We have established enough material for our series and have reached the place of the Messianic promise to Abraham, which brings us to two other genealogies in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 1 and the gospel of Luke, chapter 3.
These two genealogies give us insight into the roots that lead to our Savior which ultimately takes us back to God and to His great and precious promises. We know from a study of the rest of the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament that God is referred to as either, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (which eventually becomes Israel) or the God of our fathers, which could extend back to Adam. He is also the God of Judah from whom Shiloh comes (Gen. 49:8-10). There would be a prophet rise up like Moses unto God (Deut. 18:18). There would be a king through David that would have an everlasting kingship and kingdom (II Sam 7:12-16). There would be a priest to come after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 2; 110) who Abraham paid tithes to according to Hebrews 7:2. There would be a seed or offspring of a virgin that would give birth to “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14) and that seed would be divine and still man (Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2). This ancestry line is not here to bore us but to bear unto us a clear picture of where we come from. But even more importantly, we can have confidence that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic hope.
Matthew 1 :1 states, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” This states that Jesus is the anointed one, the one to take the throne of David and the one through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed as promised to Abraham. We can see the extensive roots of all people through which God has preserved the lineage of those that would lead to His Son, Jesus. Luke 3:38 states (keeping in mind that Luke puts his genealogy in reverse order and follows a traditional genealogy style), “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” So Jesus is also a man as a son of Adam, but he is also the son of God; i.e. man and God in the flesh. To get a full picture of this lineage, let’s take a look at the whole genealogy.
So, when we see that it was through Abraham’s seed that all the nations would be blessed, we are given a trail head to start following, which will lead to these everlasting blessings. We know that God established his first covenant exclusively with Israel, the Jewish people. We could say that the entirety of the Old Testament after Abraham is a retelling of the numerous occasions where we watch ancient Israel in both times of faithfulness and times of disobedience, going in and out of their covenant relationship with God and facing periods of sin and captivity. We could also see God’s redeeming faithfulness and abundant mercy extended to His special people. We also see the seed line of Abraham threatened in the same way that seed would be threatened in a field when planted, whether through barrenness, those seeking to kill the seed, the lack of obedience, lies and deceit etc.
While there are other key persons and passages that we will revisit from the Old Testament, we now see underground for a moment and can view the roots to our blessings in Abraham. How was his seed going to bless all nations? It starts with Isaac and eventually lead to God’s anointed Son, Jesus.
There are even Gentiles in the bloodline which shows further that the blessing was indeed to all of the nations in Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, all of which gave birth to male children to protect and preserve the seed of Abraham. We also get a glimpse into the mission of the seed when we learn that not only were these women in a traditionally male dominant genealogy but they were women of questionable character being involved with adultery, incest, prostitution and deceptive sexual sin, but even God used them to preserve His seed line. All of the Gentiles were women and never a male, but we indeed have reason to see the connection of the blessings and promises made to Abraham applying to literally, all nations.
Matthew chapter 1 goes through the lineage of Jesus starting from Abraham (Matt. 1:1) and shows us how Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah and the one through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Because Matthew was written to a primarily Jewish audience, it makes sense that he stops at Abraham. Luke 3 takes us all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:38) to show Christ as the redeemer of the world from sin, that was introduced by Adam. Luke primarily writes to a Gentile audience in his gospel. Matthew takes a numerical systematic approach to counting through three sets of 14 generations leading to the Christ, by looking at the promise to Abraham, the promise to David and the deportation of God’s people until the time of Christ. Luke emphasizes a more accurate and typical Jewish genealogy which recounts the direct line through which the seed can be traced back to Adam.
Many have debated the differences in the two lines followed and have been focused on whether these were the ancestries of Joseph and Mary, and have sought to find discrepancies in or faultiness in the recorded lineage of Jesus. The main point that needs to be seen is that we all have one common ancestry and there is only one seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Jesus ,the Christ, is the fulfillment of the redemption from sin, the seed promise of Abraham, the royal king to take David’s throne and the one to set the captives free. The roots that we have been tracking show that everything that has been planted from the foundation of the world all leads to Jesus. It is only in Christ that we can find any spiritual blessings. (See Eph. 1:3-11).
Before we can talk about the importance of being in Christ, I felt it was necessary to get us to see that the plan of salvation was in the mind of God before the world began. Yes, He knew that man would sin and had a predetermined plan to redeem us through his Son. The history that we read about in the Scriptures is merely a telling of the events that led to our Savior and the salvation that He brings to us (Gal. 3:24). Why be rooted in Christ if he is not truly the one in whom we find blessing? No doubt there are other biblical characters that fall into this lineage, but these will suffice to get us started. I do want to challenge you to explore more of the history on your own. It will be impossible for us to cover all that could be shared and should be covered in this class setting.
We can confidently say that the reason we need to be in the family of God through Jesus Christ, is due to the fact that outside of Him there is no hope or future. We have no purpose apart from Him and nothing to live or die for outside of Him. By taking the time to get deeply embedded in Him, and He in us, we are going to be extremely blessed and find meaning for our existence. When we become children of God in Christ we are connected by adoption as sons to this amazing ancestry of promises and an eternal inheritance.
We know that faithful Jews are referred to in the New Testament as sons and daughters of Abraham (Luke 13:16; 19:9). This reminds us of the promise made to Abraham of the innumerable amount of children he would be a father to in his seed. Jesus himself was a Jew. Jesus originally came from the tribe of Judah to shepherd God’s people Israel (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:6; See Rev. 5:5). When Jesus’ life (the seed) was threatened as a child, his parents took him to Egypt by instruction and in fulfillment of prophecy (Hosea 11:1; Matt. 2:15), but were eventually told to go back to Israel once Herod died. (Matt. 2:20-21) Jesus had a mission there.
At first, when the gospel was preached, the disciples of Jesus were told not to go to the Gentiles and the Samaritans but to the lost sheep of Israel. The key here is to see that the house of Israel was lost (Matt. 10:5-6). Even Christ had his entire ministry focus on Israel (Matt. 15:24). We even have an image that faithful Jews, when they die, are carried away to what is known as Abraham’s bosom by the angels of heaven (Luke 16:22). In John 9:39-45 we read, “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.’ They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.’”
A transition takes place where the Jews rejected Christ and the disciples of Jesus would be appointed over the twelve tribes of Israel as judges (Matthew 19:28). Soon we begin to see Christ and his disciples dusting off their feet at those that reject the message amongst the Jewish people and turning to those that will hear (Matthew 10:24).
Christ was supposed to be the consolation of Israel as in Luke 2:25 and people were looking for him to come but he ends up being sold for thirty pieces of silver at the amount set by Israel (Zech. 11:12-13; Matthew 27:9) and by their wicked hands they had Jesus crucified and then mocked Him as the King of the Jews (Matt. 27:42) Even after his death and burial we still find the two men on the road to Emmaus wishing that He would have been the one to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). He is the Redeemer, but their view of the redeemer or the anointed (Messiah) was so skewed that they would not accept him as the hope of Israel. Jesus was often referred to as the king of Israel or the teacher of Israel but very few people enthroned him on their heart and listened to his wisdom (John 1:49). And eventually no matter how corrupt their nation and its man-made version of the law had become, they assumed that since Abraham was a part of their ancestry and they continued to practice circumcision that they would always be children of promise by default, by the nature of physical birth into the land of Israel (Matt 3:9; Luke 3:8).
Even up to the time that Jesus ascends into heaven, Jews from every nation under heaven are getting ready to gather to hear the first gospel sermon, and the disciples themselves ask Jesus, “"Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6-8). The answer to the question from Jesus is, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Yes, the ministry would begin in Jerusalem as the word of God was prophesied in Isaiah 2:1-3, to go out from there, yet the word would not be stopped even after it reached the uttermost parts of the world. Even when the church was established, and about 3000 souls from the Jewish nations (Acts 2:22, 36-41; 5:31) obey the gospel, many of the Jews continue to push that a Christian needed to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). In part, they were right about needing to be circumcised, but not physically. It is not about the removal of flesh or the filth thereof but of an answer of a good conscience toward God (I Peter 3:21).
God wasn’t interested in physical Israel (descendants of Jacob) as much as he was with spiritual Israel or what is called the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). The borders of Israel were no longer territorial land lines, or based on being a relative to someone connected to Abraham. Those that obeyed the call of the Lord would be a part of the Israel of God. The circumcision of Christ was baptism (Col. 2:11-12) i.e. the removal of an evil conscience and becoming a child of God; a new creature in Him (II Cor. 5:17). These are they that were born into the true family of God after the seed, which is Christ. If you recall, Abraham had other children, but it was the child of promise, Isaac, that came by faith that God preserved His blessings through, moving forward (Read Galatians 4 regarding the child of the flesh and the child of faith). Hagar and Ishmael were pushed out and excluded from the blessing. As we will see, this does not make God unjust but it shows the importance of being obedient to the Lord and making certain that we are in a covenant relationship with Him. Even those that were not in the seed line of Abraham could still reap the blessings of the seed if they would abide by His commandments. Of the sons of Isaac, that is Jacob and Esau, one was loved and the other sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. God is not interested in someone because they are born into the right lineage, but when they value the promises made to them and live by faith, God accepts them.
The Jews wanted the Gentiles to live under their law from Moses while God was calling all people to realize that Christ was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets of things written concerning Him and that we are under His law of liberty. Salvation has nothing to do with your first birth, but whether you would be born again in Christ (John 1:12-13; John 3:3-5). You should take the time to read all of Galatians 3 which tells how we receive the Spirit not by works of the Law but by hearing with faith. The text then records that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Since it was through him that all nations would be blessed, we too also need to demonstrate the deeds of Abraham in obedient faith before God. Paul states very clearly that there is no longer Jew and Gentile, bond or free, etc. but if we want to tap into the promises of Abraham and be a child of God we need to be baptized by faith into these blessings (Galatians 3:26-29). God had provided physical Israel with a Savior in Jesus, but they rejected him (Acts 13:16-49). Indeed the gospel is for all and from the first Gentile convert in Acts 10 with Cornelius and his household to today, everyone is welcome to be a part of the Israel of God as a member of the body of Christ, His church, who are the seed of Abraham.
This means that for the Ishmael and Esau or others that were not directly from this seed line, can be blessed. Even those that were born outside of the commonwealth of Israel in the way of promises and a rich inheritance, we can be brought back into the family of God and regain our birthright as adopted sons and daughters. Those who once were not a people of God are now the people of God. We have no fewer blessings than those who were once faithful descendants and yet we also have the same warning not to fall away or be cut off from the living God (Hebrew 12:15-29). It becomes clearer as you read through the New Testament, especially when reading from the apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of it, and was a Jew by national birth, a Hebrew of Hebrews, that the Jews were totally lost and their only hope was in Christ. After Paul states that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:28-39), he begins to tell of how his own countrymen are severed from Christ and that he would give up his own salvation to save Israel (Romans 9). Those who live by faith will be saved and Paul was willing to be cut off from the blessings of salvation if the Jews would merely submit to Jesus. Only those that come in faith will not be disappointed when they face the Lord in judgment (See Romans 10 and 11).
We are no longer under the old covenant that was written in stone and exposed sin that led to death and slavery, but we are under the new covenant of promise, written on the heart, that is based on the law of the Spirit of life and sets us free (II Cor. 3:5-18). We are adopted children of the living God in Christ, His only begotten Son (Eph. 2:11-22). Keep in mind though that those who were once legitimate children or offspring of Abraham, and were cut off, can be brought back to God in Christ. These are the people that were of the Jewish inheritance and can and will be saved if they believe in Christ. We do have references in Revelation that, no doubt with some symbolism, speak of those that are going to be saved of the twelve tribes of Israel with the number 144,000 (Rev. 7:4-8) and that the gates of heaven will also have the names of the twelve tribes written on them (Rev. 21:12). We are all one in Christ Jesus as long as we are in Christ Jesus. Jews included.
After examining the lineage of Jesus in the gospels, and learning how we can become the Israel of God in Christ by knowing that He was the promised seed that came to save the world, we should not be surprised to read in the close of the gospel record of Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
In Luke’s gospel, after taking us back to Adam in his genealogy, the first man that brought sin into the world, we see that God ends this gospel with a similar message from Jesus, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-48).
Although Mark and John do not share a lineage, they certainly understood the scope of the gospel call as in Mark’s closing remarks we read, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). John says, unless one if born (again) of the water and the Spirit, he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). As the Lord would have it, during one of the first gospel sermon following his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to glory, Peter would say, “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.' For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways" (Acts 3:25-26). About 3000 Jews obeyed the gospel message and were saved from their wicked generation and that number kept growing including some the temple priests that obeyed the gospel (Acts 6:7). We learn that the Jewish nations were not the only people included in this blessing that would come through Abraham’s seed. It came to them first, the text stated, but not exclusively. In Galatians 3:7-9, we read, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations will be blessed in you." So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” A key verse in studying this truth is in Galatians 3:16, where we learn, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.’ So through Christ we find fulfillment in that all people, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female can come to the Lord in faith and be under the blessings of God’s everlasting covenant. Galatians 3 ends by saying, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:26-28). A Jew is not a Jew by birth, not by circumcision of the flesh, but only those that are Jews inwardly at the heart level (Rom. 2:28-29). Again in Romans 9:6-8 we read, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel (Jacob m.l.h); nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” The faith of Abraham caused God to establish his covenant with him and through faith, righteousness was credited to him. This accreditation of faith not just for Abraham, as we read in Romans 4:20-25, “yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
The verse that makes the connection of Jesus to the promise made to Abraham abundantly clear is John 8:54-58, where Jesus said, “‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple” (cf. I Peter 1:10-11). Abraham who received the promise of God that through Him all the nations of the earth would be blessed, got to see the day of ultimate blessing when Christ would come before its fulfillment.
Unfortunately, for the Jews, they were lost and unless they could see the light of the glorious gospel and be saved, the axe was laid at the root of the tree and they were about to be cut down as a people (Luke 3:9; Matt. 3:10). As history would have it, the Jews rejected their opportunity to accept Christ while he and the apostles of Christ, lived and they were eventually completely destroyed, not only physically, but spiritually, just 40 years after the Lord pronounced destruction on them (Matthew 23:29-24:1-2). The stern warning that is given to New Testament Christians, including us today, is that if we after hearing the gospel and coming in obedient faith, we choose to return to a life of sin and reject the salvation that is available in Christ, we will suffer the same plight that the Jews had to bear. We must fear God and keep his word. While salvation in Christ is a gift, it must be received by a good and honest heart that will not treat the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing and crucify again to themselves the Son of God by living a perpetually sinful life. Just as the Jews were instructed not to return to the elemental things of the Law, we are urged not to allow our passions to return to a life of disobedience, but to remain faithful to the Lord. There is so much more to cover, in our next episode we are going to look at the symbolism of being rooted and how the Bible uses the terminology.