If I were to ask everyone here this morning, “What is your favorite text of Scripture?”, what would you say? Would anyone say, “Matthew 1:1-17
“? Probably not. Instead, we ask: “Why would Matthew begin his account of the life of Christ with a boring genealogy?” What would you say if I were to tell you that this text is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible?
Matthew 1:1-17 is one of the most important passages in the Bible! It is the thread that binds together the Old and New Testaments. In fact, this text is vitally important if you ever want to properly understand the meaning of the Old Testament. Matthew very carefully links the first part of the Bible with the second by citing 53 direct quotes, and 76 allusions from the Old Testament. Matthew uses the phrase, “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet” eleven times in his book. This gospel writer clearly identifies Jesus as the promised and long awaited Messiah. Without a doubt, the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus is clearly presented to be the fulfillment of all that the prophets of old were longing for.
But before you can understand how this text ties together the two testaments, you must first understand the huge promise which Matthew’s gospel shows that Jesus Christ has fulfilled. It is a cord of at least three distinct strands. Each strand strengthens the whole. The three strands of this promise is that One who is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David will crush the head of the Serpent, bless all the nations of the earth and rule as King forever.
This message is the third in a series of six (click here for message 1 and here for message 2) that seek to develop this summarizing sentence about the Bible:
The Bible is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.
The focus of this message is on the second part of that sentence: “The Bible is a Story of a Special Promise.” This morning we will trace three distinct strands through Scripture which develop the message of the Bible as the message of a promise. As David Helm has written, “The Bible is a big book about a big God who keeps a big promise.” We will see that the Bible is the story of a promise about the seed of the woman, who is the seed of Abraham, who is the seed of David!
For this morning’s text, we will read Matthew 1. In this chapter, the unity of the Bible is seen in God’s faithfulness to keep His ancient promise.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
Mat 1:2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
Mat 1:3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
Mat 1:4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
Mat 1:5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
Mat 1:6 and Jesse begot David the king.
David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
Mat 1:7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.
Mat 1:8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
Mat 1:9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.
Mat 1:10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah.
Mat 1:11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
Mat 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.
Mat 1:13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.
Mat 1:14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
Mat 1:15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.
Mat 1:16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
Mat 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
Mat 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Mat 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Mat 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
Mat 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Mat 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
Mat 1:25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
I. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of the Woman.
This promise found in Genesis 3:15 is the first Gospel sermon ever preached on earth. Jehovah was the preacher, the whole human race (Adam and Eve) and Satan himself were the audience. There is a sense in which everything in Scripture which follows Genesis 3:15 is a footnote to this great gospel promise. The promise is clarified and expanded upon, but it is this promise which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
What is this promise? It is the promise given by God in the midst of His pronouncement of the curse upon the Serpent that one day “the seed of the woman” would crush the head of the Serpent. The promise reads specifically:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
I believe that the reference to the seed of the woman is a veiled reference to the Virgin Birth of Christ. But specifically, a descendent of a woman will one day bruise the head of the Serpent (mortal wound) while bruising His own heel (minor wound). The picture is of a champion taking his heel and grinding the head of the serpent to destroy it. The heel of the champion would be temporarily wounded, but the serpent would be destroyed. This is exactly what Christ did upon Calvary. His heel was wounded, he suffered temorarily upon the cross. But His suffering upon the cross was the means by which the head of Satan was crushed and his works destroyed forever.
This promise is expanded upon in Isaiah 7:14 which says,
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
One day One will come who can best be described as “the seed of the woman” because He will be born of a virgin. This one will be called “Immanuel” which literally means “God with us.” In Galatians 4:4, Paul states, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” And John in 1 John 3:8 declares the purpose of the mission of this One who was “born of a woman” as follows,
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Likewise, in Hebrews 2:14 we read:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of the Woman who Crushes the Head of the Serpent!
II. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of Abraham.
But the promise that the Deliver would be the seed of the woman is not the only strand of the promise. This promise is expanded upon to Abraham who is told in Genesis 12:1-3 that through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This promise is then clarified in Genesis 22:18 to mean, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Here we are being told that “the Seed of the woman” who will crush the head of the Serpent will also be the seed of Abraham through whom “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” This same promise is repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:4, to Isaac’s son Jacob in Genesis 35:10-12 and to Jacob’s son Judah in Genesis 49:9-10.
But at the end of Genesis this family through whom God has promised to bless all the families of the earth are driven outside of their land of promise into the land of Egypt! But cheer up, it gets even worse! After Joseph dies and a new Pharaoh arises who does not know Joseph, this special family is forced into slavery! As Graeme Goldsworthy states,
The end of the Genesis narrative presents a scenario that in almost every way denies the reality of the covenant promises. They remain just that promises. A people, few in number, find themselves in a land not promised, and soon there unfolds the horror of the oppression that they will suffer at the hands of the Egyptians (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 37).
But God has not forgotten His promise! After 400 years of bondage in Egypt, God raises up a deliverer named Moses to whom He reveals Himself in Exodus 3:6 as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In other words, “I’m about to keep my promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
God’s faithfulness to His promises toward the nation of Israel in the Old Testament is a much bigger deal than many of us have imagined! God’s faithfulness to the nation of Israel is the byproduct of His faithfulness to the first gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is important because the people of Israel are the people through whom the Savior of the world will come! The purpose of the establishment of the nation of Israel was to provide the location for the Messiah to come and the family into which He would be born. God’s primary goal was not to merely have one nation as His special people but to send a Deliverer in order to create a redeemed humanity with whom He could dwell eternally!
As one song writer put it, “One nation rose to bring one man a virgin would conceive. A man who died and rose to life for all who will believe.”
After John the Baptist was born, John’s father, Zacharias prophesied concerning Christ. Zacharias recognized that John was to be the forerunner of Christ and he understood Jesus to be that Christ. He also recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham! In Luke 1:72-73, Zecharias said that the Messiah was coming in order “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.”
The apostle Paul also understood Jesus to be the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed in Galatians 3:16. There he plainly states,
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ! Likewise in Romans 15:8 Paul states, “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”
But remember, God’s promise was that all the nations would be blessed through his seed. Just how is that promise being fulfilled? Let’s allow Paul to explain (once again in Galatians 3).
Galatians 3:6-9 Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (7) Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
And Paul concludes Galatians 3 with these words, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
When you believed the gospel, God was keeping His covenant with Abraham. Every time the gospel is preached and people respond in faith all over the world, God’s covenant with Abraham is being kept.
So now we know that the one who will destroy the serpent will be the seed of the woman and will be of the family of Abraham. We see that God’s primary purpose in the Old Testament was not to build a nation but to send a Saviour. This one that was preached about to Adam and Eve in the garden and Abraham did come. He did destroy the works of Satan on the cross. By Him all the nations of the earth are being blessed. Revelation 5:9 says,
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”
III. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of David.
So far we know that the One who will crush the head of the Serpent is “the Seed of the woman,” the Seed of Abraham” and the Descendent of Isaac, Jacob and Judah. But in 2 Samuel 7 we also learn that this Mighty Deliver will be a Descendent of King David himself. There were hints of the Deliverer’s royal nature before this in the prophetic word from Jacob to Judah in Genesis 49:8-10. There we read:
Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Some might have thought that David himself was the fulfillment of this prophecy, but in 2 Samuel 7:12-14 the prophet Nathan delivers this word from God to David near the end of his life:
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. (13) He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (14) I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.
One who can truly be called the Son of the Father (see Hebrews 1:5) will rule forever! This promise to David is expanded upon by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah writes in Isaiah 9:6-7,
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Likewise Micah in Micah 5:2 predicts the birth of this King to be in Bethlehem with these words:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Luke 1:30-33 she was told,
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. (32) He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. (33) And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the promise regarding “the seed of David”!
But the Scriptures also reveal that this Reigning Ruler will also be a Suffering Servant! This was a point that was often overlooked by the Jews, but is crystal clear in their Scriptures. For example, King David himself prophesies the sufferings of the Messiah in Psalm 22. This psalm which begins with the words, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” includes graphic description of the crucifixion 800 years before it occurred (see vv. 6-8, 12-18). The prophet Isaiah also foresaw the Passion of the Christ when he wrote in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Fittingly, the placard over Jesus’ head which contained the criminal charge against Him had the title “The King of the Jews.” That was the King of the Jews as God had always planned! But by virtue of His obedient death “God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name!” (Philippians 2:9-11).
It is only at the cross that all the strands of God’s promise are brought together.
- At the cross, the promise of the Seed of the woman who would defeat the Serpent was accomplished (1 John 3:8).
- At the cross, the blessing to all nations through the Seed of Abraham was accomplished (Galatians 3:13-14).
- At the cross, the promise to provide an eternal King of the Seed of David was accomplished (Philippians 2:8-11).
Now we’re ready to return to Matthew 1:1. Let’s read “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Does that mean anything to you now?
The most important two names in the genealogy are given first. Abraham establishes the racial lineage, and David gives Jesus the royal pedigree. In order to possess royal lineage, one would need to be a son of Abraham and a son of David. The racial line was promised through Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The royal line was promised through David in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”
The power of this text remains the same as when the 1st Century Jew read it nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus is the Christ, the promised One, the coming King, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David. Since this is true His life . . . and death have tremendous significance. As the seed of the woman, He is our deliverer from the power of Satan. As the seed of Abraham, He is the our blessing through faith. As the seed of the David, He is our King to whom we must bow.