in the sense that she could have messed it up if she hadn’t been “willing.”  It just means that she was the only girl out of the hundreds or thousands in Judah who could have been the mother of the Messiah.

How is she the only one?  There are several reasons.

First, the fallen human nature is passed from father to child.  This is seen in the very first generation of children.  In Genesis 1:26, 27, we read that Adam was created in the “image of God.”  This doesn’t mean that he was a little “god” or that he looked like God.  Genesis 5:1 repeats this:  In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.  However, v. 3 says, And Adam…begot a son in his own likeness, after his image….”  Whatever “the image of God” was, Adam lost it and became the father of children who were like him:  fallen sinners.  The chain of fallenness continues to this day. I got it from my father, who got it from his father, and I passed it down to my kids, and they to their kids, etc., etc.  So, the Messiah could have no human father, though He could have and did have a human mother.  This is how He was fully human, through her, but not a fallen human, like a human father would have been.

Some try to get around the problem of sin by saying that Mary herself was sinless, which she herself denies.  Besides, this just passes the problem back one generation and would have required her to be virgin-born as well.

A second reason is found in her lineage as compared with Joseph’s.  She and Joseph were both descendants of King David, but through different sons:  Matthew 1:6, Luke 3:31.  This is significant.  Because of Jeconiah, otherwise known as Coniah or Jehoiachin, David’s line through Solomon became cursed, Jeremiah 22:24-30.  Jesus could never ascend to the throne of David if He were actually Joseph’s son.  He will ascend to the throne through Mary.  For a complete treatment of this, see my post on Zelophehad.

A third reason is that it was time, Galatians 4:4.  If we could put it like this, Mary was the right girl at the right time.  There probably weren’t very many young Jewish maidens alive at the time who had the lineage and right of inheritance that Mary had.  Even if there were, she was the one highly favored.  She was the one through whom the incarnate God would come into this world.

She was the one to whom the angel would say, “Hail, thou who art highly favored….”

Voices of Christmas: Matthew.

[This is actually a reprint, somewhat edited, of a post from last March.  However, it’s certainly relevant for this time of year.  Now, it does mention Easter, but Easter would never have happened if it weren’t for Christmas.]

Matthew’s genealogy is important because it tells us that the story of Jesus doesn’t begin “once upon a time,” in spite of those who claim it should.  It’s rooted solidly in Jewish history, in the Old Testament.  However, Matthew’s purpose isn’t merely to show us that Jesus is Jewish.  His purpose is to show us as well that Jesus is closely linked to two great covenants in Jewish history:  the Davidic and the Abrahamic.  Both covenants have national and global significance.  Jesus’ life and death have national and global significance.

Part of the significance of that life and death lies in connection with another covenant essential to the founding of the nation of Israel:  the Mosaic.  Moses wasn’t an ancestor of Jesus so isn’t included in the genealogy.  Nevertheless, there is a connection, though it’s spiritual, not physical.  Israel was given the Mosaic Law as a standard of righteous living, with blessings or judgment based on either Israel’s obedience or rebellion.

The Old Testament is filled with stories of Israel’s disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant, and the consequences of that rebellion.  Israel was never able to attain to the righteousness required by the Law.  Though that Covenant was never made with mankind – there is no “Dispensation of Law” for mankind – yet according to Paul in Romans 2:1-16, Gentiles, that is, the rest of mankind outside the Jewish race, understand the idea of “right” and “wrong.”  These may not agree with the Biblical definition of such things, but there is still that understanding.  The OT Jew never lived up to the Law, and we never live up even to our own understanding of right and wrong.  We can never attain the righteousness God requires if we are ever to stand in His presence uncondemned.  The Lord Jesus came to procure and provide that righteousness.  Hence, the Manger and the genealogies.

We see –

Importance of the genealogy.

1.  It established Jesus as a descendant of Abraham through Jacob (Israel).  This is important because only an Israelite could be king over the nation, Deuteronomy 17:15.

2.  It established Jesus as a descendant of King David.  Only a descendant of David could sit on his throne.  [You might want to check out my post on “The Daughters of Zelophedad” for more about this.]  I know there is a lot of discussion today, with “the kingdom” being considered only as some sort of “spiritual” entity which has nothing to do with the nation of Israel, but the Old Testament clearly requires something more than an invisible reign of the Son of David.  Jeremiah 23:5, 6 says “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness and judgment in the earth.  In His days, Judah will be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.  Now this is the name by which He will be called:  THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Interesting things in the genealogy.

The genealogy is obviously incomplete.  That’s because it’s designed to show connection, not chronology.  Several names are left out, and the ones included are arranged in three sections of 14.  Perhaps Matthew did this to make it easier to remember these 42 names.  Perhaps there is also a connection with David’s name.  In Hebrew, the numeric value of the letters in his name is “14”.

1.  Each segment ends with a decisive event: the rise of the monarchy, the Captivity, the coming of the Messiah.

2.  Each segment involves a different Covenant.  The first segment involves the Abrahamic Covenant, as the promised line develops through Isaac [not Ishmael, who was rejected], Jacob [not Esau, who was also rejected], then Judah, and on down to the Lord Jesus.  The second segment has to do with the Davidic Covenant, a covenant in which the Lord promised David that he would always have a son to sit on his throne. That the Lord Jesus ultimately fulfills this covenant is without doubt.  The question is, how and when?  The third segment introduces the New Covenant.  Though it’s commonly understood that the New Covenant concerns the Church, we only enter into its blessing because of and through the Lord Jesus.  It was actually made on behalf of the nation of Israel, Jeremiah 31:31-34; 32:36-44; Ezekiel 34:20-31; 36:16-38 and others.

3.  Each segment has something to do with the Davidic kingdom.  The first sections tells of its establishment.  The second refers to its dissolution.  The third has to do with its re-establishment.

4.  The genealogy is a microcosm of grace.  Consider the names listed in it.

a.  Some were famous.  Who could ask for more illustrious ancestors that Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon?

b.  However, some were forgotten.  Who knows anything about Abiud, Eliakim or Azor, or many of the others in this list.  To a church proud of its accomplishments, and forgetting its roots, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world, to put to shame the mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

For most of us, any memory of us will die with us, except maybe for family and a few friends, and when they die, so will the memory.  But those whom the world has considered worthy to be forgotten, God has remembered in His grace.

c.  Some were foul.  Consider Manasseh, for example.  Though son to a godly father, he himself was so wicked that he single-handedly brought on the judgments which later happened to Judah, 2 Kings 21:10-16.  Romans 5:8 says, God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Never make the mistake that God saved you because you were so wonderful, or that you had done something that impressed Him, or obligated Him.  What is wonderful about it, is that God saved you, and me!

d.  Some were feminine.  Women were seldom included in genealogies.  What is even more amazing in this genealogy are the women who were included in it.  One had been a harlot; one had played the harlot.  Two were outsiders, members of races under God’s judgment (aren’t we all?)  One brought with her the scandal of adultery and murder.  One was placed in a situation where she was, and is, considered by many to be an adulteress.  Yet each was given her own special place of responsibility and privilege in producing a link in the chain from Abraham to Jesus.

In spite of the disdain for, and disagreement with, that many have for the Biblical role of women, it wasn’t Christianity that burned a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre.  It’s not Christianity that considers women as mere chattel or that requires them to walk several paces behind their husbands.  It is Christianity that commands husbands to love their wives as themselves, or even more, to love them as Christ loves us, willingly, sacrificially and for their benefit.

There is one final thing, and this is probably the most important.

e.  Some were forgiven.  SOME, not all.  Some people are very interested in their ancestors.  Someone was kind enough to trace my own family back to the Old Country.  There were five families he was tracing and his and mine intersected a few generations back.  My daughter was Salutatorian of her class at the Christian school she attended.  After the graduation, the wife of a pastor of a Baptist church in the area came up to me and asked me if I were the speaker’s father.  I was.  It turned out that this lady and I were (very) distant cousins.  I guess it is a small world, after all.

Lincoln is quoted as saying that people who are always talking about their ancestors are like potatoes.  The only good thing about them is underground.  That’s a little cold, but the truth is, it’s more important what kind of descendant my ancestors have, than what kind of ancestors their descendant has.

The thing is, and these people would have been looking forward, not backward, mere physical relationship to Jesus means nothing, as wonderful as that might have been.  Our Lord Himself taught that in Mark 3:31-35.  His ministry was still its enjoying its early enormous popularity and His family, to put it bluntly, thought He was nuts.  They came to try to talk to Him, and when Jesus was told about this, He said, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?”  And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and My mother.”

Now Jesus wasn’t disavowing His family.  One of the last things He did on the Cross was to provide for His mother, John 19:25-27.  He was simply saying that physical relationship isn’t what gets it done spiritually.  He mentioned “the will of God,” and in John 6:40, He said, “…this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life….”  Then, lest someone object, “How can we see Him?  He’s not here!?” He said to Thomas after the Resurrection and Thomas’ doubts about it, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

There is only one religion (my, how I dislike that word!) in the world that has a Manger and a Cross, and that Cross is empty.  Many deny the Resurrection, but those who came to the tomb on that Sunday morning found it to be empty as well.

Several of my posts have mentioned Easter, and that has really been unintentional on my part.  Even when I started this post 1700+ words ago, I wasn’t thinking about it.  But it’s a week from this coming Sunday [remember, this is a reprint of an earlier post.  But without Christmas, there would be no Easter] – a reminder that Someone has broken the chains of sin, death and judgment that hold us all, apart from faith in Him.  That Someone has come to make a way of access into the presence of a holy, righteous and just God Who must and will punish sin.  That Someone has come and taken that punishment on behalf of those who believe on Him, not an academic or formal or “religious” faith, but an absolute reliance on who He was and what He did for sinners, to the point that if He failed, and He cannot! there is no other way of salvation, no other hope for you and me.

There is, or was, a TV program for children called, “The Neverending Story.”  At least, I think it was for children.  There really is a “neverending” story.  With Luke and John, Matthew gives us its beginning.

The Daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.

“Who?  What?  What in the world!?”

“Who is Zepho- Zelod- whatever it is?”

I wonder how many of you have heard of these six people before?  They actually are important in Old Testament history, or at least the daughters are – and have importance even in the New Testament, as we’ll see shortly.

I decided Friday afternoon, instead of sitting down and watching Netflix for a while before I went to work, that I would read some more in the Bible.  Always so much better than Dr. Phil or Katie, or even what we actually prefer to watch on Netflix.  My reading was in Numbers, so I started where I had left off that morning with ch. 26, but I only got as far as 27:33:  Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters; and the names of the daughters are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 

This is part of the second census taken in Israel, a census designed to ensure that those who had rebelled 38 years earlier and refused to enter the land, even after favorable reports from Joshua and Caleb, had all died as a judgment on their rebellion, Numbers 26:63-65.  Their rebellion had caused the rest of Israel to wander in the desert for an extra 38 years.  The girls are mentioned in three other places in the  OT:  Numbers 27:1; 36:11 and Joshua 17:3, always together and always in the same order.  Zelophehad is mentioned one additional time, in 1 Chronicles 7:15, as having no sons, but only daughters.  They aren’t named there.

A second reason for this census is that it forms the basis for the future division of the land.  This was to be done according to the size of each tribe as determined by this census, Numbers 26:52-56.

I’d noticed before that all the girls’ names ended in -ah, and had wondered if it was some form of JAH, the name of God.  This is often the case.  I decided to find out.   I was disappointed.  It wasn’t.

As I looked at the meanings of the girls’ names, I wondered what story there might be behind them.  Names often carry significant meaning in the OT.

I had to wonder, though.  Mahlah means “sickness”.  Who names their daughter, “Sickness”?  Noah means “movement.”  This, by the way, isn’t the same name as the Noah who built the Ark to escape the Flood.  Even though it seems that way in our translations, the Hebrew words, though very similar, are different.  The Noah of Genesis 6, his name means “rest.”  Hoglah is thought to mean “a partridge.”  It’s uncertain.  Milcah means “Queen” or “Counsel.”  And, finally, Tirzah means “delight” or “delightful.”

So, nothing about God.  And I have no idea, if it were even possible, how to weave any kind of “story” from these very different names.

However, it isn’t the names or their meanings that make these young women important.

We’ve mentioned that this second census was in part about the division of the Land of Promise, or the inheritance, the heritage, of each family as it would be passed from generation to generation.  Each of the three other appearances of these girls has something to do with “inheritance.”

In Numbers 27:1-11, the daughters come to Moses and the leaders Israel and tell them that their father, Zelophehad, had not died with those who died in Korah’s rebellion, Numbers 16, but had simply died naturally, leaving no sons behind.  Why, therefore, they ask, should his name disappear from Israel?

This question resulted in the LORD commanding that the inheritance of one who died without sons should pass, first of all, to daughters.  If no daughters, then the LORD commanded other arrangements to be followed.

In Numbers 36, another problem arises with their inheritance.  The leaders of the families of the children of Gilead, one of the daughters’ ancestors, came to Moses and the leaders of Israel and mentioned that if the daughters married outside their tribe (Manasseh), then the inheritance would move from Manasseh to whatever tribe they married into.  The heritage of Manasseh would be diminished.

This wasn’t just a matter of greed.  Inheritance and heritage were considered almost sacred in Israel.  After all, the original land division had been made by lot.  This doesn’t mean that they simply “rolled the dice,” but rather that the boundaries of each part of the land had been determined by the Lord.  Solomon later put it like this, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD, Proverbs 16:33.  This doesn’t give us license to decide things that way – the flip of a coin, etc.  It’s just how the LORD told them to do it.  He hasn’t said that to us.

As one example of the importance Israelites attached to their heritage, consider the following.  Several centuries later, after the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah, a man named Naboth owned a vineyard in Samaria, a vineyard which was located next to the palace of Ahab, a wicked king of Israel, 1 Kings 21.  Ahab wanted this vineyard so he could plant a vegetable garden.  He offered to buy this plot of land or trade Naboth for a better one.  Hear Naboth’s response:  “The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!” 1 Kings 21:3.

The leaders’ concern was legitimate.

The daughters last appear in Joshua 17:3-5, where they claim that which was given to them by the LORD.

There is something else in this portion.  Apparently the daughters were the only ones among some of the tribes who “got it right.”  As Israel was preparing to enter the Promised Land, they had to face opposition even before they got there.  On the east side of Jordan were two kingdoms which came out against them in war:  Sihon, king of Heshbon and Og, king of Bashan.  The LORD enabled Israel to be victorious, carefully note Deuteronomy 2:26-3:11.

The land of these two kingdoms was excellent grazing land.  Some tribal leaders came to Moses and requested this land because they had a lot of livestock.  After some discussion, Moses agreed.  So the tribes of Reuben, Gad and “the half-tribe of Manasseh” received their allotment of land on the east side of the Jordan, though the Promised Land lay west of the river.  This division caused trouble in the not-too-distant future, to say nothing of later on.  See Joshua 22.

“The half-tribe of Manasseh”???

Yes.  We read in Joshua 17:5-6 that ten shares fell to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side of the Jordan, BECAUSE the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons, and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead (emphasis added).  Apparently, for the purpose of the division of the land, the daughters were considered the children of Manasseh.  They were of that tribe.

So, except for the concern of these daughters for their father, Manasseh would have had no land in the Promised Land itself.  This, however, isn’t their only, or even perhaps the more important, contribution to the nation of Israel.

From this point, the daughters disappear from Scripture.  Their influence, however, lives on.

How so?

As we come to the NT, we see something curious.  There are two genealogies given for the Lord Jesus, one in Matthew and one in Luke.  Critics and skeptics have noted the differences between them and exclaimed, “Aha!  You see!  There are contradictions in the Bible!”  These, of course, aren’t the only places they claim that.  The skeptics never stop to consider that there might be a reason or an explanation, especially in the genealogies, for “the differences.”

 What is the reason?

After the summary statement that Jesus was the son [descendant] of David and of Abraham, Matthew follows Abraham’s line through Isaac, Jacob and Joseph down through David and the sons who followed him as kings of Israel and then sons who went into captivity, ending with Jacob, who  begot Joseph the husband of Mary. We’ve dealt with Mary and the birth of our Lord in an earlier post on Matthew’s genealogy.

As we read through the genealogy this time, though, we run into a problem,  We go through all the “begots,” which simply means that A was the father of B, until we get to verse 11, which reads Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

Jeconiah.

Also known as Coniah and Jehoiachin, he was not one of the good kings of Judah.  In fact, he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all his father had done, 2 Kings 24:9.  You can read about his father and the great sin he committed in Jeremiah 36.  Coniah reigned just three months before Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and took him prisoner.

Jeremiah gives us more about him, as well as the problem he brings with him to the genealogy in Matthew.  In Jeremiah 22:24, God says, “As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah the son of Jehoaikim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet would I pluck you off; and I will give you into the hand…of Nebuchadnezzar.”  In v. 30, Jeremiah wrote, Thus says the LORD, “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” 

Here is another verse skeptics misread.  They look at the word “childless” and point to 1 Chronicles 3:17 and even Matthew 1:12, where Coniah does indeed have sons and shake their heads:  “Contradictions, contradictions.”  If they would actually read the text, they would discover that it refers to the throne of David.  Coniah would be “childless” as far as any of his descendants ever sitting on that throne.

None of Coniah’s descendants ever sat on David’s throne.  None of them ever can.  When Nebuchadnezzar deposed Coniah, he put Mattaniah, Coniah’s uncle, on the throne and changed his name to Zedekiah, 2 Kings 24:17.  Coniah went into captivity.  Zedekiah was the last king to sit on David’s throne.  No one has sat there since.

So?

Joseph is a descendant of David through Coniah.

If Joseph’s were the only genealogy we have of Jesus, then Jesus would be prevented from ever sitting on the throne of David because of the curse on Coniah.

Luke, however, gives us a second genealogy, Luke 3, in which he runs David’s line through another of David’s sons:  Nathan, v. 31.  Matthew ran it through Solomon.  Though she’s never mentioned, Luke’s has to be Mary’s genealogy.  Because of the daughters of Zelophedad, Jesus inherits the throne of David through Mary, not through Joseph.  The promise that Gabriel gave to Mary in this regard is interesting.  Telling her that she would bear a Son, he continued, He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,…,”  Luke 1:32, 33a.  He didn’t say a word about the throne to Joseph.

So, you see.  Do right, and you never know how the Lord will use it.  These five daughters were only concerned about their father.  They had no idea at all that, generations later, this concern would directly affect the Messiah.

Glimpses in Genesis: The Tower of Babel, Genesis 10, 11.

Note:  I’ve given up on having “parts” in this study.  Even though I may intend to cover a certain amount of material in a particular post, I usually run out of space, so to speak, before I run out of sentences.  I don’t know that you really want to read a 3000 word post.  I will continue, Lord willing, to go through Genesis in these posts, but there is so much material that a life-time wouldn’t be long enough to go through it properly.  Besides, each time I go through it, especially writing, I see something new.  Indeed, as I was thinking about the next paragraph, I also gained new insight into the call of Abraham (- for a later post). 

In our section of Genesis for today – and I do hope you read the Scripture as well as what I say about it – we see what happened after the Flood, that men didn’t really learn anything from it.  In Genesis these chapters also form the link between Noah and Abraham.  This section is divided into three parts:

The Table of Nations, ch. 10; 11:10-32.

This “genealogy” is unique in Scripture in that it isn’t just a listing of “father” to “son” to “grandson.”  It does start off that way, but then it moves from individuals to tribes or nations, focusing on the land of Canaan, and then to cities.  Further, it conveys no real sense of “time,” just of humanity passing from generation to generation.  In earlier genealogies, we read that A was “x” years old and begat B, and then lived “x” more years.  Then B, and then C, and so forth.  We don’t see that here.  It’s more about connection than chronology.  That’s where attempting to figure out the age of the earth from Genesis breaks down.  I don’t have any problem with the idea that the earth is older than 6,000 years; I just can’t see the billions of years that naturalistic science claims.  Science starts off with several assumptions in this, the main one being that “God” can’t have anything to do with it.  But I digress…

This section does tell us that humanity descended from Noah through his three sons, 10:32 –  and records that each group of descendants had its own language, vs. 5, 20, 31. Chapter 11 in part forms a parenthesis telling us of the origin of those languages.

The Tower of Babel, ch. 11:1-4.

This wasn’t a “tower” in the sense we think of it, but a ziggurat, with a top facing heaven.  It wasn’t supposed to be a way to heaven, as some have supposed, but a place to observe the heavens.  This probably developed into the worship of them.

Is there another significance to this building, besides the fact that it was the occasion for the introduction of several languages into the human race?  I can’t be dogmatic about it, because the Scripture is silent, but I think there is something else of significance here.

In Genesis 2:6, we’re told that there was not yet any rain, but the earth was “watered” by a
“mist” that “went up from the earth.”  This has led some to the view that there was a sort of a “canopy” of vapor over the earth.  This no doubt would have blocked or at least obscured any view upward.  This would also explain where a lot of the water came from for the Flood.

With this canopy gone because of the Flood, all of a sudden there was a whole new “world” “out there.”  Stars, and more stars.  Something only dimly perceived, if at all.  Now, with the canopy gone, they could be clearly seen.  The tower of Babel was built to make this easier, even as today, men build telescopes on higher elevations to get clearer views.

Revelation 17:8 refers to a woman named “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.”  I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion of the meaning of this.  I recommend Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons,” which I understand is available online, or you might try “Abe Books” online, if you like hard copies.  Revelation describes the end result of what started here, in Genesis 11. How is that?

According to Genesis 5:4, Adam lived for 800 years after the birth of Seth.  He saw 7 generations of his grandchildren.  He would have been able to tell them himself about the Garden of Eden and what happened there.  Furthermore, we believe that, up until the Flood, men could have gone to the entrance of the Garden of Eden and verified the story for themselves by the presence of the flaming sword which barred their entering.  Cf. Genesis 3:24.

With the Flood, all that was obliterated, and there were new vistas for men to explore or examine.  What had been passed down from generation to generation, and could have been verified, began to fade away and be corrupted into all the tales around the world which are said to be the origin of the Book of Genesis.  Genesis actually gives us their origin.

However, all this was in direct violation of and rebellion against God’s command for men to spread out and cover the earth, cf. 11:4.  This leads us to the final section.

The Turmoil of Tongues, 11:5-9.

What man would not do willingly, God made him do through the confusion of his language.  Men could no longer understand each other.  As a result, their work was halted, their plans were frustrated, and they were scattered over all the face of the earth, vs. 8, 9.  God’s will shall be done among men, one way or another.

What’s With All The Names? Matthew’s Genealogy

One of the difficulties in reading the Bible through is wading through all the names in genealogies – strange names, unpronounceable names.  While they may be stumbling blocks to us, they were vitally important to the Old Testament Jew.  Since inclusion in the nation was mainly by parentage, although there were converts from other nations, knowing your family tree was essential.  There were even cases where men were excluded from the priesthood because they couldn’t prove their lineage, Nehemiah 7:61-65.

In the case of Matthew’s genealogy, it’s important because it tells us that the story of Jesus doesn’t begin, “Once upon a time,….”  It’s rooted solidly in Jewish history, in the Old Testament.  However, Matthew’s purpose isn’t just to show us that Jesus is Jewish.  He connects Jesus immediately to two great Old Testament covenants: the Davidic and the Abrahamic.  Both covenants have national and global significance.  Jesus’ life and death has national and global significance.

Part of that significance, perhaps all of it, lies in another covenant essential to the founding of the nation of Israel: the Mosaic.  Moses wasn’t an ancestor of Jesus, so obviously isn’t included in the genealogy.  Nevertheless, there is a connection, not physically, but spiritually.  Israel was given the Law as a standard of righteous living, with blessings or judgment promised as a result either of obedience or rebellion.

The Old Testament is replete with stories of Israel’s rebellion against that standard, and the consequent judgments which befell her.  Israel was never able to attain to the righteousness required by the Mosaic Law.  Though that Law was never given to Gentiles – there was no “dispensation of law” for mankind –  yet, according to Paul in Romans 2:1-16, Gentiles, and that includes you and me, for the most part (there may be some Jewish folks who read this blog), Gentiles understand that there are things which are right and things which are wrong.  These may not agree with the Bible’s definition of “right” and “wrong,” but there is still that understanding.  The OT Jew never lived up to the Law, and we never live up even to our own imperfect understanding of right and wrong.  We can never attain the righteousness God requires if we are ever going to stand in His presence uncondemned.  The Lord Jesus came to procure and provide that righteousness.  So we see

Importance of the genealogy.

1.  It established Jesus as a descendant of Abraham.  This was important in that only an Israelite could be king over the nation, Deuteronomy 17:15.

2.  It established Jesus as a descendant of David.  Only a descendant of David could sit on his throne.  I know this is much debated today, with “the kingdom” being considered only as some sort of a “spiritual” entity which has nothing to do with the nation of Israel, or this world, but the Old Testament clearly prophesies something which requires more than an invisible reign of the Son of David.  Jeremiah 23:5, 6 says, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness and judgment in the earth.  In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.  Now this is the name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Interesting things in the genealogy.

The genealogy is obviously incomplete.  It’s designed to show connection, not chronology. Several names are left out, and the ones included are arranged in three sections of 14.  Perhaps Matthew did this to make it easier to remember these 42 names.  Perhaps there is also a connection with David’s name.  In Hebrew, the numeric value of the letters in his name is “14”.

1.  Each segment ends with a decisive event: the rise of the monarchy, the Captivity, the coming of the Messiah.

2.  Each segment also involves a difference covenant.  The first segment includes the Abrahamic Covenant, as the promised line develops through Isaac [not Ishmael, who was rejected], then Jacob [not Esau, who was also rejected], then Judah, and down to the Lord Jesus.  The second segment has to do with the Davidic Covenant, a covenant in which the Lord promised David that he would always have a son on the throne.  That Christ Himself ultimately fulfills this is without doubt.  The question is, how and when?  The third segment introduces the New Covenant.  Even though it’s commonly understood that the New Covenant concerns the Church, we only come under its blessing because of and through the Lord Jesus.  It was actually and originally made on behalf of the nation of Israel, Jeremiah 31:31-34, 32:36-44; Ezekiel 34:20-31, 36:16-38, among others.

3.  Each segment has something to do with the Davidic kingdom.  The first segment tells of its establishment.  The second refers to its dissolution.  The third has to do with its re-establishment.

4.  The genealogy is a microcosm of grace.  Consider the names listed in it.

a.  Some were indeed famous.  Who could ask for more illustrious ancestors than Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon?

b.  On the other hand, some were forgotten.  Who knows anything about Abiud, Eliakim, or Azor, or some of the others listed in these verses?  To a church which had forgotten its roots, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

For most of us, any memory of us will die with us, except maybe for family or a few friends, and when they die, so will the memory.  But those whom the world considers worthy to be forgotten, God has remembered in His grace.

c.  Some were foul.  Consider Manasseh, for example.  Though son to a godly father, he himself was so wicked that he single-handedly brought on the judgments which later happened to Judah, 2 Kings 21:1-17.  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God saved you because you were so wonderful, or that you had done something that impressed Him, or obligated Him.  What is wonderful about it is that God saved you, and me!

d.   Some were feminine.  Women were seldom included in genealogies.  What is even more amazing in this genealogy are the women who were included in it!  One had been a harlot; one had played the harlot.  Two were outsiders, members of races under God’s judgment (aren’t we all?)  One brought with her the scandal of adultery and murder.  One was placed in a situation where she was, and is, by many, considered to be an adulteress.  Yet each was given her own place of responsibility, and privilege, in producing a link in the chain that led from Abraham to Jesus.

In spite of the disdain many feel for the Biblical role of women, it isn’t Christianity that burned a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre.  It’s not Christianity that considered women as mere chattel, or that requires her to walk several paces behind her husband, or reduces her to a life of drudgery and misery.  It is Christianity that commands husbands to love their wives as themselves, or, even more, to love them as Christ loves us, willingly, sacrificially and for their benefit.

There is one final thing, and perhaps this is the most important.

e.  Some were forgiven.  Only some, not all.  Some people are very interested in their ancestors.  Someone was kind enough to trace my own family back to the Old Country.  There were five families he was tracing and his and my families intersected several generations back.  My younger daughter was salutatorian for her class at the Christian school she attended.  After the graduation, the wife of the pastor of a Baptist church in the area came up to me and asked if I were the speaker’s father.  I was.  It turned out this lady and I were (very) distant cousins.  I looked in my genealogy, and, sure enough, there was her family.  I guess it is a small world, after all. 

Lincoln is quoted as saying that people who are always talking about their ancestors are like potatoes.  The only good thing about them is underground.  That’s a little cold, but it is more important about what kind of descendant my ancestors have than about what kind of ancestors their descendant has.

The thing is, and these people in the genealogy would have been looking forward, not backward, physical relationship to Jesus means nothing, as wonderful as that might have been.  Our Lord Himself taught this in Mark 3:31-35.  His ministry was still enjoying its early enormous popularity, and His family thought He was nuts, to put it bluntly.  They came to Him to try to talk to Him, and when Jesus was told they wanted to talk to Him, He said, “‘Who is My mother, or my brothers?’  And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and My mother!'”

Now, Jesus wasn’t disavowing His mother and family.  One of the last things He did on the Cross was to provide for His mother, John 19:25-27.  He was simply saying that physical relationship isn’t what gets it done spiritually.  He mentioned “the will of God,” and in John 6:40, He said, “…this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;….”  Then, lest someone object, “How can we see Him?  He’s not here!?” He said to Thomas after the Resurrection and Thomas’ doubts on the subject, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

There is only one religion (my, how I dislike that word!) in the world that has a Cross, and that Cross is empty.  Many deny the Resurrection, but those coming to the tomb that Sunday morning found it to be empty, as well.

Several of my posts have mentioned Easter, and that really has been unintentional on my part.  Even when I started this post 1700+ words ago, I wasn’t thinking about it.  But it’s a week from this coming Sunday – a reminder that Someone has broken the chains of sin, judgment and death that hold us all, apart from faith in Him.  That Someone has come and made a way of access into the presence of a holy, righteous and just God, a God Who must and will punish sin.  That Someone has come and taken that punishment on behalf of those who believe in Him, not an academic or formal or “religious” faith, but an absolute reliance on Who He was and what He did for sinners, to the point that if He failed, and He cannot! there is no other way of salvation, no other hope for you or me.

There is a TV program for children called “The Neverending Story.”  At least, I think it’s for children.  There really is a “neverending” story.  Matthew and Luke and John give us it’s beginning.

The Third Genealogy

Most people are familiar with the genealogies found in Matthew and Luke. Or, at least, they know they are there.  Matthew’s genealogy is condensed and intended to connect Jesus with the great covenants of the Old Testament:  Abrahamic and Davidic.  His is the genealogy of Christ’s royalty.  Matthew’s is the genealogy of Joseph.  Luke’s genealogy is longer and goes through a different son of David, goes all the way back to Adam, some 75 or so generations. His is the genealogy of Christ’s humanity.  It’s the genealogy of Mary.  I’ll do a post one of these days on Matthew’s genealogy.  There’s a lot of good stuff in there.

Well, that’s two of them.  Where’s the third one?  I hadn’t really thought about it quite like this until recently, like earlier today.  I suppose in the strictest sense it isn’t a genealogy at all, and yet in a real sense it is.  It’s contained in two verses, though a few other verses add some explanation.  Here it is – you’ll recognize it immediately:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,  ….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…,” John 1:1, 14.

This is the genealogy, if you will, of Christ’s deity.  In a few words, simple words in the Greek original, John expresses truths that 2000 years haven’t completely plumbed.

“Now, wait a minute!”  I can hear someone say.  “That’s not what John meant at all.  There’s no article before ‘God,’ so Jesus was only ‘a god’.”  People will knock on your door and tell you that.  They also say that the “beginning” John wrote about was the beginning when God created Jesus, that He was “the beginning,” and then Jesus created all the rest. They might take you over to Proverbs, where the writer personifies wisdom and describes its role in creation.  “That,” they say, “is Jesus.”  They might even tell you that He is really Michael, the archangel, brother of Lucifer.

Is that all John meant in these verses?  That Jesus was simply the first thing created by God, and then He created everything else?  That He isn’t “God” at all, just “a god?”

It’s true that John didn’t write, “the Word was the God.”  There is no article, no “the”, in front of God.  There’s no indefinite article – “a”, “an” – in the Greek language, either.  However, Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, and someone probably pointed it out centuries before he did, that John couldn’t have written “the God,” because then he would have been saying that the Word and the Father are the same, and the Oneness folks would be right.  If John says one thing, it’s that the Father and the Word are distinct from each other.  The One is not just manifesting Himself differently.

There’s another difficulty with the idea that Jesus is only “a god.”  What kind of god is He?  How many of these “gods” are there, or is He the only one?  “Well, in the Old Testament, angels are called ‘sons of God,’ cf. Job 1:6.  As an angel, Jesus is rightly called ‘son of God’.”  So we might be told.  And it’s true that angels are called “sons of God.”  Does this then put them and Jesus in the same class?

The writer to the Hebrews anticipated this idea.  In 1:5 (NKJV), he asks the question, “…to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten you’?”  The expected answer to that question is, “There are no angels to whom that has ever been said.”  Not as a Jehovah’s Witness kindly emailed me once and said, “Jesus is that angel” and then quoted this verse to me.  Sorry, that’s not what the writer meant.  In fact, after discussing what the Father did not say to the Son, Hebrews goes on in v. 8 with what He did say: “But to the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”  Some translate that verse: “God is your throne forever and ever,”(New World Translation).  This doesn’t make sense.  Not to be irreverent or anything, but is Jesus sitting on God?  The Greek text reads, “The throne of you, the God, into the ages of the ages.”  Notice the presence here of the article before “God”: “the God.”  The contrast between Jesus and angels could not be clearer.  In fact, in v. 6, the writer to the Hebrews says of angels, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”  Even older editions of the NWT say that – I have a copy.  Granted, the newer editions say that angels are to do “obeisance” to Him, but even the NWT translates the Gk. word as “worship” when it doesn’t refer to Jesus.

How can two beings both be “God,” in view of all the Scriptures which tell us there is only one God?  There are a lot of illustrations of the Trinity, which is what this is really all about. The best one I know is a cube.  A cube has length, height and width, all at the same time, but it’s not three cubes, just one.  The length isn’t the height or width, the height isn’t the length or width, and the width isn’t the height or length.  And the measurements of the cube don’t manifest themselves as length one day, then width another day, then height yet another day, as some try to teach that it’s one God manifesting Himself in different ways at different times.  The cube has three measurements, but they all coexist at one time in one cube.  Like His creation, God is three-dimensional: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father isn’t the Son or the Spirit, the Son isn’t the Father or the Spirit and the Spirit isn’t the Father or the Son.  Three different Persons, for lack of a better word, all different, but all coexisting at the time as one God.  “…the Word was God.”

One final thought on this.  Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  Funny, the people who heard Him tried to kill Him because they understood that was exactly what He was claiming in John 8:58, when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” 

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…, John 1:14.  Here is the reason for the other two genealogies.  The story of Jesus doesn’t start, “Once upon a time”; it’s rooted firmly in and grounded on the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament.  I know there are those who deny that such a man as Jesus ever even existed, but after all the attempts over 2000 years to get rid of Him and He’s still here – must be something “real” about Him.

Notice John’s comparison: “the Word was God”the Word became flesh.”  Nowhere does John or the Bible say that the Word “became,” that is, that it came into existence, or that it became God.  In other words, there has never been a time, if we can speak of eternity like that, when the Word did not exist, or that it did not exist as God.  There was a time, however, when “the Word became flesh.”  Matthew and Luke give us some details of that “becoming.”

“The Word became flesh.”  Four words.

“The Word became flesh.”  Four words, describing an event which has no parallel in history.  Psalm 113:5, 6 says, Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?”  The Lord God “humbles” Himself to look at this speck of dirt off to one side of His creation.  What must it have been like for the Lord Jesus, not just to “look” at this planet, but to live on it?  We think we know so much, with our “Doctors of Theology,” our “books,” our “mega-churches,” etc. [and I’m not opposed to education or “books,” or church] it’s just that I don’t think we know even as much about our Lord’s “humiliation” [to use the theological term] as a babe knows about it’s mother’s agony in birthing it.  How can we?  The Word became flesh…. 

It’s not for nothing that Paul refers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he continues, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…. The Lord didn’t come down to this world to be feted in Rome, or to live in a place like the White House or Buckingham Palace or to be listed among the elite of this world.  He came to live in a relatively minor province of Rome, a troublesome province, in a village as the son of a carpenter.  He was totally unknown for 18 years of His life, and in the last three three, “fame” was fleeting, and hostility and opposition were lasting and increasing.  Even though He rose from the dead, as far as the world is concerned, He may as well still be dead.  Even if people class Him with the religious figures of this world, they’re more likely to live by their teachings than His.

So, you see, the third genealogy gives us a more complete idea of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was, and is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….