Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Story and the Story of Israel

The Gospel according to Matthew opens with a genealogy that has an important story to tell us. Even the very first sentence is loaded with revelation.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)
The mere fact that there is a genealogy at all tells us something significant: Jesus did not come from out of nowhere, from some distant land, nor did He drop down from heaven to begin a brand new story. No, He came as part of an old, old story. One stretching back generation after generation, back through David, back to Abraham, and through Abraham, all the way back to the beginning.

Nor was Jesus merely the latest installment in that story. No, He came as the Messiah (your Bible probably says “Christ,” which means the same thing) and, as such, is the one in whom that old, old story finds it fulfillment. God had long promised, through Moses and the prophets, that one would come who was Anointed (which is what “Messiah” or “Christ” means) and would not only deliver His people, the nation of Israel, but would be king over all the nations of the earth and would set everything right that was wrong in the world. Matthew makes it clear, right from the beginning, that Jesus is that Messiah.

The story of which Jesus is the fulfillment is not only a very old story, it is also a very big one, big enough for the whole world. Although Matthew could have gone all the way back and begun his genealogy with Adam, he begins with Abraham.

Abraham was a pagan whose father was an idol maker and served others gods. God called Abraham to leave his father’s house and family and go to a place that God would show him (Genesis 12:1). God made him a promise: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). God was not out to bless only Abraham and His physical descendents, His plan was to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham. The apostle Paul picks up on this in his letter to the believers in Galatia: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us … that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

Jesus the Messiah is the Son of Abraham through whom that promise is fulfilled. He is also the Son of David. God had also made a marvelous promise to David, that He would make David’s house great and establish his throne forever.
When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever … And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16)

I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn to My servant David:
“Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations.”
(Psalm 89:3-4)

The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”
(Psalm 132:11-18)
Jesus the Messiah is the Son of David, the Anointed One who perfectly fulfilled the covenant and testimony of the LORD. In Him, the throne of David is established forever, with salvation, joy, strength and prosperity for all who belong to Him.

In this very first verse of his Gospel account, Matthew draws up the history of Israel, along with the wonderful covenant promises God made to Abraham and David, and announces that it is all fulfilled in Jesus, who is the Anointed One. The Christmas story enlarges the story of Israel to include all, whether Jew or Gentile, who receive Jesus as Messiah and King.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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