Matt 1:1                     God’s Gift of Mercy                                    12/20/2009    ßŕ   

  • The Generation of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1-17, Ruth 4:18-22)





#1.       Two Canaanite Women of Ill Repute (Matt 1:3,5, Psalm 5:5, 7:11, 11:5, Prov 3:33, 28:9, Gen 38:26, Josh 6:24)





  • Two More Women from Under the Curse (Matt 1:5-6, Deut 23:3, Ruth 1:16-17, 2Sam 12:13-14)





#2.       The Kings of Judah (Matt 1:7-11)





  • Manasseh (2Kings 21:16, 21:1-3, 11-14, 2Chron 33:9,11-16, Jer 15:3-4)





  • Jehoiakim (Jer 36:22-24, 30-31)





#3.       Zerubbabel (Matt 1:12-13, Luke 3:27, 1Chron 3:19)



Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 1:1 (2X). When we start way in the beginning of the New Testament, we expect to go to the beginning of time, and to the beginning of history. Actually that is not so. We can already see this in the first verse, for Matt 1:1 begins with, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” That word “generation” does not mean “genealogy”, for it is not the same Greek word that we find translated as “generation” throughout the NT. Here in Matt 1:1 the meaning of the Greek text is, “The genesis of Jesus Christ”, or “This is how Jesus Christ came into being”, but it cannot mean “The genealogy of Jesus Christ” for reasons that I will outline later. What we will see throughout this passage is the mercy of God throughout OT history. Therefore the title of this sermon is, God’s Gift of Mercy (2X). Let us begin reading the first 17 verses. The Greek spelling of the Hebrew names is a little different from what we are used to, but they are still recognizable.

  • The Generation of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1-17, Ruth 4:18-22)

Mt 1:1-17  The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Do all these “begats” mean that these are direct father-son relationships? Well, let us find out. Let us begin in verse 3 with Pharez. This chronology was taken from Ruth 4:18-22. Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David the king. The nine generations represented by this citation encompass about 841 years. Jacob was born in the year 2007 BC. Therefore Pharez, who was an immediate son of Judah, would have been born about 1878 BC, while David was born in the year 1037 BC. If all these “begats” represent immediate father-son relationships, then on the average the father was about 94 years older than his first son. This is impossible since during most of this time the life expectancy of mankind was 70 years, or at most 80 years, according to Psalm 90:10. So we see that in Ruth 4:18-22 the word “begat” cannot mean exactly a direct father-son relationship. And then we read in Matt 1:11, “Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brethren.” Actually Jeconiah was the grandson of Josiah. And so we see that there were not exactly 14 generations between Abraham and David, or between David and the carrying into Babylon, and between the carrying into Babylon and Christ. But God wrote it this way in Matt 1 to make us pay attention to His methods and principles: God works out His plan with a precise time table. Let us keep in mind some pivotal moments in world history: The calling of Abraham was in the year 2092 BC. David ascended the throne in 1007 BC. Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC. And Jesus Christ was born in about 7 BC, for Herod the Great who murdered the babies in Bethlehem died in 4 BC. By sectioning the ancestors of Jesus Christ into 3 times 14, which is 3 X 2 X 7, God is telling us that His dealings with OT Israel are identified by the numbers 3, and 2, and 7. The number 3 is the dominant number during Christ’s atonement on the cross, which is God’s act of mercy for all His children. The number 2 is the dominant number of the church, here referring to all the elect in His OT congregation. The number 7 is the number that indicates perfection. God works out His plan to perfection. God chooses the numbers in the Bible very carefully. We can see that in this list of Matt 1-17 some kings were left out deliberately, because God wants us to focus on the numbers 3, and 2, and 7. Furthermore, we can see from this list that the Lord Jesus Christ did not descend from a perfectly clean family.

#1.       Two Canaanite Women of Ill Repute (Matt 1:3,5, Psalm 5:5, 7:11, 11:5, Prov 3:33, 28:9, Gen 38:26, Josh 6:24)

When we see this list in Matt 1, the first thing that catches the eye is the mention of two Canaanite women of ill repute. In verse 3 we read, “And Judah begat Pharez and Zerah of Tamar.” Tamar played the harlot with Judah, her father in law, and out of this incestuous relationship the twins Pharez and Zerah were born. Please put a sticker here in Matt 1:3, and please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Proverbs, Prov 3:33 (2X). In spite of this sordid act of Judah and Tamar, God selected Judah and Tamar and Pharez to be listed in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you see the mercy of God on display here? And why did God have mercy on them? It is because Judah, and Tamar, and Pharez belonged to the elect of God. There is no mercy for those who are not of God’s elect, for the Bible describes them as “the wicked”. God says in the Psalms and in Proverbs:

Ps 5:5  The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Ps 7:11  God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

Ps 11:5  The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Pr 3:33  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.

Pr 28:9  He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Those who are not of God’s elect will not come to Christ on His terms; they will only come on their own terms whereby they have retained their self-respect, but they will not submit themselves to the authority and righteousness of Christ. They will turn their ears away from hearing the words from God. But how do we know that Tamar, the Canaanite woman, was one of God’s elect? It is because God said so, in Gen 38:26, where we read, “And Judah acknowledged and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.” When Judah, who was one of God’s elect, acknowledged that Tamar was more righteous than he, we know that Tamar was also one of God’s elect, and God’s Gift of Mercy was given to her. Christ forgave her sin.

The second woman of ill repute is listed in Matt 1:5 where we read, “And Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab. Which Rahab was this? This was Rahab the harlot who was rescued out of Jericho. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Joshua, Josh 6:24 (2X). Before Joshua and all the armies of the Lord crossed the Jordan River, Joshua sent out two spies to spy out the city of Jericho. They lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot, and were hidden and protected by Rahab from the soldiers of Jericho. And so, the spies promised to Rahab that they would spare her and all that were with her in the house. When the armies of Israel circled the city, and when the walls of Jericho fell down, God spared Rahab’s house, and all that were with her. We read in Josh 6:24-25,

Jos 6:24  And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Actually, this destruction of Jericho is a picture of the destruction at the end of the world, and the rescue of Rahab and all her house is a picture of the rapture of the saints still living at the end of the world. It shows that the rapture occurs at the end of the world, and there is no 1000 year gap between the two. Historically Rahab and her family stayed within the nation of Israel, and here in Matt 1:5 we read that Salmon married Rahab and fathered a child who was named Boaz. God had mercy on Rahab the harlot, and caused her to be no longer a harlot, but a married woman, and have children, and be integrated within the commonwealth of Israel. God’s Gift of Mercy was given to Rahab because she was one of God’s elect, and not because she hid the spies, for salvation is all by grace, and not of works.

  • Two More Women from Under the Curse (Matt 1:5-6, Deut 23:3, Ruth 1:16-17, 2Sam 12:13-14)

Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 1:5 (2X). We have seen Tamar and Rahab, two Canaanite women who actually were under the curse of God, for the Canaanites were destined to be wiped out by the children of Israel. God’s patience with the tribes descending from Canaan was nearing its end, for their idolatry was abomination in the sight of God. But there were two more women listed in the line of the Lord Jesus Christ who deserved to die, but God had mercy on them also. We read in Matt 1:5, “And Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.” Who was Ruth? This was Ruth the Moabitess. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ruth, Ruth 1:16 (2X). The Moabites and Ammonites were under the curse of God, for God says in Deut 23:3, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.” Ruth the Moabitess was under this curse of God. But God had mercy on her. We can see this from the words she spoke. When Naomi, her mother in law, went back to Bethlehem, Ruth pleaded with her and we read her words in the Prophecy of Ruth 1:16-17,

Ru 1:16-17  And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

These words welled up out of her heart. Listen again at these words in Ruth 1:16: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” These are not the words of an accursed of he Lord; these are words that have been put in her by God the Holy Spirit. Only under the influence of God the Holy Spirit could she have spoken these words. And so, by the words that she spoke we can clearly see that Ruth has found grace in the sight of God. This Ruth married Boaz, and her first son was named Obed, who was to be the grandfather of David the king. What a beautiful picture of God’s Gift of Mercy. She was no longer an accursed Moabitess.

The fourth woman was also a Canaanitess, who was initially under the curse of God. She was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The Hittite empire stretched from Asia-Minor all the way down to the land of Canaan. The Hittites were in the land of Canaan already for many years. When Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah for a burial place for Sarah from the sons of Heth, he bought it from the sons of the Hittites. That is the source of the name Heth. And thus the Hittites were one of the Canaanite tribes who were to be destroyed with the other Canaanite tribes. But Israel failed to carry out God’s commands, and God used their sin to accomplish His goals. When David reigned as king, he used the residual Canaanites to serve in his armies. And so, Uriah the Hittite was converted to the religion of the Jews, and Uriah served as an officer in the army of the king. And he was proud to serve king David to the best of his abilities. But one night, when David saw Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, David took her in bed with him, and she conceived. But that was adultery, and the penalty for adultery was that both the man and the woman would be stoned to death. Please turn in your Bibles to 2Sam 12:13 (2X). Then David tried to hide his sin, and called Uriah in from the battlefield. And David tried to make Uriah drunk so that he would lay with his wife. But that did not work. Then David sent Uriah back to the battlefield with a letter to his commander Joab, that Joab should abandon Uriah in the heat of battle, so that he dies. And when David heard that Uriah had died he took Bathsheba to wife, and hoped that in this way his sin could remain hidden. But what David tried to hide, God proclaimed from the housetops. God sent to David the prophet Nathan who publicly pointed out his sin. Then we read in 2Sam 12:13-14,

2Sa 12:13  And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

2Sa 12:14  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

And indeed, the first child from David and Bathsheba died. But the second child from David and Bathsheba was Solomon. And herein we can see that God had mercy on Bathsheba, just like God had mercy on David, because they both were elect children of God. Through their sin of adultery God arranged that the wisest king Solomon came to sit on the throne of David. And so Bathsheba, who was initially an accursed Hittite woman, now had the honor of having one of her sons sit on the throne of David, and she was now a part of the commonwealth of Israel. God’s Gift of Mercy was extended to her.

#2.       The Kings of Judah (Matt 1:7-11)

Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 1:7 (2X). When we go down the list of the kings of Judah we see Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Rehoboam was a bad king, not only that he forsook the law of God, but also in his interpersonal relationships, for he showed that he was a foolish son of Solomon. Then we see Abijah as the son of Rehoboam. Abijah was a bad king who followed in the footsteps of his father Rehoboam. Then Asa came on the throne of David. Asa was a good king, but in the last years of his reign Asa became an old fool. Then we see Jehoshaphat on the throne of David. Jehoshaphat was a good king, but in the last years of his reign he became an old fool by joining himself with the king of Israel. Then we see Jehoram on the throne. Jehoram, was a bad king, for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife, Athaliah. Then the chronology in Matt 1:8 skips three kings: Ahaziah and Joash and Amaziah. Next we see Uzziah on the throne of David. Uzziah was a good king. But when he was old he became an old fool, and God struck him so that he was a leper until the day of his death. Then we see Jotham on the throne of David. Jotham was a good king, but he did not raise a good son. His son was Ahaz. Ahaz was a bad king, and Ahaz led the people in much idolatry. Then we see the son of Ahaz, which was Hezekiah on the throne of David. Hezekiah was a good king, and in his days the mighty army of Assyria was decimated, because the Lord smote 185000 of the Assyrian army in one night. But when Hezekiah was old and sick he became an old fool. God gave him 15 more years, but those 15 years were not very productive for the Lord. Next we see the son of Hezekiah on the throne. Alas it was Manasseh.  

  • Manasseh (2Kings 21:16, 21:1-3, 11-14, 2Chron 33:9,11-16, Jer 15:3-4)

Please turn in your Bibles to 2Kings 21:1 (2X). The son of Hezekiah ascended the throne. His son’s name was Manasseh, and here I wanted us to consider this king more carefully.  Manasseh was the most wicked king that reigned in Judah or in Israel. We read in 2Kings 21:1,

2Ki 21:1-3  Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.

The good king Hezekiah raised up an evil son such as Manasseh. How does God raise up good children and how are bad children generated. Certainly it has something to do with the upbringing by the parents. When God promised in Prov 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”, it is definitely a promise that God will keep. And thus the children, by imitating wicked parents, are most likely to be wicked also. Or if the parents are lukewarm toward God and the Bible, then the children are most likely lukewarm also. And if parents are on fire for the Lord we have provided the best environment for the children to be on fire also. But somewhere along the line we are making irreversible mistakes. Therefore, by the mercy of God He will forgive us if we have raised up children who are not saved. Remember that God’s Gift of Mercy may apply to our children, but it may also apply to us, for we are not perfect human beings. And so, in this instance here in 2Kings 21, God’s Gift of Mercy also extended to Hezekiah for raising up a monster such as Manasseh. We read in 2Kings 21 that Manasseh built altars for Baal in the house of the Lord. Please drop down to verse 11,

2Ki 21:11-14  Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;

Moreover Manasseh shed much innocent blood till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another. And this would be the end of Manasseh if we would have only 2Kings 21 as our source of information. But please turn now to the Prophecy of 2Chronicles, 2Chron 33:11 (2X). So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And so, what did God do to restrain Manasseh? We read in 2Chron 33:11,

2Ch 33:11-16  Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.  And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thanks offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.

Manasseh received God’s gift of Mercy. Manasseh turned from sinner to saint. It was in the nick of time for Manasseh’s salvation, but it was far too late for turning away God’s wrath, for God’s wrath was revealed many years later in the Prophecy of Jeremiah, where God says in Jer 15:3-4,

Jer 15:3  And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.

Jer 15:4  And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.

And so, even though Manasseh has repented, all the sins that he did were still causing anger with the Lord, and God’s righteous wrath will not be appeased until Judah has been subdued by the king of Babylon. This is what took place in 587 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed. Now let us turn to:

  • Jehoiakim (Jer 36:22-24, 30-31)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 36:22 (2X). Jeremiah dictated the word of the Lord to Baruch, his scribe, and commanded Baruch to read out loud all the words of the Lord in the Lord’s house. Then the princes took the scroll from Baruch and they brought it unto the king, king

Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah. Then we read in Jer 36:22-24,

Jer 36:22-24  Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.

What did God do in response to this? God sent the Prophet Jeremiah to king Jehoiakim, with the message that the king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land. Please drop down to V 30,

Jer 36:30-31  Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.

God’s judgment against king Jehoiakim was clear: “He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David”. He shall have absolutely no descendants to sit on the throne of David. But when we look at the list in Matt 1:1-17 we see there in verse 11, “And Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.” The words “Jeconiah and his brethren” refers to Jehoahaz, and Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. In fact, Jeconiah is the son of Jehoiakim. In other words, Jehoiakim is included in this list, which is the lineage of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Spiritually the Lord Jesus Christ is seated on the throne of David. But God said that the lineage containing the name Jehoiakim cannot be the lineage of Jesus Christ, for the curse that God pronounced on Jehoiakim is irreversible. Therefore we know for sure that this kingly line of descent here in Matt 1:1-17 cannot be the lineage of Jesus Christ. The correct lineage of Christ must be in Luke 3 where the lineage of Mary is listed. Now, this brings up another interesting point, for there is a name there which occurs both in the lineage of Matt 1 as well as in the lineage of Luke 3. 

#3.       Zerubbabel (Matt 1:12-13, Luke 3:27, 1Chron 3:19)

We read in Matt 1:12-13 that Jeconiah fathered Salathiel, who fathered Zerubbabel, who fathered Abiud, and so on. And in Luke 3:27 we read that Neri fathered Salathiel, who fathered Zerubbabel, who fathered Rhesa, and so on. How can it be that Salathiel had two fathers, Jeconiah and Neri? The answer is found in 1Chron 3:19, where it is stated that Zerubbabel is the son of Pedaiah, who is Salathiel’s brother. Apparently Salathiel died without leaving any descendants, and therefore Pedaiah married his brother’s widow, and thus Zerubbabel became Salathiel’s son according to Levitical law, and was an heir to the throne. And herein we can also see God’s Gift of Mercy for Salathiel and his son.

If a man dies with no descendants, then his brother may marry the widow and provide seed for his deceased brother. Since this was part of the ceremonial law, we know that this law ceased to exist. But we also know that everything in the ceremonial law was pointing to Christ and the church. And so, what is the spiritual meaning of this law? Well, the Lord Jesus Christ died. And since Christ was never married He did not have any physical descendants. Those whom He can call His next of kin are all the elect who were and are in Christ. Therefore we, who are His next of kin, have the task to spread the seed of the Gospel, so that people can be brought in who were “born from above” and are thus called “of the family of Christ”. It is in this way that we are bringing God’s Gift of Mercy to those who are willing to listen and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God when we speak of His human side, and when we speak of His divine side we recognize that He is God. He brought God’s Gift of Mercy to us by His death on the cross, and we bring God Gift of Mercy to Him, by our willingness to be His ambassador. Every one of these ceremonial laws, also called Levitical laws, were signs and shadows of Christ, and His interest in the church, the eternal church consisting of the priesthood of all the saints. God’s Gift of Mercy was on display, if only the people would have thought of these laws as God’s Gift of Mercy. But they were too busy trying to make these laws an end in itself. And so they missed the boat of the New Covenant, and they got stuck in the rubbish of the Old Covenant.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.