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Sunday, December 3, 2017

“The Promise of David”

Matt. 1:1-6a

Matthew divides the genealogy of Jesus into three symbolic sections, each accounting for fourteen generations. This is not an exhaustive list. Matthew is not just talking about family ties. There is an important theological lesson to each section. The first section covers the period from Abraham to King David. David and Abraham are both listed in the preamble. This is very significant. Both are examples of God’s promise. God’s first creation seemingly descended into the chaos and darkness from which it came. God did not create a chaotic world. He created a world that was very good. Yet it was a world established on its own foundation (Ps. 102:25).  Our world was created in the midst of a spiritual universe where celestial beings – angels, demons and “sons of God” -already existed.  Satan was also there (John 8:44).

God created a world in which freedom of choice existed. Human beings were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). They could choose to obey God or not.  As we all know Adam and Eve disobeyed. Chaos and corruption followed quickly after as the Book of Genesis tells us in its first eleven chapters. Adam and Eve’s son murders his brother.  Celestial beings have corrupt relations with mortal women.  Evil, greed and violence take over to the point that it becomes apparent that “the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth” (Gen. 8:21). God destroys this world in a flood.  Noah and his family are the sole survivors. Yet Noah himself becomes corrupt (Gen. 9:20-23).

God then begins a new creation.  This is the new creation in Jesus Christ. It begins with the call of Abraham and leads to the person after God’s own heart, King David. Yet in this first section darkness, injustice and betrayal are all present.  Are there any signs of the coming of Christ beyond the promises to Abraham and David? The fact is there are and they come from the women mentioned in this section.

None of these women are Israelites. The first is Tamar who seduces her father-in-law in order to obtain her rightful inheritance.  Rahab the prostitute risks her life to save the Israelite spies. Then, perhaps most significantly, there is Ruth a Moabite woman who acts in a way that would be considered scandalous under ordinary conditions. Yet in so doing she pledges herself to a prominent Israelite named Boaz. They will give birth to the grandfather of David.  Each of these women show faith and courage in unconventional ways. Confronted with the darkness, they take risks which lead to their receiving mercy directly from God’s hand.

We have heard much recently of the abuse of women. Unfortunately, this is not new (nor is that fact an excuse to evade or avoid the issue). Matthew wants to remind us that without the risks taken by these women we would not have the line of the Messiah. This fact should encourage us whenever we face darkness and chaos.

Eternal and loving God and Savior I praise you that you came into this world of chaos, confusion and darkness to give me new life in Christ.  May I show courage and faithfulness in living in dependence on your promises.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.