Always Faithful

Always Faithful

Introduction 

  • “Call me Ishmael.” 
    • One of the most well known openings in American Literature. 
    • Those familiar with literature recognize this as a “hook”—something which immediately grabs the attention of the reader and pushes them to continue the book. 
    • If you want people to continue to read the story, then they have to be interested in the first place. 
  • With that in mind, it how Matthew begins his story seems anything but a hook: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah…” 
    • He then goes through a large lists of names (most of which we can’t pronounce). 
    • If we are being honest, when we start out the new year with the resolution to read the entire Bible we generally skip over this section. 
  • But, what if we are missing something? What if Matthew’s entire gospel rest upon this beginning? What if its more of a hook than we realize? 
    • In fact it was/is. Matthew throughout His gospel is attempting to make the case that Jesus is the Son of God, the coming Jewish Messiah that His people had longed for (key text is Matt. 16:13-18). 
    • In order to do that He had to show his Jewish readership that this man had the pedigree that was necessary for the Messiah (that is, He was a descendant of David and Abraham). 
    • So, for the Jewish reader, the fact that Matthew began with such an impressive pedigree would have been an interesting “hook” for them—especially if they were familiar with Jesus of Nazareth. 
  • Yet, I think there is an even deeper message in this long list of names (and you are probably bemoaning the fact that I’m so desperate for sermon material I am preaching through the genealogies). 
  • Its a message we often miss but is so important to our Christianity: God is always faithful. 
  • If you aren’t looking for it you can easily miss it—so lets see how this message of God’s faithfulness breaks through the monotony of these names. 

Discussion 

  • Matthew is very methodic in how he directs the history of Israel: 3 sections of 14 generations (v. 17). 
    • Now, we may not know all of the events/characters He is discussing but we do know this: their stories are all secondary to the primary story. 
    • All of them lead to a central point: the Messiah. 
    • This leads into the next section (v. 18-25), essentially saying all of history was working toward this one moment, where a young woman gives birth to a little baby. 
  • Interestingly, Matthew focuses on three major segments of Israelite history which lay the foundation for the birth of Jesus: the calling of Abraham (v. 2), the reign of David (v. 6), and the Babylonian exile (v. 11). 
    • The calling of Abraham was by far one of the most significant moments in Jewish history. 
      • This average nomad is chosen by God to forge a new nation and accomplish His purpose for the world. 
      • This call begins with a promise (Gen. 12:1-3): “I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, and make your name great…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” 
      • This promise was the one in which all Jews believed they shared in because they were “children of Abraham” (Matt. 3:9). 
      • Abraham, is their origin story: this is where they began as a nation, called and shaped by God’s promise to be blessed and be a blessing to others. 
    • Yet, just as significant to Israel’s identity was the time of the monarchy—the greatest symbol of which was, without question King David. 
      • King David was the epitome of all the Jews held dear in a king: a great warrior, a poet with a lyrical heart, a politician who progressed their national aspirations by making plans for a great palace and temple. 
      • Of course God was a fan of David as well (a man after God’s own heart), and in the midst of His reign he gave Him a promise. 
      • 2 Sam. 7:12: When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
      • So there is this promise of enduring legacy: the glory, wealth, joy, and national progress of Israel would forever be established through a coming descendant of David. 
      • This promise was initially fulfilled within Solomon—but his legacy wouldn’t last long as a dark shadow passed over the pages of Israelite history. 
    • Because an equally significant moment within Israelites history was the Babylonian captivity (which Matthew makes sure to point out in his genealogy). 
      • In 587/6 B.C. Israel was conquered by Babylon and exiled from their land—the place where God had promised Abraham and where David had reigned in glory—was now a desolate wasteland. 
      • Imagine for a moment the idea of America being conquered and us being exiled to Russia—unthinkable. 
      • They were God’s people. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They were supposed to be blessed and be a blessing. 
      • Still, in the dark moments of exile, God still continued to speak great promises to them: “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”—Jeremiah 20:10-11
      • This promise of return and blessing—to fulfill the Abrahamic promise and establish the descendant of David—was the light of hope for the Israelites in a foreign land. 
  • Hopefully, you noticed the major word throughout all of this—the continuing thread throughout Israel’s history: promise. 
    • This then is the underlying message of Matthew’s genealogy: God made a promise or inheritance and blessing to Abraham; He made a promise of dominance and reign through David; be promised forgiveness, hope, and return to those in exile. 
    • All of these promises have a singular trajectory: the Messiah.  It is within Him that all of these promises are fulfilled. 
  • And Matthew’s incredible message is that He is here! He has come. God has been faithful to all of His promises. God is always faithful. 
    • Through all the brokenness and calamity and darkness and confusion, God’s unconquerable purpose to bless all of humanity—to save them from death and bring us into His eternal kingdom—was fulfilled. 
    • We see then that history is not some mindless march into nothingness, some dead end road leading nowhere, but is under the sovereign direction of Almighty God to bring about His purposes and fulfill His promises for all of creation—and nothing, absolutely nothing, will prevent Him from fulfilling His promise. 
  • Before we jump into the application you need to take a moment to stand in awe and then bow in absolute reverence before our God. 
    • The wisdom and intellect and power that God wields over all of human history.
    • To be able to take our freedom and pull it toward HIs greater purpose is unimaginably awesome.
    • “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”—Psalm 100:5
    • “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:36). 

Application 

  • We see how this trickles down to us in Romans 4:13, 16. 
    • The promise was made to Abraham by faith; Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise, and we become beneficiaries of that promises through trusting in Him. 
    • If you believe and obey Christ, God has made you a promise: of inheritance, glory, power, comfort, forgiveness—and He will keep that promise. He is always faithful. 
  • That hope is anchored in the reality of Jesus resurrection. 
    • Just as you can be sure of Jesus resurrection, you can be sure of your own to power, glory, and everlasting joy. 
    • 1 Pet. 1:3-4. 
  • You may be looking at your life, or events around us—your past, present, and future—and be thinking, “How in the world is God to going to accomplish His great purpose?”
    • This is the message of the genealogy: through the confusion, doubt, and darkness, God’s redemptive purpose marches forward undaunted and undisturbed. 
    • Through every world catastrophe, through every unthinkable tragedy, through every Presidential election, through every political/national shift—you aren’t going to stop our God—my God—from keeping His promise. 
    • He will reign, His kingdom will conquer, death and sin will be banished to everlasting fire, and God will, will be done. 
  • Every anxiety I have needs to be submitted under the reign of this assurance: God has promised, God is faithful. 

Conclusion 

  • Began with the hook of Moby Dick: “Call me Ishmael.” 
    • Ironically, while the novel is considered an American classic today, it was an utter failure when it came into production. 
    • Wasn’t even in print at the death of Herman Melville. 
    • It wasn’t until the 20th century when the novel became such a hit. 
  • This is similar to the genealogy and God’s promise today: even if the inheritance isn’t realized in our life time—even if things don’t go the way we think they should go—God still picks up the story long after we are gone. 
  • People often worry about being on the “wrong side of history” when it comes to political issues. 
    • Yet, as we have seen, history isn’t marching into the abyss, but will eventually wrap up into a grand conclusion. 
    • And, the only side you want to be on is the one who is writing the story.