"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Friday, June 7, 2013

The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter ONE Cont.: The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE

By James J. Fire

The WORD Incarnate was made flesh and sent to this fallen world; He came to His own (Israel) for a very specific purpose, for the time was fulfilled that He should appear to His kinsmen. And what was this purpose? What was His mission?

The MISSION Of the MESSIAH

MATTHEW 10:5-7
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
When sought after by a Gentile woman, a Canaanite, to heal her daughter, the LORD replied to her:

MATTHEW 15:24

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The prophet Isaiah has been long known as the Messianic prophet and for good reason; a vast quantity of his writing, particularly from chapter 40 and on, deals with the Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew employs the Scriptures from this particular prophet most readily, as observed here, regarding the Mission of the Messiah:

MATTHEW 4:14-17

14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand
.

The Kingdom of heaven” is a very denotative phrase and there is legitimate reason to believe that it is in some ways, different and derivative of the broader term “the Kingdom of God” and we shall get into all of this later. For now, let us appreciate the fact that this is, at this point during these early chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, the primary mission that the LORD Jesus, Messiah of Israel is dedicated to.

The Gospel of Matthew is directed towards Jews and points to Jesus Christ (Y’shua* ha Mesciach Nagid – “Jesus the Messiah King”). This Gospel account stands apart from the others in that it has the highest incidence of prophetic inferences and fulfillment of the Jesus Christ, His ministry and events occurring during His life here on Earth.

* “Y’shua” is a contraction of Yehovah Shua which means, “Our God is salvation” (See Psalm 35:3).

The word “fulfilled” regarding prophecy occurs 17 times in Matthew’s Gospel.
“Kingdom” occurs 50 times and “kingdom of heaven” 30 times.
“King” referring to Jesus occurs 7 times (Matt. 2:2; 21:5; 22:11; 25:34; 27:11, 37, 42). The Hebrew word for “king” is Melek and it can refer to a king or a kingdom, depending on the context in which it’s used.
You can’t have a kingdom without a King, nor a King without a kingdom, but there are those that believe the kingdom of heaven will be in heaven, not on Earth, and this is an error.

Such people will often quote John 18:36 to show that the LORD’s kingdom will not be on the Earth (but in heaven instead):

JOHN 18:36
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
The Hebrew word “kav” can mean either “of” or “from” depending on the context, and in this case, it means “from” or “kingdom from heaven” which is a matter of direction – it’s from heaven and going somewhere else, that is, the Earth. Yet even without any knowledge of Hebrew, look carefully at the LORD’s last words in this verse: “my kingdom is not from hence”.

It’s the same word usage employed in this passage:

JOHN 17:11-16
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world
.


Obviously Jesus was IN the world, but He was not OF the world; his apostles were likewise in the world, born into it and died, departing from it. Yet in both cases, when the LORD prayed concerning both Himself and them, He clearly stated that they were “not OF this world”.

By the same token, the Kingdom of heaven is not of this world, but it most certainly will come to this world at its inauguration with the arrival of the King, He who is the Rock, and a Stone of Offense. Consider the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel interpreted in which a “stone cut without hands” struck the statue (symbolic of world empires up to and including the last days period) and then became a great mountain (symbol for a kingdom) that filled all the Earth (See Dan. 2:44-45).

Knowing that the Davidic Covenant deals with God’s promises to David of a perpetual kingdom that will be forever, and further, that the Son of David – a Messianic title – would ultimately reign on the Earth in Israel, the association is clear: that the kingdom of/from heaven is the very same kingdom of Israel as promised to David and to all believing Jews who had faith in the Scriptures that foretold of the coming Messiah.


2 SAMUEL 7:11-16
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORDtelleth thee that he will make thee an house.
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever
(see also Psalm 72:1-16; 89:3-4,14-21, 33-37; Isaiah 55:3 and Luke 1:32).


For more on this, you may read the TTUF article ISRAELOLOGY – WHY ISRAEL IS IMPORTANT TO THE BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN - PART ONE.


The GENEOLOGY OF JESUS
Geneologies in Judaism served two purposes:
To identify individuals and families as to which tribe they belonged to – especially important for those of the tribes of Levi and Judah because these two tribes were ordained of God to produce the lineages of priests (Numbers 1:49-51; Ex. 28:1-2) and kings (Gen. 49:10), respectively. There was never any that were ordained of God to be both king and priest, nor were each to obtain the office of the other (any king that attempted to conduct priestly duties were intensely chastened by the LORD; see 2 Chron. 26:19-21; 1 Sam. 13:8-14).

There were only three exceptions in the Bible of those that held both the office of King and priest:

1) Melchizedek (an OT type of Christ; Gen. 14:17-19; Psalm 110:3-5; Heb.5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10-11, 15, 17, 21).
2) Christ Jesus Himself (Heb. 6:20; Heb.3:1; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16).
3) The church of Jesus Christ, those born again of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:9-11).

Matthew begins his genealogy of the Messiah with Abraham and continues on to King David. Abraham was referred to in order to show that Jesus is indeed a Jew, and David in order to show that He is of the royal line and a member of the tribe of Judah, thus eligible for the throne of Israel.

These genealogies were faithfully recorded and stored in libraries in the Temple and referred to as records to prove one’s lineage. Yet since the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. no one afterwards could legitimately prove their lineage in order to establish the legal right to the throne.

The fact that both Matthew and Luke have recorded genealogies, showing that Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and a direct descendent of David and these were never disputed by the Jews is evidence enough to verify the legal right of Jesus to His father David’s throne.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING MATTHEW – The MESSIAH And HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE

Now let us proceed and get into the Gospel of Matthew that starts out with this very genealogy . . .

MATTHEW 1:1-5
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse
;

Christ is the Greek term for what we know as Messiah, but more specifically, the Anointed One. There were many that were anointed in the Old Testament, among the Kings, and Prophets and priests, however THE Anointed One is denotatively the Messiah Y’shua or better known among us Gentile Christians as Jesus Christ who is the Son of David, and the son of Abraham: father of the faithful. This is a list of His generation or genealogy, or Hebrew lineage.

The lineage proceeds from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, then from Jacob to Judah; the prophecy of Jacob regarding Judah (Gen. 49:10), that the scepter shall not depart until Shiloh (a reference to the Messiah) come was fulfilled by the time the Messiah arrived.
Israel had lost the right of self rule (symbolized by the royal scepter) during the time of Jesus – Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin (the governing body) was severely limited in what it could do; not to mention the fact that Israel had no national King with a proven lineage of the tribe of Judah.

Rome had appointed Herod, an Idumean (Edom) by birth as ruler in Galilee.
During the campaign of Israel against the city of Jericho, Rahab the harlot was spared because she showed favor to the Hebrew spies, and she obviously became a proselyte of the Hebrew religion. From her came Boaz – who married Ruth and they had a son named Obed who later became the grandfather of King David (whose father was of course Jesse). It’s also interesting to note that Rahab and Ruth are included in this genealogy, women of Gentile descent. Women were never included in Hebrew genealogies but they are included here in the lineage of the Messiah; Gentile women at that!


PART TWO – CONCLUDING CHAPTER ONE:

MATTHEW 1:6-15
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob
;

Notice which son of David is listed here in Matthew’s genealogy; David had many children, so why would Solomon be mentioned? This is important, so let’s get into this and the subsequent generations.
In verse 11 it lists Josias as the father of Jechonias (or Jechoniah, or Coniah). This particular leader of Israel was despised of the LORD, to the point where he so angered God, that the Almighty pronounced a blood curse on his lineage. This occurred in the time of the Babylonian captivity which took place in three waves as ordered by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah was a contemporary of those times. In the book of Jeremiah we see this blood curse of the LORD recorded:


JEREMIAH 22:24-30
24 As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah
.

Obviously Jechoniah had sons, because these are recorded in this very genealogy (the son mentioned is Salathiel) so what does this mean, “Write this man childless”? Basically, that no son of Jechoniah would sit as King on the throne of Israel. Why? Because of this blood curse that the LORD had laid upon his family lineage due to the sacrilege of this man.

How Satan must have viewed the entire proceeding with utter glee, because with a blood curse on the royal line, God would seem to have ‘shot Himself in the foot’ – how would the Messianic prophecies be fulfilled now, with no eligible heir to the throne of David. Certainly any son of Jechoniah would have a legal claim, but how could they ever assume the throne because of this blood curse?

The LORD God had His utterly ingenious plan that circumnavigated this apparent conundrum of Coniah’s curse! Remember that the son of David listed was Solomon here in the lineage as recorded in Matthew. Let’s take a detour to Luke’s Gospel and see how the lineage compares at this particular juncture . . .


LUKE 3:30-32
30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,
31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,
32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson
,

Notice here that the son of David mentioned is not Solomon, but Nathan. Why is this significant? Because the lineage of Matthew’s Gospel leads to Joseph, the husband of Mary – who was NOT the father of Jesus, but a step-father (son-in-law of Heli, the father of Mary; Luke 3:23). Jesus’ real Father is God, and so the blood curse in regards to heir of the throne was on Joseph (the descendent of Jechoniah) but didn’t apply to Jesus.

Jesus was born of Mary, and so shared by blood her lineage back to her ancestor, the other son of David, Nathan. Both the legal line (Joseph) and blood line (Mary) eligibility for being heir to the throne was granted to Jesus, both being of the tribe of Judah (the royal line of Israel) and of the house of David.

So we can look at this lineage of both Joseph and Mary in this way:

The Tribe of JUDAH > OBED > JESSE > DAVID > SOLOMON > JECONIAH > JOSEPH
. . . . . . . . . . JUDAH > OBED > JESSE > DAVID > NATHAN >  MARY



MATTHEW 1:16-17
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 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
.


Thus we understand that both Joseph and Mary are of the tribe of Judah, and of the house of David; from Joseph, Jesus bore the legal line as heir to the throne, but the blood line He received from Mary (whose blood line didn’t suffer the curse from Jechoniah). We smile at the cleverness of God in bringing about His will in such a fashion, maintaining the truth of His Holy character while at the same time, maneuvering His plan around Satan’s interference who would like nothing better than to bring that plan to ruin.


The BIRTH OF THE KING OF ISRAEL –


MATTHEW 1:18-19
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily
.


Being an upright and proper Jew, Joseph could have had his betrothed stoned for such an offense because she must have been with another man who impregnated her out of wedlock. Yet his heart of love is shone and compassion for Mary because he intended on breaking off the engagement and leaving her quietly in a private fashion.

Nevertheless the LORD had other plans! That holy child was His own and he told Joseph such via the angel of the LORD . . .


MATTHEW 1:20-23
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us
.

What Jewish mother wouldn’t want to give birth to the Messiah? I’ve been told that the name JESUS was somewhat common in those days, baby boys given the name in hopes by their parents that they would be the Messiah of Israel – only in Mary’s case, this is ‘the real deal’!
As mentioned previously the name of Jesus in Hebrew is Y’shua which is a contraction of what is translated as “The LORD is Salvation” – His name actually means this! Just as the angel proclaimed to Joseph, this babe would be the Messiah of Israel and save His people from their sins.

Matthew picks up on this and understands that this (among countless other events in the life and ministry of Jesus) is a fulfillment of prophecy. Verse 23 refers to the prophecy given to Isaiah . . .


ISAIAH 7:14

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel
.

There are those that dispute that the Hebrew word for “virgin” actually means virgin, but rather simply means “maiden” but in my mind, there are two points one must observe.

The first is any maiden of that day would typically be chaste; ‘loose women’ were not as common as in latter times. Besides which the same Hebrew word is employed here in Isaiah as used in Gen. 24:16 in referring to Rebekah who herself professed that she “knew not a man”.

The second point, and one that carries far more weight is that, this Scripture speaks of the LORD giving “a sign” not just to King Ahaz (an apostate King given to paganism) but to all the house of Israel. A few verses prior in verse 11 the LORD invites Ahaz to ask a sign “either in the depth or in the height above” or in other words God was saying, “I’m going to give you a sign Ahaz, but ask for what kind yourself, and the sky’s the limit!” Ahaz feigns humility and refuses to ask to the point of exasperating the Almighty (not a good thing to do by the way!) and so the LORD Himself states that He will give the house of Israel a sign.

One can almost envision God rolling up His sleeves as He prepares to go to work and bring Israel a miraculous and impressive sign that would ‘wow’ everybody.
If those that discount, even disparage a virgin birth had it their way, then this powerful, breathtaking sign would have read: “a young girl is going to have a baby . . .

It falls a bit flat, doesn’t it? There is no such miraculous sign in such a thing; young girls have babies all the time!
However, if a virgin were to have a child – how many times has that ever happened?? Would that be a miracle? Would that be a proper sign capable of being given by no one other than God? Would that bring assurance to the house of Israel that what the LORD proclaimed (He wanted to assure His people that their enemies at that time wouldn’t destroy them) would come true? YES!

We understand that this would be a double prophecy, one in which there would be an immediate fulfillment (in the days of Isaiah and King Ahaz) and a distant fulfillment. There was a babe born of a young maiden (assumed to be the son and wife of Isaiah the prophet himself) and commentary about this child can be found in chapter seven of Isaiah. The primary fulfillment however wouldn’t occur until some hundreds of years later, in a lonely barn in Bethlehem.

Why is it vital to believe in the virgin birth? Why is this considered a fundamental of Christian doctrine and necessary for the faith?

Simply because if Jesus was not conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, then Jesus would have been the son of a man, a sinful man, and would have inherited a sinful nature from that man.
In turn, that would mean His atoning sacrifice would have been null and void! In Israel, any lamb offered up in the Temple had to be “without blemish” that is, with no imperfections. The LORD Jesus being the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)” would likewise have to be without the blemish of sin nature – and because His Father was the LORD GOD, the Holy One, the Son would likewise be holy. Scripture is abundant on this point:


1 PETER 1:18-19
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
,

2 CORINTHIANS 5:20-21

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (see also Isaiah 53:9, 11; John 8:46; Heb. 4:15; Heb. 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
His name shall be called Emmanuel, that is “God with us”. This was not the presence of God in some abstract sense, but the very God of creation, visiting His people. The name in this instance is more of a characteristic (names in those days were employed as such) than an actual name given – which is why we never read of the LORD being addressed by this name. The Word of God expounds on this marvelous, wondrous event – that GOD would visit His people, and declare a message for all the world to hear and believe
.

LUKE 1:67-69
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
;

ACTS 15:14-15

14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written
,

1 TIMOTHY 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
JOHN 1:14
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
And the last couple of verses in this first chapter of Matthew states
:

MATTHEW 1:24-25
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS
.


It was an act of faith on Joseph’s part to obey the word of the LORD, knowing full well the repercussions of such obedience and how his own reputation would be sullied and whispered rumors of this young couple’s bastard son; how they would be ostracized and looked down upon by family, friends, neighbors, etc. Mary herself demonstrated an incredible faith in the LORD as well! Despite the fact that Mary was already pregnant (but not showing), they were married.

Note carefully what it says in the final verse – that single word “till” is very telling. It means that Joseph had no children by Mary UNTIL she brought forth her first born son – JESUS – and once born, Mary had other children besides. Roman Catholics who would like to keep Mary a ‘perpetual virgin’ will discount such passages (Matt. 13:54-56) that speak of Jesus’ brethren (and sisters) as mere cousins. But then there is still this bothersome “till” to contend with that simply means that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters.

Both James and Jude that have penned the epistles found in our New Testament are in fact the LORD Jesus’ half brothers (Gal. 1:18-20; Acts 1:13).
Thus ends the first chapter of this glorious account of the Messiah King of Israel, as penned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Levi Matthias or as we know him, Matthew! The name Matthew in Hebrew is Matthan and it means “the gift of YHWH” and most certainly he is a gift, and the Gospel account he has penned for us is a gift beyond value!

I look forward to exploring this Gospel with you and quite excited to commence the journey as we delve into the following chapters, exploring the glory and majesty, the humility and servant’s heart of our Holy King, the LORD Jesus Christ!

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