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Christmas Question – Who was the first wise man to come out of the east? December 7, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Abraham, Christmas, Religion, Sermons.
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THE FIRST WISE MAN TO COME OUT OF THE EAST

Genesis 12:1-7

 

Last week we looked at the first promise of Christmas, which was made to Satan. This week we are looking at the second promise of Christmas in the Bible, the promise God made to Abraham. We want to compare Abraham to the wise men of the Christmas story and through five comparisons emphasize some important aspects of Abraham’s life.

 

1. The wise men (Magi) researched the mysteries of the universe. Abraham was a wise man because he believed, as evidenced by his obedience, the creator of the universe (Compare Genesis 12:1, 4).

 

Now when this story was first written down, it was written by Moses for the children of Israel. They had just escaped from Egypt as a new nation. They needed to know that God had a plan. That is what the story of Abraham is all about. God has a plan for Abraham, for Israel, and for the world. Abraham did not know all the details of that plan. In fact he did not know at this point all the details of that plan in his own life. But when God told him that he had a plan, he believed God and obeyed God. It was because he believed God that Abraham was righteous. Not because he was sinless. That he was not. Nor was his faith always strong. In Genesis 15:1-3 we find that Abraham’s faith was not always strong. He had questions. He wanted answers. God did not give him total answers. God simply said, believe me. I will make this happen (verses 4-5). Abraham’s faith proved itself to be real in spite of its weakness. Simply said, Abraham believed God. Because he believed God, when the time to make choices came, his faith, though it sometimes questioned proved itself real.

 

2. The Magi lived in the east in Persia (what is now Iran) and to their home they returned. Abraham, the first wise man, came from the eastern city, Ur of the Chaldees (what is now Iraq, on the Euphrates River) but he never returned (Compare Genesis 12:1 with Isaiah 41:2a).

 

Abraham left a city that was excavated almost one hundred years ago. It was a large and flourishing city with perhaps as many as 250,000 inhabitants. The average middle-class citizens lived in nice house containing ten to twenty rooms. It was a center of learning. Not only did the schools teach the four “R’s”: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and religion but it also was a center of higher learning, especially in the areas of mathematics and astronomy. It was a walled city of international commerce with two harbors. It was also a pagan city. Nanna, the moon goddess, had a huge center of worship there. Abraham’s family were idolators and it is likely that Abraham himself also worshiped Nanna. That was the life that Abraham left.

 

Hundreds of years later we find an evaluation of Abraham’s journey in beginning in Isaiah 41:2. Verse 1 introduces us to a courtroom. God demands that the nations be silent so that He can lay out His case. He asks the question, “Who brought Abraham out of the east? Who ordered his every step?” “I did,” says the LORD, “Abraham was no nomad. But I called him and he answered. He followed My word.”

 

“Who is it that made Abraham and his servants a mighty military force in a land which they did not know (verse 3), defeating the armies of the great alliance that invaded Canaan, as though they were nothing but dust and stubble?” “I did,” says the LORD.

 

“Who is it that makes the plan and then carries out the plan and will finish that plan (verse 4)?” “I am there at the beginning,” says the LORD and I will be there at the finish also.

 

3. The Magi were looking for the King of the Jews but did not know where to find him (Matthew 2:2a). Abraham, the first wise man, was seeking for a fatherland with which he was unacquainted.

 

Ur had been Abraham’s fatherland. He had left family there. He and some of his family had settled in Haran, like Ur, a flourishing city but God said to Abraham, you need to go further. I show you where to go and when you get there that will be your fatherland (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16). Abraham recognized something that we often forget. God is our father if we trust Christ. In Him is our inheritance. In Him are all our dreams. In Him we have a homeland. As wonderful as the United States of America is, it is not my fatherland. I am a citizen of heaven. I, like Abraham, have turned my back on this world that I might have the world to come.

 

4. The Magi saw the sign of a star (Matthew 2:2b). Abraham, the first wise man, heard the Word of the LORD (Genesis 12:1, 4).

 

Because Abraham, when he heard God’s Word, believed God’s Word, he proved himself wise. 2 Timothy 3:15b tells us how to acquire this wisdom. It says, speaking of Timothy, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The Magi were wise in many of the arts and sciences of their day but Abraham, like Timothy, was wise in the one field, the only field, that matters, the Word of the LORD.

 

5. The Magi came to worship the King (Matthew 2:2c). Abraham, the first wise man, also worshiped the King (Genesis 12:4-8).

 

Abram at the age of seventy-five goes to Canaan where God visually appears to Abram in 12:7 and tells Abram, “You’re here! This is the land that I am going to give to your descendants.” What does Abraham do? He builds an altar and begins to call on the name of the LORD.

 

To build an altar meant that Abraham intended to come to God. True worship is not waiting for God to come to you. True worship begins when we come to God. We present ourselves before Him. Most people wait for God to come down and then wonder why He does not come. God calls us to come to Him and worship. Abraham, though, like the Magi, came to God to worship.

 

What then are we to do when we come to Him? We are to call on His name. To call on the name of the LORD meant that Abraham depended on God. He submitted all his ways to God alone. He recognized no other authority in his life but God alone. That is worship. When you depend ultimately on someone or something rather than to depend on God alone, you cease to worship God. When God is not the authority figure in your life, as He was in Abraham’s life, then you cannot and you will not worship God. You may go through the motions of building an altar but you must call on God. Recognize Him as the one and only Lord God.

 

QUESTION: Are you a wise person? (Romans 4:11-12, 16)

 

Romans 4 describes those who imitate Abraham’s walk of faith as children of righteousness. You can be wise like Abraham if you will…

…believe God’s promises, especially concerning faith in Christ, as given in His Word;

…turn your back on this world in exchange for the world to come;

…and come to God and call on Christ alone in total dependence and submission.

Next Week: CHRISTMAS IS OF THE JEWS (Genesis 28:10-22)

 

Christmas Sermon from Genesis (preached on First Advent 2008) November 30, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Genesis, Religion, Satan, Sermons.
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THE FIRST MENTION OF CHRISTMAS

(Genesis 3:14-15)

When we think of the promise of Christmas, we normally think of peace on earth, good will toward men. That is a wonderful promise but it is not the first promise. That is to be found here in the very first book of the Bible in the garden of Eden.

The first promise of Christmas was made to the serpent (verse 14a).

The reason for the promise, “Because you have done this…” (verse 14a). We are all familiar with the story of how that the serpent tempted Eve but we need to remind ourselves of who he is and what exactly it is that he has done.

Who is the serpent (compare verse 14 with Revelation 12:9)? If you turn from the first book in the Bible to the last book, you find it clearly stated who this serpent is. He is the Devil, Satan, the great dragon. The first promise of Christmas was made to Satan.

What is it that he has done (and continues to do and will continue to do as long as God allows) that results in God making this promise to him? He deceived Eve. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2 that Adam was not deceived, he was not tricked, he knew exactly what he was doing but that Eve listened to the serpent and was deceived. The passage we have just looked at in Revelation tells us that he is the deceiver of the whole inhabited world. The main work of the devil as described by the Bible is not bringing trouble into my life. The work of the devil or even of his demons is not causing flat tires so that I can lose my temper and be in a bad mood. The main work of the devil is deception. That is how he begins his career and that will be his main work in the end.

Satan’s deception has two parts. Genesis 3:4 is part one, “You will not surely die.” “If you are convinced that you can get away with sin, sooner or later you’re going to do it” (Ray Pritchard).

Genesis 3:5 is part two. God is denying you what you really want. He knows that if you eat of the tree, you will be like Him. Then you will be truly great and truly happy. If you can be convinced that God is withholding something good from you, then you are ripe for deception. The minute you think that you can grab that forbidden happiness without being caught, you will grab at it.

The symbol of the promise (verse 14b). Just as God gave the rainbow to remind us of the power of His judgment, God caused the snake to have to crawl on its belly to remind us of the deception of sin. We have an indication of the importance of this symbol in Isaiah 65:25. This chapter describes for us the earthly kingdom that Christ will set up when He comes for the final time. This kingdom is described as a place where the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the ox will live in peace with one another. That same verse points out that the snake will still be crawling on its belly. Even in the kingdom of righteousness with Jesus Christ Himself on the throne ruling this earth, there will still be a reminder of the deception of Satan and of sin. Perhaps you have never thought of the snake as a symbol for Christmas but it is that very deception that made and makes Christmas both necessary and joyful.

The reality of the promise – (verse 15). The symbol is important because it helps us to focus on the reality of the promise of Christmas.

The first promise of Christmas was not made to a snake. The snake was a tool of Satan’s deception and is now a symbol of that deception. The first promise of Christmas was made to Satan and to his seed. Now God is not talking here about the physical seed of Satan. There is no reason to think that Satan has ever fathered children. On the other hand, it is also obvious that this promise goes beyond the hatred and fear of snakes by humankind. For one thing, not all snakes are poisonous, in fact, most are not and not everyone hates snakes. So this promise goes beyond the physical seed of the snake but extends to all those who follow Satan and his ways.

Jesus refers to this in John 8:44. Jesus according to verse 31 is speaking to a group of Jews who profess to believe in Him. As He reveals to them their self-righteousness and that their belief is actually in their ethnic and religious heritage, Jesus makes this statement, “You are of your father, the devil…” What proof does Jesus offer? They believe the lies of the devil. So those who believe Satan are his spiritual children.

What then is this Christmas promise that God makes to Satan and to those who believe his lies. The first promise of Christmas is a promise of defeat (Compare with Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10, 11-15). “Their head will be bruised.” John the Revelator emphasizes this when he describes the end times. That old serpent (verse 2) and all those who follow him (verses 8-9) will be destroyed and will be in the lake of fire forever (verses 10 and 12-15).

The fulfiller of the promise can be none other than Jesus Christ (Compare Genesis 3:15 with 4:1, 25). Think about Eve as she is listening to this. She realizes that through her seed this deception will be corrected. The deceiver will be destroyed. It is no wonder that she was thrilled when Cain was born. She has a man from the LORD. Perhaps he is the one who will destroy the serpent. But she sees Cain is not right before God. Perhaps then she puts her hopes in Abel. Perhaps he is the one who will destroy the serpent. But Cain murders Abel. Then God gives her another son, Seth. She still has hope that through her seed Satan will be destroyed. Eve passes away. Seth passes away. Thousands of years later a man is sitting, wondering what he is going to do. The woman to whom he is engaged is pregnant. He intends to privately divorce her but then an angel appears to him and says, “Do not be afraid to marry this woman. This baby is conceived through the Holy Spirit. Call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sin.”

You see, Jesus is the Seed of the woman! (Compare verse 15 with Matthew 1:23-25). That same angel told Joseph that this baby is the promised seed of the virgin as told in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall…bear a son and his name will be called Immanuel, that is, God with us.” God Himself is the seed of the woman. God Himself is the one who will defeat the deceiver and correct the deception. God Himself is the fulfiller of the promise of Christmas. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that when the time was perfect, God sent His Son to be born of a woman, subject to the law of Moses, and this Son would redeem those under the law, those who could not keep the law but were subject to its punishment. He is the Seed of the woman.

He is the victor over Satan (verse 20). Now we have seen that Jesus is victorious over Satan in the day of judgment but the Bible tells us that Jesus is already victorious over Satan.

This means that sin is vanquished (1 John 3:8). The works of Satan, the deception that he propagates, and the sin that results from that deception will be destroyed. That is why Jesus came, for that very purpose, to fulfill the promise that God made to Satan. Your works will be destroyed, sin will be defeated, you and your seed will be crushed.

This also means that death is vanquished (Hebrews 2:14-15). How? Through death. Through Jesus’ death on the cross He destroyed the one who has the power of death. When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered Satan and removed the one, who through his deception, brought death into the human race. I know that Adam and Eve share responsibility but the writer of Hebrews is reminding us that it is Satan’s deception that brought death into play. I was born condemned to die but through the death of Christ and my faith in Him, I have been released from that sentence, from the power of death, and have been given eternal life.

When John Wesley wrote “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” he included a verse based on Genesis 3:15 that beautifully describes Jesus as the Victor. Our hymnal like many others omits this verse but I want to read it for you this morning.

“Come, Desire of Nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home.

Rise the woman’s conquering Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place,

Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love,

Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.”

He paid a price for this victory (Compare verse 15b with 1 Peter 2:21-25). Yes, Jesus fulfilled the promise of victory over Satan, this first promise of Christmas but it cost Him. His heel was bruised. There are a number of passages which we could look at but I want to focus on just one. Jesus suffered, he was reviled, mocked. Verse 24 tells us that it was by His stripes that we are healed. His pain was real, His death was real. It was the price that He paid for us so that He and us with Him could be victorious over Satan, sin, and death. Verse 25 tells us what we must do. Return to Jesus. Return to the one who created us. Return to the one who bought us, redeemed us. Return to the one who bruised Satan’s head, while His heal was being bruised. Return to Him. Turn away from the deception of sin. Your sin will one day be revealed and their will be consequences unless you turn to Jesus and allow Him to take the consequences for your sin. Do not believe the lie that God is withholding something good from you. All that is truly good in this life is to be found only in Jesus Christ. Turn to Him in faith for salvation and victory. The promise of Christmas to Satan is not a pleasant promise for Him but it can be for you, if you switch sides and trust Christ.

A Three Kings’ Day Sermon January 6, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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RESPONDING TO THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

A “THREE KINGS’ DAY” OR “TWELFTH NIGHT” SERMON

Matthew 2:1-18

 

THE TWO MESSAGES OF CHRISTMAS 

There are two messages that we have heard during the past Christmas season. The first, the message of the world, is a happy message. Even the Grinch can be cured through kindness. It does not really matter if there is a Santa Claus, if you believe in him, he exists. Christmas is a happy time of giving and family and laughter and romance and cheer. That is the message of Christmas in this world.

 

The message of Christmas found in the Bible is a bit different. It is this, “Behold, your King!” Usually, we save this message for Palm Sunday but as we can clearly see in Matthew 2, the message of Christmas is the same. “Behold, your King!”

 

DIFFERENT WAYS TO RESPOND TO THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 

In this chapter, we find three categories of people who heard the Christmas message, “Behold, your King” and who responded in three very different ways.

For example, Herod heard the Christmas message and responded negatively. More precisely, I should say, he responded selfishly, in his own self-interests. He was hostile to the Christmas message. After all, he held the title “King of the Jews”. It had been given to him almost forty years prior by the Roman Senate under whose authority he ruled.

THE DANGEROUS WISE MEN! 

These Magi (we know them as wise men or the three kings) were from outside of the Roman Empire, likely from the Parthian Kingdom whose king was selected by the Magi, that is a group of wise men. For these men to come and search for the one who is born “King of the Jews” would be very disconcerting and disturbing for a man like Herod. These were men of power and knowledge. These were the enemies of the Romans whom he served and they came looking for one who was the rightful heir to the title which he claimed for himself.

Verse 3 says that Herod was troubled. He and all Jerusalem were shaking in their boots. Some estimate that the Magi, however many there may have been, probably were accompanied by one thousand cavalrymen from the kingdom of Parthia. Already, the Romans had fought three wars with the Parthians during the last hundred years. During the last one, civil war had broken out in Judea and this very Herod had fled to Rome and convinced them that he was loyal, which is what eventually led to his reception of the title, “King of the Jews.” Herod knew if he handled this situation badly it could mean civil war again.

Herod was a cruel man who at this late point of his life already had a lot of blood on his hands. In verses 16-18, we find him remaining true to form. Because Herod could not be certain how old Jesus was and did not know exactly where to find him, he had every male child under two years of age killed. He proclaimed all out war to destroy Jesus.

Now there may be a few of you who are hostile to Jesus. It does not really matter what the reason for your hostility is. If you rebel against Him, you will be judged and as recorded in Matthew 24, you will mourn at His coming because you will recognize that your doom is sealed.

CATEGORY TWO:  THE INDIFFERENT 

The chief priests and scribes heard the Christmas message but did not respond to it. Now it could be, they did not seek Jesus out of fear of Herod. Knowing his history, that would certainly seem understandable. More likely though, based on the response of the chief priests and scribes to Jesus during His ministry as an adult, they were at this time indifferent to Him.

As a group, they were not indifferent to knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were indifferent to Jesus, the one who fulfilled the Hebrew Scriptures. Of course, they did not recognize this nor does it see that they investigated His credentials. He was of no importance to them, otherwise they would have gone to Bethlehem, despite their fear of Herod.

They probably had different expectations. They were not interested in a baby or a child fulfilling prophecy. They wanted to see a Messiah in majesty and power before they committed themselves to Him. They were the type who mocked the superstition of those who trusted in the humble, unlearned man of Galilee. Perhaps some of the priests had even been present or had participated in the ceremony at the circumcision of Jesus. Perhaps they had heard Simon and Anna as they proclaimed to all in their hearing at the temple that this baby was the Messiah.

They had seen self-proclaimed Messiahs come and go. They, however, had the tool, the Word of God whereby they could test to see if this child met the qualifications and with this tool had even helped Herod and the wise men in determining where to look for the child but they themselves did not look. They did not investigate.

INDIFFERENCE IS UNBELIEF. 

They had the Word, they knew the Word but they had a heart of unbelief. The difference between truth and error is not always a difference in knowledge but it is always a difference in attitude. “Those who should have been leaders were no leaders; they would not even be followers of that which is good, for they had no heart towards Christ.” (Spurgeon).

This is what eventually led them and those like them, when Jesus was presented by Pilate to scream for His death (John 19).

    14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

    15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

In their hostility to Christ, they perform an act of worship to Caesar. You worship the one who you acknowledge as being superior to you and to all others. They chose a man who claimed to be a god as king instead of choosing the man who was God as their king.

I would suggest to you that you may not be able to remain indifferent. These men did not. Often people turn against Christ with full knowledge of who and what they are rejecting and when they do, it is not unusual for them to become hostile.

A SAD REVIEWI was reading a review this week of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis. In this review, Dr. Russell Moore writes, “This is the most unexpectedly theological book I’ve read all year. It also may be the most depressing. The author traces the life of the cartoonist creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy from his days as a fervent, tithing Church of God evangelical to his deathbed, hopeless and angry at God.

The book shows what Scripture has already told us. Human lives need a narrative, a counter-narrative to the reign of death story we see around us. Schulz found his in a narrative of his own making, an alternative world of big-headed children and a wise-cracking dog. Michaelis shows us how the crushing sadness of Schulz’s life showed up in his strip. Hint: the roadside psychiatric stand, the little red-haired girl, and Schroeder’s piano…not accidents.

Michaelis also shows how this cartoonist, unable to believe that anyone could love him, gradually shifted in his beliefs from the Luke 2-reading Linus from the Peanuts Christmas television program to the dejected Linus of the Halloween Christmas special, waiting all his life for a Great Pumpkin who never shows up.”

I do not know what happened in Charles Schulz’s life. I have yet to read the book. I do know, though, and have seen person after person who at one point followed some form of the truth who at the end died bitter and angry with God, some to the point of denying His very existence.

THE RESPONSE CHRIST DESIRES. 

The Magi knew the Christmas message and left all to respond to it. In this case, their response to the Christmas message changed the way that they spent their time. These were men who specialized in searching and researching questions concerning the universe. How they recognized that this star was connected with the Messiah, we do not know. What we do know is that they began a long journey in order to search in the right place for the Messiah after that they saw the star.

So many people are searching in all the wrong places. They would rather listen to the words of man than the Word of God. They put more trust in theories than in credible truth. They prefer visions and signs to the Word of God that was confirmed by visions and signs. These men knew enough to know where the proper place to look would be. They did not search in Babylon or Athens or Rome. They did not travel to Egypt. They went to Jerusalem in search of the king who was and is to reign in Jerusalem.

SACRIFICIAL WORSHIP 

In this case, their response to the Christmas message changed the way that they used their resources. John Piper points out that the Magi were not bringing “royal care packages” neither were these gifts some kind of bribe intended to get God on their side. These were gifts of sacrificial worship. In describing sacrificial worship, Piper continues, “By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.’”

In this case, their response to the Christmas message determined before who they would bow. Faith in Christ determines your worship. Culture might determine our style but if our worship is not total submission to Christ then our style of worship does not matter.

 

RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE DETERMINES WORSHIP. 

In each of these three categories, the response to the Christmas message determined how they would worship. Herod rejected the Christ because he worshiped his own self-interests. The scribes and chief priests understood the message but rather than worship the Christ, they turned to Caesar. The Magi both understood and responded in faith to the gospel message and ended up being true worshipers of the King of the Jews, Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve Devotional 2008 December 24, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Jesus, Matthew, Religion.
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The Name of the Baby

Matthew 1:18-25 

INTRODUCTION:  There are two names in this passage for this baby whose birth we are celebrating. One is Jesus which means “Savior”, the name which God commanded Joseph to give his adoptive son. The second name was given over seven hundred years before Christ was born. The name “Emmanuel” which means “God with us” was given to an ungodly king and is mentioned by Matthew as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.         

These two names have meaning for us also. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save His people from their sin. His people were the Jewish people but He did not come just to save His people. When Jesus as a thirty year old man came into the presence of John the Baptist, a prophet of God, John pointed his disciples to Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus Himself once said to the Jews in John 10, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” He was talking about us. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes about Jesus in His death tearing down the wall of partition that existed between Jews and Gentiles for the purpose of saving people out of both groups and integrating them together like a building where the blocks or the bricks interlock to become one.         

What is it from which we are saved? There are many things one could be saved from? The name “Savior” comes from a medical word. When a patient recovers from a deadly illness because of the wisdom of the doctor, we say, “The doctor saved him.” When a medicine causes a miracle cure, we say, “The medicine saved her.” When a medic or a first responder’s actions rescue a person from death, we say, “That man saved their life.”         

Jesus once said that He came to save the sick. He was speaking figuratively. You see, humankind is sick with sin. Most do not recognize their sickness but every person, born into the world is sick with sin and will die of that sickness unless they have a Savior. The name that Jesus was given to bear here on earth is a reminder that He is the one who came to save.          

The second name, Emmanuel, tells us how it is that Jesus can save. He is “God with us.” When Jesus was laid by Mary into the manger, he was no ordinary baby. He was and is still the virgin born Son of God. The name Emmanuel is a sign from God that He Himself has entered the human race.         

Some say Jesus wasn’t really a man. He just looked like a man. Others say he had the body of a man but he didn’t have a human soul. Still others say Jesus was two people in one body—sort of half-God and half-man. Many believe it was all nonsense—that Jesus isn’t God at all. They claim he was an ordinary person like you and me with a sin nature just like everyone else on planet earth. God says in John 1:14 that Jesus became flesh and lived among us. He was God and became man without ceasing to be God (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?)          

Ray Pritchard tells this story. A young man sat in my office and listened as I explained the gospel to him. Finally he said, “I just can’t believe all that stuff.”          

So I asked him, “What would it take for you to believe?”          

 “I would believe if God came down and stood in front of me and told me himself,” he said.          

“My friend, he already has come down,” I replied. “He came down 2,000 years ago and lived among us. If you don’t believe that, then I have nothing better to offer you” (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?).                   

Savior and Emmanuel: these two names are brought together in a hymn by William Cowper that we rarely sing today. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”           

As we celebrate the virgin born Son of God would you not trust Emmanuel, “God with us,” as your Savior from the stains of sin? He promises that He will save you through His blood if you trust Him and Him alone.

Links to Christmas Sermons from Matthew 2 December 24, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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From John Piper

Two Sermons From Spurgeon:  1882  Year not available

From Martin Luther

From Ligon Duncan

 From Ray Pritchard Verses 1-6 Verses 7-12 Verse 15 

Christmas Sermon from Haggai 2:20-23 December 16, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Haggai, Religion, Sermons.
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WAITING FOR THE MESSIAH

Matthew 1:12, Jeremiah 22:28-30, and Haggai 2:20-23

As we continue to look at the genealogy that Matthew gave to prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah we come to a list of rather obscure names with one name, Zerubbabel, of special significance. Rather than read this list of names, I would like us to read two passages of Scripture. The first is found in Jeremiah 22:28-30. The second in also found in the Old Testament prophets in Haggai 2:20-23. These two passages were written almost one hundred years apart from each other but have a very close connection to each other and to the genealogy that Matthew uses to prove the credibility of the babe born in Bethlehem as the King of the Jews and the Savior of the world.

Jeremiah 22:28 “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol––A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know?  O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD!  Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’” Haggai 2:20 ¶ And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty–fourth day of the month, saying, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth.  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.  ‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

THE BLACK SHEEP IN THE LINEAGE OF JESUS

We already know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham and David. We also know that Jesus as part of the royal family has a legal right to the eternal throne of David. The prophecy of Jeremiah that we have just read indicates that God removed the right to the throne from Jeconiah and his descendants, which presumably would include Jesus. The signet ring of God (Jeconiah and his descendants) has been removed. Israel is now at one of the lowest points of its history. God has made great promises to them but because of their sin, He has passed judgment on the nation. They are no more a political entity. They are a race of people scattered throughout the world, separated from their promised land, from their temple, and from their kingdom.

THERE IS HOPE!

However, the prophets have predicted and promised that a Messiah is coming. This Messiah is to restore Israel both nationally and spiritually. He will restore them to their land and their kingdom. He will destroy the adversaries of God and of Israel and will enforce peace on the earth. He will be Israel’s God and they will be His people and all the world will come to Jerusalem to worship God.

Humanly speaking though there is no hope. Israel is waiting for the Messiah but there is no hope in their hearts. At the time Haggai writes, a small remnant has been back in Jerusalem for sixteen years and yet they are still incapable of even finishing the temple of their God. Haggai in these two short chapters exhorts them to finish the building of the house of God.

THE SELF-CONFIDENCE OF GOD 

God continues to work His plan. God does not react. He knows what He’s doing at all times and knows at all times what the results will be. Look at what God says to Zerubbabel through Haggai in these verses. “I will shake heaven and earth.” Six times God says, “I will” accomplish this. Zerubbabel, you do not have to depend on yourself. You do not have to depend on these people or these prophets that I have sent. I will do what is necessary to set things in order.

God knew He would have to accomplish the fulfillment of the covenants He made with Abraham and David. Abraham was incapable of making from Isaac a great people. David was incapable of making his throne eternal. Zerubbabel was incapable of reestablishing Israel and defeating the enemies who surrounded them. This is something that only God can accomplish. Israel was a sinful people from its leaders down to its slaves but despite all the difficulties that His people caused for Him because of their sin, they did not hinder Him for one moment from accomplishing His purposes.

God brought Israel out of captivity just as He had predicted. Jeremiah, the same prophet who pronounced the curse that God made on the royal line through Jeconiah was also inspired of God to predict how long the captivity would last, seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10-14). Now verse 11 is well known and often quoted but we miss the point of it. God is not saying “I like you, you please me, I’m going to bless you.” In fact, it is almost the opposite. God is saying, “You are wicked and ungodly, deserving of judgment and you will be judged but I will not, I cannot, I shall never forget my promises to you. I will bring you back to you land and ultimately back to your glory.

Near the end of that seventy year period, there was an old man by the name of Daniel. Daniel had seen kings come and go and had given his life to writing down how that God controls the kingdoms of the world. In Daniel 9:1-2, we find that Daniel read the Scriptures that Jeremiah had written down and realized God had everything in hand before He even sent the Jews into captivity.

Before that, God through Isaiah had not only predicted when it would happen but who would make it possible (Isaiah 44:28-45:4). Isaiah wrote down the name Cyrus. Cyrus had not yet been born but God already planned to move on the heart of this Persian king to bring His people back to the Promised Land. God had everything well in hand.

GOD’S SOLUTION TO THE CURSE ON JECONIAH 

There was, however, still the problem of the curse on Jeconiah. As a remnant of Jews moved back to Jerusalem, they had over them a governor, appointed by the Persian king. This man Zerubbabel was a grandson of Jeconiah. Jeconiah had been on the throne. As the king of Judah, he was the representative of God but God as punishment for His sin removed the throne from Him. He took the signet ring off of His finger. God did not, however, destroy Jeconiah’ seed nor the family of David. He had promised that there would remain seed to David to sit on the throne and God intended to keep His promise.

God renews His promise through a chosen man. There are three things that are interesting in these verses.

First, God does not in these verses refer to Zerubbabel as governor of Judah but as the son of Shealtiel. Zerubbabel’s political position was of no importance to God. Zerubbabel was important to God because of his royal bloodlines. He was the heir to David’s throne and God wanted to renew His covenant to David.

God also calls Zerubbabel “servant.” This title is use by the prophets to refer to the Messiah. Although Zerubbabel was not the Messiah, this title emphasizes that He was important to the plan of God.

Finally, God says, “I have chosen you.” There are no accidents with God. He knew when He cursed Jeconiah that there would be a grandson with whom He could reaffirm and reestablish His relationship with the sons of David. The wonder of Christmas is not just that God chose to accomplish His plan this way. The wonder of Christmas is that not one thing went wrong in God’s preparations for Christmas. Everything came together perfectly. Persian kings and captive prophets. Wicked rulers and righteous men of God all played their part in God’s great plan to send a Savior to the world to save His people from their sin.

This should encourage our hearts. God knows exactly why you were born and how you are going to participate or not participate in the purposes that He has set for you. The people He brings into your life are exactly the people who need to be in your life. If you are within His covenant that Jesus provided through His blood, you can be assured, no matter how bad the circumstances are in your life, He will never forget you and will accomplish His purposes in and through you.

THE SILENCE OF GOD 

God falls silent for four hundred years. After Zerubbabel passed off the scene and Haggai and Zechariah had ended their prophecies, God sent one more prophet. His name was Malachi. Malachi’s main message was to call Israel to repentance but He closed His book with a reminder that the Messiah was coming (Malachi 4:1-6). The time from the captivity until the time that Jesus came was a time of great anticipation but for most of that time, there was no direct word from God.

God was still working His plan. Galatians 4:4 tells us “…when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son…” At just the right moment, precisely as God arranged it, God sent His Son. God provided that the balance of power in the world switch from Babylonian to Persian to Greek under Alexander the Great to the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus and He did all this so that the child would be born in Bethlehem, Judaea, just as His prophet, Micah had said it would happen.

“Although Joseph and Mary were of Nazareth in Galilee; miles away, in those times, days apart, God used a required Roman census to force the young couple to travel on a Roman built road. Thanks to good roads, a decision in Rome, and a bothersome census, God prepared a place and a time for Christ to be born. (from Swindoll, I believe)” When God prepared for Christmas, He prepared every political, economic, and logistical necessity needed to make it happen exactly as it should.

What should the people do during those four hundred years when God sent no prophet to speak to them? God expected His people to trust the promises of His word that He had already made. As Jesus said once, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” If you are waiting for a miracle or a sign or a vision or a dream or a leader or a church or a book or an experience or an event or anything to bring you to God, you may be waiting forever. When God gives His promises, when He gives His word; He expects it to be believed and obeyed. God expected His people to look for the prophet Moses had promised. God expected His people to look for the Messiah-King promised through David. God expected His people to look for the one who is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”, the one known as Emmanuel, “God with us.”

God expects no more and no less of us today. He expects us to trust the promises of His word that He has already made. God does not want us to look for a sign but to look into His word for in it is revealed, as Peter once said to Jesus, “the words of life.” We are to trust His word, wholly and completely. It is only through His word that we can know what is right or wrong, what we should embrace and what we should avoid. It is only through His word that we can grow to be more like Jesus Christ. It is only through His word that the Holy Spirit can illumine our hearts and mind to spiritual things.

ARE YOU READY AND WAITING? 

God expected His people to be ready. Prophet after prophet promised the coming of the Messiah and demanded that people turn to God in order to be ready to receive them. A few were ready for Him when He came but most were not.

Most people were not ready when Christ came. This is one of the great themes of Matthew.

The existence of Matthew’s gospel shows that many needed to be convinced of the credibility of Christ as the Messiah. This is why this gospel is begins with a genealogy and is even entitled “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”

The story of the wise men points out that the rulers of Jerusalem were not ready for the coming of the Messiah and even as a baby, Jesus had powerful enemies ruling the Jewish nation.

The Sermon on the Mount points out that the Jews hearts were not prepared for the coming of the Messiah.

The Life, the Crucifixion, and even the Resurrection showed that many were not ready for the Messiah.

But He came. He came for the Jewish nation as Matthew points out in this chapter. He also came for you. Is it not time that you believed Him? Is it not time for you to say, I am going to trust Christ alone as my salvation. Would you do that today?

HE WILL COME AGAIN

Jesus came once but after His resurrection He returned to His Father and sat down in the exalted place of position at the right hand of God. Before He left, He promised that He would return. You see, the work of the Messiah is not yet finished.

Haggai 2:21b-22, “I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.”

When will this happen? When the Prince of Peace comes to establish His eternal throne. When Jesus the son of Abraham, the son of David, and the son of Zerubabbel established Himself for all time as God’s signet ring, as God’s authority on this earth.

JESUS WAS BORN A KING. HE NEVER WAS A PRINCE.

Have you ever thought about this? Jesus was born the King of the Jews. That is not the way a king normally ascends to the throne. He has to wait. “Born Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace, Prince Charles was the first child of then-Princess Elizabeth, and her husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Three more siblings followed – Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.After the death of his grandather, King George VI -and the ascension of his mother to the British throne as Queen Elizabeth II, Charles at age 4 became the royal heir apparent.” (http://www.chiff.com/pop-culture/news-people/prince-charles.htm) For around fifty-five years, Prince Charles has been the heir to the throne, but he has not been king for one second. Jesus Christ, however, has been God from the beginning and was born King of the Jews. It was because of God’s promises to David and Solomon and Zerubbabel that Jesus was born the signet ring, the King of the Jews, the Messiah. Will you bow before Him or will you live for yourself, for your best interests? Will you make Him Lord of your life and follow Him without reservation this Christmas season? Will you serve the season or the Savior? Will you serve King?

CHRISTMAS WILL COST YOU. 

There is a story told in Matthew about the pearl of great price. In that story Jesus tells about a man who found a pearl, recognized its worth and went and sold everything that he had in order to purchase that pearl. What is it going to cost you to get ready for Jesus Christ? What is it going to cost you to accept Him as your Savior? What is it going to cost you to serve Him. Some of you it will cost you your anger. Some of you it will cost you your religion. There are arguments about whether that parable is talking about salvation from hell or about discipleship but there can be no doubt that to serve Jesus Christ it will cost you something. If you would like to trust Him today, you can?

Christmas According to Matthew (Jesus the Messiah is King) December 9, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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CHRISTMAS, SALVATION FOR THE SINFUL GENERATIONS

Matthew 1:1-7, 17, 21-23

Matthew could have ended his genealogy with verse 1 and claimed just as easily that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promises to both Abraham and David. That is not, however, the way Matthew wrote. To establish Jesus’ credibility, he needed to make clear that the bloodline of Jesus was directly from both David and Abraham. Matthew, who is giving the royal genealogy, goes through the line of Solomon. Luke, who gives the genealogy of Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father, follows the actual bloodline through another son of David, Nathan.

THE GENEALOGY

Today we are looking at the second part of the royal genealogy. This genealogy is divided into three parts, each with fourteen generations (Matthew 1:17). The first set of fourteen generations contained Abraham and David. The second set of fourteen generations are the kings of Judah, the men who sat on the eternal throne that had been promised to David (2 Samuel 7).

Now God promised David that even if his family turned to sin, God would not withhold his mercy from them. In other words, the covenant that God had made with David would never be broken. God did, however, promise consequences to those who did not follow God. We saw this in David’s life. Despite the adultery and murder which he committed and the bloody judgment that God brought upon David and his family and his kingdom, God gave David a son to sit on the throne.

This son, Solomon was an amazing man. God gave him wisdom in answer to his prayer. God gave him as side benefits great financial wealth and political power. God expanded his territories. God made him the talk of the ancient world. God allowed him to build a temple which he had not allowed his father, David, to do.

SOLOMON IN ALL HIS GLORY, POWER, AND WISDOM DID NOT FULFILL THE COVENANT OF DAVID.

After Solomon built the temple (1 Kings 9:1-9) God appeared to Solomon and warned him not to serve other gods. He promised that he would remove Israel from the land if he want after other gods. This was a standing threat over Israel since the time of Moses in Deuteronomy 29 but God specifically warned Solomon about this matter. 1 Kings 11:1 says, “But Solomon loved many foreign women…” Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines but the problem according to 1 Kings is not the number of wives he had (although that is certainly not to be recommended) but rather who those wives were. They were women who served other, false gods. These women turned his heart to following the gods of the Sidonians and the Ammonites and the Moabites. God was angry with Solomon and told him, I am going to tear away ten tribes from your kingdom and from you family and give them to another. Under Solomon’s son, Rehoboam that was exactly what happened.

HAS GOD ALREADY FAILED?

What is happening here? Can God not keep his promise? He promised an eternal kingdom to David and already in two generations ten tribes, way over half of the kingdom, has been removed from his family. The word that God spoke to Solomon, however, was this, “‘And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever.’ (1 Kings 11:39)” God’s punishment is harsh but his mercy to sinners has not been withheld.

As we go on through this genealogy, we come to Solomon’s grandson, Abijam of whom God says in 1 Kings 15:3-15, “And he walked in all the sins of his father [speaking of Rehobaom], which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” These men were sinners but God’s mercy towards David and his house endures forever.

Not all of these men were evil as Solomon and Rehoboam and Abijah had been. Asa was loyal to God, even to the point where he removed his grandmother from her exalted place as queen mother and destroyed the idols which she worshiped. There were even times of revival in Judah but God did not restore the ten tribes to the house of David. The judgment on the house of David was a continual judgment.

However, the mercy of God was also continual. Of the kings mentioned in verse 8, all were loyal to the Lord except for Joram, the son-in-law of Jezebel. “Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever” (1 Kings 8:19).

THE TIMES OF ISAIAH

Matthew skips a few generations in order to keep the numerical division even. This was not uncommon in genealogies. He was able to do this because the intervening generations were well known to the Jews to whom he was writing. Verse 9 corresponds roughly to the ministry of Isaiah. It was at this time that God began to reveal to Judah his plan more clearly. God through Isaiah told King Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refused but God gave him a sign anyway, the sign of a virgin! “Behold, the virgin shall concevie and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14b). Matthew quotes this verse in verses 22 and 23, pointing out that God had not forgotten nor forsaken His covenant with David.

At the same time that God is pointing out the coming of the Messiah through Isaiah and other prophets, through those same prophets God lets Judah know that her days as a kingdom are numbered. God tells Hezekiah that after his lifetime the Babylonians are going to come and take Judah and the house of David captive into Babylon. This prediction was repeated to Manasseh and Josiah and all the kings who followed after Hezekiah. In fact, the Bible says that God would not pardon Judah for the innocent blood shed under Manasseh in Jerusalem.

AND THEN THINGS GET WORSE…

Things look pretty bad. Ten of the twelve tribes gone. Those ten have been taken captive and scattered by the Assyrian Empire. Judgment has been pronounced on the remaining two tribes in the kingdom of Judah. And yet God has continued to show mercy to the house of David. Then comes Jeconiah. Jeconiah was king for only three months. God through Jeremiah brings some horrible news to Jeconiah and to his brethren.

Jeremiah 22:24 As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah {Also called Jeconiah and Jehoiachin} the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off;

25 “and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear––the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans.

26 “So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die.

27 “But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.

28 “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol––A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know?

29 O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD!

30 Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’”

God’s mercy appears to be at an end. God has had it with the house of David. The royal line has been cursed. Has God made it impossible to keep His own promises? Is God really someone who can be depended on if He is going to react so rashly and without mercy?

GOD IS STILL ABLE TO KEEP HIS PROMISE TO DAVID.

There is an answer. Jesus, through the royal line recorded here, has through Joseph a legal right to the throne of David. His DNA is perfectly Davidic. But his DNA does not come directly through Jehoiachin. From verse 2 through verse 16 we find begot, begot, begot but Jesus was not begotten of the royal line but rather born of the virgin Mary becoming the adoptive son of Joseph. This is the fulfillment of the sign that God gave to Ahaz. God provided that Jesus be adopted into the kingly line listed here so that no one would be able to say that Jesus had no legal right to the throne. Only God is capable of showing both mercy and judgment continually and He does it justly.

GOD IS MERCIFUL TO SINNERS.

What about all these men? What about sinful David, sinful Solomon, sinful Abijam, sinful Ahaz and Manasseh and Jehoiachin? How is it that God can be merciful to them? The reason is two-fold. God keeps His promises and God finds a way to provide salvation. Verse 21 says that Jesus shall save His people from their sins. How did Jesus do that? Hebrews 9:15-17 explains how as well as why, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”

REMEMBER THESE THREE THINGS! 

There are three facts mentioned here that are important for us to remember. First, the inheritance, the kingdom of God is an eternal inheritance. God intends to keep His promise to the house of David.

Second, the transgressions or sins must be taken care of. David’s sin problem was no different from my sin problem or your sin problem. Solomon was born condemned just as you and I are born condemned. God, because there is no one else who can, must provide a way to solve our sin problem.

Finally, the solution is the death of Christ. The writer of Hebrews is saying that no one receives their inheritance until the one from which they are inheriting dies first. This eternal inheritance is available because Christ died that we might receive His inheritance, eternal life.

Did all these men in Jesus’ line receive the inheritance? The evidence indicates that several did not. The difference is that some put their faith in God and some did not. That is the same difference today. Have you put your faith in Jesus? Are you counting on him alone for salvation? Are you relying totally on him? You can today.

Verse 2 of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” says what you must believe if you are going to be saved from your sin by Jesus Christ:

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain.

Mine, mine was the transgression, But Thine the deadly pain.

Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve Thy place.

Look on me with Thy favor; and grant to my Thy grace”

Is that your prayer today? Do you want to be free from your sin? Do you want mercy? God has promised it to all who trust Christ as Savior.

Christmas Sermon from Matthew 1 (First Advent) December 2, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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CHRISTMAS, THE FULFILLED PROMISES

Matthew 1:1-6, 20-23

INTRODUCTION: This advent season we are going to be looking at “Christmas According to Matthew”. Both Matthew and Luke use genealogies in their account of the Christmas story. It is important that Jesus is God born as a man. It is important that His birth is a miraculous birth. It is just as important that we know the ancestry through which Jesus came because these genealogies prove that Jesus is the promised one of God.

This is underscored by the title that Matthew gives his gospel. He does not call it a gospel as Mark does nor does he identify it as a historical narrative as Luke does. He entitles his book, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham, the son of David.” Genealogies were important for a number of reasons. They were important to the religious life of the people. A priest could not serve unless he could trace his ancestry back to Levi. Even the singers and the gatekeepers of the temple were determined by family, traced back to the time of David. Genealogy was also important to the economic structure of Israel. The title to land was kept secure through genealogy. Land could not be sold permanently but it could be sold temporarily and genealogy was the way to guarantee that the land returned to the family every seventh year.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MATTHEW’S GENEALOGY 

The genealogy that we have listed here is essential to the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. It is important to prove Jesus Christ’s ancestry because the spiritual promises that God made to the world through the covenants he made with Abraham and David were promised through there descendants. For that reason, Jesus must meet the physical, ancestral qualifications of the genealogy, otherwise He is a pretender and imposter, perhaps even a liar who we cannot and should not trust. So the main purpose of these genealogies is to establish credibility.

Credibility is not always easy to prove. In the news earlier this week, it was announced that the remains of the heir to the throne of Russia, who was murdered in 1918(?) had been found. Since the time of the murders there have been various pretenders who claimed to be an escaped member of the Russian royal family. One of these imposters was proved through DNA not to be who she claimed to be. DNA testing, of course, was not available but there were extensive records of genealogy that were used to verify the credibility of one’s claim to the throne.

This particular genealogy is divided into three parts, each with fourteen generations (Matthew 1:17). The main purpose for this form was probably to make the generations easy to memorize. In order to fit this genealogy into those parts, a few generations were skipped. At the time Matthew was written, one could go to the temple and could verify if this genealogy was accurate. This genealogy gives us an overview of the Old Testament and of God’s plan in forming history to bring His Son into the world on that first Christmas Eve in order to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham and to David.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY 

The genealogy establishes the fact that the Christ of Christmas is totally the work of God. It does this through the different people who are mentioned in the genealogy.

The Miracle Son – Isaac. God promised Abraham a son. His wife could not have any children, so she suggested that Abraham have a child through the slave girl, Hagar. When that young boy reached thirteen years old, God came by and said, “He’s not the one. I’m going to give you a son through Sarah. Through him will come the fulfillment of the promises that I have given you.

The Deceiver – Jacob. From before his birth, God prophesied that he would be the chosen one instead of his brother, Esau. These two boys grew up aware of the promise, the covenant, that God had made with their family and were aware of the importance of the birthright and the blessing of their father but Jacob did not become a part of the line of the chosen seed because of his deception of his father and of his brother but because God had chosen him. That is what is meant when God says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

The Father who did not do his duty – Judah and Tamar. God had killed two of Judah’s son who should have fathered children by Tamar. Judah, apparently kept his last son from her, refusing to give her children. Tamar then deceived him by pretending to be a prostitute. Genesis 38:27-30 tells about the birth of her twin sons, “Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in her womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah.” We see God’s hand in determining the line through whom the Messiah comes.

The Foreigners who turned to God – Rahab the harlot and Ruth the Moabitess (Tamar and Bathsheba may also have been foreigners, non-Jewish). These two women had no part in God but He not only brought them through their faith into His people but allowed them to become a significant part of the line that gives us the Messiah.

The Sinner to whom God showed mercy – David with Bathsheba. David’s sin with Bathsheba was an awful thing leading to murder and judgment on David’s family and his kingdom but God did not forsake David. He had promised that he would never reject David’s family as he had Saul’s.

THE PROOF OF FULFILLED PROMISES 

This genealogy not only establishes the fact that God has been working in history but also that He has fulfilled his promises in Jesus Christ. Genealogy is an interesting field. We have had various ones in our family do research and have found out some things both positive and negative. My sister was at my parents during the Thanksgiving season and she posted some pictures of various of our ancestors, some of which I had never seen before. One of these was of my grandfather and his college football team in the 1920’s. Jadyn was looking at the pictures with me and she thought because of the football helmets that they wore in those days, that these men were all in the army. Well she learned something about her family. Now, there are a lot of things that can be learned from genealogy but the genealogy of Jesus is a royal genealogy, a genealogy that established that Jesus Christ is the Sent One from God. It is a genealogy that brings hope to those who understand its purpose. It brings joy to those who are waiting in expectation of the fulfillment of its promise. It gives a foundation for the faith to which we hold.

The Christ of Christmas fulfills the promise of an inheritance through the seed that God made to Abraham. God made a promise to Abraham. He promised that all the nations would be blessed through his seed. Galatians 3:6-4:7 explains how that became a reality, through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:8 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.”

Galatians 3:16:  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.

You can partake today in the promise to Abraham through faith in Christ (Galatians 3:14, 19). You can become an heir of the promise today (Galatians 3:26-29).

Christmas is a vital part of the fulfillment of that promise (Galatians 4:4-5). The ultimate fulfillment, of course, is on the cross but the fact that the Son of God was born of woman is of great significance. All of that works together according to God’s plan that we might through the redemption of His blood be adopted into the family of God as heirs of the Father and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

THIS IS THE GENEALOGY OF A KING! 

The Christ of Christmas fulfills the promise of an everlasting kingdom and an everlasting King that God made to David. David wanted to build a house for God (2 Samuel 7:1-3). God evaluated David’s plan as lacking (2 Samuel 7:4-7). Rather than a temple displaying His glory to the earth, God established a covenant with David. Rather than establishing a house for Himself where men can come to Him and worship, Jesus, the Son of David came Himself to die and to establish His eternal kingdom through His death, burial, and resurrection (2 Samuel 7:8-16 and Romans 1:1-4). The coming of Christ brings God to us.

Why did God do all of this? Why did He choose Abraham out of Ur of Chaldees and David out of the shepherd fields of Bethlehem? Why did God choose a virgin by the name of Mary to bear the Son of God? The answer is found in verses 20-23. To fulfill the promises of salvation from sin made by God for the world to Abraham and David.

Sometimes doubts come to our minds. Can this really be true? Is the hope that Christmas promises a real hope or is it just a charade which serves a nice purpose. In the past, when I have been plagued with doubts about God’s Word, it is such passages like this one, established in fact, in this case the fact of genealogy, that assures me that this book and the Christ is reveals are true.

 

These promises are also for you. Is it not time that you believed the promises of God? Is it not time for you to say, I am going to trust Christ alone as my salvation. Would you do that today?

Maybe you have a lot of questions. We can help you to get connected with someone who will take the time to meet with you weekly and answer your questions. Please let us know today, if we can help you in this way.

ADDENDUM

“WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT”

The Lyrics

“Traditional ascribed to Irish-born Nahum Tate (1652-1715), this paraphrase of Luke 2:8-14 is believed by many to be among the better carol texts in the English language. It was first published in Tate and Brady’s Supplement (1700) to their New Versions of the Psalms of David. It was the first, and for 82 years the only Christmas hymn permitted to be used in Anglican churches. Tate was named poet laureate of England in 1692.” http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/while_shepherds_watched.htm

The first part of stanza three especially points out the importance of Christ’s ancestry: “To you, in David’s town this day/ Is born, of David’s line,/ the Savior, who is Christ the Lord;”

 

Links to Studies and Sermons from Matthew’s Genealogy November 27, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Links, Matthew, Religion.
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A Study Guide from John MacArthur

From Ryle’s Commentary

A Sermon from Ligon Duncan

A Sermon from Ray Pritchard (Sermons one, three, and nine in this list are also sermons on genealogies that correspond to parts of Matthew’s genealogy).

Christmas and Communion (From December 2005) November 26, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Lord's Table, Philippians, Religion.
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The Lord’s Table

I would like before we partake of the Lord’s Table to read this morning from the book of Philippians a passage that ties Christmas and the Crucifixion together and applies them to our daily lives – Philippians 2:5-11. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper, He made reference to the purpose for which He was born, to save people from their sin. There is a sense, in which we could say that the New Testament did not begin with Christmas but with the Crucifixion. This New Testament or Covenant that God offers to man is made available to man by faith through His blood and bodily sacrifice for our sins.  If you have put your faith in Christ, then you may partake of the Lord’s Supper with joy knowing that your eternal destiny is sealed in Jesus Christ and that your place with God in heaven is guaranteed.

 If you have yet to trust Christ as your Savior you should understand that God in His grace sent Jesus to die for your sins and that this forgiveness is available.

 For a believer, it doesn’t stop with faith. That is why we should let the mind of Christ be in us. Without the mind of Christ, we cannot drink of this cup worthily, even though we have accepted Christ as our Savior through faith. Believer, do you have the mind of Christ? To have the mind of Christ means to esteem others better than yourself. That will not save you but it is an important evidence that you are saved.  

“Our dear, gracious Father. We thank you that your Son lowered Himself for our sake and that through His blood forgiveness and salvation is provided, we need only to believe it. We come to you, asking you to cleanse us of all sin.  In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

 

Luke 22:17-19  Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; “for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

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